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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  • Galidou - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    LoL you're still so much into it's almost like you wanna make me feel that you're gonna save the world with your knowledge. Pollution will be eradicated by the light of your mesurements(in milimeters that is).

    Sorry if my english ain't at your level, maybe why you beleive I'm young, but it is in fact my third language. The only fanboy here is you, I know that this 670 is AMAZING, if I were in the market for a 300$ video card with what I see now, I'd dish an extra 100 to get it without hesitation.

    OMG sonny boy you had to mention this like it was all the supernatural 6mm difference... who gives a darn but you... If you're that old and ''responsible'' commenting like you do about video cards, WOW, it's even worse than I think, the word responsible might even have to change definition just because of you.

    I have never seen someone so irresponsible in forums when speaking about video cards. And I'm not the only one who might think that way for sure.

    You'Ve been doing personnal attacks on this forum on a regular basis and all that because of what, because of your knowledge in video cards. I'd prefer to be the most stupid man on earth instead of using any form of knowledge the way you do.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Another gigantic wall of text with nothing on the topic, and nothing but attacking. Goodbye, you missed all the discussions, and all you've got to add now is your hatred. Reply
  • Galidou - Monday, May 14, 2012 - link

    I never said your discussions were fulled with lies or anything, it's just the way you bring up your argumentation. It makes me feel like not everyone will listen to you because of that. You do it in a harsh way and bring everyone down with you at the same time.

    You think calling everyone an ignorant is really necessary to explain anything related to the topic even if their argumentation is flawed? I don't think so. I already know Nvidia won for this gen, and they won big time. It's nice to see some nice bang for your bucks at the top, and I mean, if it wasn't for the fact that I only run in 1080p and the most anticipated game I'll play is diablo 3, I'd get one right now. But darn it dude, calm down...
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, May 31, 2012 - link

    You calm down amd fanboy, you LOST, amd LOST, and is LOSING, and amd is near broke.
    And you're very upset over it.
    Reply
  • Gastec - Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - link

    Aha! Busted! You are looking forward for AMD to get broke, closed so we would all be forced to buy video cards from only one corporation: nVidia. Because that way your share of money will get bigger. You greedy bastard! Reply
  • jamyryals - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    While highly entertaining to me, your comments are actually a bit disturbing when one thinks about what you are like in real life. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    Yes, don't forget to personally attack me, use the usual blabber the most ignorant and clueless fools on the net use to do so, it's a very short list, so it won't be too hard for you unless you try to remember how to spell basement.
    Now back to the topic I brought up.
    It's a sad time for amd fanboys and no amount of lies can help.
    After the reviewer smacked down all 79xx CF setups as not able to recommend, we have this very next follow up review - and it's easy to say everyone is absolutely amazed by the massive performance of this next step nVidia GTX670 - beating amd and their fanboys at the very heart and I do mean their dark little love it to death fanboy talking point amd heart - die size / power use / price perf / fan noise...

    It's a total and complete smackdown, exceeding even in muliti monitor with the nVidia 3+1surf - a complete smackdown - no area left for the and fanboy to grab onto - extreme sadness the era has ended.

    Consolation prize is vehemently claiming amd "OC's better", but it's a very difficult and voltage increasing road of heat and instability to that little nugget - while the nVidia fan comfortably uses a new technology for OC, and "enjoys some OC anyway" even without touching a thing, if we are to believe the angry and defeated amd fans protestations..
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    You need to take a step back and read your comments. You seem to think you're the only person with a valid opinion. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, May 13, 2012 - link

    Oh more personal attacking ?
    You can have your opinion, even if it's ridiculous and stupid, and rest assured, I may use the facts to prove that it is, and thus, you may whine I seem to think only my opinion is valid.

    I see now you went on a half page excuse rant for amd in the prior page trying to justify it's terrible loss with much spinning and distortions - look buddy, why don't you take some of your own advice ?

    It's obviously very important to you, given your actions - so it would be better if you made more attempts like the one I just referred to, and also had the guts to correct those spinning and lying for amd, as then I wouldn't be so busy.

    We can thank snakefist for pointing out past page 25 here that the nVidia core size is 294mm on a side not 300mm - so there we go again, another lie by an amd fan corrected...

    ( to be fair there was some misinformation concerning that comporting to the error the poster made)

    Thanks for telling me to read my own posts, I assure you I do, although now I've skipped reading your entire rant on the prior page. It's laughable BTW.

    Reply
  • haakon_k - Saturday, May 12, 2012 - link

    While a bit entertaining to me, your comments are actually highly disturbing when one thinks about what you are like in real life.

    *my version
    Reply

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