While it may have taken nVidia a bit longer than its rivals to start launching its new graphics cards, it's easy to see why the company felt it could afford to take its time. First of all we saw the GTX 680, an extremely powerful card that established itself as the fastest single-GPU card – but without pushing the power ratings to the max. It was quickly followed by two more cards. The 690 (watch for a review soon) looks to be armed for speed but with a prohibitive price tag nudging £900. However, this product, the nVidia GeForce GTX 670, hits a rather more affordable price tag of £330, while still providing quite fantastic performance. See also Group test: What's the best graphics card?
nVidia GeForce GTX 670: Features
The nVidia GeForce GTX 670 is based around the same GK104 technology that now fuels the GTX 680. It's just that it offers rather less of a number of things – although in several notable areas, the differences are actually surprisingly small. Indeed, the memory clock happens to be identical, with both the 670 and 680 content with a 1502MHz memory clock – boosted to an effective 6008MHz through the quadrupling effect of GDDR5. And both cards start with 2GB of RAM as default – although 4GB versions of the 670 will be available.
The 256-bit memory interface was a slight disappointment in the case of the GTX 680 – we pondered why nVidia didn't ratchet up the frame rates on such a high-end card by increasing this aspect – although the same 256-bit interface is less of a issue when found on the cheaper nVidia GeForce GTX 670.
All of this means that the nVidia GeForce GTX 670 can boast exactly the same 192.5GBps memory bandwidth as its bigger brother. This figure wasn't a great achievement for the 680, but it'll certainly do here – and is a long distance clear of the Asus Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II's 154.9GBps, despite that card only saving you around £50.
The nVidia GeForce GTX 670's default core clock is a rather less impressive 915MHz. But while this may seem to be some way adrift of the GTX 680's four-figure 1006MHz, it's worth noting that, already, overclocked versions of this card are pushing this figure to 967MHz and, in one or two cases, are even matching the 680's 1006MHz. Expect us to cover overclocked versions of this card in greater detail in the future.
The number of texture units has been cut from 128 (in the GTX 680) to 112, although the 32 ROPs have been retained. The texture fill-rate of 102.5GTps remains reasonably competitive for the price, although it can't match the 118.4GTps of the only slightly more expensive AMD Radeon HD 7970.
The number of stream processors have seen a small cut too, from 1536 to 1344, although this is still a healthy complement for a GeForce card.
While AMD has been devoting many of its resources to remoulding its chips so that they're better placed to handle the varied workloads of today's gaming scene (as can be seen in the move to Graphics Core Next), nVidia had already modified its architecture in the previous move to Fermi. That's allowed nVidia to work on other aspects, in particular the power.
The GTX 680's power figure of 195 watt was impressive for such a high-end card, and the 670's corresponding figure of 170 watt is also very light given the capabilities of this product. The Radeons don't fare as badly as you might expect, though, and the 7870's rating of 175 watt is impressive.
nVidia GeForce GTX 670: Performance
In testing we did find there to be an almost 15 watt difference between the two cards though, so the nVidia GeForce GTX 670 certainly maintains the theme of GK104 proving light on power consumption.
The nVidia GeForce GTX 670 is also reasonably quiet, and we'll be interested to see how much further the noise levels can be brought down when manufacturers start bolting on specialist fans and cooling systems.
Priced almost halfway between the 7870 and the 7970, it was a matter of where the GTX 670 was going to go. As it turns out, it leans far more towards the 7970, to the point where it was actually the faster of the cards in one test.
BattleForge was the only game where it was clearly slower than the 7970. Here it registered figures of 78.3, 66.3 and 44.0fps across the 1680 x 1050, 1920 x 1200 and 2560 x 1600 resolutions. These were generally between 1 and 1.5fps slower than the 7970. Not a great difference, but a difference nonetheless.
In Crysis it was almost neck and neck with the 7970, and its figures of 47.9, 39.4 and 25.8fps were never more than 0.3fps behind.
It actually finished in top in Stalker: Call of Pripyat, and its figures of 90.1, 79.2 and 57.1fps were generally 0.4-0.6fps faster.
For all practical purposes, then, the cards were almost equal in gaming speed. The AMD Radeon HD 7870, incidentally, was generally 6-11fps further back.
nVidia GeForce GTX 670: Benchmarks
Crysis 2 (1,680x1,050 / 1,900x1,200 / 2560x1600) 47.9 / 39.4 / 25.8
Battleforge (1,680x1,050 / 1,920x1,200 / 2560x1600) 79.1 / 66.8 / 45.9
Stalker Pripyat (1,680x1,050 / 1,920x1,200 / 2560x1600) 90.1 / 79.2 / 57.1
NEXT PAGE: Loyd Case of PCWorld.com offers his review of the nVidia GeForce GTX 670 >>