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GPU Dilemma: GTX 670M vs. HD 7970M

tombardo

Junior Member
Aug 19, 2012
2
0
0
I am on the verge of buying a gaming laptop - either an Sager NP9170 with a Radeon HD 7970M or an ASUS G75VW with an nVidia GeForce GTX 670M - in order to enjoy the benefits of a high performance GPU. However, I must confess that I am not really a gamer, but merely a photographer looking for a mobile solution for working with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom and eventually video editing when I can afford to move up to the Nikon D800 from my D300!

Yes, they're both excellent GPUs, so perhaps you're wondering what my dilemma might be? Well, according to Adobe, the "Mercury Graphics Engine (MGE) is new to Photoshop CS6 and uses both the OpenGL and OpenCL frameworks. It does not use the proprietary CUDA framework from nVidea." Besides the fact that I'm also getting ready to upgrade to Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4, I'm confused by the fact that nVidea's Quadro GPUs, which are ostensibly optimized for computational graphics type applications (including Photoshop), also specify CUDA Cores as the basis of their performance excellence.

The GTX 670M processor specifies 336 CUDA Cores, which is the same as nVidea's Quadro 4000M GPU, though the 4000M has a greater memory interface (256bit vs. 196bit) and memory bandwidth (80GB/sec vs. 72GB/sec). I don't understand why the Quadro GPUs will perform well with Adobe applications when they are based on the same CUDA framework as nVidea GeForce GPUs?

AnandTech's recent news article about nVidea's release of OEM GeForce GTX 660 products lists "Stream Processor" specifications for GTX 660 - GTX 680 desktop GPUs instead of CUDA CORES. All GPU specifications from nVidea's GeForce website list only CUDA Cores, whether GT, GTX, or Quadro products. What am I missing or not understanding?

Of course, Stream Processors bring us to the AMD Radeon GPUs, which Adobe applications appear to support wholeheartedly! The specifications for the Radeon HD 7970M closely approximate the specifications of AMD's FirePro W7000 Professional Graphics, and the 7970M supports OpenGL 4.2, OpenCL 1.2, AMD's latest GCN architecture, and a ton of the latest audio/video standards and advanced technologies.

On paper, the HD 7970M GPU should be the obvious choice for my primary applications, and I understand that it's a damn fine performer with current games; however, from what I can discern, AMD's Enduro GPU switching technology (Ivy Bridge processors - integrated to dedicated) is problematic, and AMD's driver support for their consumer GPUs is reputed to be poor, if not completely unresponsive! While nVidea's Optimus switching technology seems to work as advertised, it is not clear to me if AMD's Enduro switching issues are only related to games or also come into play with professional graphics apps, especially Adobe applications.

So, I would greatly appreciate any insights, advice, or recommendations that this forum's membership might offer, especially if you are a graphics professional using AMD or nVidea consumer GPUs.
 
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Arkadrel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2010
3,681
1
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The 7970M has something called "Enduro" which is just like nvidia Optimus technology.

The implementation can flip between the Radeon and integrated graphics without having to reload or specify apps, and unlike NVIDIA's approach, can work with both AMD processors as well as Intel's.
So this means you can buy not only Intel CPUs but also AMD APUs + discrete and have it work.
Another benefit from this is hybrid Crossfire mode's for some of the lower end cards with the APUs.


AMD's driver support for their consumer GPUs is reputed to be poor.
Everyone always says that, and that might have been true 10years ago, things change.




Serious question:
Why did you buy a laptop for photoshop work?
Do you plan to work while on the train/bus? without a power socket nearby?
Do you take hour(s) long train rides where you do work while on the train?

Or is it just so you can take it home with you (to and from work)?
and always plan on sitting by a desk with it hooked up to a power cable?
(if it is this case, then power is a non-issue)



That said I believe Photoshop CS6 favors the amd cards.
 

tombardo

Junior Member
Aug 19, 2012
2
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The laptop will be a (temporary) desktop replacement, as my current, but ancient, HP Core2Duo Pentium box isn't cutting it anymore and will be replaced. Once I get up and running with a new laptop, I will build another desktop over the next six months or so.
 

lopri

Elite Member
Jul 27, 2002
12,842
325
126
670M isn't Kepler, as the number of "cuda cores" indicates. It is a heavily modified Fermi (GTX 400/500)

I would definitely pony up some more for 680M (Kepler), or 7970M (GCN) if you are already looking for that level of performance.
 
Feb 19, 2009
10,457
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I am on the verge of buying a gaming laptop - either an Sager NP9170 with a Radeon HD 7970M or an ASUS G75VW with an nVidia GeForce GTX 670M - in order to enjoy the benefits of a high performance GPU.
CUDA has the advantage that its currently more widely supported in more software. But seeing as there's a recent push towards OpenCL, in the future it looks like GCN will do just fine.

Also, Adobe CS6 flies on GCN. If thats your primary application, no contest.
 

Sentry2

Senior member
Mar 21, 2005
820
0
0
I would definitely go for a 7970M over the 670M but I'd think twice about getting it in any Clevo EM series machine. Not being able to turn off Enduro is a deal breaker IMO. I will say that the 7970M is an amazing mobile chip(especially for the price). I ran one in my NP8150 for a month with zero issues since Clevo's HM machines don't support Enduro. Now I'm running a 680M in the 8150. After logging a bunch of hours gaming on each card I can honestly say it's a wash between the two at stock clocks. They are both downright impressive performers...
 

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