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All right, so we still don't have a direct pinpoint on the actual GPU of the Wii U other than that it's a GPGPU, but we do have an idea of what's powering the system and what you get with it out of the box, and there's something that's bothering me a lot about the announcement: it seems way too expensive for what you're getting.
Earlier today Nintendo announced the specifics of the Wii U for each territory and over here Stateside the Wii U's 8GB model will run you a rather edgy $300. The slightly “beefier” Premium Kit will cost you a bit more at $350 and you get an extra 32GB out of the box and a console stand.
Now before you go, “Hey, Gaming Blend, this is a next-gen console it's supposed to be expensive!” let's get a breakdown of the specs first before assuming it's instantly worth the price of admission. According to specs released earlier today, the system has 2GB total of RAM, with 1GB dedicated to gaming and the other 1GB dedicated to the OS. While impressive for a home console and four times more capacity than the current Xbox 360 or PS3, we're looking at only 2GB of RAM...something that you can get for current day PCs for about $30, and that's for the high speed kind.
There's also confirmation from Nintendo Nation that the system uses a slightly more recent Blu-ray player that can store up to 25GB per disc with 22.5 MB/S read speeds. That's awesome but average high-end Blu-ray players go for about $80 these days.
The kickers that usually blast up the cost of production falls in line with the GPU and CPU, similar to The Cell and Blu-ray driving up the cost of the PS3 to the near astronomical price of $600 back in 2006.
For the Wii U, the graphics is based on embedded GPGPU tech from AMD. According to Nintendo Nation they estimate that it's about equivalent to the embedded E6760 brand from AMD, which has about 600mhz clock speeds, 800mhz memory speeds, 128-bit 1GB GDDR5 video memory, 576 GFLOPs, shader model 5.0 support and DirectX 11 equivalent graphics support. In English terms that puts the E6760 around the equivalent to the AMD Radeon 4650 card save for faster video memory and DX11 support, which didn't become available in AMD cards until the 5xxx series. In even more English terms, the Wii U's GPGPU is already several years old based on the stats alone...2009 old and worth about $100.
So far, just based on available retail parts (and the above illustrations I used aren't even discounted) we're looking at $210. Now either the CPU and GamePad combo is mad expensive to justify the $300 – and based on the rest of the parts it's a little hard to believe – or maybe Nintendo is testing the waters to see how much people are willing to pay day-one for the Wii U.
Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter is expecting that a price cut will be arriving for the Wii U shortly into 2013, after Nintendo cleans up on the holiday rush, as reported by Beef Jack. However, that's just speculation and if the console continues to sell well at the $300 price point, don't expect a price-cut anytime soon.
When the 360 released back in 2005 for $300 and $400 respectively, it really was top of the line tech at the time to justify the price. For a console launching in 2012, the Wii U's price doesn't really seem to reflect top of the line tech...at all.
But then again, maybe the GPGPU has some super secret tech behind it; the CPU might be a lot more powerful than the i3 processors in $400 laptops and maybe that GamePad is just a heck of a lot more expensive than it looks. I'm just curious, based on what's inside the Wii U and how the games look, do you think the $300 and $350 price tag is worth it?
You can look for the Wii U to launch on November 18th in America, November 20th in Europe and December 8th in Japan. For more info feel free to visit the Official Website.