Nvidia attacks the midrange with its latest GK104-based GPU
Today Nvidia is launching its newest 700-series GPU, the $250 GK104-based GTX 760. This is a "hard launch" as opposed to a paper launch, so you should be able to buy cards from your favorite e-tailers by the time you read this. Unlike its more expensive brethren, the GTX 770 and the GTX 780, the GTX 760 is a budget-oriented card that outpaces AMD's HD 7950 as well as its own $300 GTX 660 Ti. Nvidia says if you're looking to upgrade from a GTX 560 Ti or similar $200-ish dollar card, this is the GPU you want. After looking at the benchmark scores, it's hard to argue with that logic.
The GTX 760 is powered by the same GK104 GPU originally found in the GTX 680, which was Nvidia's flagship GPU when it launched its Kepler architecture in 2012. The GTX 760 is a binned version of that chip with less CUDA cores and lower clock speeds, but with the same 256-bit memory interface and the same 2GB of 6GHz memory. Add-in board partners will also be offering the GTX 760 in overclocked versions with both 2GB and 4GB of memory in addition to custom cooling solutions as well, just like the GTX 770. Nvidia claims this card is designed for 1080p gaming, and all of our testing was performed at that resolution as well. This card will replace the GTX 660 Ti in the company's lineup, but the GTX 660 and GTX 650 Ti Boost will remain in place as the lower-cost alternatives to this GPU. The card is 9.5 inches long and uses two six-pin PCIe connectors.
The GTX 760 reference board measures 9.5 inches and sports a semi-quiet blower-type cooler.
As a 700-series card this board also gets all the goodies that come along with that moniker, including GPU Boost 2.0 which includes Adaptive Fan Control for quieter operation, ShadowPlay for recording gaming sessions, and streaming to Nvidia's upcoming Shield handheld gaming device.
When looking at the spec chart for all the cards in this price range, it can get a little confusing as to which card is actually higher spec'd than another due to the mix-and-match nature of the numbers. This card seems to slot in right below the GTX 660 Ti as its pricing would indicate, but we found it to perform slightly better in testing (see below).
Performance and Overclocking
Since this is a GPU we've seen four times previously, we won't bother rehashing any old info but will instead just get straight to what really matters -- the benchmarks. When compared to the GTX 660 Ti, the Radeon HD 7950 and the Radeon HD 7870, the GTX 760 is the fastest in the bunch. It delivered very acceptable framerates at 1080p running max settings with 4XAA in even the most demanding game we use currently; Metro: Last Light. Sure, 25fps isn't anything to Skype home about but we run the test with maximum physics too, so that's a surprisingly playable framerate (barely). More impressively, it delivers a decent performance boost compared to the more expensive GTX 660 Ti and the Radeon HD 7950, and is quieter than both of those cards as well. It does make a bit of noise though compared to the previous cards we've seen in this series, but it's never obnoxious. We were also able to overclock the board all the way up to 1,241MHz and it was totally stable in all of our tests, though it did run at 86C after churning through an overnight session of Heaven 4.0. With a bigger cooler on this board it's possible even more overclocking headroom could be liberated, but we doubt it. We also maxed out the board's voltage to achieve this overclock, and can't wait to see what add-in board partners will offer.
Nvidia is saying this is the final card in the 700-series, so there you have it - this is the lineup for what we assume will be most of 2013 from Nvidia.
GTX 650 Ti Boost
The GTX 760 is a strong contender at the $250 price point, and honestly we thought this would be a $300 card at first, so the pricing seems quite competitive. It certainly seems like the fastest card in the mid-$200 price range, and is a heck of a lot quieter than the HD 7950, making that head-to-head a no brainer. Just like with the launch of the GTX 780 and then the GTX 770, we now wait for AMD to make a move. After reading last week that AMD is working on a new design for its coolers for the 8000 series, we're inclined to believe the company isn't standing still, but isn't quite ready to launch just yet. We know it's spending time taking shots at Nvidia these days as well since it's riding high on the news that it scored design wins in all of the next-gen consoles, so clearly AMD is gaining some momentum. How and when it'll respond to the latest salvos from Nvidia remains to be seen though. Hopefully it's not just with another game bundle, but with new hardware.