In a typical high-end GPU launch we’ll see the process take place in phases over a couple of months if not longer. The new GPU will be launched in the form of one or two single-GPU cards, with additional cards coming to market in the following months and culminating in the launch of a dual-GPU behemoth. This is the typical process as it allows manufacturers and board partners time to increase production, stockpile chips, and work on custom designs.

But this year things aren’t so typical. GK104 wasn’t the typical high-end GPU from NVIDIA, and neither it seems is there anything typical about its launch.

NVIDIA has not been wasting any time in getting their complete GK104 based product lineup out the door. Just 6 weeks after the launch of the GeForce GTX 680, NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 690, their dual-GK104 monster. Now only a week after that NVIDIA is at it again, launching the GK104 based GeForce GTX 670 this morning.

Like its predecessors, GTX 670 will fill in the obligatory role as a cheaper, slower, and less power-hungry version of NVIDIA’s leading video card. This is a process that allows NVIDIA to not only put otherwise underperforming GPUs to use, but to satisfy buyers at lower price points at the same time. Throughout this entire process the trick to successfully launching any second-tier card is to try to balance performance, prices, and yields, and as we’ll see NVIDIA has managed to turn all of the knobs just right to launch a very strong product.

  GTX 680 GTX 670 GTX 580 GTX 570
Stream Processors 1536 1344 512 480
Texture Units 128 112 64 60
ROPs 32 32 48 40
Core Clock 1006MHz 915MHz 772MHz 732MHz
Shader Clock N/A N/A 1544MHz 1464MHz
Boost Clock 1058MHz 980MHz N/A N/A
Memory Clock 6.008GHz GDDR5 6.008GHz GDDR5 4.008GHz GDDR5 3.8GHz GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit 320-bit
VRAM 2GB 2GB 1.5GB 1.25GB
FP64 1/24 FP32 1/24 FP32 1/8 FP32 1/8 FP32
TDP 195W 170W 244W 219W
Transistor Count 3.5B 3.5B 3B 3B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm
Launch Price $499 $399 $499 $349

Like GeForce GTX 680, GeForce GTX 670 is based on NVIDIA’s GK104 GPU. So we’re looking at the same Kepler design and the same Kepler features, just at a lower level of performance. As always the difference is that since this is a second-tier card, NVIDIA is achieving that by harvesting otherwise defective GPUs.

In a very unusual move for NVIDIA, for GTX 670 they’re disabling one of the eight SMXes on GK104 and lowering the core clock a bit, and that’s it. GTX 670 will ship with 7 active SMXes, all 32 of GK104’s ROPs, and all 4 GDDR5 memory controllers. Typically we’d see NVIDIA hit every aspect of the GPU at once in order to create a larger performance gap and to maximize the number of GPUs they can harvest – such as with the GTX 570 and its 15 SMs & 40 ROPs – but not in this case.

Meanwhile clockspeeds turn out to be equally interesting. Officially, both the base clock and the boost clock are a fair bit lower than GTX 680. GTX 670 will ship at 915MHz for the base clock and 980MHz for the boost clock, which is 91MHz (9%) and 78MHz (7%) lower than the GTX 680 respectively. However as we’ve seen with GTX 680 GK104 will spend most of its time boosting and not necessarily just at the official boost clock. Taken altogether, depending on the game and the specific GPU GTX 670 has the capability to boost within 40MHz or so of GTX 680, or about 3.5% of the clockspeed of its more powerful sibling.

As for the memory subsystem, like the ROPs they have not been touched at all. GTX 670 will ship at the same 6.008GHz memory clockspeed of GTX 680 with the same 256-bit memory bus, giving it the same 192GB/sec of memory bandwidth. This is particularly interesting as NVIDIA has always turned down their memory clocks in the past, and typically taken out a memory controller/ROP combination in the past. Given that GK104 is an xx4 GPU rather than a full successor to GF110 and its 48 ROPs, it would seem that NVIDIA is concerned about their ROP and memory performance and will not sacrifice performance there for GTX 670.

Taken altogether, this means at base clocks GTX 670 has 100% of the memory bandwidth, 91% of the ROP performance, and 80% of the shader performance of GTX 680. This puts GTX 670’s specs notably closer to GTX 680 than GTX 570 was to GTX 580, or GTX 470 before it. In order words the GTX 670 won’t trail the GTX 680 by as much as the GTX 570 trailed the GTX 580 – or conversely the GTX 680 won’t have quite the same lead as the GTX 580 did.

As for power consumption, the gap between the two is going to be about the same as we saw between the GTX 580 and GTX 570. The official TDP of the GT 670 is 170W, 25W lower than the GTX 680. Unofficially, NVIDIA’s GPU Boost power target for GTX 670 is 141W, 29W lower than the GTX 680. Thus like the GTX 680 the GTX 670 has the lowest TDP for a part of its class that we’ve seen out of NVIDIA in quite some time.

Moving on, unlike the GTX 680 launch NVIDIA is letting their partners customize right off the bat. GTX 670 will launch with a mix of reference, semi-custom, and fully custom designs with a range of coolers, clockspeeds, and prices. There are a number of cards to cover over the coming weeks, but today we’ll be looking at EVGA’s GeForce GTX 670 Superclocked alongside our reference GTX 670.

As we’ve typically seen in the past, custom cards tend to appear when GPU manufacturers and their board partners feel more comfortable about GPU availability and this launch is no different. The GTX 670 launch is being helped by the fact that NVIDIA has had an additional 7 weeks to collect suitable GPUs compared to the GTX 680 launch, on top of the fact that these are harvested GPUs. With that said NVIDIA is still in the same situation they were in last week with the launch of the GTX 690: they already can’t keep GK104 in stock.

Due to binning GTX 670 isn’t drawn from GTX 680 inventory, so it’s not a matter of these parts coming out of the same pool, but realistically we don’t expect NVIDIA to be able to keep GTX 670 in stock any better than they can GTX 680. The best case scenario is that GTX 680 supplies improve as some demand shifts down to the GTX 670. In other words Auto-Notify is going to continue to be the best way to get a GTX 600 series card.

Finally, let’s talk pricing. If you were expecting GTX 570 pricing for GTX 670 you’re going to come away disappointed. Because NVIDIA is designing GTX 670 to perform closer to GTX 680 than with past video cards they’re also setting the prices higher. GTX 670 will have an MSRP of $399 ($50 higher than GTX 570 at launch), with custom cards going for higher yet. This should dampen demand some, but we don’t expect it will be enough.

Given its $399 MSRP, the GTX 670 will primarily be competing with the $399 Radeon HD 7950. However from a performance perspective the $479 7970 will also be close competition depending on the game at hand. AMD’s Three For Free promo has finally gone live, so they’re countering NVIDIA in part based on the inclusion of Deus Ex, Nexuiz, and DiRT Showdown with most 7900 series cards.

Below that we have AMD’s Radeon HD 7870 at $350, while the GTX 570 will be NVIDIA’s next card down at around $299. The fact that NVIDIA is even bothering to mention the GTX 570 is an interesting move, since it means they expect it to remain as part of their product stack for some time yet.

Update 5/11: NVIDIA said GTX 670 supply would be better than GTX 680 and it looks like they were right. As of this writing Newegg still has 5 of 7 models still in stock, which is far better than the GTX 680 and GTX 690 launches. We're glad to see that NVIDIA is finally able to keep a GTX 600 series card in stock, particularly a higher volume part like GTX 670.

Spring 2012 GPU Pricing Comparison
AMD Price NVIDIA
  $999 GeForce GTX 690
  $499 GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7970 $479  
Radeon HD 7950 $399 GeForce GTX 670
Radeon HD 7870 $349  
  $299 GeForce GTX 570
Radeon HD 7850 $249  
  $199 GeForce GTX 560 Ti
  $169 GeForce GTX 560
Radeon HD 7770 $139  

 

Meet The GeForce GTX 670
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  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Wasn't caught ? LOL Sounds correct, at least in your mind.
    Problem is when amd is caught red handed, none of you amd fanboys have a clue about it, ever.
    Now I don't have anything against AMD, it's just clear the truth should be told, as I said let's apply the amd fanboy talking points equally, let's do a real analysis and not with instant amnesia that favors amd or ignores the current facts like egg sales.
    I have noticed you amd fans have a real hatred for nVidia and all say a similar thing as you just did. It's like poor loser syndrome but I don't think any of you are faking it, I think you are living it in your minds.
    That's really sad.
    I do believe that's why you can so blindly deny facts and are so often excuse makers and liars for amd and against nVidia quite unfairly. Cut out the hate man. nVidia isn't somehow worse than amd, nor vise versa.

    Now I assure you, my post you went into attack mode over above is very simply my on the fly instant analysis by assembling the known facts. It includes principles like what's good for the goose is also fair on the gander, and very simple logic, and some actual original thoughts, etc.

    My apologies that I am so excessively astute and can easily see though the amd fud monkey tp, and worse yet, right, show easily the actual nVidia advantage in that very area.

    I'm gifted.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    The GTX680 has out sold the 78xx line, interesting, but you need to prove it. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    Go to new egg and click on the best selling EVGA GTX680, go to the reviews tab, click the verified buys checkmark, and read the number of verified buyers of the total commenters.
    That gives you a fair estimate that will be about the same as fair estimates for other products ( it eliminates counting spammers who just have to post without purchasing ).

    So just go do that also for the 7870 and 7850 and add up all the totals, and of course include on the 7870 and 7850 and out of stock cards, the "up to 5 eggs" reviews are available for out of stock...

    Compare your totals, if you don't know how to navigate new egg efficiently the tip you need is use the "Guided Results" tab on the upper left area once you have clicked into "Desktop Graphics Hardware" from the "shop all stores" yellow upper left start button.

    So anyway, 680 was 108 verified a few days ago and all the 7870 and 7850 combined in total were below that by like 30 something - only a single 680 sku was needed, making it easier to collate in the nVidia side.

    It should take you all of 3 minutes to verify this right now, and given the level of competence in this post area, here's some helpful starts

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...

    680 single sku up to 111 now up from 108

    78xx series link access below

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Sub...

    There you are, the proof you demanded, once again delivered.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    So that's you're premise for total sales, how many verified buyers there are on neweggs REVIEWS. That's one hella questionable premise and invalid inference of the data available.

    lmao. Epic fail. Take a logic class
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Yes whine about the data set all you want, but we also have reviewer commentary that is confirming in this, with zero counters by you and yours.

    Newegg is actually quite an accurate machine for such a thing, best price, best known, most used, and has shown accuracy for a long time in this manner.

    Foreigners (non USA) may argue but we don't see any counter arguments now do we mr sad 5870 ? :)
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    You should compare to HD7950 or HD7970 instead of HD6970.. otherwise it's a no brainer ;) Reply
  • chizow - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    Certainly a better effort from Nvidia but the premiums are still a product of AMD's overpriced 28nm parts.

    If AMD priced as they should've from the outset based on historical pricing and relative performance to 40nm parts, we would've seen:

    7970 @ $380
    7950 @ $300

    and Nvidia's parts would've fallen into place accordingly as well:

    680 @ $400-$420
    670 @ $350

    GK110/685 @ $500-$550
    GTX 690 @ $700-800

    I guess we can't fault Nvidia too much though. In the end they can't keep GK104 in stock anywhere and they still manage to beat AMD convincingly in both price and performance.

    The consumer is the one that loses however, paying high premiums for the smallest increase in performance for a full generational/process node improvement.
    Reply
  • XZerg - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    The price gauging is always a product when the underdog in a market (not necessarily in performance) outdoes the big boss. We saw this happen back when AMD brought out the A64 as well or when ATI released R300 chip. So from consumer's $$$ point of view underdog should stay underdog but deliver performance that matches the big boss. Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    G92 baby!
    90% of 8800GTX performance at less than half the price.

    It was so good, it actually stayed competitive through 3 or 4 product cycles (albeit getting a new sticker every time).
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    That's a failed analysis since the price gouging by the same complainers is always present on the flagship models.
    The true analysis is the honest and common sense one. No matter what anyone's twisted brain calls the competers, when any one in competition throws up a leader board item, they charge for it.
    What's shameful in amd's case is the very quick slap down they experienced - smacking $579.99 down to $449.99(or 479) then the second whallop sending them to the deck, the 3 games they offered to attempt to keep interest going, and now another knockout punch square to the drooling amd choppers as they wobbled on noodle legs still getting the former ten count - the GTX670 tag team card with the new smack down....
    I suspect amd will try to maintain some sort of composure and self esteem this time by not budging as long as they possibly can... because it's embarrassing already and now the GTX670 has turned amd from bright pink to their standard red color - flush to the point of passing out.
    Yes, amd will pretend now - pretend it doesn't have to drop prices again.
    Reply

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