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

    Here we are treated to 5 paragraphs of attack on the 600 series, note the extreme phrasing given against, the "known problem" of the GTX cards, not the "inexplicable" results that means something is wrong other than with the amd card when it loses.

    This contrasts with the bland put downs the 670 compared to the 680 and 570 receive when they win by enormous comparative margins in the rest of the game pages.

    So the reviewer has a field day here:
    " Overall performance isn’t particularly strong either. Given the price tag of the GTX 670 the most useful resolution is likely going to be 2560x1600, where the GTX 670 can’t even cross 30fps at our enthusiast settings."

    Completely unmentioned of course after the jab at pricing just for the 670, same price as the 7950 that fares not playably better here and gets spanked the other 75% of time, is the 5760x1200 higher resolution where the 670 achieves even higher frame rates than 30, surpassing 30 all the way up to 35.6, just below 35.8 for the 7950, two tenths of one frame.
    Somehow, that isn't mentioned, only the lower 2560 resolution with lower frame rates (for all the cards) but the 670 singled out as the only card that has peaked at "given the price".

    Later in the review completely unplayable frame rates for all cards in a test is used to attack just the 570, too, for lack of memory. Forget the fact that none of the other cards had playable frame rates.

    Eye candy was turned down at the triple monitor resolution but that has never before made 2560 most useful for reviews here, especially with lower frame rates for all the cards tested at the lower resolution settings. Only when we can cut down nVidia is such a statement useful, and it is very definitely confined to just the nVidia card then.
    So avoided is the paltry frames of the other competing cards even at "easier" 5670 settings.
    If the 670 is no good past 2560, then neither are any of the other cards at all, except the 7970 ? Maybe the reviewer suddenly has decided 5670 gaming is no good.

    " Even 1920x1200 isn’t looking particularly good. This is without a doubt the legitimate lowpoint of the GTX 670. "
    Well, then the 7950 doesn't look good at 1920 either, less than 1 fps difference, not to mention the 680 that is within in couple frames.
    If we take the reviewers words with their total meaning, what we have is the unsaid statement that - only possibly the 7970 should be used for this game at 5670, no other card though.

    Now - a total examination of the Crysis Warhead gaming page fps charts reveals this:
    Every card is unplayable at every resolution except for the latest respective releases in 1920X1200 chart.
    Reply
  • BrunoLogan - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link


    ... still unreachable for me on what budget is concerned. The 660Ti is what I'm looking for but as I saw somewhere it may be 5 or 6 months away and I don't know if I can wait that long. My old C2D need's replacement. I may just grab a 560Ti and later down the road get 760Ti skipping 6xx generation... bittersweet :-\
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    what gpu do you have now? You said you need to upgrade your core 2 cpu but didnt say what you have for a gpu.

    Im still running a gts 250 and getting pretty good fps on everything but BF3 at pretty high specs on a 19x12 monitor. Your major issue with games today is they are made for consoles with dx9 cards in them that came out in 2006. So with some exceptions (crysis, metro 2033, and bf3 for example) you dont really need a huge card for anything other than playing all the new games at max spec. Sure everyone wants to do that but you dont necessarily NEED to. I played metro2033 and had physx on and it was easily playable in the 30-40 fps range.

    So if you upgrade your cpu (which btw you really only need to upgrade to a quad core if its a gaming rig to get the max fps a cpu upgrade wil give you) and keep your current gpu and then when money allows grab a 670 or 685 or whatever AMD has to offer in your price range.
    Reply
  • BrunoLogan - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Do you really want to know? I have a 9600GT :-P Also, I can't call it an upgrade as in "adding some new parts and keeping some of the existing ones". I'm really buying a new machine PSU and tower included. That's why I say it's bittersweet to buy a new machine with previous generation graphics. Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    hmmm well see what you have for cash left over after buying the important parts. Honestly buying a new system now is a good idea. Ivy bridge being released which drops the prices of sandy bridge (which as I said before will give you the same FPS in game) and even throwing $125 at a 550ti will be a good jump till the end of summer when the 685 comes out, and the 550 wouldnt give you the best fps so youd still be wanting to upgrade. Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    oh and a gts250 is a rebadged and die shrunk 8800gtx Reply
  • medi01 - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    Hard to justify buying 560Ti, unless you somehow decided to only by nVidia.
    7850 consumes much less power while being ahead performance wise.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    7850 costs more, and has the massive disadvantage of being plagued with the now featureless in comparison amd crash pack latest, 12.4, to be followed on by another disaster within a months time. Reply
  • medi01 - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Why don't you kill yourself, dear nVidia zealot with a lot of time to post utter nonsense? Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    LOL - hey man the facts aren't issues to be sad about.

    If I get depressed I'll let you know so you can help. :)
    Reply

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