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No matter how good the product actually is, its price and secondary qualities may actually define its market success. Traditionally, the most important thing what people cared about when buying a graphics card was its performance. Today, leading GPU developers provide free games with their premium devices, which results into added value that greatly influences buying decisions.

Benchmark Was The King

Performance in different types of video games and “synthetic” benchmarks has always been the most important criteria of graphics cards purchase both by end users and major PC makers. Scores in Futuremark’s 3DMark and PCMark has influenced buying decisions of global PC manufacturers, such as Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Performance in certain trend-setting titles, such as Far Cry, Half-Life or Doom in many cases has been defining market shares of ATI/AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce graphics cards. But with the launch of AMD’s Never Settle program a lot of things have changes.

Pure performance costs. A premium or ultra-premium graphics cards are available for $599 - $999, a price of a notebook. Such graphics solutions – AMD Radeon R9 290x or Nvidia GeForce Titan – offer extraordinary speed in most games and provide perfect results in various artificial benchmark programs. More affordable graphics adapters in the $200 - $500 price-range are absolutely perfect for most popular games. When it comes to even less expensive solutions, then many of them offer decent performance in previous-generation and/or not graphically in-intensive games. To sum up, if you need to play Battlefield, Far Cry or Need for Speed, then you should have a decent up-to-date graphics adapter that costs well over $100.

Selling Graphics Cards

While it is nearly impossible to significantly increase performance of a graphics card that is generally behind performance-wise to its competitor in the price range, it is possible to lower the price and position it against a less potent rival. But a price-cut usually increases risks of losses on the company level, which is something the top management is ought to avoid.

But what is needed if it is impossible to significantly boost performance and/or cut price, but still sell a graphics card? It is possible to deflate the actual performance numbers by optimizing drivers for particular applications and make the product look better than it actually is. That does not work for a long term since reviewers of graphics cards actually love what they do and therefore never tolerate cheating. If caught with pants down, it harms a company’s image much more than it does to sales. But while it is not easy to deflate the importance and meaning of performance, it looks like it is possible to deflate the price of a product by adding value.

Graphics cards with free accessories [thus, added value] have existed for a decade now. But a cheap mouse pad, bag made of inadequate textile or CD/DVD/BD holders made of artificial leather (which even does not pretend to be leather) have never appealed to people wishing to spend some $300 - $500 per graphics card. What those people want is to play games comfortably. So, bring them games. For free.

Modern Games Cost

Nowadays a high-end PC title can cost $70 in the U.S. and €70 in Europe (Battlefield 4 and Need for Speed: Rivals as well as some other titles are sold at that price), which is a result of considerably increased development costs as well as addition of professional musicians, social psychologists, actors/narratives as well as many others into the process. Most AAA-class PC games still cost some $50/€50 (loads of game developers then release DLCs [digitally downloaded content] so to max out spending per game to $100/€100) at launch, a price at which not everyone can buy impulsively.

Due to increase of PC gamers in general, game developers can afford themselves setting initially high price tags without fear of being rejected by avid customers. Even if there are potential customers who pirate games (and lock themselves from DLCs), there are loads more who actually buy even at launch prices. At the same time, nobody likes to miss the money, which is why game developers welcome volume purchases at discounts. Just what the doctor ordered!

$150 in Value per Graphics Card

Currently both AMD and Nvidia Corp. provide up to three AAA video games with the purchase of high-end GeForce GTX or Radeon graphics card. Some titles may cost $20, some are sold for $50 to end-users. AMD and Nvidia get the licenses for around $10 per game. End-user gets up to $150 value with the purchase of a graphics card.

When you buy a graphics card that costs – say, $350 – do you care about 10% difference in performance, or do you care about a huge – up to $150 valuable – game package you are provided? To my mind, you do care more about the software titles than about the technology that actually supplies. Want to play Splinter Cell: Blacklist? Get yourself a decent GeForce GTX. Have never played Far Cry 3? Buy AMD Radeon. Performance? They are more or less equal [in case someone has not repeated itself in cheating mistakes]. Exclusive features like AMD Eyefinity or Nvidia PhysX? They further degrade the importance of actual performance in games, but who cares about them anyway? Price of graphics cards is similar. Games are different. Obviously, the latter decide the buying decisions.

Future Without Graphics Cards Benchmarks?

While benchmark results will continue to be important for enthusiasts, market observers and analysts, it simply does not seem that they will directly influence purchase decisions going forward. Incredibly slow innovation on the graphics chip hardware level in the recent years just proves this.

Tags: Nvidia, AMD, Radeon, Geforce, Business, GCN, Kepler

Discussion

Comments currently: 26
Discussion started: 11/03/13 01:48:38 PM
Latest comment: 11/08/13 01:54:31 AM
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[1-14]

1. 
The fact of the matter is that the current graphics cards are so capable today that most any card with do unless you are playing games at very high resolution.

In addition benchmarks can be very deceptive as GPU makers have found ways to trick the benchmarks into reporting inflated results. The bottom line is that most any of the GPU cards will work for mainstream users so if there is a specific game that appeals to you and you can get it for free in a bundle, then why not go for it?
4 3 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 11/03/13 01:48:38 PM]
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2. 
I used to read reviews and benchmarks on xbitlabs, now I read articles about benchmarks.
The rest of the world didn't decide the end of the benchmarks, xbitlabs did.
3 5 [Posted by: Yorgos  | Date: 11/03/13 02:36:23 PM]
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The point of the article is that bundled games provides such a great value that they are driving purchase decisions more effectively than benchmark results do, especially because the performances and prices offered by the two camps (AMD and NVidia) are so close.
4 1 [Posted by: gamoniac  | Date: 11/03/13 11:58:11 PM]
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agreed. It's an off-year for other features like Eyefinity and Benchmarks- Heaven benchmark has only been updated with more intensive benchmarks rather than an entirely new engine or scene. The last benchmark, Firestrike is still relatively recent, but it will be a while (2 years) before a single graphic card solution will be able to surpass 10,000 points in Extreme mode. Imagine a R295X dual gpu. It might get 7 or 8000, while games using Mantle can improve upon other features that can be incorporated into new benchmarks.
0 0 [Posted by: qubit  | Date: 11/04/13 07:59:44 AM]
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Yes the prices are so close, in Mars.
Have you ever seen the prices? do you think that 1000$ is close to 550$, or 700$?
I'll give you 550 and you will get me a titan or a 780 ti right?
This article is just a speculation, its value is the same as anyone else's opinion.

Just a little bit from the article:
"Who Cares About Performance If You Get a Huge Discount?", well ask the guys when the HD 6000 came out and they bought nVidia.
I wonder when xbitlabs is hosting opinions and not tech news or benchmarks.
in the end, why do i even bother, i don't know why.
2 0 [Posted by: Yorgos  | Date: 11/04/13 09:44:49 AM]
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3. 
Till those freebies are worldwide, they are useless.

I got my 7850 while never settle was active but there is not any qualified vendor in my country so... no games for me..
5 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 11/03/13 02:46:45 PM]
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??? EA's Origin, Steam and UBI store are online store. Can't you get the games using the codes provided with your purchase?

I got my codes in an email for the Never Settle Bundle bundle and received a card with a unique code for the AMD Gold Reward. The rest happens online!
0 0 [Posted by: MHudon  | Date: 11/05/13 12:18:27 PM]
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that's the problem, there are no codes provided.
Those codes are provided depending on where you buy the card and (based in AMD Gaming Blog) there are no resellers of that short in Greece
0 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 11/05/13 04:55:19 PM]
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4. 
as someone above said unless its worldwide price and performance will be king

i have purchased 3 gtx 670's and 2 7950 graphics cards in australia with ZERO bundles games, i was really hoping to get planetside 2 codes with my 670 purchases but instead was told they dont have bundles over here
4 0 [Posted by: Mark Atkinson  | Date: 11/03/13 03:06:55 PM]
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I bought one 7950 in the U.S. I know buying a video card for the bundle is worth it if you're not spending a lot more, but why did you buy 5 video cards without asking the vendor if they would offer a bundle? That money could be spent towards buying 10 games.
0 0 [Posted by: qubit  | Date: 11/06/13 08:15:25 AM]
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5. 
Many technically informed PC folks have known for years the benchmarks are bogus and thus have discarded them and based performance on real application performance.

Most people buy what makes them happy. If they believe benchmarks then they use those as a reference point and then usually buy what they perceive is the best deal for their use be it a discrete card or a bundle. If they don't believe in bogus benchmarks then it takes a little more work to determine what is the best performing for a given situation.
3 3 [Posted by: beenthere  | Date: 11/03/13 05:09:21 PM]
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6. 
With 184 games in my Steam account, I don't really care about AAA games offered when purchasing VGA cards. For me what matters the most is performance and VALUE.

When I bought an AMD 7970 (regular) for $309 a couple of months ago, I chose the card that was offering the best price/performance ratio. The card lets me play with everything at ultra settings on any 1080p monitor. Finally, yes it came with a nice three games bonus.

Benchmarks confirmed that the raw power was there, they helped me see that I was getting a substantial upgrade over my current solution. Thanks benchmarks!

Actually, the deal was so good that I ordered a second one!
1 0 [Posted by: MHudon  | Date: 11/03/13 08:20:54 PM]
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THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT! THAT!

P.S. I never trust ANY benchmark. Many of them are stinking rot from being biased toward some brand. Hint: mostly from the cold color spectrum.

As long as the card plays the games I want to play and is wallet friendly, I'm in, i.e. I am(d) a huge price/performance fan.
0 0 [Posted by: zlobster  | Date: 11/05/13 02:08:13 PM]
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7. 
I think this argument of value for money extends to portable devices vs PC as well. People are increasingly buying Android devices for the value of the apps, not the benchmarks of the CPU/GPU itself. And now these low powered computing devices are starting to make their way onto the desktop. Such as this http://igg.me/at/Rocket-Droid-Pc/x/4088905
1 1 [Posted by: fanboyslayer  | Date: 11/04/13 01:46:15 AM]
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8. 
I am still waiting for a Single GPU that can max out Metro 2033 with 60 FPS minimum at 1080p resolution.
Normally, I stay on the mainstream GTX X60, currently with the GTX 660, but even the 860 nor 960 will achieve this, hopefully the 960 will.
Also, my AMD processor could be at fault, FX-4100.
0 0 [Posted by: Jose Arellano  | Date: 11/04/13 02:21:48 AM]
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if you get a 6300 you will see better results from your GPU, depending on the game this will vary from no difference to 15-20 frames per second.
I think anything below 6300 or i5 intel side, is creating a big bottleneck for contemporary video games, which are getting better and better at multi-threading performance.
0 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 11/04/13 07:58:16 AM]
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Thank you.
I realized why Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion wasn't performing so well, it wasn't made to take advantage of more cores.
And Fallout 3 wasn't made to take advantage of Quad-Cores until Fallout New Vegas was and I see that I can max it out with my hardware no problems.
I will get a 6300 in that case, or when my friend upgrades, he will send me his 8350.
0 0 [Posted by: Jose Arellano  | Date: 11/04/13 10:41:34 AM]
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9. 
On the face of it you're right. The article points out rightly that 5% performance difference might matter less than a heavy cash discount or freebie games. But this isn't why benchmarks are for. If the benchmarks aren't ran GPU makers would slack off, delay development and add a game on top to wow clients. How would one know how good a card is without benchmaks? Looking at the size of the bundle?

Look, since I've been buying my first DX7 GPU I look at benchmarks. I take note the YYY card is THAT fast. Then I looked at the price, reductions, calendar (Black Friday may be next week) and then decide for a card or another. These freebies are nothing new, just another bonus that may matter or not.

Last point. Maybe today a 200$ card can max any game. It was the same before the PS3 and X360 were launched. My modded Radeon 9500@9700 could run anything. Then the next generation console launched and the games started to target better hardware. Also in the next year we'll finally start to see higher resolution screens.
1 0 [Posted by: dragosmp  | Date: 11/04/13 05:33:52 AM]
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10. 
Bundles have been around forever, it's not something new. I don't even look at the bundle tbh as I assume that I won't want whatever it's giving me. Priority is to get the card with the required features and the best performance.
1 0 [Posted by: Dribble  | Date: 11/04/13 05:49:01 AM]
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11. 
Sometimes, buying a whole new graphic card isn't even needed to get the most out of your games. Ever tried overclocking? I was able to get New Vegas and Skyrim to run pretty well without a large graphics compromise by overclocking my desktop's stock graphics card. I found this site: http://digitalnativismrev...clocking-handbook-review/ It'll give you a good idea about what overclocking is all about if you want to go that route.
0 0 [Posted by: Alec Quinn  | Date: 11/04/13 11:29:51 AM]
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12. 
for me satisfactory performance and features are first priority than bundles-
amd-
1. 7970ghz offers good enough performance
2. DX11.2
3. never settle

nvidia-
1. GTX 680 beats 7970 in fps
2. DX11 only and 11.1 via software tricks
3. some free games(not sure)

my choice is very simple the 7970ghz and for latest my choice is R9 290X when considering upcoming 780Ti and TITAN ultra reson is same 290x offer good enough fps than DX11.2+never settle.

in short we hv to see every aspect of performane,features,bundles than we should decide wat suits best.
3 0 [Posted by: mudi1  | Date: 11/04/13 08:53:44 PM]
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Nvidia ships 3 brand new games on their 770 and 780, vs pick 3 of 7 year old games that AMD has. No need to lie there.

But yes, the name of the game is value, not performance OR bundles (though both are part of value)
0 0 [Posted by: basroil  | Date: 11/05/13 02:35:00 AM]
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Please stop posting because you are so sad.

http://videocardz.com/ima...xy-GeForce-GTX-780-Ti.jpg
DX 11.2
0 0 [Posted by: rawe  | Date: 11/05/13 02:38:17 AM]
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Since we were talking about VALUE, Mudi was comparing the 7970 to the 680.

If you want to talk about pure performance, do you really want to be reminded of the gap between the $700 780 and the $550 R9 290X?

basroil's true tough... AMD could renew it's Never Settle game list.
1 1 [Posted by: MHudon  | Date: 11/05/13 12:11:11 PM]
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13. 
Still only relevant for very few (albeit major market) countries.

Any company that wish to bring good karma upon itself should tackle the 3rd world countries too. Sorry Mark, I can only imagine how it feels down under. I myself come from what is now considered a 3rd world country and any small gesture towards such markets really boosts the customers' respect towards the company that have "blessed" us.

Another thing, though. In the small markets the games are being severely pirated. Most (read 99%) people consider the games free. No one ever bothers to think why should one pay when one could just grab it for free. That being said, I believe it would be a long time since they open bundles for the banana republics. No offense intended. Sorry Mark from down under, this time we are in this together

But who knows? The truth is out there. I want to believe!
0 0 [Posted by: zlobster  | Date: 11/05/13 01:57:52 PM]
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14. 
I still believe there is a place for Benchmarks.
Without them we would only have marketing from either of the two major camps to guide us.
How would you know if the latest card was better than the one you bought 12 months ago?
I know I wouldn't upgrade a card that works in recent games just because the new card is shiny and has a few games bundled.
0 0 [Posted by: caring1  | Date: 11/08/13 01:54:31 AM]
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