Final Words

Looking at this data I’m reminded a great deal of the Radeon HD 6900 series launch. AMD launched the 6900 series after the GTX 500 series, but launch order aside the end result was very similar. NVIDIA’s second tier GTX 570 and AMD’s first tier Radeon HD 6970 were tied on average but were anything but equals. This is almost exactly what we’re seeing with the GTX 670 and the Radeon HD 7970.

Depending on the game and resolution we’re looking at the GTX 670 reaches anywhere between 80% and 120% of the 7970’s performance. AMD sails by the GTX 670 in Crysis and to a lesser extent Metro, only for the GTX 670 to shoot ahead in BF3 and Portal 2 (w/SSAA). Officially NVIDIA’s positioning on the GTX 670 is that it’s to go against the 7950 and not the 7970, and that’s a wise move on NVIDIA’s behalf; but the GTX 670 is surely nipping at the 7970’s heels.

With that said, there are a couple of differences from the 6900 series launch which are equally important. The first is that unlike last time the GTX 670 and Radeon HD 7970 are not equally priced. At MSRP the GTX 670 is $80 cheaper, while at cheapest retail it’s closer to $60. The second difference is that this time the competing cards are not nearly as close in power consumption or noise, and thanks to GK104 NVIDIA has a notable advantage there.

Much like the GTX 570 and the Radeon HD 6970, if you’re in the market for cards at these performance levels you need to take a look at both cards and see what kind of performance each card gets on the games you want to play. From our results the GTX 670 is doing better at contemporary games and is cheaper to boot, but the Radeon HD 7970 can hold its own here at multi-monitor resolutions and games like Crysis or Metro. Or for that matter it can still run circles around the GTX 670 in GK104's real weakness: compute tasks

On the other hand if you’re buying a gaming card on price then this isn’t a contest. For the Radeon HD 7950 this is the GTX 680 all over again. NVIDIA can’t quite beat the 7950 in every game (e.g. Crysis), but when it loses it’s close, and when it wins it’s 15%, 25%, even 50% faster. At the same time gaming power consumption is also lower as is noise. As it stands the worst case scenario for the GTX 670 is that it performs like a 7950 while the best case scenario is that it performs like a 7970. And it does this priced like a 7950, which means that something is going to have to give the moment NVIDIA’s product supply is no longer in question.

Outside of the obligatory AMD matchup, interestingly enough NVIDIA has put themselves in harm’s way here in the process. At 2560x1600 the GTX 680 only beats the GTX 670 by 7% on average. NVIDIA has always charged a premium for their top card but the performance gap has also been greater. In games that aren’t shader bound the GTX 670 does very well for itself thanks to the fact that it has equal memory bandwidth and only a slight ROP performance deficit, which means the GTX 680 is only particularly strong in Metro, Portal 2, and DiRT 3. The 7% performance lead certainly doesn’t justify the 25% price difference, and if you will give up that performance NVIDIA will shave $100 off of the price of a card, but if you do want that top performance NVIDIA intends to make you pay for it. Of course this is also why the GTX 670 is only priced $100 cheaper rather than $150. Potential buyers looking for a $350 GK104 card are going to be left out in the cold for now, particularly buyers looking for a meaningful GTX 570 upgrade.

Finally, the nature of NVIDIA’s power target technology has put partners like EVGA in an odd place. Even with a moderate 6%+ factory overclock the GTX 670 Superclocked just isn’t all that much faster than the reference GTX 670, averaging only a 3% gain at 2560. Since the GTX 670 virtually always operates above its base clock the culprit is NVIDIA’s power target, which keeps the GTX 670SC from boosting much higher than our reference GTX 670. Once you increase the power target the GTX 670SC can easily make an interesting niche for itself, but while this isn’t true overclocking it isn’t stock performance either. In any case it’s clear that for factory overclocked cards to really push the limit they’re going to need to go fully custom, which is what a number of partners are going to do in the coming months.

OC: Gaming Performance
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  • Spunjji - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Sick burn ;D Reply
  • yankeeDDL - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    Why would AMD fans be sad?
    AMD enjoyed a multi-months lead in performance, over-charging for their cards that had, substantially, no competitions at their price levels.
    Now NVIDIA made a move, and it's a very good one: AMD will need to drop the prices and I see really no reason why they couldn't, as they have just a marginally larger die size (300mm2 vs 365mm2) on the same fab/technology.

    Price drop is always a win for the customers, be that an Nvidia or an AMD fanboy (or just an enthusiast).
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    That's right. With some more pressure and HD7950 at 300€ GCN may actually start to become a real option! Saying this as a Cayman owning AMD-preferer. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    It's not like the 7970 is a bad card, it's somewhat slower at games, has more ram, is much faster at gpu compute, and is still a relatively low power offering.

    There's always something better just around the corner. Buy what's best when you need it, and be happy about it :-). Give it 6 months to a year and there will be something better than the 670 as well.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    If the 7970 is much faster at gpu compute, why did it lose 3 of 5 compute benchmarks in this review ?
    Hmm... loser but better, loser but better...

    Also amd power loser but "still relatively a low power offering", loser but relatively a winner, loses but it's a winner anyway...

    I've got it ! The loser is better and wins !
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    Seriously dude. I MIGHT could give you the first point, if it wasn't riddled full of biased.

    But the second point doesn't even make sense.

    "Also amd power loser but "still relatively a low power offering", loser but relatively a winner, loses but it's a winner anyway..."

    Now you're just throwing words in his mouth he didn't even use. What a fail!

    GTX680 owner speaking.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    " and is still a relatively low power offering." (his words I responded to)

    Okay, maybe I went overboard.

    On the other hand, we haven't heard this going the other way at all, and the 7970's loss in the power envelope is loss of a reason to buy an amd card.

    Relatively, it's a high power offering, we are after all comparing the two brands, and it's high power usage allows the claims for victory in compute (even when the software base does not).
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    ''Okay, maybe I went overboard.''

    You do that all day long going overboard...
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    You do nothing but lie and attack, so you have zero room to talk. Reply
  • Galidou - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    And I am the one who attack, I attack but not you? LOL you're so fun, don'T make me copy and paste every word lack of respect the abuse of words such as massive ignorance, stupid, everyone lies but not you... and everyone lacks of respect but not you... OMG that's extreme Reply

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