Power and Closing Thoughts
Just as a sanity check we wanted to make sure the new driver wasn't spiking our power consumption to get these performance gains, and while we did see an 8 watt increase, that difference is minimal and shouldn't be noticed in terms of heat or fan noise.
Regardless of our initial doubts, the new performance gains with the 12.11 beta driver are impressive to see and with the one exception of Battlefield 3, we didn't encounter any experience or image quality changes. Considering we saw boosts of 20% in several games including DiRT 3, Batman: Arkham City and even BF3, Radeon 7000 series card owners should be looking forward to jumping to this 12.11 release.
We are likely going to test an HD 7770 and HD 7970 card later this week to make sure, but you should see similar performance boosts with them as we saw with the HD 7870 GHz Edition in this article.
Do these gains really change the placement of the HD 7870 GHz Edition in our comparison? Not really but it does make it closer; the GTX 660 Ti is still faster in our results. Though that killer game bundle that AMD is offering up might change some minds…
Pricing and Competition
Here are the current prices of the cards tested today:
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB – $239
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB – $299
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 2GB – $389
Obviously the GTX 670 is outside the league of both of these cards but notice the $60 price gap between the GTX 660 Ti and the HD 7870 GHz Edition… Witnessing the performance gains of the 12.11 beta driver today I think that many gamers will find the step down to the HD 7870 to be worth the price savings! Not to mention that Far Cry 3 and Medal of Honor 20% discount we keep mentioning.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you we aren't at least a little worried about WHERE these performance gains are coming from. We are definitely going to be using some different performance and experience testing tools to make sure there isn't anything "funny" going on – and before you ask I know that a few people have already tried the EXE renaming trick and the performance gains remained. (Nod to Nate at Legit Reviews for that!) If we find anything interesting, we will be sure to report it and I would expect our readers to do the same once the 12.11 beta is available for download.
Moving past that, as a gamer, it is great to see AMD continuing to support their products and add benefits like this to the GCN architecture 10+ month after its initial release. If you play DiRT 3, Batman or Battlefield, the frame rate increases are going to be easily seen in your gaming and you might even be able to up your image quality settings and remain at the same performance levels. If you still are looking to make a GPU purchase, the HD 7870 GHz Edition definitely looks a bit sweeter when compared to the GTX 660 Ti than it did yesterday.