Thursday, October 10, 2013

[Rant] My thoughts on the AMD R7 and R9 graphic cards

The reviews on the new Graphics cards from and came out yesterday. The ones out are all re-brands  The truly new generation cards code named Hawaii are yet to come out. It seems they are coming out a week after. That's what most people are eagerly looking forward to.

The R9-280x is basically a HD7970 GHz edition card with a new cooler and different output options. It doesn't have True Audio technology that the 290 series and the 260 series seem to carry. ( makes one wonder if the 260x is a re-brand or a new card). But the good news is, it is not just a re-brand but also a repositioning in the price segment. It costs only $299 instead of the close to $400 price tag of the 7970.

The R7-270x is a re-branded 7870 but a little fast clocks. It also is going on sale for $199 which is about $40 cheaper than the 7870. The R7-260x is a re-branded 7790 (or so they say) but it is only slightly cheaper than the 7790. 

Basically speaking, the R7-270x and the R9-280x are the cards that give most bang for the buck. The R7-270x performs close to NVidia GTX760 which is $50 more expensive. R9-280x performs same as a NVidia GTX770 which is $100 more expensive. I don't care about the 260x really. So basically, for single card setups, there is no reason to buy a NVidia card below the GTX780. The GTX780 and the Titan are still uncontested though. But hopefully the R9-290 and R9-290x will have something to say about that. 

Couple of days ago, Newegg leaked the price of the 290x Battlefield 4 edition's price as $729. That's very expensive. But if the leaked performance figures are true, those prices are reasonable. That $729 price tag was for the Battlefield 4 edition; the regular one would be much cheaper but it won't be $100 cheaper, right? It would still position the card at around the price of the GTX780. That sucks, but we cannot blame AMD for doing that, especially if it can even beat the Titan as the leaked scores suggest.

Now what I don't understand is this. That is a huge price gap between the 280x and the 290x. Namely, about $350. But they only have one more card to fill gap with; namely the regular 290 edition. That doesn't sound right. I mean, they cannot ask $500 for the 290 and $650 for the 290x, can they? They can, if the card performs way faster than the 280x. But then they would be better off releasing a 285x for example. But so far we haven't heard of such a card coming out. 

Or, I know this is probably too hopeful, we would be forecasting the prices too high. What if the 290 retails for $449 and 290x retails for $549 just like when the 7970 and 7950 came out? That would be awesome right? We only have to wait one week to find out. (The prices in Japan will definitely be inflated though.)

One more thing. Since there are no regular versions of the 270x and the 280x introduced, maybe AMD is saving them in case NVidia does something unexpected with the pricing. $249 for the R9-280 and $169 for R7-270 seems passable

I don't know how NVidia would react to this though. Rumor is that they won't be cutting prices but I don't know how they can manage without doing that. There is also a rumor saying that NVidia will release a dual GPU GK110 card and a single GPU GK110 card with full shaders unlocked  The Titan has one set of shaders disabled. But the thing is, it won't bring down the current prices that much. We can expect to see the GTX780's price being dropped by $100 though. Then Titan at $799 and Titan Ultra or whatever they are gonna name it at $999. They'll probably call the dual GPU card a GTX790 but it would be a bit more expensive than a GTX690 imo. GTX690 will go out of the market or it might be dropped to $799 just like the Titan. I'm sure the Economists at NVidia have their work cut out.

Nobody knows what will happen. But it sure sounds exciting. I'm hoping to replace my GPU in January. I hope everything (holiday deals, huge discount with the new internet connection and NVidia actually releasing something worth upgrading to, but I really wanna go for an ATI card this time because of Mantle and the fact that they make the GPU inside both consoles...ok I digress) will come together and make my upgrade a pleasant one.

Forgot to mention an important fact. All of these new cards and the old 7000 series cards wi support the AMD Mantle API. That allows game developers to code directly to the GPU without going through the DirectX and OpenGL APIs. That would allow these cards to perform faster. We don't know how much of an improvement that would give. But that would probably make porting console games to the PC much easier and without the lack of optimization.

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