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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  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Yet if one is not running gigantic resolutions, they look at the usual, 1920 and 1650 p resolutions, and likely want to crank all the eye candy to the limit, which is still IMPOSSIBLE at those common resolutions with 60+ frames in so many of the popular games.
    So the real problem is you go from "can't do it all" to "still can't do it all" but at least you've got 40 frames going to 55 on your one screen... with maybe one more setting of 7 at ultra...
    ---
    For others with 3x 2560 most of us really don't give a crap if they claim they get 2x frames - because if they don't have 2 or 3 or 4 of them running, they are stuck in turn down the eye candy crapsville TOO.
    --
    We almost always hear that we are stuck with console ports, the exact opposite of the real truth in the real problem.
    A 570 is NOT ENOUGH, a 7870 is not either, nor is a 7970 for 1900x1200.
    IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    75% was wrong, but so is 70-110% faster.

    Crysis 2560x1600 at the MAX settings its 20 vx 33, which is just over 60%

    Drop down to 1920x1200 at the advantage drops to 50%.

    Metro its 60% at max res/settings (36vs22.5)

    Drop that down to 1920X1200 and its just over 50%

    Dirt 3 its just over 50% at max res/settings Drop that down to 1920x1200 and its remains just above 50% ( 104 vs 68.4)

    Battlefield 3 its 50% (49.7 vs 32.6) at max settings/res.

    So where the heck are you getting 70% to 110% ??

    2 1/2 years ago I payed around 66% of your price, and I'm getting 66% of your performence, ALMOST 3 YEARS. THIS IS NOT MOVING THINGS FORWARD
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    Get back to us krummer when the 7870 is "released" and has "stable drivers" that "work most of the time" in "most of the games" and the IQ cheats of 10% driver default plus ever more now with this new blur job called MLAA and the lack of LOD bias up high enough that "in the case of SSAA" it's another low detail IQ cut down, not to mention other things like PhysX and tessellation above 10 all the way to 32...the other "unneeded" "eye candy" that "sucks" because amd sucks at doing it.
    *
    9% , minus 10% standardized cheat, minus SSAA LOD bias cheat, minus MLAA blur cheat, minus PhysX, minus 8 other things I won't take time to mention doesn't sound like "faster" to me.
    I mean come on, if the arch is so superior, why all the hack and cheats and crappy blurring and lack of features ?
    Are the drivers going to be another ongoing nightmare for 47% of all ibm pc implementations ?
    Reply
  • chizow - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    @ Kiste: Agreed.

    The "competition is necessary" meme needs to die in the tech sector because it isn't necessary.

    Most of this stuff doesn't expire or die on its own, not before it becomes obsolete anyways and in order for it to become obsolete there needs to be innovation and performance increases.

    That's what drives innovation with technology and it certainly exists without competition.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    What are you talking about, considering AMD 7850 is faster in most tests than nVidia's 80$ more expensive 570, at the same time consuming 25% less energy. Reply
  • Malih - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    I think this is the decision of the new management, they decide to price something that performs better to price higher.

    Probably will drop the price in the future, but it would require a new release from nVidia with agressive pricing. It is rumored nVidia will release new cards near the end of March.
    Reply
  • biassj - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Shitty pricing again, if the pricing was 50 bucks cheaper I would probably consider buying 7870 or 7950 at this moment. These high prices will just have me wait to see what Nvidia has to offer. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    Huh, I thought it was GTX 570 class for less.

    Seems solid enough.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    For the 7850, I mean. Reply
  • chizow - Monday, March 05, 2012 - link

    This pricing isn't nearly as bad as the 7770 or 7950/7970, but its still pretty poor overall given it once again, slides right in to existing price structures offering very little incentive to upgrade and very little price performance value compared to what has been available for 14+ months. Reply

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