Are you building your first PC or looking for an upgrade in graphics card? You’ve probably heard of the AMD vs Nvidia debate. Which line of cards is better, though? Take a look at our overview to find out.
The AMD vs Nvidia argument is one of the hottest among PC gamers. Those who are looking to build their first PC want to know which one is better. There is a lot to compare between the two companies and their product line, which have led some to stay in the AMD camp while others move to Nvidia.
In this overview, we’ll take a look at the Nvidia products side-by-side with their AMD counterparts. We’ll tell you which one excels in certain areas, which one falls short, and where they are virtually the same. The decision is ultimately yours and comes down to how much you’re willing to spend on a graphics card.
Performance vs. Price: Which is a Better Deal?
Although the price isn’t everything, a lot of the AMD vs Nvidia debate will come down to which one provides the most power for the lowest cost. Some people are fortunate enough to have a nearly unlimited budget when they’re building a PC, but this is far from the normal situation.
There’s no question as to which GPU is going to cost you more. Nvidia’s newest release of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is going to cost nearly $1,200. The price of Nvidia graphics cards has been steadily rising release after release.
AMD is a bit of a different animal when it comes to pricing. You won’t find them mingling in the top-range of graphics cards, which means their overall line of GPUs is relatively cheap in comparison. Nvidia has a few lower-end and older models as well, but these compete with the lower-end AMD graphics cards rather than in the middle of the pack where AMD has a foothold.
When we’re talking value for your money, it’s hard to find a better option than the AMD Radeon RX graphics card. It’s powerful enough to handle most of the major games on high settings, and it won’t break the bank.
Those who are looking to get the most performance – regardless of how much they have to pay – would do well to choose one of the higher-end Nvidia GPUs. You can likely find a slightly older model on sale somewhere, and get a decent value on it that way.
Which is More Powerful?
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The power of the two graphics card providers is often the meat of the AMD vs Nvidia argument. Which one is going to give you the brightest, clearest representation of the game you’re playing?
A quick search on any computer forum will tell you that Nvidia has historically provided graphics cards that are more powerful. AMD has been able to shrink the gap with more recent releases, but the cards are often louder and run hotter, which can require you to spend more on fans or cooling systems for your PC.
The biggest argument in the hardware department probably boils down to the Nvidia CUDA Cores and the AMD Stream Processors. The two are different, but it’s difficult to determine a winner when it comes down to it. They two are designed to excel in different areas, and you probably won’t see much of a difference from a gaming perspective.
Of course, the two companies have their foothold in the gaming world, which means some publishers will create games that look better with AMD graphics cards and other will slant towards Nvidia.
Still, you can’t make your purchase based on this factor alone – unless you’re a single-game gamer. Some games will just look better on a specific graphics card – regardless of how much you intend to pay. GPUs in the same price range will have benefits with certain games over others.
When we’re talking about performance, we have to relate back to your budget yet again. Nvidia is head and shoulders above AMD when it comes to the most expensive graphics card on the market. Their GTX 1080 Ti is already far better than any AMD GPU on the market.
It will be quite a bit more money, though, and not everyone can afford to drop nearly $800 on a graphics card alone.
There are a couple of places where AMD and Nvidia directly compete. You might not be considering all of these while researching the AMD vs Nvidia debate, but they are still worth noting. Not every special feature will apply to all customers, but those who are interested in specific elements of each graphics card should know the difference.
Gsync vs FreeSync
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Those who have top-of-the-line monitors know how much of a hassle Vertical Sync, or Vsync, can be. Sure, your frame rate might be higher, but it comes with a host of problems that will make your game feel less stable.
For this market, both AMD and Nvidia have alternatives in their FreeSync and Gsync. Both of the technologies serve their purpose of enhancing the flow of your gameplay. The distinction comes at monitor type and price.
Your monitor will have to be compatible with the GPU technology, and Gsync monitors are almost always more expensive and harder to find. FreeSync monitors, on the other hand, are almost always cheaper than the alternative. More companies make their monitors compatible with this technology because it’s more accessible for the user.
With this in mind, AMD takes a slight edge in the Vsync replacement department.
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One of the places where many gamers consider Nvidia superior to AMD is the ease at which developers can optimize their games on their line of graphics cards. It’s not as though developers can’t create the same quality with AMD cards, but the Nvidia GameWorks system makes it a whole lot easier for them.
AMD is attempting to adopt similar technology for their newer releases, but have yet to fully optimize a system that makes the “little things” in a game really come to life. Again, developers can work around the difficulties, but not every studio has the budget to make this a reality.
Even with this feature, though, your average gamer won’t notice much of a difference. In fact, some still argue that most of their games look better on their AMD card – even with the slight lack of detail.
Nvidia GameWorks will make most games look better because they will be easier to optimize. For that reason, those who want to get the most detail out of their graphics card might prefer a higher-end Nvidia card over the AMD line. Of course, this isn’t the only feature you need to consider, though.
Streaming or Recording Gameplay
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Not everyone will be streaming and recording their gameplay, but those who do will want to know which software provides the best experience without losing frames. This is another area where there’s a debate of AMD vs Nvidia.
The software in question is the AMD ReLive and the Nvidia Shadowplay. Although the two are comparable, Shadowplay gets the edge in terms of performance. Of course, like any software, there is a fair bit of subjectivity regarding which software is more comfortable for you. All things being equal, though, Shadowplay can perform better without harming your gameplay.
This isn’t the end of the road for either streaming or recording software, though. You can use a third-party software or graphics card that will probably give you an even better performance than either software from AMD or Nvidia. Which one is best for you will depend on your budget and plans for streaming or recording your gameplay.
AMD vs. Nvidia: Which is Better?
Although you might be leaning in one direction after finishing our review, it’s difficult to crown a clear winner in the AMD vs Nvidia debate. Nvidia offers the best high-end GPU options on the market – there’s no denying that, but that isn’t the only audience who are looking at these graphics cards.
At the lower and middle range of options, AMD and Nvidia can be quite similar. In some instances, AMD outperforms Nvidia with their cheaper models.
Nvidia is the king of 4k graphics cards, and buying one of the new releases will ensure that you won’t need to upgrade again for years to come. Your gameplay will be clear and crisp, and you’ll be able to notice the small details you never have before.
Those who can’t afford to spend so much money on a graphics card, though, will have a harder decision to make. AMD has often outperformed Nvidia with graphics cards that are priced near the middle of the pack, but they might require extra cooling that Nvidia will not.
At the end of the day, the two companies are heated competitors. When this happens, the customer is the real winner. Each company is trying to achieve the best performance at the lowest price point to stay relevant. As long as this is the case, those who are looking for a budget graphics card can’t really lose by choosing either Nvidia or AMD.