Monday, November 26, 2012

AMD HD7000 series graphics cards: from top dog to under dog then to top dog once again!

There is no official announcement of when the next generation graphics cards from AMD are coming out, but it's been almost a year since they released the HD7000 series. One would expect that the new cards to hit the market in early next year. When AMD released HD7000 series cards, the top of the line cards managed to excel the nVidia's top of the line cards by a fa. For that reason, AMD enjoyed high profits because they could sell the high-end cards at a price never seen before. The HD7970 was originally sold at $549 and HD7950 at $449. But such high price didn't stop people from buying those cards. Those cards were intended for enthusiasts and they would pay anything to own the cutting edge stuff.

There was one problem with the HD7900 series cards though. They did not widen the gap as much as people originally expected. The GTX580 was still competitive in the high-end segment. Only the HD7970 was faster. HD7950 was only slightly faster. Sometimes performing on par.

That allowed nVidia to release the GK104 based cards as their high-end offering. GK104 is not a high-end chip by any means. The GPGPU performance is much lower than the older Fermi based cards. But the GK104 based GTX680 and the brethren performed really well in gaming. They consistently performed better than the cards from the red team, and did so while using less power. In addition to that, nVidia brought many software features (adaptive V-Sync and frame rate limiter) that allowed them to pull ahead of the red team even further. ATI's driver problems, especially in the multi-GPU realm made some people even switch sides to the green team.

ATI still had a few tricks left up their sleeves. They cut the prices of the entire lineup, introduced faster models and offered free game bundles. All of a sudden, ATI seemed relevant in the consumer market again. If they could fix their drivers, we would have a winner.

And finally, in my opinion, we have it. Couple of months ago, the best (not the fastest) nVidia card - GTX670 - was equivalent to the performance of (sometimes even faster than) AMDs highest end single card - the original HD7970, but now the HD7950 (turbo boost edition) can match it and even surpass it. They do that while being cheaper and offering many gaming titles for free.

Take a look at how the latest drivers have made the ATI cards to the top of the leader-boards once more. 

The Best Graphics Cards: Nvidia vs. AMD Current-Gen Comparison

It's funny though. ATI could not outclass the nVidia's offerings in the previous generation. They brought better cards to the table earlier than nVidia, then they lost performance crown, but they took it back. That's not something we see everyday. And I believe they will release the next generation cards before nVidia. That would seriously injure nVidia. People don't see it, but ATI is so powerful than ever.
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