Review: Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670

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Review: Nvidia's GeForce GTX 670

After a relatively quiet 2011, this year is already shaping up to be a big one for graphics cards.

AMD launched its flagship GPUs, the Radeon HD 7950 and 7970, and now NVIDIA has completed its high end lineup with the GeForce GTX 670 to go alongside the GTX 680 and the monstrously powerful (and priced) dual GPU GTX 690.

The GTX 670 has 1344 CUDA cores, which works out as one block of cores less than the GTX 680 (which has 1536 CUDA cores). It runs at 915MHz by default, but uses NVIDIA’s boost technology, which can push the card to 994MHz when required.

This is less than the GTX 680’s 1006MHz base and 1058MHz boost speeds, but the reality is that most won’t notice the difference in speed between the two cards.

Taking a closer look at the card itself shows that Nvidia has a pretty wonderous little chip on its hands with the GK104, which powers its new high end models. The reference card has an incredibly short PCB, at only 175mm long – the cooler itself adds another 65mm to the card length, but we wonder whether this extra length is largely for perception purposes.

After all, smaller cards usually only appear in the lower end of the market, and one of the great things about the GTX 670 is that it doesn’t generate the kind of heat that requires a big, bulky cooler to be attached.

In our Crysis benchmark we saw the GTX 670 delivering 67fps at 1920 x 1080 Ultra High detail, in contrast to the GTX 680 which hit 70fps in the same test. Not only are these scores incredibly close to each other, but the GTX 670 also fares incredibly well against AMD’s top end, where the Radeon HD 7970 scores 68fps and the 7950 gets 61fps.

If we jump up in resolution to 2560 x 1440, the GTX 680 pulls away to a larger lead, scoring 46fps to the GTX 670’s 40fps. While the GTX 670’s framerate is still more than playable, it is clear that the GTX 680 is going to be the better option if you opt for higher resolution (such as those seen on multimonitor setups). 

For those using a single screen, however, the GTX 670 delivers just enough performance to cope with the demands of higher resolutions, without needing compromise on image quality.

With a street price hovering around $500, the GTX 670 is still not a graphics card for mere mortals. It is firmly aimed at enthusiasts, and like the other top end cards released in 2012 is overkill for those running a single 1920 x 1080 monitor.

That said, like the 2560 x 1440 standard seen on a lot of 27 and 30 inch screens, it’s a very tempting proposition. Not only does it deliver eminently playable framerates at maximum detail, but thanks to things like the dynamic clock speeds employed by NVIDIA it also draws less power than the competition.

There is a lot to like about the Kepler architecture, and the GTX 670 is the most likeable example to date.

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