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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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  • arjuna1 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Metro 2033 (the highest settings bench)

    Radeon 7950 33fps
    Radeon 6970 27.5fps

    Radeon 6870 32fps (the second highest bench)

    Weee!!! $400+ for 5.5fps more.

    Not sure about you, but to me, spending that kind of cash for an imperceptible increase in performance is having no sense of money's worth.

    This generation of cards can safely be skipped until the 8xxx/7xx series from both AMD and NVIDIA.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Picking up one specific benchmark to underline your point. Great reasoning skills, you should join a debate team! Also, that 5.5fps is still 20%, with the good track record of overclockability, it can reach as much as 40%. But you stick to your point. Reply
  • arjuna1 - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    What? were you expecting me to post a powerpoint presentation for just for you??

    The numbers are there, look at them if you want, but hey, be stuck in your point, only a frustrated basement geek can think in way to justify spending $400 +/- for less than 50% increase in performance.

    Be careful of not falling of that horse, seems pretty high.
    Reply
  • sseemaku - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Please check the avg frame rate improvements, not some specific results. But everyone agrees that 7xxx cards are a bit overpriced and that's because they don't have competition right now. If you worry about power consumption, buy these cards now. Or more interested in price/performance, wait till Kepler is released. Reply
  • arjuna1 - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I can agree with that, after Kepler is release prices will go down and maybe then the 7xxx series will increase in the perceived value. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    If there's no competition then they aren't overpriced because they cannot be touched by anything, hence making their price absolutely correct !!!
    I call that "reality".
    If Kepler blows their doors off, their price will fall. That's reality too.
    It's time for all the amd is cheaper crud to go the way of the dinosaur.
    Recently a 460 was an unbeatable value. Then a 560ti was as unbeatable value. Currently a 6870 is an unbeatable value.
    These things happen, and a deal is not the general aspect of the video card prices, which generally speaking wind up right where they should be.
    The deal is the exception to the usual rule across the board, and "the deal" as in "big price drop" is usually just one card here or there for a short period of time.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Radeon cards have been coming out at $700 and $600 and $500+ for a long time man - even with competition.
    I don't know what planet you people come from when the constant repetition of "it sounds good" becomes an absolute meme and ongoing restated theme but in no way reflects even a tiny kernel of truth as far as reality goes.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, March 09, 2012 - link

    Yes dagamer34, Ryan praises amd for drying up their 6000 series channel with such precision. Then we get this praise - the perfect price structure by AMD, and "it's conservative pricing" according to the author even though it's $40 and $30 higher than it's Nvidia counterpart...
    " With AMD targeting the ~$320 570 and ~$210 560 Ti and given their conservative pricing on the rest of Southern Islands, it should come as no surprise that the 7800 series is priced equally conservatively. The 7870 will have an MSRP of $350, while the 7850 will have an MSRP of $250. With the 7800 series completing the launch of Southern Islands, this gives AMD a consistent price structure for the entire family: $550, $450, $350, $250, $159, and $109."
    ---
    I see. So more expensive is conservative, and the 6 AMD price figures are perfect and consistent...
    I am so sick of it...
    Reply
  • Falkenad2 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Thus far, AMD's first foray into 28nm graphics has been unimpressive. From a price/performance standpoint, the 7000 series has not given the usual incentives for upgrading that is regularly associated with the move to a new node. I hope a strong competitor from nVidia is on the way, as that would bode well for consumers such as ourselves. As it stands, the 7000 series lacks value except at the very high end, where price/performance is of little concern. Reply
  • Kaboose - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Price vs. performance is not the only factor, some people are concerned with power draw as well. Others are interested in temps, and noise. The price could use some work (come on Nvidia) but besides that the 7xxx series has been fairly impressive in regards to overclocking, power, temp, and noise. Reply

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