has decided to launch its newest Radeon HD 7970 flagship graphics card with a US $549.99 price tag and we already wrote about this price early this month. If you consider the performance of the HD 7970 than a US $550 price tag seems reasonable as the card outperforms the competition and claims the highest performing single-GPU card crown.
Early this month, one of our trusted sources whispered to us the US $549.99 price tag
and although it did make sense, considering the rumoured performance, lack of competition, we honestly expected AMD to prove us wrong. I think we, and most of the consumers for that matter, simply got used to the fact that AMD was somehow always giving a bit more for the money and trying to beat Nvidia by launching at somewhat lower prices and delivering as much bang for buck as possible.
Nvidia wasn't far off with performance/price with some of its own cards but AMD was always sort of better in that segment (HD 6950, HD 6850, HD 5850), while Nvidia was more of a "performance no matter the cost" company. Some might agree and some might not with the previous comparison, but that's just the way things go as some will always prefer one company and their products over the other.
Let's get back to the matter at hand and the interesting US $549.99 price tag. AMD is targeting Nvidia's GTX 580 with this card and has priced it accordingly. Some might argue that it should be compared against the GTX 580 3GB version but we were having a hard time to find a single review that had the HD 7970 pitted against the GTX 580 3GB version, and we don't even want to start talking about how well did GTX 580 3GB performed when compared to standard 1.5GB version, so we'll stick to the standard GTX 580.
The GTX 580 is currently priced at around US $500 in the US and around €400 in Europe, while the HD 7970 is priced at US $549.99 (hopefully if retailers/e-tailers don't jack up the price). In Europe, it should retail/e-tail at below €500. Strangely, we still haven't heard the exact EU price for the HD 7970 except for those few early listings that were simply insanely priced. In the best case scenario the HD 7970 should end up at around €420 (if you simply convert the currency) but that is never the case since Europe always gets worse deal.
Unfortunately, the time where AMD was pushing for best bang for buck is over and honestly we can't blame AMD, as Nvidia is late to the game. There is no competition, and they have the fastest single-GPU, so basically Nvidia takes the blame. The HD 7970 is simply an enthusiast card meant for high resolution/multi-display gaming and you get a lower consumption and better compute power as an extra. Those that were hoping for a US $449 or even US $399 card should wait for mid-February, AMD's HD 7800 series or even the HD 7950 that could end up pretty good considering the performance of the HD 7970.
Of course, there is always the good old HD 6970 that currently sells for around US $340 in the USA and around €280 in Europe, but that won't last for long as that one will probably disappear from the market soon. We've been hearing that some partners have already stopped ordering them.
We have already heard rumours that GTX 580 might not stay at US $500 and a price cut seems like a logical move for Nvidia. Back when HD 7970 US $549.99 price was rumoured we already heard that the card could be cheaper so it might mean that AMD has a bit more room for slight price adjustment if Nvidia makes the move.
In any case, it all depends on what are you after, a top-class, best performing single-GPU enthusiast graphics card for some high-resolution/multi-display gaming, a best bang for buck card, or a budget/cheaper solution that can push all your games at 1080p.