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AMD and nVidia declare war around £100

While it’s impossible to ignore the primeval surge of testosteone that accompanies the titanic battle to the death made possible by cards like the Radeon HD 6990 and GTX590 – the real battle happens at a much lower price point. On the eve of war, KitGuru looks closely at what’s at stake.

In KitGuru’s recent nVidia mid-range match-up, the winner was the brand new GTX550. More than anything else, at £115 or less (including VAT) it repesents great value. If it was closer to the GTX460, then it would get pulverised – but around £110, it occupies a good position.

In the UK, most of the graphic cards that ship in a year will be in this class or lower – so getting the balance of price/features/performance correct around the £100 price point is crucial if you want to sell in volume.

With nVidia’s best shot already fired, it’s now up to AMD to reply. And it’s not an easy one for them. One quick look at the Steampowered data on the ‘graphics-cards-used-by-gamers’ market will show you that the Radeon 57xx cards have been the mainstay of AMD’s revenue since the company launched the first of the DX11 cards in 2009.

Replacing a weak card is a no-brainer. Everyone looks at each other, shrugs their shoulders and says “Come on. Let’s go with it. It simply cannot be worse”.

Replacing your highest revenue generators is a lot more nerve-wreaking.

Here are KitGuru, we wanted to try and imagine what the card would look like, so we’ve played around with some sketches and created a set of mock-up packaging. Multiple screen connections is pretty standard and we know that 1GB of GDDR5 is pretty standard these days. The coolers used recently on other cards seem pretty effective and no one wants to waste too much money on the packaging, so let’s imagine that it is also relatively simple.

So, the big question – what does the win look like against nVidia’s GTX550?   In the simplest terms, if AMD is faster and cheaper – then it’s a 100% win. If it’s more expensive or slower, then it gets harder to call. Slow and more expensive is a loss.

Artists impression and mock up of what a new mid-range AMD card might look like. Etch-a-Sketch anyone?

KitGuru says: AMD’s engineering teams will have been under some serious pressure to get the next mid-range card right. Drivers will be tweaked to within an inch of their lives as well, no doubt. Street price in the USA will need to be around the $150 mark, which could translate into £112 inc vat over in the UK.

Comments below or in the KitGuru forum.

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