NVIDIA Have enjoyed the fruits of their labors with the recent launch of Kepler, their latest ultra-efficient desktop GPU architecture. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 seized the crown for graphics performance, but also has a price tag fit for kings. Now NVIDIA are back to address the needs of performance gamers with GeForce GTX 670, using the same GK104 GPU found in GTX 680 along with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at the same clock speeds. For around $399 the GeForce GTX 670 matches price to the AMD Radeon HD 7950, yet performs to the level of Radeon HD 7970. In this article Benchmark Reviews tests the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 video card against the leading competition, including the GeForce GTX 570 that it replaces.
The first GTX 670 we're looking at comes from Palit and is part of the new JetStream series; a series that impressed us when we looked at the 2GB and 4GB versions of the GTX 680 that launched last month. Today we'll find out if stepping back from the GTX 680 to GTX 670 can help keep this new series looking strong.
Like GeForce GTX 680, GeForce GTX 670 is based on NVIDIA’s GK104 GPU. So we’re looking at the same Kepler design and the same Kepler features, just at a lower level of performance. As always the difference is that since this is a second-tier card, NVIDIA is achieving that by harvesting otherwise defective GPUs. In a very unusual move for NVIDIA, for GTX 670 they’re disabling one of the eight SMXes on GK104 and lowering the core clock a bit, and that’s it. GTX 670 will ship with 7 active SMXes, all 32 of GK104’s ROPs, and all 4 GDDR5 memory controllers. Typically we’d see NVIDIA hit every aspect of the GPU at once in order to create a larger performance gap and to maximize the number of GPUs they can harvest – such as with the GTX 570 and its 15 SMs & 40 ROPs – but not in this case.
The first next generation GPU to be released by NVIDIA was the high-end GeForce GTX 680 on March 22nd, 2012, codenamed "Kepler." This $499 GTX 680 represented the first in the line of Kepler GPUs and served as NVIDIA's new flagship single-GPU video card. Our testing, over and over has proven that the GeForce GTX 680 competes well with AMD's current offerings, providing a greater value and a greater performer. NVIDIA's latest Kepler release was just one week ago. The GeForce GTX 690 was released, which contains two GeForce GTX 680 GPUs on board for SLI action on a single video card. This $999 video card produced the best performance we've ever seen in a single-card package.
There's no magic to the GTX 670's appeal. Nvidia has dialed back the specifications just a bit versus the GTX 680 and sliced 100 bucks off of the price. Math is fun; do it with me: the GTX 680 lists at $499, so the GTX 670 will sell for $399. That's getting into territory where a lot more folks might feel inclined to justify the expense. The GTX 670 has a chance to be pretty popular.
Overclocking will also be a big part of the GTX 670's life, particularly when it comes to board partner versions. At launch, we'll see higher clock speeds on cards that go for as little as $10 more than than stock examples. Others like EVGA's Superclocked edition demand a $20 premium but will incorporate higher clock speeds and even changes to the reference heatsink designs. In short, we'll likely see a broad array of GTX 670 cards, some of which may compete directly with a GTX 680. We'll have a review of some custom designs in the coming days so stay tuned. NVIDIA may want to put the final nail in Tahiti’s coffin but they won’t get too far if their latest graphics card hits the same availability bottlenecks as the GTX 680. However, for the time being at least, it looks like the GTX 670 will have a hard launch with plenty of board partner cards in the channel. Whether or not this will be enough to satisfy demand is anyone’s guess.
This morning NVIDIA announced the GeForce GTX 670 2GB GDDR5 video card that has a total of 1344 CUDA cores and has seven streaming multiprocessors instead of the eight found on the GTX 680. NVIDIA also lowered the clock speeds down a bit as the base clock on the core of the GeForce GTX 670 is 915MHz (980MHz Boost) versus 1006MHz (1058MHz) on the GeForce GTX 680. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory remains untouched and stays clocked at 6008MHz (effective). Even with one less multiprocessor than the GTX 680, gamers will be able to experience amazing gaming performance and for a better value. The price versus performance value is better on the GeForce GTX 670 as it is costs just $399, which is $100 less than the GeForce GTX 680. The GTX 670 is less than 10% slower than a GTX 680, so you get card that costs 20% less and still packs a mean punch. With a little overclocking, pretty much any GTX 670 should be able to get up to GTX 680 performance levels, so gamers have a very interesting card to check out. Who knows, maybe you can even unlock the SMX unit that NVIDIA said was fused off!
Unlike both the GTX 680 and the GTX 690 launch, retailer cards will vary quite a bit on launch day as NVIDIA allowed their partners to have early access to the designs for the GTX 670 (hence the leaks obviously) and built their own custom solutions. Our testing today is based around a reference-clocked Galaxy GTX 670 2GB card as well as a reference card from NVDIIA - so we are going to show you base results. Of course we spend some time on overclocking later in the article.
The GeForce GTX 670 utilizes the same 28 nm GK104 silicon, with one streaming multiprocessor (SMX, amounts for 192 CUDA cores) cut out, resulting in a CUDA core count of 1,344. The GPU clock speeds are also toned down a tiny bit, with 915 MHz core, and 980 MHz GPU Boost frequency, but the memory clock speed (of 6.00 GHz, resulting in 192 GB/s bandwidth) is left untouched. It packs 112 texture memory units (TMUs), and 32 raster operations processors (ROPs). The GeForce GTX 670 retains the entire feature-set of the GTX 680, including 4-way SLI support, and the ability to drive four monitors by a single card (and hence 3D Vision Surround). The ASUS GeForce GTX 670 Direct CU II TOP is a fully custom implementation of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670. ASUS has put a dual-fan Direct Touch cooler on the card and increased the clock speeds considerably to 1058 MHz base clock. Price-wise the $20 increase is reasonable, bringing the total to $420.