The value proposition
Now that we've stuffed you full of benchmark results, we'll try to help you make some sense of the bigger picture. We'll start by compiling an overall average performance index, based on the highest quality settings and resolutions tested for each of our games, with the notable exception of the disputed HAWX 2. We've excluded directed performance tests from this index, and for Civ V, we included only the "late game view" results.
With this performance index established, we can consider overall performance per dollar by factoring price into the mix. Rather than relying on list prices all around, we grabbed our prices off of Newegg where possible. The one exception was the GTX 570 itself, where we had to take Nvidia at its word about the card's $349.99 suggested price. Here's hoping that's accurate!
Generally, for graphics cards with reference clock speeds, we simply picked the lowest priced variant of a particular card available. For instance, that's what we did for the GTX 580. For the cards with custom speeds, such as the Asus GTX 460 768MB and 6850, we used the price of that exact model as our reference.
|AMD card||Price||Nvidia card|
|$149.99||GeForce GTX 460 768MB|
|Radeon HD 6850||$189.99|
|$214.99||GeForce GTX 460 1GB 810MHz|
|Radeon HD 6870||$249.99|
|$259.99||GeForce GTX 470|
|Radeon HD 5870||$279.99|
|$349.99||GeForce GTX 570|
|$429.99||GeForce GTX 480|
|Radeon HD 5870 2GB||$499.99|
|Radeon HD 5970||$499.99|
|$509.99||GeForce GTX 580|
A simple mash-up of price and performance produces these results:
The lower-priced solutions tend to bubble to the top whenever you look at raw price and performance like that.
We can get a better sense of the overall picture by plotting price and performance on a scatter plot. On this plot, the better values will be closer to the top left corner, where performance is high and price is low. Worse values will gravitate toward the bottom right, where low frame rates meet high prices.
Nvidia's newest is actually pretty well positioned on the scatter plot, with only the mid-range multi-GPU solutions occupying obviously better real-estate. Note that the GTX 570 is a very straightforward improvement over the GeForce GTX 480, which has slightly lower performance yet costs quite a bit more.
Another way we can consider GPU value is in the context of a larger system purchase, which may shed a different light on what it makes sense to buy. The GTX 570 is definitely an enthusiast-type part, so we've paired it with a proposed system config that's similar to the hardware in our testbed system but a little more economical.
|CPU||Intel Core i7-950||$294.99|
|Memory||6GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1333||$74.99|
|Storage||Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB||$89.99|
|Audio||Asus Xonar DG||$29.99|
|PSU||PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 750W||$129.99|
|Enclosure||Corsair Graphite Series 600T||$159.99|
That system price will be our base. We've added the cost of the video cards to the total, factored in performance, and voila:
Multi-GPU solutions occupy the top six slots in the bar chart once we factor in total system price, amazingly enough. In fact, the most expensive setup we tested, the GTX 580 SLI config, ties for the top spot. Clearly, we've weighted things in favor of performance more than price once we add a thousand-dollar system to the equation. In that context, the GTX 570 lands in the middle of the packjust as it did when we factored in GPU price alone, and the other solutions shift positions almost completely.
The scatter plot is a little less fickle, and it tells a similar story to the last one. The GTX 570 isn't an outstanding value, but it's pretty good, especially among the single-GPU options.
These results would look very different with a more or less expensive system, so your mileage may vary.
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