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GeForce GTX 670 2 GB Review: Is It Already Time To Forget GTX 680?

GeForce GTX 670 2 GB Review: Is It Already Time To Forget GTX 680?
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Not like it was ever really widely available anyway, right? The GeForce GTX 670 offers most of GK104's on-chip resources, doesn't give up much performance, and costs $100 less. Now, let's see if Nvidia can make enough of them to satisfy demand.

How’s this for perspective? Last generation, Nvidia’s dual-GPU flagship sold for somewhere around $700. Before that, the GeForce GTX 295 was a $500 board. If you want the pinnacle of graphics performance today, the GeForce GTX 690 will cost you at least $1000—more if your vendor of choice is marking it up, as many are right now.

It’s hard to have a straight-faced discussion about value with the prices of high-end graphics cards shooting off into space. But when Nvidia told me that it planned to sell its GeForce GTX 670 for $400, I was ready to get serious about the V-word.

Hello Again, GK104

Of course, an attractive price is only one variable in the equation that determines whether you want to buy something or not. Performance is another, as is availability (a more problematic factor for Nvidia as of late).

The natural question to ask becomes: how fast is GeForce GTX 670?

Benchmarks tell that tale. But specifications give us a good measure of what to expect. Nvidia’s newest card centers on the same GK104 GPU as the company's GeForce GTX 680. But whereas the 680’s graphics processor employed all eight of the chip's SMX clusters, the 670 utilizes seven. The eighth is disabled. Hardware-wise, everything else is the same.

That means GeForce GTX 670 weighs in with 1344 total CUDA cores (192 *7) and 112 texture units (16 * 7). It also ends up giving up a single PolyMorph engine, four warp schedulers, and eight dispatch units, though the overall effect of shutting down an SMX is intended to scale with the GPU’s other resources. We did run our usual tessellation scaling numbers, and found the GTX 670 just slightly worse-off than the GTX 680 before it.

GK104’s back-end remains intact, consisting of four ROP clusters that output eight 32-bit integer pixels per clock each, totaling 32. Similarly, four 64-bit memory controllers create a 256-bit aggregate interface.

Nvidia populates that bus with the same 2 GB of GDDR5 memory found on its GeForce GTX 680, even setting the same 1502 MHz frequency, yielding a 6008 MT/s data rate. To further differentiate the GeForce GTX 670 from the more expensive 680, Nvidia does drop the lower-end card’s core to a 915 MHz base, with the typical GPU Boost setting landing at 980 MHz.

As we’ll see, though, those moves don’t have as much cumulative effect as we might have suspected.


GeForce GTX 670
GeForce GTX 680
Radeon HD 7950
Radeon HD 7970
Shaders1344
1536
1792
2048
Texture Units
112
128
112
128
Full Color ROPs
32
32
32
32
Graphics Clock
915 MHz
1006 MHz
800 MHz
925 MHz
Texture Fillrate
102.5 Gtex/s
128.8 Gtex/s
89.6 Gtex/s
118.4 Gtex/s
Memory Clock
1502 MHz
1502 MHz
1250 MHz
1375 MHz
Memory Bus
256-bit
256-bit
384-bit
384-bit
Memory Bandwidth192.2 GB/s
192.3 GB/s
240 GB/s
264 GB/s
Graphics RAM
2 GB GDDR5
2 GB GDDR5
3 GB GDDR5
3 GB GDDR5
Die Size
294 mm2
294 mm2365 mm2
365 mm2
Transistors (Billion)
3.54
3.54
4.31
4.31
Process Technology
28 nm
28 nm
28 nm
28 nm
Power Connectors
2 x 6-pin
2 x 6-pin
2 x 6-pin
1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin
Maximum Power
170 W
195 W
200 W
250 W
Price (Street)
$400
$500
$400
$480


Oh My God, Becky. Look At Her PCB.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680 is 10” long. Both its PCB and its cooling shroud are that long. A nice, sturdy aluminum frame encircles the whole card, adding rigidity for a beefy vapor chamber and acoustically-optimized centrifugal fan.

The reference GeForce GTX 670, on the other hand, is 9.5” long. But its PCB only accounts for 6.75” of that. Nvidia claims that the 670’s scaled-back power requirements allowed it to move voltage regulation circuitry to the other (left) side of the GPU, which itself is rotated to purportedly improve signal integrity.

Nvidia uses the same fan found on the GeForce GTX 680, which we like because it exhausts all of the card’s heated air out the rear I/O panel. But it employs a cost-reduced heat sink. You’ll see in the power and noise benchmarks that the result is slightly louder, slightly warmer operation under load. However, the GTX 670 is only marginally less attractive in that regard.

Deactivating a single SMX and turning down the GeForce GTX 670’s core clock results in a typical board power of 141 W, according to Nvidia. That’s around 30 W less than the GeForce GTX 680, which bears a 170 W typical and 195 W maximum power rating. Since a 16-lane PCI Express slot only delivers 75 W of power, you still need two six-pin auxiliary connectors to drive the GTX 670. In the event that you forget to attach those leads, Nvidia added a pre-boot warning message to its Kepler-based cards instructing the end-user to plug them in.

The 670 offers the same four display outputs as Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 680: two dual-link DVI connectors (one DVI-I and one DVI-D), one full-sized HDMI output, and one full-sized DisplayPort connector. All four can be active simultaneously, partly addressing AMD’s Eyefinity technology, which we’ve seen enable up to six screens on one card.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    borden5 , May 10, 2012 1:23 PM
    amd price reduce 2.0 xD
  • 27 Hide
    godfather666 , May 10, 2012 1:48 PM
    The list of games is very unfair to AMD cards. Techpowerup's review, which featured a much longer list of games, had the Radeon HD 7970 faster than the GTX 670 at all resolutions 1080p and higher.

    Nvidia has had a big lead in Dirt 3 and WoW for a very long time. This skews the results.

    The GTX 670 is a fantastic card, don't get me wrong. Just pointing out that it's being slightly overrated here.
  • 27 Hide
    iceman1992 , May 10, 2012 1:42 PM
    $400 is still too high for me... Waiting for something around $225
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2012 1:21 PM
    Running to buy it!
  • -4 Hide
    tecmo34 , May 10, 2012 1:23 PM
    Great Review Chris!!

    Though there isn't really a performance hit but it would be great to have seen the GTX 670 running at PCIe 3.0.
  • 28 Hide
    borden5 , May 10, 2012 1:23 PM
    amd price reduce 2.0 xD
  • -6 Hide
    master9716 , May 10, 2012 1:28 PM
    OMFG no 5760x1080 benchmarks again?!! ima have to go to hardware.info or something wow!
  • 3 Hide
    TheBigTroll , May 10, 2012 1:31 PM
    YAHHHHHHH!!! time to get one
  • 27 Hide
    iceman1992 , May 10, 2012 1:42 PM
    $400 is still too high for me... Waiting for something around $225
  • 26 Hide
    sayantan , May 10, 2012 1:45 PM
    Nice move nV , forcing AMD to drop their prices for entire lineup. A 7970 at $400 would be really awesome...
  • 27 Hide
    godfather666 , May 10, 2012 1:48 PM
    The list of games is very unfair to AMD cards. Techpowerup's review, which featured a much longer list of games, had the Radeon HD 7970 faster than the GTX 670 at all resolutions 1080p and higher.

    Nvidia has had a big lead in Dirt 3 and WoW for a very long time. This skews the results.

    The GTX 670 is a fantastic card, don't get me wrong. Just pointing out that it's being slightly overrated here.
  • 6 Hide
    Pezcore27 , May 10, 2012 1:53 PM
    Excellent review. I was waiting for this card to hit. Only a 4.5% difference between a 680 for almost 100 less? Yes please!

    I am not trying to sound bad, but AMD might have a real problem on their hands with this card as it is priced very competitively for what you get. Especially since it competes with AMD's flagship that's more expensive.
  • 6 Hide
    Maziar , May 10, 2012 1:54 PM
    Awesome review like always Chris,Well done :) 
  • 3 Hide
    spookyman , May 10, 2012 1:54 PM
    The question is will it be in stock or will it be a rarity like their other Kepler cards?
  • 12 Hide
    jabliese , May 10, 2012 1:58 PM
    @godfather666 Unless you happen to play WoW or Dirt 3.

    This is the price war you were looking for.
  • 12 Hide
    Reynod , May 10, 2012 2:10 PM
    Wait ... will we see any stock this year ... or are these going to be as rare as the 680 / 690 / 6xx ??

    The 6 series NVidia cards ... the ghost cards.

    All hype ... no stock.

    Nvidia are pumping out the reviews and advertorials ... mostly the latter I see across the web.

    This rollut must be costing them a fortune.

    I hope it's getting them sales in the old stock ... thats the point ... isn't it??
  • 4 Hide
    trumpeter1994 , May 10, 2012 2:12 PM
    Wasn't this card supposed to compete with the 7870 and 7950 lol? It's ripping both of them to shreds and manaing to hold its own against the 7970 in most cases....... AMD has got a serious problem on their hands now, because this thing looks like the next 8800gt or gtx 460
  • 0 Hide
    stingstang , May 10, 2012 2:12 PM
    Anyone else hear AMD's sphincter pucker up just now?
  • 8 Hide
    qwertymac93 , May 10, 2012 2:24 PM
    Wow, never thought I'd see a "Baby Got Back" reference on a GPU review.
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