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 - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Are you going to put up with crashing amd drivers and a burning electric bill OC with added instability and a water tower cost and then all of a sudden save a miniscule bit on card cost ? Are you going to add to your suffering with no adaptive v-sync, no also added smooth frame rate target, no instant per game optimum settings from a massive nVidia server farm embedded automagically in the superior nVidia drivers ?

    Are you going to stand for no bezel peek feature ?
    Are you going to put up with the more expensive and hassled 3 monitor connection issues of the amd cards ?
    Are you going to sit there undisturbed by the epic failure of amd 3D gaming vs Nvidia's available and awesome implementation ?
    Are you going to put up with no amd 120hz monitor support there too ?

    Isn't your original stance there the very opposite of "no one buys these cards to run on just one monitor and certainly not 1900x1200" argument ?

    Since the amd overlcocks "so well" as you claim vs nVidia, what is amd releasing a pre overclocked version going to do other than allow amd partners to charge more ?
    ROFL - it will do nothing.
    Reply
  • saturn85 - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    the folding@home benchmark is great!!
    i think the performance unit "point per day (ppd)" is preferable compare to "nanosecond per day (ns/day)".
    Reply
  • TheMan876 - Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - link

    Glad to see 3 monitor resolutions getting benchmarked since I just moved to that setup. Can't wait to see SLI on this card! Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, May 17, 2012 - link

    Prices for the GTX 670 and the HD 7970 are similar in Germany, at max a difference of about 30€. :-)
    If I had to buy a card today, I'd probably get a GTX 680, but I don't regret the 500€ I spent on a 7970 with a watercooling block and OC capabilities of 1300/1700. :-)
    Reply
  • Brainling - Thursday, May 24, 2012 - link

    I had been waiting patiently for the release of the 670 or the 660ti, depending on availability, cost and performance. After reading this review of the 670, I bought one on the spot (release day morning, while Newegg still had some)....it was a good decision.

    This card replaced an HD6870, and while that was a decent card, it's like night and day. In informal tests I did, I found this card to be twice as powerful in most scenarios. Nvidia has really outdone themselves with their new Kepler architecture. They've created one of the most powerful hyper-parallel architectures available to do, and have done so at greatly decreased power draw and heat (aka: less noise). It's rare to ever see my 670 spike above 60C, with the stock blower cooler.

    All in all a great purchase, and one I'm very glad I made.
    Reply
  • smartypnt4 - Sunday, May 27, 2012 - link

    I know they're on the site in other reviews, but it would be nice if you could include a few dual-GPU cards in the benchmark comparisons. It probably only matters to a few people like me, but it'd be nice to have.

    For me, I want them because I'm trying to make a decision: do I get a second 6950 to crossfire with the one I already have for $200, or do I go out and buy a new card?

    From what I've seen, outside the edge case games such as Batman and some of the games running on Frostbite, a 6990 pretty much trades blows with the 680 and the 7970. So, I'm thinking that for me, since I have the headroom in my PSU, getting a second 6950 makes a whole lot of sense, even though the setup will consume almost twice as much power as one new card.

    Just my two cents.
    Reply
  • codeus - Monday, June 04, 2012 - link

    Good review but so much focus on EVGA's warranty changes smacks of this being a sponsored (and therefore biased?) review. Reply
  • pilotofdoom - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link

    Anyone else notice that the GTX 670 outperformed the GTX 680 in the Microsoft’s Detail Tessellation test on Normal settings?

    I'm guessing it's a simple mistake, since there's no mention of the reversal in the text. Not like it really matters anyways, being a synthetic benchmark compared to actual gaming performance.
    Reply
  • chrisrobhay2 - Friday, June 29, 2012 - link

    Which leader does Anandtech use for the Civilization V Compute test? I'm just curious because my overclocked GTX 670 wipes the floor with all of these cards in almost all of the leader tests, so I want to make sure that I'm looking at the right information. Reply
  • warmbit - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - link

    If you want to see what we really have GTX670 performance in games is worth taking a look at this overview:

    http://warmbit.blogspot.com/2012/05/analiza-wyniko...

    On the right side, select your language for translation (Google Translate).
    Reply

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