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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2GB Graphics Card Review - Kepler for $399

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GPU Testbed - Sandy Bridge-E, X79, New Games

For the Radeon HD 7970 3GB review (and all those going forward) we decided it was high time we replaced the somewhat dated Nehalem-based infrastructure (even though honestly, it was fast enough) with something a bit more current.  Obviously that meant going with the new Intel Sandy Bridge-E processor and X79 motherboard - by combining support for 40 PCI Express lanes and 3-4 full size GPU slots it makes for the perfect GPU base.

From this point on, our reviews will based around the following system:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X CPU
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard
  • Corsair DDR3-1600 4 x 4GB Vengeance memory
  • 600GB Western Digital VelociRaptor HDD
  • 1200 watt Corsair Professional Series power supply
  • Windows 7 SP1 x64

The ASUS P9X79 Pro

The Intel Core i7-3960X gives us the fastest consumer-level CPU on the market to help eliminate the possibility of any processor-based bottlenecks in our testing (whenever possible).  There are still going to be some games that could use more speed (Skyrim comes to mind) but for our purposes this is as good as you get without getting into any kind of overclocked settings.  The ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard has enough space for three dual-slot graphics cards when the time comes for testing 3-Way SLI and CrossFire and 8 DIMM slots should we want to go up from our current setup of 16GB of Corsair Vengeance memory.  

I chose to stick with the 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive rather than an SSD as our total installation size with Windows 7 SP1 x64 and 6+ games was already hitting the 115GB range.  Finally the 1200 watt power supply from Corsair offers up more than enough juice for three power hungry graphics cards while running quietly enough to not throw off our noise testing drastically.

Speaking of noise, for this article we are re-introducing our sound level testing thanks to the Extech 407738 Sound Level Meter capable of monitoring decibel ratings as low as 20db.  This allows me to accurately tell you the noise levels generated by the graphics cards that make in-house at PC Perspective.

Along with the new hardware configuration comes a host of new games.  For this review we will be using the following benchmarks and games to evaluate performance:

  • Battlefield 3
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • DiRT 3
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Metro 2033
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • 3DMark11
  • Unigine Heaven v2.5

This collection of games is both current and takes into account several different genres as well - first person role playing, third person action, racing, first person shooting, etc.  3DMark11 and Unigine Heaven give us a way to see how the cards stack up in a more synthetic environment while the real-world gameplay testing provided by the six games completes the performance picture.

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The possible comparisons for this article were pretty interesting with a price point of $399; the GTX 670 could literally have competitive placement against nearly a dozen cards.  For our review we narrowed it down to a few including the GeForce GTX 680 2GB, the Radeon HD 7970 3GB and the Radeon HD 7950 3GB cards.  Here's why:

For our testing we were using the NVIDIA 301.34 driver and the AMD Catalyst 12.4 driver.  

The comparisons you should be paying particular attention to:

  • GeForce GTX 670 vs GeForce GTX 680 - How much performance is lost going from 1536 cores to 1344 cores and with the slight clock speed decrease?  Does the GTX 670 stand out as a much better performer for the money?
  • GeForce GTX 670 vs Radeon HD 7950 - This is the most exact price vs price comparison in the group - how does the GTX 670 compare to the Tahiti architecture for your dollar?
  • GeForce GTX 670 vs Radeon HD 7970 - If we are including this, there is probably a reason, right?  Does the GTX 670 compete with the Radeon HD 7970 and if so what does this mean for AMD's current lineup?

Now, with that out of the way, let's get on with the results and see how the Gigabyte GTX 670 card performs!

May 10, 2012 | 09:29 AM - Posted by Prodeous (not verified)

That will indeed hurt AMD as the last paragraph states. And just as I was planning to upgrade, here comes another option :)

For the review, Impressive like always. Can't wait to see multi screen testing. :)

May 10, 2012 | 09:51 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Thanks for the comment. This card is really tempting :)

May 10, 2012 | 10:20 AM - Posted by Dreadteir

It would seem that AMD's only saving grace right now is that Nvidia can't keep the Kepler parts in stock thus far. I wouldn't want to be an AMD executive when Nvidia finally does catch up though...

I do have to say though, a pair of GTX 670's in SLI does look mighty tempting considering the projected price of the cards.

Cheers,

Dreadteir

May 10, 2012 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Agreed, I wish I had the money, though my unlocked 6950 can still play darn near everything at 1080p.

May 10, 2012 | 10:29 AM - Posted by Dreadteir

Myself, I would likey start with one and add a second card afterward. Considering that I only have a 1920x1200 monitor there's little point in having two at this point.

Nvidia is certainly making my next system build choices interesting though. I do like AMD, but it's getting harder to justify going with an AMD part. Even price drops aren't really going to do it for me personally.

May 10, 2012 | 10:32 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Yeah, that would probably be the best way to go to get the most life out of such a setup.

Kepler is looking good though I've gone with AMD cards for my builds except for my first build which did use an NV card. Maybe it's time to go back to the green team heh.

May 11, 2012 | 12:51 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You do realize AMD will just drop prices accordingly, right?

Soon enough 7950 will be priced at 399 or even 350. 7970 actually can probably stay where it's at, as relative to 680 it's pretty close. 670 puts as much pressure on 680 as 7970 imo.

The tahiti chip (7950/7970) is smaller/cheaper than Caymen (6970/6950). 6950's sold for $250 and less. AMD will have no problem selling Tahiti's at $300 and even below and making a profit. Dang, are you that unsophisticated?

May 11, 2012 | 04:21 AM - Posted by Anonymous1 (not verified)

Selling tahiti at $300? wow, that's gonna hurt anyone who bought it at $550 :D

May 19, 2012 | 06:57 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

All too often I see people say that prices are going to change and even accuse others of being dumb if they don't know the prices are going to change. The problem with the assumptions of future pricing is the part about the future. Some people want a video card right now.

May 10, 2012 | 10:23 AM - Posted by Zard (not verified)

Great review. After holding of for months I can finally be sure I made the right decision by not pulling the trigger on one of the new AMD cards.Oh how tempting it has been. Is there any official word on yields?Now i am truly excited.

May 10, 2012 | 10:27 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

NVIDIA doesn't release numbers on yields unfortunately :(. Let's hope they are better than the GTX 680 yields though ;)

May 19, 2012 | 06:58 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

A lot of these 670s were actually supposed to be 680s but had one unit that couldn't pass testing right?

May 10, 2012 | 12:16 PM - Posted by Grunteh

I wish you threw in a 570 for comparison.

May 10, 2012 | 12:40 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I tell you what - I'll make a news post with a few graphs this afternoon for you.

May 10, 2012 | 01:04 PM - Posted by Zanthis

I would also like to see that.

May 10, 2012 | 01:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I think I might become a fanboy of nVidia, because its that damn good lol. No only joking, I hope AMD has something up their sleeves. Or Nvidia will just start charging what they want... Very tempted by the 670 though, my 460 is ok for the moment but could do with an upgrade soon.

May 10, 2012 | 02:13 PM - Posted by Bearded Frog (not verified)

Who won the crobar anyway? Or was that said IN the 690 live review? I couldnt watch the live review at work and keep forgetting to watch the replay at home :X

May 10, 2012 | 02:26 PM - Posted by mark (not verified)

570=300, 670=400 680=500, 690=1000

the 670 IS the new 570 and provides a better price/performance ratio then 570 when it FIRST came out.

2x 560TI won't beat a 680 and it prolly equal to a 670 and the 670 is cheaper and ONE card...

The numbers don't lie, nvidia has an official winner.

May 10, 2012 | 02:34 PM - Posted by kingronsuperdad (not verified)

Poor AMD they getting front and back on the CPU GPU market

May 10, 2012 | 03:53 PM - Posted by gloomfrost

Considering this little guys are 400 bucks and the 690's can be found for re-resale for around 1200 bucks I would love to see how 3 670 is SLI compare to 1 690.

Is this possible to test? Compare single 2560 x 1600 resolutions with the highest setting and multi monitor support and any stuttering drawbacks from SLI,

Thanks Ryan and Gang!

May 10, 2012 | 06:43 PM - Posted by Humanitarian

This would be nice to see if you could get hold of 3x670's

May 10, 2012 | 08:57 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We should be getting a third in soon... We will test it!

May 10, 2012 | 05:22 PM - Posted by LordHog (not verified)

I had upgrade my GTX8800 to a GTX 460 about a month or so after they came out. Even though I have a Q6600 processor, I saw huge improvements. I am wondering, would it better to buy another GTX 460 for SLI or buy a GTX 670? I think the perform of the GTX 670 will still beat the SLI configuration, but prices for a GTX 460 are about 135-150 on Amazon. This assume my Power Supply can handle the SLI load. What would be a better use case, considering I might upgrade my CPU/Mobo this summer.

May 11, 2012 | 10:37 AM - Posted by vish (not verified)

Man , this card's made me go mad.But......
Nvidia has got all the equations right this time around(except for one) i.e. GK110

If it was GK110 we could have got another 50-60% performance at the same price.

Since its not ,I am going to buy a GTX 560 SE(my monitor res is 1600x900 @60 Hz) and wait for GK110 and when it comes out I'll go 3D Surround(hope there will be more 3d Vision 2 monitors then) and 2-way SLI

May 14, 2012 | 06:16 AM - Posted by cyow

Great Review many thanks.

I might just buy one for my new system when I build it.

May 14, 2012 | 07:32 AM - Posted by Branthog

Gaming at 1920x1080? Meh. It's like we're going backwards.

May 15, 2012 | 12:52 PM - Posted by Tyduss13 (not verified)

I saw a small mention to it in the article. Is there anything on Alienware upgrading the X51 for this card any time soon?

May 21, 2012 | 04:36 PM - Posted by cyke1 (not verified)

i have a Gigabyte 670 with that huge ass cooler on it, makes the card 11 inches long with a air temp in the room of 74 degree's F, gpu is idleing at between 84-89 degree's F.

July 11, 2012 | 01:05 AM - Posted by Andre (not verified)

just bought this sweet piece of art should have it in the next 7days can't wait to test it

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