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Should I wait for Pascal?

post #1 of 7
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Just some random musings on the ever-popular question, "Should I buy now, or should I wait until Pascal comes out?"

(1) Pascal probably won't be as much of an improvement over what's already available as you may have been led to believe.
NVIDIA has claimed, in "extremely rough estimates," that the Pascal architecture will bring 10 times the performance per watt of their current leading architecture, Maxwell. Some people, including some media outlets, have translated this to "10x Maxwell." But as ExtremeTech's Joel Hruska has pointed out, "10 times the performance per watt" is not necessarily the same as "10 times the performance." This is a critical point to understand.
As many of the people who read overclock.net forums are particularly interested in gaming performance, consider that if you had listened to NVIDIA's claims back in 2010 that the move from the Fermi architecture to Maxwell would bring "10x the performance per watt of Fermi architecture" and you had thought that that meant 10 times the raw gaming performance, you would have been disappointed.
http://www.hardwarezone.com/feature-nvidias-fermi-successors-revealed-kepler-and-maxwell

What actually happened, if you measure gaming performance just in frames per second,* was that Maxwell was only about 2 times as fast as Fermi, not 10. If you broaden your look beyond gaming frames per second to something like folding@home calculations, Maxwell was about 3-4 times as fast as Fermi, not 10.
In the benchmarks here, Fermi is represented by the GTX 480 and Maxwell by the GTX 980:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/product/1135?vs=1351

(*Which is not to say, of course, that there weren't other improvements in the change in architectures that could benefit users.)

So, yeah, Pascal will be faster, but probably not to the degree as some of the hype out there suggests.

(2) It will probably be a year or more from now before Pascal can be used to best advantage.
The precise time-frame for release of the first consumer card with Pascal is still unclear, but a rumor has suggested that we won't be seeing those cards until late spring or even into summer next year (although a lot of media have been saying the first quarter--in other words, before April--of 2016).
http://www.kitguru.net/components/graphic-cards/anton-shilov/nvidias-big-pascal-gpu-reportedly-taped-out-on-track-for-2016-launch-rumour/

If the initial release is anything like what we have seen in recent years, we can expect
--(a) shortages of cards for several weeks
--(b) kinks to be worked out for several weeks to months

And it will be even more months after that before developers start writing their new applications or modifying their existing applications to really take advantage of the new features of this architecture. So by this point we are talking a year or more from now.

(3) The initial Pascal cards will be exorbitantly expensive.
The newest, fastest cards are always the most expensive. If recent experience is predictive, we can expect that new Pascal cards will easily run something like US $1,100 - $1,300. No doubt less-capable cards based on the new architecture will also be released eventually, but if you are waiting, you will probably have to wait even longer for those (Christmas-buying season 2016?).

(4) While you wait, the resale value of your current gpu continues to fall.
Unless you are independently wealthy (or base your entire existence on your relationship with your computers) and money is no object, you may be considering trying to blunt the blow that a new card purchase will have on your wallet by selling your current card.

Whatever your card is worth today, I can guarantee you that it will be worth even less in 2016 when Pascal finally debuts.
If you are thinking about buying a holdover card now then upgrading to Pascal next year or in early 2017, the key question money-wise is whether and by how much the value of your current card is likely to decline over that period of time compared to how much the value of any holdover card you might acquire will decline in that same period. I think (not sure) the rate of depreciation is usually greatest in the first 6 months, assuming that new cards with modest improvements in performance and/or feaures are being released during that time frame. I say this just from having watched prices for new cards vs used-LikeNew cards on eBay, open-box cards on Newegg, and Amazon Warehouse and used-LikeNew cards on Amazon.
So the best strategy might to be to buy a used card, letting the original owner, rather than you, take most of the hit from the large depreciation that occurs early on.
post #2 of 7
I'd buy what ever you want now. aka titan X or 980s

If you're looking for resale value....
Say you got a 980, in a year flip it for a $100 loss and you only paid $100 to game/enjoy it. What's a $100 worth to you?

If you like to buy the latest and greatest of everything, you should already know this unless you got a corner full of old parts.

the real timeline for Pascal might be release in March GTC


BTW the Fermi was one of the hottest cards to cool on the market at the time, 300watts vs 175watts (maxwell) and maxwells has better graphics IMO (the level of gaming has changed since 480s were release GEN 1 PCIe
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post #3 of 7
Good points, I am interested in following this conversation as I plan to wait one more cycle before upgrading my 670 since I haven't been gaming much at all lately.

I think I can stretch it till Pascal and then be happy with that card for 3+ years and by that time do a full PC rebuild.

Just to be sure, will Z77 systems get the full use more or less of what Pascal will bring to the table or will a Z107 or X99 system be needed with things like DDR4 or other features?
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post #4 of 7
There is no point imo in waiting for Pascal if you need to upgrade (aka. you want improvement, you are tired of your current FPS, you want to move to 1440p monitor etc.). Pascal will be faster then Maxwell, but I agree it won't be as fast as hype make it seems. Besides year or two is still year or two- 12 to 24 months. I prefer to upgrade and be happy with new performance for all this time and then maybe upgrade, reselling my 980 Ti, add some money to it and buy Pascal.

Besides we yet do not know how fast will be Pascal. And we will probably wait few months before most powerfull Pascal will be out, since it will go in traditional order, first Pascal 1070, then Pascal 1080, then Pascal Titan XX, then Pascal 1080 Ti which will as always screw Titan XX and then we will see more budget versions of Pascal 1060 and 1060 Ti.

So considering that- If you want upgrade there is no point in waiting.
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post #5 of 7
I never wait.

Who knows how long it will be before a manufacturer releases 'the Pascal' card of your dreams and will it suffer from QA issues (it happens often). ASUS is just now releasing the Poseidon 980 TI.

What you can afford and what do you have now is really what drives the answer to your question.
post #6 of 7
NVidia only claimed "Pascal = 10 x Maxwell" as a rough upper limit for a very specific use case: deep learning. Not gaming. About 5x gain from faster compute, and another 2x gain from NVLink (which will only be only on pro compute cards in the foreseeable future, as it needs a motherboard with NVLink support).

That being said, there's a ton of room between 1000% (10x) improvement and the 30-50% we usually see between generations.
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post #7 of 7
I just went through this similar situation of wanting to upgrade, but also contemplating waiting for the new Pascal or Greenland GPUs to release. I found a happy middle of just buying a second hand GPU instead of buying a brand new one. The market is FULL of used GPUs right now, I found my current 290X for only $200, rather than the $300+ i had planned to spend on a brand new 390. I dont see anything wrong with buying an used card now and re-sell it in a year for a far less depreciation value than if you bought a brand new card now.
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