GTX 680 Launched: New King of the Hill

Mark Pinkerton March 22, 2012 0
GTX 680 Launched: New King of the Hill

In the never-ending GPU wars, AMD’s HD7970 was recently crowned the fastest single-GPU card with 28nm architecture. And although both Nvidia and AMD have extremely powerful dual-GPU cards (the GTX590 and the HD6990, respectively), both are starting to show their age through their outdated architecture and colossal power consumption. Until now, Nvidia has lacked a true, 28nm competitor for the reigning HD7970, but with the release of their new Kepler architecture in the form of the GTX680, the green team appears to have the game, at least for now, securely locked away.

First, let’s look at a comparison of Nvidia’s and AMD’s flagship 28nm offerings:

Nvidia GTX 680
Radeon HD7970

1536 2048
Base Clock

1006 (MHz) 925 (MHz)
Texture Fill Rate

128.8  (billion/sec) 118.4 (billion/sec)
 Memory Speed

1502 MHz 1375 MHz
Standard Memory Config

Memory Interface Width
256-bit  GDDR5

Memory Bandwidth (GB/sec)
192.2 GB/s
Maximum Graphics Card Power (W)

195 W 250 W
Minimum System Power Requirement

550 W 500 W
Supplementary Power Connectors
Two 6-pin One 8 pin + One 6 pin

*Nvidia and AMD shaders are not directly comparable

Data collected from Nvidia and AMD websites

With the release of the GTX680, it definitely looks like the people over at AMD should be worried now: on paper, the FPS advantage should be in Nvidia’s favor.  However, specs and statistics don’t tell the whole story: let’s see what performance numbers people have been getting in real-world tests with this new card.   You can read benchmarks at Nvidia,  MaximumPC, and at Tom’s Hardware.   From the benchmarks, the GTX680 is definitely the new fastest single-GPU card, as it was able to to beat out all other comers—including the 7970—in most of the games by a significant margin.  It even nips at the heels of the dual-GPU, Fermi-based GTX590 despite being much cooler and consuming a lot less power. A pair (or trio, or more) of GTX680’s in SLI should be a truly phenomenal performer.

Prices start at $500 at, making it $50 less than the HD7970. If I had $500 lying around right now the card would have been ordered this morning.  However, this being a top of the line card, it’s quite possibly unnecessary if playing only at a 1920×1080 resolution, especially when compared to the 7850 or a GTX560Ti, both of which undercut the GTX680’s price by a considerable margin while still making mincemeat of all current games on a single screen. The choice is yours as a consumer: if you’re ready and willing to drop half a grand to nab the GTX680, better do so quickly before they are sold out.  Those with smaller checkbooks better wait to see where prices—and the rest of the Kepler lineup—settle in the next month or so.


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