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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GPU News: GTX 660 and 650, AMD's Countermove, and Next-Gen

The GPU market has been pretty active over the last couple of days. After last week's new releases AMD and Nvidia basically have all of their chips on the table at this point. Time for price cut battles and holiday discounts over the next few months.

GTX 650, 660 Unveiled

Last Thursday, Nvidia released the GTX 650 and GTX 660 graphics cards in an effort to fill the gigantic void in their 600-series lineup. The 650 is Nvidia's budget gaming offering and comes in at $110. The 660 falls in line behind the 660 Ti at $230.

I thought about making my own nifty little table showing the tech specs of the newest cards in comparison with what's already on the market, but TechPowerUp already has an incredibly extensive one that would put mine to shame. Here it is:

Source: TechPowerUp

As always, there are reviews of the cards everywhere, with the following list being a small sample of what's available.

Source: TechPowerUp
The chart at the right (click to enlarge) from TechPowerUp's GTX 650 review shows the relative performance of a ton of different cards at 1900x1200.

The 650 falls somewhere between the 7750 and 7770 depending on resolution and games tested, and this is pretty much what you'd expect from a $110 card. If you're not afraid of buying used cards and can find a reputable seller, you can actually find some pretty good deals on older cards at this price point. I've seen a few used GTX 470s offered for around $120 shipped; the card compares pretty favorably to an HD 7770. If you move a little higher up the food chain, used 560 Ti cards can be found for around 150 bucks if you look hard enough. If you're willing to accept the higher power requirements and heat output of these higher-tier cards, you can do pretty well for yourself.

The GTX 660 is another card that makes me consider buying a card from the previous generation. From the looks of things the 660 matches the performance of the GTX 570. The 660 offers 2GB of VRAM, but it's got that weird 192-bit memory bus that doesn't fare so well once AA is cranked up. Choosing the 570 over the 660 would leave you with 768MB less VRAM, but that VRAM sits on a 320-bit bus. Again, if you're not afraid of buying a card secondhand you can score a 570 for sub-$200.

Buying anything used has obvious associated risks - shortened or non-existent warranty, lack of knowledge about the part's usage history, etc - but it's an important option to consider. If you're afraid of Craigslist and eBay (this feeling is totally justified, btw) check out something like the marketplace or other options on similar enthusiast sites.

AMD Fires Back

In response to the release of the GTX 650 and 660, AMD performed another price cut that tries to give the company the price/performance edge.

From the looks of things, they did just that. The lowest 7870 on Newegg is $230 after rebate with most falling in the $240-245 range AR. All of these include a copy of Sleeping Dogs. The GTX 660 Ti still sits at $300 with an included copy of Borderlands 2. Bundled games aside, performance between the two is close enough that it's hard to justify the $60+ price premium on the 660 Ti unless you're an avid Battlefield 3 player. The 660 Ti is the better card on paper, but I don't think it's $60 better.

Next-Gen Rumors

Source: Tom's Hardware

Finally, there were a couple of recent leaks that contained some supposed information about the upcoming HD 8850 and 8870 cards. I first saw the story in a post on on Saturday that referenced a Chinese site with some leaked tech specs. Yesterday Tom's Hardware picked up the story and the details look to be the same.

It feels way too early to be looking at the next generation of cards, but I guess that's the nature of the business. If those numbers check out, hopefully we'll see some solid bang-for-your-buck cards next year.


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