Prices fall on Nvidia's Maxwell cards, but deals they're not


— 1:05 PM on June 16, 2016

The launches of the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 didn't make retail inventory of Nvidia's Maxwell graphics cards disappear, and it looks like the first waves of major price cuts are starting to hit those cards as we speak. Those cuts are deepest at what used to be the top end of the market. A glance at Newegg shows GeForce GTX 980 Tis are now selling for anywhere from $430 to $450 at their lowest, and cheaper GTX 970s can be had starting from $240.

These price drops might look good on their faces, so we'll be blunt: there's virtually no reason to buy any Maxwell card for the same price as one with a Pascal chip. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti and the GTX 1070 perform about the same, to be sure, but the Maxwell card doesn't benefit from Pascal's architectural or process improvements. Nvidia's latest chip has some especially tantalizing features tailored specifically to the needs of VR, and it appears better-positioned to handle asynchronous workloads compared to the last generation of GeForces. The GTX 1070 also needs just 150W to do its thing, compared to the GTX 980 Ti's 250W board power. Even for the slightly inflated prices they're selling for right now, custom GTX 1070s are just more appealing than a GTX 980 Ti.

Looking to lower-end parts like the GeForce GTX 970, the ground is shifting there, as well. While you can get those VR-capable cards for as little as $220 right now with rebates, AMD's soon-to-launch Radeon RX 480 will carry a $200 suggested price when it arrives on June 29. We don't know a whole lot about how that card will perform yet, but the rumor mill suggests it'll land somewhere between a GTX 970 and a GTX 980 in raw performance. If that's the case—and it's a big if—we'd certainly pick the newer part and pocket some savings if RX 480 prices at retail stick close to AMD's suggested price.

It seems likely that prices on Maxwell cards and older Radeons will continue to fall as time goes on, but unless those cuts result in some really compelling deals, we'd sit tight and see what the full product lineup from both the red and green teams looks like before giving in to an impulse decision on prior-generation hardware. Don't expect to see many graphics cards in our deals-of-the-week posts for a while.

 
   
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