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GeForce GTX 760 Review: GK104 Shows Up (And Off) At $250

Cinching Up Mainstream Gaming With GeForce GTX 760

Nvidia’s Kepler-based chips had their one-year birthdays earlier this year. Yet, with the introduction of its GeForce GTX 700-series graphics cards, the company fired a broadside at AMD using its highest-end GPUs, pushing performance up and prices down. At least through the fall of 2013, Nvidia plans to reload, and we aren’t expecting any other product launches.

From $1000 down to about $130, this assault leaves the Radeon family reeling. In the short term, AMD needs to drop its prices in response (we’re already seeing sub-$400 Radeon HD 7970s). But pretty quickly here, the company will have to answer back with a combination of higher performance, greater efficiency, and new features. We’ve heard rumblings, we are hopeful, but time is of the essence. AMD did hit a home run with its Never Settle: Reloaded game bundle, and that's something to think about if you don't already own Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Crysis 3, and BioShock Infinite.

When it comes to pure performance per dollar, though, Nvidia pinched hard in the mainstream segment with GTX 650 Ti, 650 Ti Boost, and 660, and then from the top with GTX 780 and 770.

Today, GeForce GTX 760 fills in the space between. It doesn't do anything revolutionary in terms of performance, trailing GeForce GTX 670 by a fair margin. But its legacy is going to be pushing those frame rates down to $250. At that price point, the 760 does battle where you'd expect to find Radeon HD 7870, GeForce GTX 660, and a couple of discounted Radeon HD 7950s. It’s about $30 less expensive than the cheapest GeForce GTX 660 Tis, too (no wonder that model is scheduled to disappear rather quickly).

A quick reference to Best Graphics Cards For The Money: June 2013 shows that Don is currently recommending the Tahiti-based Radeon HD 7870 for $250. With almost certainty, the GeForce GTX 760 will take that honor next month, displacing the Radeon HD 7950 with Boost at $300 in the process. Aside from the entry-level cards, this was really AMD’s last bastion in our monthly round-up of Tom’s Hardware-approved purchases.

The GeForce GTX 760 isn’t as sexy as the Titan, 780, or even 770 we reviewed most recently. Nvidia’s reference design is very GeForce GTX 670-like, and partners mostly seem to be introducing versions with axial fans that blow waste heat into your case (bummer). However, the card changes the balance of power at its $250 price point, besting more expensive AMD boards and even knocking older GeForce products out of the way. Although we’re dealing with a mature GPU and derived specifications, we’re led to the same conclusion we drew in The GeForce GTX 770 Review: Calling In A Hit On Radeon HD 7970?: GeForce GTX 760 is a card worth recommending, owing to the fact that it’s faster than pricier competition. Truly, this is the upper end of the spectrum for gaming on a 1920x1080 display, and it's more accessible than ever.