The HD 7970 vs. the GTX 680 – revisited after 7 years

Intro

The Retro Series – the HD 7870 vs. the GTX 680 compared with the RX 570 and the GTX 1050 Ti

The GTX 680 versus the HD 7970 is a classic confrontation which began in 2012 that BTR revisited 3 years later.  Codenamed Tahiti, the then new AMD flagship Radeon HD 7970  launched in January, 2012 at $550 and was about 20% faster than NVIDIA’s Fermi flagship, the GTX 580.  The Kepler flagship, the GTX 680, launched at $499 in March, 2012 with a strong emphasis on performance per watt and efficiency.

The GTX 680 is a 2GB vRAM-equipped mid-sized GPU on a 256-bit wide bus compared with the larger HD 7970 which is equipped with 3GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus. Although the HD 7970 has higher bandwidth and better specs, the GTX 680 was originally considered faster overall than the HD 7970, mostly due to having better optimized drivers.

Here are the original performance charts from BTR’s 2012 evaluation using a Core i7-920 at 4.2GHz showing the GTX 680 to be slightly faster then the HD 7970.Untitled-one1

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Here is BTR’s follow-up performance summary chart from 3 years later using an Intel Core i7-4790K at 4.4GHz which showed the tables turning as the HD 7970 generally beat the GTX 680.

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The HD 7970 with its 3GB of vRAM, became a generally faster GPU for 2015 games than the 2GB vRAM-equipped GTX 680 although they remained in the same class.  But what about today?  We decided to compare these two former flagship cards against today’s $150 video cards, the GTX 1050 Ti and the RX 570.  The RX 570 is a faster card, but the GTX 1050 Ti commands a higher price mostly because of its lower power draw.

BTR’s benchmark suite has changed from 2012 and from 2015.  We have added minimum frame rates in addition to averages, and are now testing 38 games with a strong emphasis on the very latest games.  We want to see how these two former flagship video cards of 2012 stand now in relation to each other and to the current $150 gaming cards by benchmarking the latest games at 1080P at Ultra and at Medium settings.Our current testing platform is a recent install of Windows 10 64-bit Home Edition, and we are using an i7-8700K which turbos all 6 cores to 4.7 GHz, an EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard, and 16GB of HyperX DDR4 3333MHz. The games tested, settings, and hardware are identical except for the cards being compared.  It will be interesting to see which GPU is more “future proof” after 7 years and if they are still capable of playing the latest games.

Let’s check out the reference PowerColor R9 HD 7970-3GB versus the reference GTX 680-2GB, and compare with the Red Devil RX 570-4GB versus the PNY GTX 1050 Ti-4GB XLR8, after we look over our test configuration on the next page.