Nvidia’s GTX 680 vs. AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 1

We’ve seen AMD and Nvidia trading blows back and forth in a never-ending competition to create the  fastest (and ultimately best-selling) graphics card. With the entry of the GTX 680 to the market this month, that competition just kicked into overdrive. Nvidia’s Southern Islands GPU, the Radeon 7970, was initially priced at $549, causing AMD to fire back with the well-priced GTX 680 for $499.

Performance

It’s not a knock-out, but the GTX 680 scored some solid wins over the Radeon cards. From Tom’s Hardware:

GeForce GTX 680 is now the fastest single-GPU graphics card, and not by a margin that leaves room to hem or haw. Making matters worse for AMD, the GTX 680 is priced right between its Radeon HD 7970 and 7950. Providing that Nvidia’s launch price sticks, both Radeon HD 7900s need to be significantly less expensive in order to compete.

To be clear, that means that the GTX 680 is still out-performed in many instances by cards with multiple GPUs – the GTX 590 and Radeon 6990 from generations past, which will still set you back just under $700. Here’s a benchmark from Battlefield 3:

BF3 Radeon 7970 vs GTX 680

This is about what we see everywhere: the GTX 680 out-performing the 7970 by a few frames. It’s bad enough to be beat at the same price, but it really hurts to be beat at a lower price point.

Power

Talk about hitting a guy when he’s down – the GTX sucks much less power than comparable graphics cards. From Bjorn3d:

GTX 680 vs. 7970 and other power consumption

Wow. Personally, I don’t pay a lot of attention to power consumption. That might just be because electricity is really cheap where I live, or because power consumption isn’t exactly the first thing on your mind when you buy cards that costt $500-700. Still, I am certainly not going to complain about saving tons of money over the life of the card, and I don’t think anyone else is either. As is usually the case with lower power consumption, the card also runs a little cooler under a full load.

So which one should you serious gamers buy? Neither – at least not yet:

  • Intel is launching Ivy Bridge at the end of next month. If you’re going to upgrade a system or get a new one, that’s the time to do it.
  • We expect to see some price cuts once the products are actually available, which may trigger retaliatory price cuts.

If you were going to choose a graphics card as of the 23rd of April, there’s no question that the GTX 680 deserves your money. Nvidia might have to drop prices by at least $75 on the 7970 to even be competitive. I expect that they are also rushing to finish the 7990 and reap some profits, but don’t expect it in the next few months.

One comment on “Nvidia’s GTX 680 vs. AMD’s Radeon HD 7970

  1. popplCopter Mar 23, 2012 8:55 pm

    Bah Im going to get the 680 now :) I dont think the GTX 680 is going down anymore. If history is right, Nvidia wont drop the price enough, and there will be no reason for AMD to have to compete on price.

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