Can The Fastest Mobile GPU Also Help Maximize Value?
Today's tests show that Nvidia has the fastest single-GPU notebook solution in its GeForce GTX 780M. The catch is that getting it into your mobile platform adds about $750 to its price (as much as an actual GeForce GTX 780 Ti, the fastest desktop graphics card you can buy). That’s pretty steep, even by high-end-gaming standards, particularly when you compare it to AMD's second-place Radeon HD 8970M at around $500.
Then again, when you factor in the cost of an entire, expensive gaming-oriented notebook, Nvidia's GPU improves gaming performance by 13% compared to the competition's best effort, so it could even walk away with a value win.
If you start with a $2180 notebook (sans graphics module), the expensive GeForce GTX 780M appears to offer the best gaming value, in spite of its price tag. But how does it look on its own?
If we consider only the price of adding the GPU to a theoretically free notebook, value is inversely proportional to price. Comparing the two charts above, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 770M and 765M could present the best value in a lower-end notebook, but not the behemoth benchmarked today.
Mobile gamers who prefer high resolutions and demanding quality settings in the latest titles need a top-model GeForce or Radeon GPU to hit the minimum frame rate levels for a playable experience. Running a few more calculations, the value parity between Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780M and AMD's Radeon HD 8970M happens when you drop them both into a roughly $1450 platform. That'd be equivalent to downgrading these test machines from Intel's Core i7-4930MX to the Core i7-4800MQ.
Add in the price of the graphics module, and those same calculations show that a fan of AMD's hardware can justify going with the Radeon HD 8970M’s second-place finish if they're looking at a system priced below $1950. The GeForce GTX 780M’s higher price secures a value win when the total system cost is over $2200. If you're in between, don't feel obligated to go either way. The decision narrows to whichever company's value-adds (like GeForce Experience, PhysX support, or Mantle support) are most important to you.