21 Mar 2013

 

If you are seeking a new video card to crush the FPS on the latest game then there are a few out there to pick from depending on multiple factors such as budget or depending on your level of need, such as for hard core gaming or flight simulation.  The biggest two of course are AMD and Nvidia.  Nvidia has just released the GTX Titan.  We will start off by taking a look at its specs and its pricing, though for now this card is out of reach for the frugal consumer but offers tons of performance and then work our way down in class and price.

Top of the Line Cards - Nvidia GTX Titan

Back in the day, the only video card manufacturer you could imagine putting in your PC was from Nvidia.  They held the leadership in this arena, particularly in the years 2006 through 2008.  Then AMD introduced us to the Radeon HD 4000 series to help close in on the leadership.  The AMD 5000 series was their golden winner.  Then by the end of 2010 the GTX 580 came along and Nvidia had another market leading GPU, at least until early 2012 when AMD released a newer card.

Not entirely a year ago, Nvidia's Kepler series of cards came out, also known as GK104.  They released the GTX 680.  The 400 and 500 series Fermi based GPU was less efficient than the Kepler series.  Next up we saw lower end GTX 660 and 670 series cards and a dual-GPU GTX 690.  AMD keeps pace on price along with game bundles, though Nvidia still is a bit ahead.

This brings us to the here and now with the release of the new GTX Titan card.  This card is in the $1000 range and should outperform anything on the market.

So how does the Titan compare to the GTX 680 (GK104)?  The GTX 680 has 1536 shader cores in eight streaming Multiprocessor units which are called SMXs whereas the Titan has 2668 shader cores and 14 SMXs, about 75% more than the 680.  This is similar to Nvidia's K20X supercomputing GPU.  The Titan can do double-precision floating point operations at full GPU speed, whereas the 680 series limits the double-precision code to 1/24 of a single-precision performance.  In other words, there are lots of advanced features in the Titan, that at least currently, don't mean much for gaming.  However, they hold meaning for CUDA programmers and developers who want better performance from a GPU without spending even more money.

GPU Boost 2.0

One of the new features with the Titan is a newer version of GPU Boost.  This is overclocking technology that increases a card's clock speed automatically provided that its TDP is within a certain range.  The reverse can occur if a card's TDP rises past a certain value and the operating frequency is lowered and voltages come down to reduce power consumption.  With GPU Boost 2.0, instead of TDP, they look at GPU temperature as the metric, which according to Nvidia gives better visibility on whether a card can make the increase to higher frequencies or not.

Why Titan and implications for AMD

We already have the 690, why would one spend $1000 on a newer card?  For some it's all about low-latency frame rates and times, to avoid microstuttering, or short hiccups in an otherwise smooth display rate.  When you have multiple GPU's in a system its hard to maintain this and games must be optimized for multiple GPUs.  Anything above two GPUs and it gets messy.  Introduce two GTX 690s and its one solution, assuming you are willing to pay outrageous amounts of cash to do it.  The other reason for Titan is just standard hardware evolution.  Nvidia can make the card and sell it.  Eventually the price will come down but its a necessary step in video card evolution on the PC.

AMD hasn't released their latest offering as of yet, which was known as the S10000, though its not known if this will even be the next GPU for AMD due to reasons such as power consumption.  But that is not necessarily a bad move.  The 7970s are still available for around $350 after rebates.  A $1000 card isn't really a threat to AMD's top end card at this time, however, cards lower than the Titan are likely to begin dropping in price before too long.

Performance

Techpowerup has released some performance statistics.  One in particular is from 3DMark 11 which you can see below.  3DMark 11 is typically used as one benchmark tool, as it can test Directx11 on a given card.  3DMark11 tests many of the new features of DirectX11 including tessellation, multi-threading, and compute shaders.  Previous versions of 3DMark such as the 06 version, were more CPU tied than a full blown blend of GPU and CPU testing.

They also compared fan noise and Titan did very well by the numbers on idle and not bad under load.  Titan was quieter than the 7970 and much quieter than the 690, making it one of the quietest high end cards out there.

 

 

GTX Titan

GTX 690 (dual GPU)

GTX 680

Stream processors

2688

 3072

1536

Texture Units

224

 256

128

Full Color ROPs

48

64

32

Single Precision Compute Performance

4.5 TFLOPS 2 x 3.1 TFLOPS 3.1 TFLOPS

Graphics Clock

837 MHz 915 MHz 1006 MHz

Texture Fillrate

187.5 Gtex/s 2x 130.43 Gtex/s 128.8 GTex/s

Pixel Fillrate

42 GP/s 2 x 32.61 GP/s 33.86 GP/s

Memory Clock

1502 MHz

1502 MHz

1502 MHz

Memory Bus

384-bit

2 x 256-bit

256-bit

Memory Bandwidth

288 GB/sec 384 GB/sec 192.2 GB/sec

Graphics RAM

6144 MB GDDR5

4096 MB GDDR5

2048 MB GDDR5

Power Connectors

 1 x 6-pin / 1 x 8-pin

2 x 8-pin

2x6-pin

PSU Required

600 Watt

 650 watt

550 watt

Length

10.5"(266mm)

 11"(279mm)

10.0" (254mm)

HD 7.1 Sound

 Yes

 Yes

Yes

Max DP Resolution

4096x2160

4096x2160

4096x2160

Max HDMI Resolution

4096x2160

4096x2160

4096x2160

Max DVI Resolution

2560x1600

2560x1600

2560x1600

3D Support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Multi Display Spanning

Yes, up to 4

Yes, up to 4

Yes, up to 4

3DMark 11

P12155

 P14002

P9458

3DMark Vantage

P34160

 P36748

P29860

Street Price

$1000

$999

$479

 The two choices in this range are simply the Titan or the GTX 690.

Higher Range Cards ($400+)

Now that we know what the latest and most expensive card is on the market, lets take a look at some alternatives and break them down by category, starting with the next tier down, those in the $400 plus range.  For this set of video cards, we are talking about the AMD 7970 and up series and GTX 670 and up series.  Lets take a look at a few offerings in this range.

As a benchmarking gauge, here is a Futuremark graph showing the overall range of choices from around $110 to $459 and up, though keep in mind benchmarks aren't everything when it comes to finding a decent video card, as other factors like noise level to overclocking ability (if you are hardcore and want the best bang for the dollar) come to mind.   The Nvidia GF114, like the older GF104 supports Bitstreaming of HD Audio over HDMI on the GTX 670 and 680.

 

  Radeon HD 7970 Radeon HD 7950  GTX 670  GTX 680

Stream processors

2048  1792 1344  1536
Texture Units 128  112  112  128
Full Color ROPs 32  32  32  32
Single Precision Compute Performance  3.79 TFLOPS  2.86 TFLOPS  2.5 TFLOPS  3.1 TFLOPS
Graphics Clock  925 MHz  850 MHz  915 MHz  1006 MHz
Texture Fillrate 118.4 Gtex/s  89.6 Gtex/s  109.76 Gtex/s  128.8 Gtex/s
Pixel Fillrate  29.6 GP/s  25.6 GP/s  31.36 GP/s  33.86 GP/s
Memory Clock  1375 MHz 1250 Mhz 1502 MHz  1502 MHz
Memory Bus  384-bit 384-bit 256-bit  256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 264 GB/sec 240 GB/sec  192.2 GB/sec  192.2 GB/sec
Graphics RAM 3072 MB GDDR5 3072 MB GDDR5  2048 MB GDDR5  2048 MB GDDR5
Power Connectors  1x8-pin / 1 x 6-pin 2 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin
PSU Required 500 watt  500 watt  500 watt  550 watt
Length  11" (279mm)  10.83" (275mm)  9.5" (241mm)  10.0" (254mm)
HD 7.1 Sound  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Max DP Resolution 4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160
Max HDMI Resolution  4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160
Max DVI Resolution  2560x1600   2560x1600  2560x1600  2560x1600
3D Support  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Multi Display Spanning Yes, up to 6 Yes, up to 6 Yes, up to 4 Yes, up to 4
3DMark 11  P7924  P6800  P9200  P9458
3DMark Vantage  P28589  P26100  P28428  P29860
Street Price $430 $329 $429 $479

Here are some good choices from this range:

  • Sapphire 100351SR Radeon AMD HD 7970 3GB (~$409.99)
    • Directx 11 support
    • 3GB of memory
    • Good for overclocking
    • Crysis 3 and many other games maxed out
    • Runs cool
    • Includes power adapters
    • 3DMark11: P8069
  • EVGA 02G-P4-2678-KR GTX 670 FTW LE 2GB (~$400)
    • Directx 11 Support
    • Runs cool
    • Runs current games at maximum settings
    • Cons: Card is a little large/long
    • 3DMark11: P9410

Mid-Range Cards ($200 to $300)

For the $200-$300 cards there are several choices.  First up is the AMD Radeon HD 7870, which can be had street price wise for around $220.  And also the AMD Radeon HD 7850 (which in some cases you can find for under $189).  On the Nvidia side you will find cards such as the GTX 660 and 660 Ti in this range as well.

Released in the first part of 2012, these cards feature support for DirectX 11.1.  They have 28nm GCN Architecture and support AMD's multi monitor spanning technology called AMD Eyefinity, including support for stereo 3D.  The 69xx series cards were 40nm by comparison.  PCI Express 3.0 (PCIe) is standard here and multi-GPU support is featured with AMD CrossFire technology.  Of course AMD's have good standard overclocking and tweaking tools with the  AMD PowerTune technology.  The 78xx series also features support for 4k video with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 HBR2.

Typically with a 7850 you need a 500 watt or greater Power Supply (PSU) with one 75 watt 6-pin PCI Express connector and if you are putting two cards in the system for CrossFire then you need a 600 watt or greater with two 75 watt 6-pin PCI Express connectors.  You also need a minimum of at least a standard PCIe x16 slot available on the motherboard.  The 7850 has around a 130 watt typical board rating, while the 7870 runs at around 175 watt.

The 7870 takes it a step further with a 1 Ghz GPU.  Below is a comparison of the AMD 7870, 7850 and the previous line the 6950 and 6970.

 
Radeon HD 7870

Radeon HD 7850

GTX 660

GTX 660 Ti
Stream processors 1280 1024
960
 1344
Texture Units 80
64  80  112
Full Color ROPs 32
32
 24  24
Single Precision Compute Performance 2.56 TFLOPS  1.76 TFLOPS  2.0 TFLOPS  2.6 TFLOPS
Graphics Clock 1000 MHz 860 MHz  980 MHz 980 MHz
Texture Fillrate 80 Gtex/s
55 Gtex/s  82.64 Gtex/s  109.76 Gtex/s
Pixel Fillrate 32.0 GP/s  27.52 GP/s  20.66 GP/s  31.36 GP/s
Memory Clock 1200 MHz 1200 MHz
1502 MHz
 1502 MHz
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit
 192-bit
Memory Bandwidth 153.6 GB/s
153.6 GB/s  144 GB/s  144 GB/s
Graphics RAM 2048 MB GDDR5 2048 MB GDDR5  2048 MB GDDR5  2048 MB GDDR5
Power Connectors 2 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin  1 x 6-pin  2 x 6-pin
PSU Required 500 watt
 500 watt  450 watt  550 watt
Length  9.5" (241mm)  7.8" (198mm)  9.5" (241mm)  9.5" (241mm)
HD 7.1 Sound  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max DP Resolution  4096x2160 4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160
Max HDMI Resolution  4096x2160 4096x2160  4096x2160  4096x2160
Max DVI Resolution  2560x1600 2560x1600  2560x1600  2560x1600
3D Supoort  Yes Yes  Yes  Yes
Multi-Display Spanning  Yes, up to 6 Yes, up to 6  Yes, up to 4  Yes, up to 4
3DMark 11  P6620 P5520  P7109  P8580
3DMark Vantage  P24130 P20700  P24402  P26519
Street Price $269 $219 $219 $309

 

Keep in mind with any graphics card set, there is a typical "Reference Card", this is like the baseline card for a series.  Vendors use that as a reference when making boards but can go beyond that by offering more performance.  Usually if you see two cards in the same class and one is rather cheap compared to the other, you are looking at a cheaper card which is a reference card.  The reference card may be noisier than a version priced higher as well.  So depending on your needs, spending a little extra cash on a more expensive model in the same line can go a long way.

Lets take a look at the 660 and 660 Ti specs for reference.  The 600 series are known in code as "Kepler" or GK104.

Here are some good choices from this range:

  • Gigabyte GV-R7870C-2GD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB (~$249)
    • Supports Dx11
    • Max settings on games like BF3, Skyrim
    • Metro 2033 is in the 10-25 fps range with all DX11 features on full
    • Quiet fans at higher speeds
    • No coil whine
    • Cons: Possible AMD driver issues, very large card
    • 3DMark11:  P6620
  • EVGA 02G-P4-3660-KR GTX 660 Ti 2GB (~$294)
    • Supports Dx11
    • Far Cry 3 maxed around 45fps
    • Quiet
    • EVGA panel for maximum control
    • Cons: Large card in length, possible driver issues
    • 3DMark11: P8660

Average-Range Cards ($100 to $200)

Now lets take a look at cards that fall into the $100-$200 range.  For the most part these are going to be AMD Radeon HD 7770s and HD 7750s and GTX 650 and 650 Ti, though there could be an HD 7850 that makes its way down in to this category as well.

 


Radeon HD 7770 GHz ED


Radeon HD 7750


GTX 650


GTX 650 Ti

Stream processors

640 512 384 768

Texture Units

40 32 32 64

Full Color ROPs

16 16 16 16

Single Precision Compute Performance

1.2 TFLOPS 819.2 GFLOPS 812.5 GFLOPS 1.4 TFLOPS

Graphics Clock

100 MHz 800 MHz 1058 MHz 928 MHz

Texture Fillrate

40 Gtex/s 25.6 Gtex/s 33.9 Gtex/s 59.2 Gtex/s

Pixel Fillrate

16 GP/s 12.8 GP/s 16.9 GP/s 14.8 GP/s

Memory Clock

1125 MHz 1125 MHz 1350 MHz 1350 MHz

Memory Bus

128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit

Memory Bandwidth

72.6 GB/sec 72 GB/sec 80 GB/sec 86 GB/sec

Graphics RAM

1024 MB GDDR5 1024 MB GDDR5 1024 MB GDDR5 1024 MB GDDR5

Power Connectors

1 x 6-pin 1x6-pin 1 x 6-pin 1 x 6-pin

PSU Required

500 watt 400 watt 400 watt 400 watt

Length

8.3" (210mm) 6.8" (174mm) 6.7" 6"

HD 7.1 Sound

 Yes Yes Yes Yes

Max DP Resolution

4096x2160 4096x2160 NA NA

Max HDMI Resolution

4096x2160 4096x2160 4096x2160 4096x2160

Max DVI Resolution

2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600

3D Support

Yes Yes Yes Yes

Multi Display Spanning

Yes, up to 6 Yes, up to 6 Yes, up to 4 Yes, up to 4

3DMark 11

P3510NA P2500 P2880 P4750

3DMark Vantage

P15044 P12001 P13553 P17500

Street Price

$159

$110 $110 $160

 

Here are some choices from this range:

  • Geforce GTX 650 Ti EVGA SSC 01G-P4-3652-KR (~$159)
    • Supports Directx11
    • Fan Noise is minimal
    • Kepler Based Architecture
    • Uses less power than the Fermi 550 Ti and is around 2.5" smaller than the GTX 550 Ti
    • Ideal for smaller cases
    • mini-HDMI, 2 x DVI
    • Example FPS:  Skyrim Maxed 50 FPS, Crysis 2 50 fps (1920x1080).
    • 3Dmark11 scores around P5282 (compare to GTX 550 Ti at around P2773)
  • AMD Radeon Asus 7770 HD7770-1GD5 (~$134)
    • Supports Directx11
    • Very good in smaller cases and HTPC use
    • Runs cool and quiet
    • 1 HDMI, 1 DP, 1 DVI
    • Example FPS: Crysis 2 High Settings 4x AA and 1680x1050 43.18 fps
    • 3DMark11: P3410

 

Low-End Cards ($35 to $100)

Finally, we get into the low-end cards which can be had for the range of $35-$100.  This brings us to cards like the AMD HD 4350, HD 6450 and GT 520 and GT 610

 

 


Radeon HD 4350


Radeon HD 6450


GT 520


GT 610

Stream processors

80 160 48 48

Texture Units

8 8 8 8

Full Color ROPs

4 4 4 4

Single Precision Compute Performance

96 GFLOPS 240 GFLOPS 155 GFLOPS 194 GFLOPS

Graphics Clock

600 MHz 750 MHz 810 MHz 810 MHz

Texture Fillrate

4.8 Gtex/s 6 Gtex/s 6.5 Gtex/s 6.48 Gtex/s

Pixel Fillrate

2.4 GP/s 3.0 GP/s 3.24 GP/s 3.24 GP/s

Memory Clock

500 MHz 800 MHz 900 MHz 898 MHz

Memory Bus

64-bit 64-bit 64-bit 64-bit

Memory Bandwidth

8 GB/s 12.8 GB/s 14.4 GB/s 14.37 GB/s

Graphics RAM

1024 MB GDDR3/DDR3/DDR2

2048 MB DDR3/GDDR5

2048 MB DDR3 1024 MB DDR3

Power Connectors

NA NA NA NA

PSU Required

300 watt 400 watt 300 watt 300 watt

Length

6.5" (167mm) 6.6" (168mm) 5.7" (145mm) 4.7" (119mm)

HD 7.1 Sound

 Yes Yes Yes Yes

Max DP Resolution

2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600

Max HDMI Resolution

1920x1080 1920x1200 1920x1200 1920x1200

Max DVI Resolution

2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600 2560x1600

3D Support

No

Yes

Yes (no gaming) Yes (no gaming)

Multi Display Spanning

No Yes, up to 4 Yes, up to 4 Yes, up to 4

3DMark 11

NA P148 P560 NA

3DMark Vantage

P800 P2450 P1638 P3101

Street Price

$45

$45 $50 $40

 Here some good choices would be these:

  • Nvidia GT 520 EVGA 01G-P3-1526-KR (~$49.99)
    • Good if power supply wattage is an issue, requires only 300 watt
    • Value for the price
    • Basic video card to drive two monitors
    • 1 x HDMI, 2 x DVI
    • Cons: Not meant for gaming, not a stellar performer
    • 3DMark11 P560
  • AMD Radeon HD 6450 Asus EAH6450 1GB (~$39.99)
    • Uses little power
    • Great for smaller form factors (low profile ready)
    • 1 x HDMI, 1 x VGA, 1 x DVI
    • Cons: Not meant for gaming, not a stellar performer
    • 3DMark11 P148

 Source: techpowerup.com, wikipedia


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