Nvidia attempts to conquer the midrange and high-end categories with their latest GPUs

In late June, graphics card manufacturer Nvidia announced the GPU which would replace its GTX 660 and 660Ti cards: the Nvidia GeForce GTX 760, which is competitively priced at Rs.19,499. Unlike the last Nvidia card I tested (the GeForce TITAN which utilises the newer GK110 design), the GTX 760 is based on last year’s GK104 Kepler board (everything from the GTX 660 to the 690 were based on this design as well), but thanks to a varied setup, the 760 delivers 2.3 gigaflops of processing power, and when combined with Nvidia’s GPU Boost 2.0 technology which regulates the processor’s clock speed, offers enhanced gaming performance. In simple terms, the GTX 760 is looking to replace the midrange GPU you’ve currently got installed in your system, unless it’s already a GTX 760 or one of its overclocked variants.

It has been a trend with GPU makers to announce their midrange contender after launching the higher end models — in addition to the GTX 760, I managed to get some hands-on time with one which was announced a little earlier: the GeForce GTX 770, a card that costs Rs.29,990. Now, both these cards are in different categories; the GTX 760 is a mainstream midrange GPU which offers good performance at resolutions of 1920x1080, while the 770 targets the gamer who wants blazing frame rates at the same resolution or higher. Both GPUs deliver on that promise, but how much better are they than their main rivals?

The GTX 760’s main competitor is every other mainstream card in the market. If you’ve got a GTX 560 or older and are on the lookout for a replacement, picking up the 760 is a no-brainer since the performance boost on offer is significant. But what if you purchased a card only last year, say a GTX 660Ti or a Radeon HD7950? Battlefield 4 is just around the corner, and every PC gamer is looking for a card that will be able to run it well. In Battlefield 3, both those cards are capable of dishing out very acceptable frame rates (in the range of 60fps) at the game’s “Ultra” preset. BF4 (and Need For Speed: Rivals, for that matter) will use the next iteration of the Frostbite game engine which powers Battlefield 3 — as a result, BF3 should prove to be a good indicator of card performance. While the GTX 760 offered only an incremental improvement over the 660Ti in the test performed, the GTX 770 blew it out of the water, with an additional 20 frames per second (averaging around 80fps).

In Relic’s real-time strategy title, Company of Heroes 2, the 770 performed admirably while the 760 once again offered only a minor improvement in terms of frame rate — a trend which would carry through across several tests encompassing games like Far Cry 3, Crysis 3 and Tomb Raider. Graphically undemanding games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 did not benefit from the new technology and processing power as expected — so if you spend a lot of time playing MOBAs, the new cards will give you nothing extra to work with.

Given the GeForce GTX 760’s price, it’s hard to ignore if you’re in the market for a new midrange card and have not upgraded since the GTX 560 which came out a couple of years ago. But if you’ve done the deed only last year and picked up either the 660Ti or the Radeon 7950, you might either want to hold off until next year, or consider upgrading to the GTX 770, which noticeably improves gaming performance across the board. On the other hand, if it’s a direct choice between the GTX 760, GTX 660Ti and the HD7950, the 760 would be the right pick since both those other cards are either priced on par or are (strangely) more expensive. Both the GTX 760 and GTX 770 are available from add-in card suppliers such as Asus, Galaxy and Zotac.