Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Fall 2012 GPU and Driver Comparison Roundup

With the recent release of new beta drivers from both AMD and NVIDIA, and the upping of clocks by AMD, significant performance gains have been claimed by both parties for current generation video cards. We will investigate with a 6-way roundup comparison to see if we can crown a champion.

Introduction

On October 23rd, 2012, both AMD and NVIDIA released new beta drivers that made claims of significant performance gains for their respective GCN and Kepler architectures. AMD released Catalyst 12.11 Beta, which AMD is claiming is its "Never Settle" driver. NVIDIA released ForceWare 310.33 Beta with up to 15% better performance in some games and improvements across the board. Voices cheered across the internet as more performance was unlocked for video cards for free, but we wanted to know whether it was a true game changer or just another press release. We typically do our video card evaluations with the latest drivers available at the time of testing, and in most cases, subsequent driver releases don’t make significant differences to performance. Pricing at the time of publication also carries a lot of weight within our conclusion and bottom line and often makes or breaks our opinion of the video card that is being evaluated.

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Today on our test bench is a collection of current generation reference cards: NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 680, GTX 670, GTX 660 Ti and AMD’s HD 7970 GHz Edition, HD 7950 Boost Edition and HD 7870 GHz Edition.

Current Pricing

NVIDIA GTX 680 آ– A reference build is currently available for $459.99 with factory overclocked offerings starting at $469.99

NVIDIA GTX 670 آ– A reference build is currently available for $359.99 with factory overclocked offerings starting at $389.99. There are several other factory overclocked cards that start lower than $389.99, however, the factory overclock on those cards are so small it is not going to make a meaningful performance difference.

NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti آ– A reference build is currently available for $289.99 with factory overclocked cards that start at $299.99.

AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition آ– A factory overclocked build is currently available for $449.99, which is priced lower than the reference clocked HD 7970 GHz Edition cards that are currently available.

AMD HD 7950 Boost Edition آ– A reference build is currently available for $319.99.

AMD HD 7870 GHz Edition آ– A reference build is currently available for $229.99 and a factory overclocked version is available for $239.99.

Based upon current pricing, there are three distinct price groupings which will drive how our results are displayed over the course of this evaluation. The top pricing band includes the GTX 680, GTX 670 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition. The middle pricing band includes the Radeon HD 7950 Boost edition and the GTX 660 Ti. The lowest pricing band includes the Radeon HD 7870 GHz edition.

For purposes of this review, we will consider the high end cards to include the NVIDIA GTX 680, GTX 670 and the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition (these cards will occupy the top graph position for each game). The lower graph will include the Radeon HD 7950 Boost Edition, HD 7870 GHz Edition and NVIDIA GTX 660 Ti. We have chosen this grouping to allow for the easiest comparison between similar price points.