Final Words

With 3 major launches in under 3 months it seems like I’ve written he same thing time and time again, and that wouldn’t be an incorrect observation. By being the first to deploy 28nm GPUs AMD has been enjoying a multi-month lead on NVIDIA that has allowed them to set their own pace, and there’s little NVIDIA can do but sit back and watch. Consequently we’re seeing AMD roll out a well-orchestrated launch plan unhindered, with AMD launching each new Southern Islands card at exactly the place they’ve intended to from the beginning.

At each launch AMD has undercut NVIDIA at critical points, allowing them to push NVIDIA out of the picture, and the launch of the Radeon HD 7800 series is no different. AMD’s decision to launch the 7870 and 7850 at roughly $25 to $50 over the GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti respectively means that NVIDIA’s cards still have a niche between AMD’s price points for the time being, but this is effectively a temporary situation as NVIDIA starts drawing down inventory for the eventual Kepler launch.

Starting with the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, AMD is effectively in the clear for the time being. At roughly 9% faster than the GTX 570 there’s little reason to get the GTX 570 even with the 7870’s price premium; it’s that much faster, cooler, and quieter. With the launch of Pitcairn and the 7870 in particular, GF110 has effectively been removed from competition after a nearly year and a half run.

As for the Radeon HD 7850, things are not so clearly in AMD’s favor. From a power perspective it's by far the fastest 150W card you can buy, and that alone will earn AMD some major OEM wins along with some fans in the SFF PC space. Otherwise from a price perspective it’s certainly the best $250 card you can buy, but then that’s the catch: it’s a $250 card. With GTX 560 Ti prices starting to drop below $200 after rebate, the 7850 is nearly $50 more expensive than the GTX 560 Ti. At the same time its performance is only ahead of the GTX 560 Ti by about 9% on average, and in the process it loses to the GTX 560 Ti at a couple of games, most importantly Battlefield 3 by about 8%. AMD has a power consumption lead to go along with that performance lead, but without retail cards to test it’s not clear whether that translates into any kind of noise improvements over the GTX 560 Ti. In the long run the 7850 is going to be the better buy – in particular because of its additional RAM in the face of increasingly VRAM-hungry games – but $199 for a GTX 560 Ti is going to be hard to pass up while it lasts.

Of course by being in the driver’s seat overall when it comes to setting video card prices AMD has continued to stick to their conservative pricing, both to their benefit and detriment. The 7800 series isn’t really any cheaper than the 6900 series it replaces; in fact it’s probably a bit more expensive after you factor in the rebates that have been running on the 6900 series since last summer. But these prices stop the bleeding from what has been an aggressive price war between the two companies over the last 3 years, which is going to be of great importance to AMD in the long run.

Nevertheless we’re largely in the same situation now as where we were with the 7700 series: AMD has only moved a small distance along the price/performance curve with the 7800 series, and they’re in no particular hurry to change that. But if nothing else, on the product execution side of things AMD has done a much better job, getting their old cards out of the market well ahead of time in order to keep from having to compete with themselves. As a result your choices right now at $200+ are the 7800 and 7900 series, or last-generation Fermi cards. Otherwise we’re in a holding pattern until AMD brings prices down, which considering Pitcairn is the replacement for the Barts-based 6800, could potentially be quite a reduction in the long run.

Wrapping things up, at this point in time AMD has taken firm control of the $200+ video card market. The only real question is this: for how long? AMD enjoyed a nearly 6 month lead over NVIDIA when rolling out the first generation of 40nm DX11 cards, but will they enjoy a similarly long lead with the first generation of 28nm cards? Only time will tell.

Overclocking: Gaming & Compute Performance
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  • Taft12 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Or don't. It's not on sale for 2 weeks yet. Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    NOT with 1/16 the FP64 performance. Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    FP64 is useless for games for the foreseeable future. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    I love the "further image quality improvements page" which delicately and carefully explains how amd did a wonderful job of making things better as the image quality degrades...
    After noting the degredation very, very lightly and tossing out the problem, it is declared "unnoticable" for "all intents and purposes".
    Eventually amd's IQ is going to be so far behind nvidia's the endless denials and it doesn't matters - will just continue since amd can crank an extra 20 fps doing it...
    LOL
    A "gift" from amd.
    Reply
  • MySchizoBuddy - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    where is the double precision compute benchmarks Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Article: " As AMD began winding down Cayman (6900 series) almost immediately with the launch of the 7900 series, at this point the 6900 market has effectively dried up. Having taken themselves out of competition with themselves, AMD’s only competition is NVIDIA’s lineup."
    --
    And there we have it - AMD and their evil plot to squeeze every last dollar out of those "they care about", the gamers...
    I don't want to hear Nvidia is evil anymore.
    Time to look in the mirror amd users.
    --
    Furthermore, it's time the reviewers start slamming AMD the way they slam Nvidia, in this case, one can consider it PRAISE for AMD "drying up their own card channels"- and if that isn't bias I don't know what is.
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    These cards don't seem like such a wonderful value considering what the 6900 series was offering, but since those cards have gone poof, I guess you'll have to settle for the 7800 series? It really just seems like they are adjusting their pricing scheme to be less compressed than it was before.

    TL: DR; If you've got a 6900 series card, the 7000 series is not for you.
    Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    I still have my wonderful 5870 I purchased in 2009 (which now is not far from 3 years ago...), and still waiting for something that offers more performance than the 7970. Com'on Nvidia! Blow everything out of the water please.... Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    "TL: DR; If you've got a 6900 series card, the 7000 series is not for you."
    I'd say the 30 to 50% increase of the 79xx to 69xx cards could be well worth it. However, unless you run a multi-monitor setup or have a 2560 resolution, you really should think twice about spending that amount of money on these cards. But I guess people with that kind of cash can either do their own thinking or don't have to care too much about spending and can afford to "BUY ALL THE CARDS".
    I'm still running a HD5770 and have a newly acquired 27" monitor here that is really stressing it. I think I'll go for a 78xx and later upgrade to CF because my 550W PSU can handle it with these cards, whereas HD69xx would be stressing it too much. :-)
    Reply
  • cactusdog - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    "TL: DR; If you've got a 6900 series card, the 7000 series is not for you."

    Thats the dumbest statement I have ever read here. The 7970 is DOUBLE the performance of the 6970 with overclocking. Even the $250 7850 beats the 6970 with overclocking.

    The 7 series is the biggest performance jump over the previous series since I have followed graphics cards, since 1998.
    Reply

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