Hardware

Buying Your Next Graphics Card: nVidia vs. AMD

nvidia vs amd

If it has been three years or more, you are reaching the horizon on your graphics card. You may be able to keep a graphics card running for over three years, but you will run into an even worse problem when your new games stop working on your old graphics card. However, if it is time for you to buy a new graphics card, there are some stormy waters you need to navigate.

Console gamers may have their PlayStation versus Xbox rivalry while Nintendo sits weeping in the corner, but PC gamers have had to endure a turf war that has waged far longer – nVidia versus AMD. When it comes to graphics cards, these are the only two brands you can really rely on, but which one is the card for you when it comes time to upgrade?

The reality is that there is no easy answer. Everyone who has built their own gaming rig has a different opinion, and most have a fierce defense of their brand to go with it.

Performance

If you haven’t bought into the brand war, then performance is all that matters. In those terms, nVidia has been consistently on the top for awhile. The nVidia Titan X, their top of the line card, and even the step lower GTX 1080 has seven times more memory speed than AMD Fury X. Even the AMD top of the line R9 295 X2 can only compete with the Titan X because it is a Dual GPU, but even two nVidia GTX 1070’s in an SLI will trounce the 295 X2 in every respect.

Check Prices and ‘deets on Amazon

Product Brand Feature List Price Manufacturer Model
R9 295X2 8GB GDDR5 DVI-D Quad Graphics Card Sapphire Technology 1 x DVI-D
4 x Mini DP
1024-bit GDDR5 Memory
$1,805.84 SAPPHIRE 21234-00-40G
XFX R9-FURY-4QFA Gaming Graphix Card XFX Liquid Cooled
High Bandwidth Memory Design
4k Resolutions Ready!
DirectX 12 Ready
Windows 10 Ready
Equipped with AMD Free Sync technology
Equipped with AMD's Liquid Technology
$399.99 XFX R9-FURY-4QFA
Nvidia GTX TITAN X 12GB HDMI Graphics Video Card NVIDIA Memory Size: 12GB
Memory Type: GDDR5
Brand: NVIDIA
Max External Resolution: 4096 x 2160
Output Ports (for SD): 3 x DisplayPort , DVI , HDMI
N/A Nvidia N/A
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING Graphics Card EVGA Real Base Clock: 1721 MHz / Real Boost Clock: 1860 MHz; Memory Detail: 8192MB GDDR5X
Completely adjustable RGB LED using EVGA Precision XOC
What you see is what you get! - No additional software required to achieve listed clock speeds
Double BIOS, Refer user manual below
DX12 OSD Support with EVGA Precision XOC. All with the lowest latency and plug-and-play compatibility with leading VR headsets.
$679.99 EVGA 08G-P4-6286-KR

The current trend is that you can expect near twice the horsepower in nVidia cards compared to AMD competitor.

Price

Performance may be the most important feature of a graphics card, but not everyone has the budget to buy a graphics card that costs as much as their entire rig cost to build. So if sticking within a budget is important, the most important feature becomes price per performance.

The notion is that AMD makes more affordable cards while nVidia somehow became the luxury brand of graphics card. If you are comparing the absolute top of the line, this isn’t true, they both top out at around $1,500. However, for anything lower, then it is true. You will often pay less for AMD cards compared to nVidia. Of course, that is just base prices. If you shop around enough, you may be able to get something with more power for the same price as you would pay for the AMD card that satisfies both your needs for horsepower and price.

Software and Drivers

In terms of drivers, AMD actually comes out ahead if you keep track of when to update your drivers and don’t like being constantly pestered. AMD allows you to easily update drivers from their website whereas nVidia uses their GeForce Experience bloatware to download driver updates. The only boon nVidia has in this case is that it only releases new drivers every few months, often to coincide with new Triple A games while AMD does so on a monthly basis. The problem with this is that AMD doesn’t often actually update anything with their new drivers. Most often, they just add small things that nVidia would include in one of the big actual updates.

However, as for software features, the cards are about evenly matched. In this regard, AMD even beats nVidia to the punch at times, like when they launched their TressFX for hair physics, even if nVidia came along with HairWorks a few months later. It was the same with G-Sync, the nVidia software that adapts a monitor’s refresh rate to stop screen tearing. It was only a few months later before AMD released Freesync to do the same thing on their cards.

That is basically the pattern of how each brand releases software features. If one does it first, you can expect the other to match it sometime later and likely try to do it better.

Which Graphics Card is Better?

Punch for punch, it seems nVidia wins in every regard, so they are definitely the best graphics card brand, right? In a way, yes. However, anyone who looks at the brands in an objective way will also say neither. The constant years of mudslinging going on between the two card manufacturers, not to mention the rise of exclusivity deals, is doing nothing but hurting the industry.

The details that set these two graphics card brands apart can’t even be put into pros and cons, because they would just say the same thing. What it boils down to ultimately is budget. You can get AMD cards cheaper, but nVidia cards, especially newer models, will pack more power for a minimum increase in price.

The truth is that nVidia has already won this war and has consistently been taking a clear step forward in their technology. AMD, however, has been unclear where they are taking their GPU especially with lackluster releases like the R9 290X and the R9 285. It wasn’t so long ago that they were competitive, but with each misfire of AMD and each exclusivity deal that nVidia captures, one continues to fall further behind the other.

WinterIsComing

WinterIsComing

Warden of the North at Winterfell
Ken should have been born a "Stark".
His 2 favorite fictional characters of all time are Ned and Tony.
Ken lives a life of anguish as his love for video games and all things geek is only surpassed by how horrible he is at playing them.
He has the hand/eye coordination of a 41 y/o man matched with a mind of an 18 y/o.
His cat's name is John Constantine.
WinterIsComing

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