We noted in our GeForce GTX 660 Ti review that Nvidia had the advantage in terms of overall gaming performance per dollar. That was no great surprise, since new graphics cards are often priced to make a splash versus the competition. However, we sort of figured AMD had already played its hand by adding a Boost-enabled BIOS to the Radeon HD 7950 that, er, boosts performance. Turns out that adjustment alone wasn't sufficient to win the value sweeps, so AMD has decided to counter the GTX 660 Ti with price cuts across the middle of its lineup.
AMD tells us we can expect to see new prices "towards the end of this week" on several of its products. Here's the skinny:
- The Radeon HD 7950 (including those with Boost) drops from $349 to $319.
- The Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition drops from $299 to $249.
- The Radeon HD 7850 2GB drops to $209, and the 1GB version to $189.
Now, have a look at our value scatter plots, using performance data from the GTX 660 Ti review, with the adjusted prices.
As you can see, this move restores AMD's competitiveness on the price-performance front, even pulling them slightly into the lead—less so in our latency-focused 99th percentile measurement than in the average FPS results that are less meaningful and more ubiquitous. Either way, the outcome is more or less the same.
Then again, your sense of the value equation may be swayed somewhat by Nvidia's decision to bundle a coupon for a free copy of Borderlands 2 with GTX 660 Ti cards. To counter that offer, AMD has decided to start bundling the GTA-alike Sleeping Dogs with its Radeon HD 7800-series products. That promotion is slated to begin in the next two to three weeks, ramping up the sense of parity between the various choices even further.
What's more, AMD doesn't plan to roll into the holiday release season in its usual posture: sitting back and watching games that have been shepherded to market by Nvidia's "The Way It's Meant To Be Played" program dominating the PC sales charts (and the benchmark suites) yet again. This year, the Radeon camp has lined up what is easily the strongest set of titles yet for its "Gaming Evolved" program. The list includes Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the intriguing Tomb Raider reboot, Hitman: Absolution, and the amazing-looking BioShock Infinite. These games should be DX11-fortified and, presumably, will make good use of the GCN architecture.
After a rough start to the 28-nm era, we are finally seeing next-generation graphics power drop into more attractive territory. Based on the size of the chips and various related factors, I still think there's plenty of room for more reductions, eventually. If we're lucky, competitive pressure will keep on ratcheting down the prices as we approach the holiday buying season.