NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Review: Retaking The Performance Crownby Ryan Smith on March 22, 2012 9:00 AM EST
Once again we have reached the end of another GPU launch article and once again we have a lot of data to digest, so let’s get to it.
For the last few generations AMD has always put up a good fight and always managed to spoil NVIDIA in some manner, be it by beating NVIDIA to market by months like we saw with the 5000 series, or significantly undercutting NVIDIA and forcing them into a bloody price war as we saw with the 4000 series. This time AMD once again spoiled NVIDIA by releasing the Radeon HD 7970 nearly 3 months early, but as always, at the end of the day it’s NVIDIA who once again takes the performance crown for the highest performing single-GPU card.
What makes this launch particularly interesting if not amusing though is how we’ve ended up here. Since Cypress and Fermi NVIDIA and AMD have effectively swapped positions. It’s now AMD who has produced a higher TDP video card that is strong in both compute and gaming, while NVIDIA has produced the lower TDP and weaker compute part that is similar to the Radeon HD 5870 right down to the display outputs. In some sense it’s a reaction by both companies to what they think the other did well in the last generation, but it’s also evidence of the fact that AMD and NVIDIA’s architectures are slowly becoming more similar.
In any case, this has ended up being a launch not quite like any other. With GTX 280, GTX 480, and GTX 580 we discussed how thanks to NVIDIA’s big die strategy they had superior performance, but also higher power consumption and a higher cost. To that extent this is a very different launch – the GTX 680 is faster, less power hungry, and quieter than the Radeon HD 7970. NVIDIA has landed the technical trifecta, and to top it off they’ve priced it comfortably below the competition.
Looking at the bigger picture, I think ultimately we still haven’t moved very far on the price/performance curve compared to where we’ve gone in past generations, and on that basis this is one of the smaller generational jumps we've seen for a GTX x80 product, or for that matter one of the smaller leads NVIDIA has had over AMD's top card. But even with NVIDIA’s conservative pricing we’re finally seeing 28nm translate into more performance for less, which of course is really what we're interested in. To that end, based on GK104’s die size I’m left wondering where GTX 680 is going to be sitting by the end of the year as 28nm production improves, as there’s clearly a lot of potential for price cuts in the future.
But in the meantime, in the here and now, this is by far the easiest recommendation we’ve been able to make for an NVIDIA flagship video card. NVIDIA’s drive for efficiency has paid off handsomely, and as a result they have once again captured the single-GPU performance crown.