After a couple of months off due to a very busy fall product season, we’re finally back again with our monthly guide to video cards and video card industry recap. Since our last guide it has been a busy couple of months, so there’s quite a bit to cover.

The big news this fall has of course been the new video card launches from AMD and NVIDIA. While October has been a relatively quiet month, both companies kept September busy by pushing new products out the door and took others off the shelves.

AMD for their part released the first of their GCN 1.2 architecture GPUs: Tonga. Tonga serves as AMD’s replacement for the nearly 3 year old Tahiti GPU, the very first of AMD’s GPUs first launched in 2011. Tonga is an interesting – if still slightly mysterious – GPU, as we suspect we have not seen everything it and GCN 1.2 can offer. From a high level GCN 1.2 is a further refinement on the GCN architecture, bringing with it greatly improved Delta Color Compression for graphics buffers, a faster video decode block (H.264 L5.2 support), and a further optimized geometry frontend that better handles extreme tessellation factors. At the same time we suspect there are some compute/HSA improvements in the design that AMD has not disclosed and are being saved for the rumored Carrizo APU, Kaveri’s successor.

As for AMD’s desktop product stack, Tonga has been used so far in a single product, the Radeon R9 285. Like Tonga to Tahiti, R9 285 is designed to replace the R9 280 and similar second-tier Tahiti designs. Compared to R9 280, R9 285 is an unusual sidegrade that packs the GCN 1.2 features, a narrower 256-bit memory bus, and virtually identical performance to R9 280. Tahiti and R9 280 were in need of an update and R9 285 is a fine replacement, but if it has any weakness it’s that it hasn’t done much to push the overall performance envelope.

Meanwhile not to be left behind, NVIDIA released their own new wave of video cards powered by the Maxwell 2 architecture. The immediate successor to the Maxwell 1 architecture used in the GeForce GTX 750 series, Maxwell 2 brought NVIDIA’s previous power efficiency gains to the high-end with their new GM204 GPU, along with some new architectural features that make Maxwell 2 stand further apart from Maxwell 1. Among these is HDMI 2.0 support, HEVC hardware encoding, NVIDIA’s VXGI voxel rendering technology, and a suite of new graphics features that will be part of the Direct3D 11.3 specification.

GM204 in turn lies at the heart of the GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, which had a significant impact on the PC video card market almost overnight. GTX 980 took the top spot as the fastest single-GPU video card, pushing aside AMD’s Radeon R9 290X and even NVIDIA’s own GTX 780 Ti while setting new marks for power efficiency (all the more impressive since this is still TSMC’s 28nm process). Meanwhile the more affordable GTX 970 retained much of GTX 980’s performance at a lower price, which had a significant spoiler effect on the market due to its strong performance – second only to GTX 980 and often tied with R9 290X – coupled with a low $330 price tag.

In fact it’s only now, over a month post-launch that NVIDIA and their partners have finally caught up with demand. For the last month GTX 900 cards have been hard (though not impossible) to come by, reflecting the impact they’ve had on the market. The AMD ecosystem for its part has cut prices in response in order to stay competitive, and while AMD is facing a technological gap they can’t completely close with the R9 290 series, they can still put up a good fight with competitive positioning.

Finally, on a software note, we’re seeing the launch of this fall’s major video games, including games that were designed around the current-generation game consoles. Though the era of AAA action games being cross-platform means that PC video cards don’t always get used to their full potential, the flip side of this is that once there’s a console generation jump, we see a significant increase in the GPU requirements as the PC video card advantage gets reset. Of particular note, games like Shadows of Mordor and Assassin’s Creed: Unity are hitting shelves with high performance requirements and VRAM-hungry assets that can eat into 4GB+ of VRAM, as consoles are now using GPUs and graphical effects in from the same generation as current PC GPUs. For gamers this means upgrades may be in order, something AMD and NVIDIA are itching to provide.

Anyhow, market summaries behind us, let’s look at individual recommendations. As always, we’ve laid out our ideas of price/performance bands and recommendations in our table below, with our full explanations and alternative options to follow. As always, in the case of the sub-$200 market it’s worth pointing out that there’s a video card for roughly every $10, so picking a good video card is as much about budgets as it is finding an especially strong card.

October 2014 GPU Performance Guide
Performance Band Price Range Recommendation
1080p (Low) $99-$149 AMD Radeon R7 260X
1080p (Med)
1080p (High)
1440p (Med)
1440p (High)
1440p (Max)
4K/Multi-Monitor (High)

As a general recommendation for gaming, we suggest starting at $99. There are cards below this price, but the amount of performance you have to give up below $99 far outweighs the cost. Even then, performance gains will generally exceed the price increases up to $150 or so.

Meanwhile for gamers looking for high quality 1080p gaming or better, that will start at around $199. Going above that will find cards that are good for 1440p, 4K, and multi-monitor, while going below that will find cards that will require some quality sacrifices to stay at 1080p.

Finally, this guide is by its very nature weighted towards price/performance, based on the passionate feedback we've received from our readers. For these purposes we consider AMD and NVIDIA to be equal from a functionality and compatibility perspective, but it should be said that both parties have been building out their ecosystem in the past year, and this will only continue to grow as the two companies try to differentiate themselves. So if you need or want functionality beyond the core functionality a video card offers, it may be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the NVIDIA and AMD ecosystems, including Gameworks, Eyefinity, G-Sync, Mantle, GeForce Experience, and more.

Budget (<$100): AMD Radeon R7 260X

Though always a bit of a mess due to the sheer number of cards around the $99 price point, for this month the market for budget cards is going to be pretty cut and dry. At under $100 AMD’s Radeon R9 260X is going to be the fastest option available. Based on a full-fledged version of AMD’s Bonaire GPU, the R7 260X offers a good balance between price and performance, delivering the best performance to be found for this price segment.

Now this still isn’t going to quite hit the overall performance sweet spot we outlined earlier, but for those gamers on a strict budget it will get the job done. For current games it will be able to run most of them at 1080p with medium-to-low settings. For newer cross-platform games however, we expect to see it get forced back to low quality. One piece of advice here is that if you can snag one, a 2GB card is going to have longer legs than a 1GB card. Unfortunately most sub-$100 cards are the 1GB variety, but there is usually a 2GB card or two also available at that price.

Runner Up: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750

Our second runner up here is NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 750. Most GTX 750 cards are over $100, but there is a decent selection at $99, enough to make purchasing one at this price an option. Against the R7 260X it’s still going to be several percent slower, but it has an ace up its sleeve in its sub-75W power consumption, making it more favorable in power or cooling constrained systems.

Mainstream Sweet Spot ($149): AMD Radeon R7 265

At this point in time the $149 price point is in an odd spot due to how this price point is bracketed by cards above and below it. The card you’re most likely to find at this price point is AMD’s Radeon R7 265, the company’s lowest-tier Pitcairn card. Essentially a 7850 with a higher GPU clockspeed and a revised memory bus allowing for higher memory clockspeeds, the R7 265 a capable card for the price.

From a performance standpoint the R7 265 not going to be able to play every game at 1080p at high settings, but it will be fast enough for medium-to-high depending on the game, which will be a couple of notches higher than what the $99 cards can do. Meanwhile the 2GB of VRAM will mean that future games shouldn’t bog down the card quite as badly; higher graphical fidelity games will slow it down like any other card, but there’s enough VRAM to keep up with the demands of higher resolution textures and heavier use of intermediate buffers.

Runner Up: AMD Radeon R9 270 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti

While R7 265 is AMD’s official $149 card, the more powerful R9 270 has been flirting with the $149 mark as well. There aren’t really enough cards available at this price to qualify R7 270 as a $149 card, but it can be found at that price by the smart shopper. All things considered the R7 270 is the better card at around 10% faster, and if it can be found at $149 you should take it over an R7 265.

Alternatively, we have NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti, a card that offers below the R7 265 but with much lower power consumption. The GTX 750 Ti is a sub-75W card – no external PCIe power connector required – allowing it to work in cases and systems where the near-150W R7 265 cannot, while also offering the improved acoustics that come with lower power consumption. And at around $129 it’s going to be lighter on the wallet than R7 265, but performance standpoint it will trail by about 16%.

1080p Gaming ($189): AMD Radeon R9 280

Once we start approaching $200 we begin reaching some rather powerful cards, and in the process cross a pretty good fight for the $200 spot between AMD and NVIDIA. But at the end of the day AMD has the edge with their Radeon R9 280, the company’s second-tier Tahiti part. Officially this part is in clearance sale mode, but that has been the case for almost 2 months now with the supply still holding strong, so as long as that remains the case this is going to be the strongest card for those looking around the $200 price point.

The R9 280 should breeze through 1080p gaming, and with its 3GB of VRAM it should hold up to newer cross-platform games a bit better than some other cards. This card should even be able to hit 1440p in some scenarios, but I expect the next round of cross-platform games will keep it working hard just to stay at 1080p with high quality settings.

Runner Up: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760

The GeForce GTX 760 falls a bit short of R9 280’s performance, but should R9 280 supplies finally dry up or you’re just looking for a $200 NVIDIA card it’s still a solid choice. As NVIDIA’s second-tier GK104 card it still packs quite a punch.

1440p Power ($279): AMD Radeon R9 290

Past $200, the launch of the GTX 900 series has caused a major disruption of pricing and sweet spots. Between the $189 R9 280 and $279 R9 290 there are some cards such as the R9 285 and GTX 770, but none of them are very interesting nor make all that much sense right now. With the R9 290 at $279, your best bet after the $200 mark is to just keep on going until you reach the first of our high performance cards.

At $300 or less there’s really no choice here. To that end AMD essentially wins by default, but the real winner is gamers who are getting a good card at a great price. Based on the second-tier version of AMD’s flagship Hawaii GPU, the R9 290 packs enough performance to tackle 1440p at medium-to-high settings, and its 4GB of VRAM means that it should have no problem even with demanding cross-platform games. Alternatively, if you want to drive 120Hz without spending a fortune, the R9 290 should get you there.

The Performance Sweet Spot ($349): NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970

Above the R9 290 and the biggest factor in reshaping the performance video card landscape in the last month is the cheaper of NVIDIA’s two GTX 900 series cards, the GeForce GTX 970. The GTX 970 is the reason AMD had to cut prices, and along with its sibling is arguably unmatched from a technological perspective. AMD can offer similar performance, but they can’t match NVIDIA’s power efficiency in this segment of the market. Making it possible to have a high performance card without also having the heat and noise that so often comes with it.

From a performance perspective the GTX 970 is a solid step up from the R9 290, and this is coupled with its very significant power advantage. It should have no trouble handling 1440p games on high settings, and between this level of performance, power consumption, and price it’s undoubtedly the sweet spot card for performance gamers. You can get faster cards, but not at this balance between performance and price.

The only downside here is that pricing is currently not holding to the card’s initial $330 MSRP. It’s not completely clear whether this is due to the previously limited availability, retailer’s taking advantage of demand, or board partners pushing their premium customized cards, but you have to be ready to shell out $350 to get a choice of GTX 970 cards. This does hurt GTX 970’s sweet spot designation a bit, though it’s still the strongest contender.

Runner Up: AMD Radeon R9 290X

As an alternative to the GTX 970 we have AMD’s Radeon R9 290X. At sub-4K resolutions it’s basically tied with the GTX 970 on performance, and consumes quite a bit more power in the process. But if you’re after AMD’s best card or just additional options at this price/performance level, it won’t disappoint.

Taking the Single-GPU Crown ($579): NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980

For the fastest single-GPU card on the market for gamers, NVIDIA’s top tier GM204 part, GeForce GTX 980, stands alone. As is often the case for NVIDIA’s flagship cards, NVIDIA is clearly charging a premium for the card, but in return you get performance a step ahead of any other card on the market. And power consumption is second only to the lower performing GTX 970, making it perhaps the most power efficient card of them all.

Overall GTX 980 should be able to handle 1440p with maximum quality settings, including a good amount of anti-aliasing. It’s not quite up to the task of handling 4K on its own (at least not without a compromise in quality settings), but owners of 120Hz 1440p monitors will find that it has enough power to push past 60fps at 1440p in several games.

4K for Me ($560): 2x AMD Radeon R9 290

If anything, the hardest pick is finding the best choice for a true high performance, high quality 4K gaming setup. No one GPU can deliver this, so instead we’re presented with a number of options for multiple GPUs.

Truth be told there are a couple of different ways to do this. Right now the two best options are both AMD, and this is due to the combination of their XDMA engine and their greater scaling at 4K. In the single-GPU race NVIDIA is untouched, but they’re still facing at challenge at 4K.

The cheapest way to get to 4K is with a pair of AMD’s Radeon R9 290 cards. From a pure performance perspective R9 290 in CF delivers a solid 4K experience; most games scale well over a single card, and there’s enough performance on tap that 4K at high quality settings is a practical option. All told this combination runs for $560, which also happens to be around the price of a 4K TN monitor.

The big drawback with this setup is that all of the good 290 cards are open air coolers, which means they require more space and better chassis cooling. A pair of blowers would be easier to work with here, but that would require moving up to a pair of R9 290Xs, and if we wanted a good blower that would require an even bigger step up to the GTX 980.

Runner Up: AMD Radeon R9 295X2 & 2x GeForce GTX 980

While at $900 it’s quite a bit more than a pair of R9 290Xs, AMD’s dual-GPU R9 295X2 makes for a very tantalizing alternative. AMD’s dual-GPU flagship card offers all of the performance of the 290X in Crossfire with vastly improved acoustics and in a smaller package, which alleviates the drawback of our 4K budget option.

Finally, the GTX 980 in SLI is also going to be a viable alternative here. From a performance perspective it’s going to trade blows with the R9 295X2 much of the time, so it’s still going to offer best-in-class performance regardless. The catch is that at $1160 for the dual card setup it’s some $260 more expensive than the R9 295X2 for what’s only similar performance. But unlike either AMD option, the GTX 980 is available in a high quality blower configuration, allowing a 3rd option between the widely spaced open air cards of R9 290 and the unconventional CLLC of the R9 295X2.

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  • chizow - Thursday, November 6, 2014 - link

    And right on queue, back in reality, Nvidia enjoys record revenue on the strength of Maxwell GTX graphics cards:
    "GeForce branded GPU revenue was up 36% based on the continued strength of PC gaming."

    So much for AMD invalidating Nvidia's product lineup! I guess the market does see the value in Maxwell parts and is willing to pay the premium, regardless of what a single buyer's guide recommends and the AMD faithful believe.
  • Creig - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    All that proves is that the Nvidia faithful will just keep drinking the green Koolaid, no matter what. Just like their Apple brethren.
  • chizow - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    No, it just proves what you have stated about price being the only important factor in sales is nonsense, which is really no surprise! Fact of the matter is, for every 290/290X being sold at slashed prices, there are more being sold for a fraction of that on the used parts market. People can't get away from the heat (and probably drivers) fast enough and its winter in the northern hemisphere!
  • Creig - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    It's amazing that you're still trying to blame Nvidia pricing on AMD. Nvidia is the only one who can set prices for Nvidia products. Nobody put a gun to Jen-Hsun's head and said "Price your Titan at $999! Or else!". To say that it's AMD's fault is utterly ludicrous. Just because Tahiti was priced high doesn't automatically mean that Nvidia had to follow suit. They could have released the Titan at whatever price point they wished. They could have released it at $550 and totally cut AMD off at the knees. But they saw an opportunity to gouge their customers like never before and went for it. So please, enough with the "Titan pricing was all AMD's fault" rhetoric. Nvidia can set whatever price they wish for their cards, regardless of where AMD has priced theirs.

    Does Nvidia take AMD pricing into account? Of course. Does AMD take Nvidia pricing into account? Of course. Did AMD force Nvidia to charge $999 for a Titan or $3,000 for a Titan Z? Of course not. Nvidia did that all on their own.

    And why do you keep ignoring the fact that Anandtech chose AMD cards as the best value in five of the seven categories? If Nvidia's cards were the better value, don't you think they would have been chosen instead? But they weren't. Could that change next month? Yes, most definitely. But for now, it's AMD that apparently has more appealing offerings for the money spent.

    And please, stop going on about how the 970/980 solved world hunger and brought peace to mankind. Yes, the 970/980 are good cards and raised everybody's eyebrows at their low power consumption for their performance level. And yes, AMD saw the writing on the wall and lowered their prices. But this has been happening back and forth for decades now. AMD releases a new card, and Nvidia lowers prices. Nvidia releases a new card and AMD drops prices. It's one of the oldest stories in the book. What matters is RIGHT NOW. RIGHT NOW, AMD has dropped prices low enough that it's Nvidia's 980 that appears overpriced relative to its performance level. If Nvidia chooses to drop the 980's price, things could change. The 970 seems to be sitting good relative to AMD's equivalent.

    Bringing up how many 970's are in FS/FT forums vs 290X/290s made no sense whatsoever. The 290X and 290 have been on sale for over a year. Bitcoin/Litecoin miners bought up every 290 series card that could be produced and still wanted more. Now that the Bitcoin mining craze has dropped off, a lot of these people have decided to sell off their cards and try to recoup as much money as possible. That alone accounts for a lot of the used 290 cards you see for sale these days. Nobody is going to buy a 970 and then try to sell it in a FS/FT forum a month later.

    And the only reason I brought up the "4k for me" category is because it's actually less expensive to go with the faster 290 CrossFire than a single 980. That represents an incredible value. Anybody considering a 980 would be better served buying a pair of 290s as they would receive better performance for less money. So as I stated earlier, a victory by the 980 in the "Taking the Single GPU Crown" category is a hollow victory at best. This leaves the 970 as Nvidia's only real showing in this month's roundup.
  • chizow - Friday, November 7, 2014 - link

    And its amazing that you still can't acknowledge Tahiti's role in the current ultra-premium pricing anomaly started by 28nm because of Tahiti's launch prices! Here's a simple question, and answer this honestly, do you honestly think Nvidia could've sold their GTX 680 based on their 2nd fastest ASIC for $500 if AMD had launched their 7970 at the expected price point of $380-$420? No, of course not, because they couldn't expect to sell many if they offered only 5-10% improvement at a 30-40% premium. The GTX 680 sells for maybe $400-450 max, as was originally rumored, but instead, Nvidia took the opportunity caused by AMD's launch to basically jump their 2nd tier ASIC an entire SKU level and make it their flagship. This allowed Nvidia to not only create a super-premium SKU in Titan, but also allowed them to sell their significantly cut-down top-end ASIC as their flagship in the GTX 780 and delay it over a year.

    Even removing AMD from the equation, the GTX 680 actually offered the worst price:performance for any Nvidia to Nvidia flagship part, offering only ~40-50% improvement at 100% of the cost compared to the GTX 480 and ~30-35% improvement for 100% of the half-gen GTX 580. Again, this was ONLY allowable due to Tahiti's horrible price:performance which allowed Nvidia to come out looking great due to the fact they beat AMD on price, performance, and thermals, but from a historical perspective, it was still a horrible increase in price:performance as typical gains are anywhere from 80-100% especially given this was both a node and generational upgrade from 40nm Fermi.

    And who is going on about the 970/980 solving world hunger? I never claimed anything of the sort, I simply accurately pointed out they were DIRECTLY responsible for the price structure we see today that EVERY gamer can enjoy going into the holiday season. You have only now finally acknowledged this. The market has corrected itself, and while someone who prefers AMD can always point to the slightly cheaper prices on a singular buying guide, anyone else who prefers the premium features and support of Nvidia can find a card that offers similar performance at a very slight premium, maybe $10-20 max. So again, its great that AMD can come up 1st where it doesn't matter (a buyer's guide based on FPS and price only, I guess) but where it matters, on the actual market, Nvidia continues to dominate where it counts, at the registers.

    And how does bringing up FS/FT, Ebay, 2nd hand and new market comparisons make no sense whatsoever. Again, YOU claimed price:performance was the ONLY important metric when it came to buying decisions, but these markets clearly show that is NOT the case. You want to say the 290/290X are invalidating Nvidia's product stack and the 970/980 specifically, when these markets show that is clearly not the case, and while the 290/X can be had for MUCH cheaper than the 970/980, they are the ones selling on these 2nd hand markets while the 970/980 are nowhere to be found and they are the ones that are readily available on any retailer site, while the 970/980 still see tight demand and/or inflated prices.

    And finally with the 4K comparison again, 4K is not a territory where value means much of anything, unless you are looking at the incredibly small cross-section of gamers that has 4K (<1%), is too cheap to afford $500 GPUs, doesn't already have 2+ 290/X, 780/Ti, or 970/980s, especially when there is already plenty of other options that don't include the 980 that offer compelling alternatives at a lower price point, again, thanks to Nvidia's pricing on the 780/Ti and 970/980, further sweetened by their latest game offer.
  • Creig - Thursday, November 13, 2014 - link

    Oh please, Tahiti did NOT start the current ultra-high premium pricing. Nvidia has nearly always had the highest MSRP on release of a new card:

    $650 Nvidia GTX 280
    $300 AMD HD 4870
    $400 Nvidia GTX 285
    $380 AMD HD 5870
    $500 Nvidia GTX 480
    $240 AMD HD 6870
    $500 Nvidia GTX 580
    $370 AMD HD 6970
    $550 AMD HD 7970
    $500 Nvidia GTX 680
    $1000 Nvidia Titan
    $550 AMD R9 290X

    It hasn't been until recently that AMD started bumping their top end MSRP to the $500 level. Nvidia is the one who has historically released their top end cards at $500 or higher. If anything, it's Nvidia and the people who buy their cards that you should be thanking for higher prices. Look at how many Nvidia fans bought the Titan for $1,000. And less than two years later, its performance is easily matched by a $300 AMD R9 290X.

    Now we have reports that the Nvidia Titan II is in the works. I wonder how many people are going to to plop down $1,000+ on those as well? And yet, I'm sure it's all the fault of the AMD 7970 to you despite the fact that Nvidia themselves have been the ones with $500+ cards long before AMD ever debuted one.

    Once again, both companies are free to charge whatever they wish. If Nvidia wants to be considered the price/performance leader, then that's completely up to them. I just wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it.

    "AMD can come up 1st where it doesn't matter"? So best price/performance doesn't matter?


    Just.... wow.

    Obviously you're here to defend Nvidia to the death, despite the fact that you're commenting in an article that shows AMD being the better choice in five out of seven categories. And with the overall fastest category (290 Crossfire) being cheaper than the fastest single GPU category (980). Nothing you can say, no rhetoric you can dig up is going to change those results. If Nvidia had been the better choice, they would have been listed as the winners. But they weren't.

    End of story.
  • chizow - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Yes Nvidia has had the highest priced part, but that was because they had the FASTEST GPU for each generation as well. Tahiti *DID* start the trend because even as your own list shows, AMD reset to their traditional price points and Nvidia reset to theirs, offering predictable gains in performance at the same price points (ie. Murphy's Law).

    Tahiti broke rank because it followed *NVIDIA's* high-end pricing at the start of a new generation and process node, yet it clearly did NOT offer anywhere close to the expected increase in performance for the increase in price, just 20% increase in performance at 10% increase in price at launch. Now, look back at that chart and see if there is any such minor increase from Nvidia to Nvidia part. There isn't! The differences in performance for Nvidia are 60-80% increase in performance for the same price.

    Even AMD's own performance increase from their last-gen was bad. The 6970 (not 6870 btw) was $380 at launch and compared to the 7970, you were looking at a 50% increase in price for a 50% increase in performance. Now look at AMD's previous gains from generation to generation and once see Tahiti is the anomaly.

    Obviously fewer people are going to plop down $1k for a Titan II knowing full well there will be a Ti GeForce version of it for far less, like I said before, Titan and Z will always exist, but they aren't going to be able to pull the same trick 2x now that its been played in the past.

    Nvidia certainly took this price escalation to another level, but AMD started it, without a doubt., because without the 7970 at the laughable $550 price tag which I am sure you defended, there would have been no opportunity for the 680 at $500, if anything it would've been $400-$420 or so, or more likely Nvidia would have gone forward and launched full GK104 as GTX 670Ti as originally planned, but instead, Nvidia took the opportunity of a lackluster Tahiti to jump their entire product stack an entire SKU and to create an ultra-premium range in Titan.

    Again, both companies are NOT free to charge what they want if they want to actually sell these cards, if what you were said was true, AMD would be free to have kept their cards at $550 and $400, but they dropped their prices didn't they? Without such a massive lead on AMD with higher than usual pricing, they could NOT have asked $1K for a card like Titan. It was only because their 2nd fastest SKU was faster and still priced high enough to sustain their revenues, which allowed them to sit on GK110 and introduce a Titan at a much higher price point. I mean if they can get $500 for their 2nd fastest SKU thanks to AMD's lackluster efforts, why not go for $1000 for what used to be their $500 GPU?

    And obviously you are here to defend AMD to the death, even though they were uncompetitive for months and still got slaughtered on the market, despite what this fine pricing guide has mandated. Unfortunately for AMD, it seems not enough people listened as the market clearly spoke and picked Nvidia, despite the premiums you and this pricing guide don't seem to find worthwhile.
    "•AMD's discrete desktop shipments decreased 19% and notebook discrete shipments increased 10%. The company's overall PC graphics shipments decreased 7%."

    Oh and HardOCP updated that review you love to link at 4K, when max overclocks are applied, GTX 980 SLI wins convincingly in all but 1 game that didn't scale in SLI, and still uses 200W less to boot. TWO HUNDRED WATTS!!! Guess it might be worth the premium after all, and if not, there's always 2x970 for nearly the same price, performance but half the power. HALF. THE. POWER.
  • Creig - Tuesday, November 18, 2014 - link

    Nvidia has had the "FASTEST GPU for each generation"? Really? FYI, the quotes below were taken directly from Anandtech video card reviews:

    "Let’s be clear here: the 5870 is the single fastest single-GPU card we have tested, by a wide margin. Looking at its performance in today’s games, as a $379 card it makes the GTX 285 at its current prices ($300+) completely irrelevant."

    “So at the end of the day AMD has once again retaken the performance crown for single-GPU cards, bringing them back to a position they last held nearly 2 years ago with the 5870. To that AMD deserves kudos, and if you’re in the market for a $500+ video card the 7970 is clearly the card to get – it’s a bit more expensive than the GTX 580, but it’s reasonably faster and cooler all at once.”

    “To that end at 2560x1440 – what I expect will be the most common resolution used with such a card for the time being – AMD is essentially tied with GTX Titan, delivering an average of 99% of the performance of NVIDIA’s prosumer-level flagship. Against NVIDIA’s cheaper and more gaming oriented GTX 780 that becomes an outright lead, with the 290X leading by an average of 9% and never falling behind the GTX 780.”

    Obviously AMD has held the Fastest Single GPU crown in the past, including its current top end card, the R9 290X.

    And as far as price escalation goes, how in the world could AMD have started it? Did you even read the list of video card releases and their MSRP that I posted above? Nvidia had FIVE single GPU video cards debut at $500 or more while AMD has had TWO. It's pretty easy to see which company started the high pricing patterns we have to contend with today.

    The only real reason Nvidia could charge $1,000 for the Titan is because their fans the same as Apple fans. They are willing pay nearly anything as long it has the right logo on the box. AMD has been the price/performance leader for many years, but it's hard to fight a herd mentality like Apple/Nvidia. A recent post in the [H]ardforums sums up this phenomenon:

    "If AMD releases 6 months ahead of nVidia 50% of the market will wait to pay 50% more for 12% more performance."

    There is the sole reason that Nvidia cards are so expensive. It isn't because AMD cards aren't competitive, it's due to the fact that Nvidia fans will fall all over themselves to pay extra for the same performance they could get from AMD cards. The old adage of "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" could have been written with Nvidia fans in mind.

    So now you bring up marketshare as if that can disprove the results of this article which recommends AMD cards in five of the seven categories? Popularity does not automatically equal best deal. Which cards were most chosen as the best deals in their respective categories? AMD.

    Aaaaaand we're back to Nvidia fans claiming that power consumption is the overall most importance feature now that the 970/980 leads AMD. Back when it was AMD that had the most power efficient cards, power consumption was of no importance whatsoever. But hey, just keep moving those goal posts. Whatever it takes to keep Nvidia on top.
  • chizow - Thursday, November 20, 2014 - link

    Wow, its amazing how you continually try and comment given your lack of historical acumen relating to GPUs. But this should be no surprise since you've repeatedly tried to dismiss the fact AMD's "competitive" pricing was clearly a reaction to Nvidia invalidating their entire product stack with the GTX 970 and 980.

    Its shocking for anyone to take a review quote at a given point in time without taking into account its place in history. No one other than you might consider the 5870 the fastest card of any generation. It led 40nm/DX11 for all of 5 months because Nvidia was later to market, but once they answered, AMD had no response for the entire generation. Again, I already outlined the rules of engagement for GPUs given AMD and Nvidia are bound to them: process node at TSMC. For 40nm, Nvidia won with Fermi (GF100) and then refined Fermi (GF110), for which AMD had no response. AMD was first to market, but they led in fewer months for the generation given 40nm lasted from October 2009 until December 2011. AMD led for all 5-6 months of that, so you truly think they won the generation? lol. Once again, AMD has NEVER led at the end of a generation, nor have they led for the majority of any generation for single-GPU.

    And with the high price premiums, it should be obvious, Nvidia did have the highest price cards because they commanded it with the highest performing cards! Which once again, flies in the face of what you claimed, because if AMD had the lead, they would have had the highest priced cards. In fact, Nvidia held rather steady in the $500-650 range until the 7970 presented a price:performance anomaly, and suddenly we see a $1000 spike as a result! Simple cause and reaction. Anyone who had any historic perspective on pricing:performance of GPUs knew this was going to be the outcome given the coup Nvidia was able to pull off by masquerading a 2nd place part as their flagship, all because of Tahiti's poor price:performance as a pretender high-end part.

    Again, Titan could not exist in the past, and Nvidia did not present a $1K part in the past, they could only do so because GK110 so utterly destroyed AMD's fastest card and obviously, their own 2nd fastest card at the same time. So sure, while Nvidia brought this greed to a new level, it was ONLY possible because AMD presented a pauper as a king with Tahiti.

    And I guess if we are going to pull quotes from random forums, we can pull all the quotes saying how Nvidia cards give a better experience from drivers, to support, to features, to thermals, to new technologies, you name it! Again, AMD fans can claim all they like there's no difference but the people who buy Nvidia and stay with Nvidia know, there are features Nvidia offers that AMD does not that they know they can no longer live without! What is AMD going to offer someone like me who has come to rely on 3D Vision, G-Sync, SLI profiles, PhysX, GeForce Experience and the myriad other features and support I have come to expect from my graphics hardware??? Slidedecks, excuses, and an exceptionally dishonest spokesman in Richard Huddy? No thanks. But I know, in your eyes, all those features suck and aren't worth it. Go figure!

    And lastly lolol. Market share and financials clearly illustrate your claims that price:performance is the ONLY important metric in determining a sale is nonsense. Sounds like you need to do a better job of getting the word out! It seems you are stuck in the last decade where FPS bar graphs are enough to tell the whole story. Guess what, its not! Like I said, put 2 cards next to each other, even with slight differences one way or another in FPS and price, Nvidia is going to win because they offer the better PRODUCT.

    Aaaaaand we're back to AMD fans claiming that power consumption isn't the overall most important feature now that Nvidia leads AMD. Back when it was AMD that had the most power efficient cards, power consumption was the most important thing ever. But hey, just keep moving those goal posts, whatever it takes to keep AMD relevant in the discussion. Good thing for Nvidia and their fans, they are also the most powerful GPUs on the planet, giving them the virtual GPU tri-fecta (Price, Performance and Thermals!) for the 2nd major generational launch in a row!
  • Creig - Friday, November 21, 2014 - link

    So even though AMD may have had the fastest card available at the time, Nvidia still won because they were faster for a greater length of time on whatever node they happened to be produced on? Honestly, nobody really cares what process node a product is on. AMD has held the single GPU performance title multiple times in the past, as proven with benchmarks. The length of time on a process node is irrelevant. People buy video cards for their performance and price, not for their process node. Come on.

    Since you seem so fixated on the 7970 as the harbinger of doom for all video card pricing, try re-reading the conclusion from the Anandtech article:

    "So at the end of the day AMD has once again retaken the performance crown for single-GPU cards, bringing them back to a position they last held nearly 2 years ago with the 5870. To that AMD deserves kudos, and if you’re in the market for a $500+ video card the 7970 is clearly the card to get – it’s a bit more expensive than the GTX 580, but it’s reasonably faster and cooler all at once.”

    I don't see the words "price:performance anomaly" anywhere in there. Instead, I saw "if you're in the market for a $500+ video card the 7970 is clearly the card to get". AnandTech came right out and said point blank that the 7970 represented an acceptable price for its performance relative to the GTX 580. And that it was the fastest available single GPU card available at the time.

    And now, let's consider the following quotes from the AnandTech Nvidia Titan review:

    "With a price of $999 Titan is decidedly out of the price/performance race; Titan will be a luxury product, geared towards a mix of low-end compute customers and ultra-enthusiasts who can justify buying a luxury product to get their hands on a GK110 video card."

    "Back in the land of consumer gaming though, we have to contend with the fact that unlike any big-GPU card before it, Titan is purposely removed from the price/performance curve. NVIDIA has long wanted to ape Intel’s ability to have an extreme/luxury product at the very top end of the consumer product stack, and with Titan they’re going ahead with that."

    Well, there you have it. According to AnandTech, the 7970 was a reasonable price:performance card while the Titan was deliberately priced way above its performance level. Put simply, Titan and Titan Z pricing were nothing more than manifestations of Jen-Hsun Huang's ego gone wild. And the Nvidia fans bared their souls (and wallets) in tribute. The $550 AMD HD 7970 was in no way responsible for the astronomical pricing of the $1,000 Nvidia Titan. You may as well just admit defeat on that subject and move on. Because you simply can't prove otherwise.

    Yes, Nvidia has a myriad of extras. Just as AMD does (Mantle, FreeSync, Eyefinity, PowerTune, TrueAudio, XDMA Crossfire, HD3D) The difference is that AMD tends to try and keep features open for everybody to use while Nvidia deliberately keeps their features locked from everybody but those people with a green logo on their video card. Heck, they even lock out features from their own customers when an AMD card is even present in their computer! Hardware PhysX has been proven to work just fine on an Nvidia card with an AMD card as the primary renderer as evidenced by the time when Nvidia accidentally released a PhysX drive without the vendor ID lockout in place. But Nvidia immediately put the ID lockout back in for the next version. Nvidia has even gone on actively degrade gaming performance on AMD cards by use of deliberate overtessellation, by forcing AA computation without allowing the AA mode to actually be selected, by not allowing AMD the right to see source code on GameWorks libraries for optimization purposes, etc...

    Power consumption is not and never has been the most important measure of a performance video card. FPS and price are easily the overriding factors affecting video card purchasing decisions. Power consumption doesn't even come close. So by all means, keep going on about how power efficient Nvidia's cards are now that they (finally) have managed to overtake AMD in that respect.

    At the end of the day, the 980 is still too expensive, the 970 is a fairly good bargain and AMD has all the rest of the categories neatly wrapped up, as evidenced by the Best Video Cards: October 2014 review we're commenting in.

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