Tuesday, January 14, 2014

[Rant] NVidia GM117 - Looks like the early Maxwell samples would be low end SKUs

About a month ago when I reanalyzed the situation about my GPU upgrade dilemma, I came to the conclusion that the real upgrade would be a next generation GPU from either team. NVidia would be coming out with the Maxwell architecture this year and the rumors were that we would see them as early as March. Heck, that's only couple months from now. I can wait for them. I don't have to get a new card from the current generation. A Maxwell card, something like the GTX 870 would be a huge upgrade over my GTX 670.
 
Today I learned that this was not going to go well for me. Yes, Maxwell cards are coming out in March, but no, they won't be anything close to what a gamer would want. These would replace the cards like GTX 640 and the lower end. The GPU core they are going to release in March is called GM117 core. What a gamer would need is the GM100 or GM110 cores. These are the big guns. The GM100 would power the GTX 870/880 and the GM110 would power the GTX 970/980.
 
 It is a bit weird that NVidia is releasing the low end models earlier than the high-end models. Last time, they released the GTX 680 first, then GTX 670 and gradually unveiled the rest of the family. I wonder why they are going this the opposite way this time around. It could be perhaps Kepler in the high-end is very competitive with AMD's high-end solutions. Or it could be because AMD doesn't have anything big coming out anytime soon. Or it could be because NVidia wants to extract more money out of the current gen cards. Or it could be all of the above.
 
What I know is I am hugely disappointed. The GM100 cards might come out this year still. But we don't have a time frame. Or GM100 could never see the light. Remember how they couldn't make the GK100 chips and they release the mid-range GK104 as the highend GTX 670/680 SKUs. It might happen again.
 
So that means, I still have to look at the current gen cards. I still want to see AMD's Mantle APIs in action before making a decision. It's a shame that EA had to put off the Mantle update for Battlefield 4. It could have been the revelation that I needed. On the market side of the things, the GTX 780's price in the Japanese market hasn't changed in the last couple of months. The cheapest GTX 780 still stands tall at $550. But the cheapest R9 290 is going for $420 currently. (It even went down to $399 once!) We have seen a couple of custom cooled R9 290 cards show up on Kakaku.com's radar, but still they are massively overpriced. Currently you can only find the Gigabyte R9 290-OC in the market, but XFX's Black Edition Double Dissipation card also was available a little while back. But the best cooler for these AMD chips is made by Sapphire in their Tri-X line up of cards, and they are nowhere to be found in the Japanese market. Bummer!
 
Well, I guess that I can wait a couple of more weeks. My birthday is coming up on the 31st, and I would be happy if I could get a new graphics card by then. If not, hey, it's not the end of the world. I can still play a lot of games at 1440p with the GTX670, although I cannot play all of them at max details. I think I can live with that. The only issue with be knowing that my PC is not living up to my expectations.
 
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