AMD vs NVIDIA: which is better for your computer gaming needs?

AMD vs NVIDIA: which is better for your computer gaming needs?
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    AMD and NVIDIA are the two competing companies vying for supremacy in the field of graphics cards – the thing that allows your computer to run complex games, play videos, etc. Basically, if there is some picture on your screen, video or photo, your graphic card is responsible for it getting there.

    Technically, these are known as Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). They are specialised processors originally designed to accelerate graphics rendering.

    GPUs can process many pieces of data simultaneously, making them useful for machine learning, video editing, and gaming applications. GPUs may be integrated into the computer’s CPU or offered as a separate hardware unit.

    The contest between AMD and Nvidia began back in the 1990s when 3D games came to computers, and the demands on the computer’s graphics cards accelerated. More advanced solutions were needed, and AMD (then ATI) competed for computer buyers’ money, especially gamers and graphic designers, filmmakers, etc.

    Here I explain the differences between the two and which would be better for your computer gaming needs.

    Why are AMD and NVIDIA popular among computer gamers?

    When it comes to GPUs, there are now only two players in the market as almost all competitors have fallen by the wayside or been taken over by the “Big Two”. Each has its champions, but it is effectively a choice between two manufacturers.

    Computer gamers are demanding customers, and the balance between performance and cost makes choosing a GPU a somewhat complicated business.

    AMD graphics card at a glance

    I have tried to make this a ‘quick glance’, but this is a crowded field! Take a look below at our list of AMD graphics cards.

    AMD Radeon RX 6000 series is the brand’s current flagship series of GPUs. AMD currently has four GPUs in the Radeon RX 6000 series.

    1. At the top of the lineup is the fully equipped AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT. The RX 6900 XT is regarded as an enthusiast card.
    2. Following that, we have the RX 6800 series cards. The AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is often considered the best value graphics card AMD offers. The other card in the 6800 series is the AMD Radeon RX 6800
    3. At the bottom of the lineup is the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT.
    4. AMD has a lead in the “basic” market with its Radeon RX 6500 XT. Although slower than many expected when it was launched, the RX 6500 XT is available for a slightly lower price.

    NVIDIA GPUs at a glance

    Just like AMD, NVIDIA has quite a choice of graphics cards.

    At the absolute top of the tree is NVIDIA Quadro, which has historically been NVIDIA’s brand for its professional visualisation and computer GPUs. These are the GPUs that NVIDIA designs specifically for film, VFX, graphics, and other rendering-related professional industries.

    Nvidia’s top cards for gaming are now the RTX 4090, which is a 24GB card and the RTX4080 – a 16GB card. There is also the often-overlooked RTX4070.

    Previously, the GeForce RTX 30 series was Nvidia’s current flagship series of GPUs. Nvidia Geforce GPUs have been around as a brand since 1999.

    • The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 is the most powerful GPU of the GeForce series.
    • After that, The RTX 3080 is the best graphics card of the GeForce series for your high-end 4K gaming system.
    • Then comes the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, which is great value for money.
    • NVIDIA also has the RTX 3060 Ti that sits above the RTX 3060.

    The GeForce RTX20 series is aimed at high-end/upper mid-range cards and includes:

    • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the top-of-the-line model in the series.
    • The RTX 2080 series also has the RTX 2080 Super and the base RTX 2080 GPUs
    • Also in the series are the RTX 2070, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2060, and RTX 2060 Super. The RTX 2070 series is the value-for-money card in the series.

    The RTX 2060 series is the most entry-level RTX GPU of the series and can handle 1080p gaming with a glimpse into NVIDIA’s ray tracing. NVIDIA has actually brought the RTX 2060 back in production to help deal with the GPU silicon shortage.

    Nvidia GeForce GTX, 16 GPU series, has only two cards, totalling eight variants. The GTX 1660 cards are the most powerful Nvidia GPUs you can buy that come without ray-tracing capabilities.

    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is the entry-level card. There are several variants
    • The GTX 1660 has three variants.

    You can see why this is more than a “quick glance”, and you can also see why, given the sheer number of different NVIDIA graphics cards available, they have such a significant market share.

    AMD vs NVIDIA graphics cards

    Choosing the “Best” GPU depends on what you are looking for. Currently, Nvidia has the most powerful GPU, but only by a small margin, while AMD is ahead in terms of pricing.

    The objective differences between the chips are becoming smaller with each generation. Choosing your GPU is much less about “which manufacturer” and more about your preferences and computing needs (gaming, video production, photo editing etc.) and which product on the GPU market best meets your requirements.

    GPU performance comparison of AMD GPU vs NVIDIA GPU

    First, you have to compare “apples with apples”. With so many AMD cards and Nvidia cards available, you must compare like with like.

    And whilst overall, AMD is the worthy winner, NVIDIA performs better in a number of areas.

    For example – When comparing the latest budget offerings from both companies, NVIDIA is slightly ahead on performance. However, according to customer reviews, AMD cards, notably the RX6000 series, have proven to be capable of taking on NVIDIA’s high-end GPUs. In fact, the RX 6800 outperforms NVIDIA’s RTX 3070 by a noticeable margin in most games.

    Factors affecting graphics card performance

    Graphics drivers sit between the GPU on your gaming PC and the game you are running. Regularly updating your Nvidia drivers or AMD drivers will help to give you better performance, and a graphically demanding game will run better.

    Other factors to consider when buying a GPU include:

    Support

    Overall, AMD and Nvidia are evenly matched in driver quality and support.

    Availability and compatibility of drivers

    Once again, both GPU manufacturers come out about equal when it comes to the availability and compatibility of drivers.

    Certification and features for specific games

    The gaming industry is constantly building new technology and features into its games.

    AMD graphic cards and NVIDIA graphics cards use two fundamentally different technologies which attempt to improve performance without a significant loss of visual quality.

    AMD relies on FSR, while an NVIDIA card relies on DLSS. Most modern games can use both. However, it is best to check before buying a game that it is certified for your particular graphic card.

    Which brand offers the best value for money: AMD or Nvidia?

    At the moment (and things constantly change in this market), the prize for overall best value goes to AMD as their prices tend to be slightly lower for comparable cards at the same price point.

    HOWEVER(there is always a “however”, isn’t there?), it all depends on what you are measuring. If ray tracing performance rather than raw performance is your measurement, then the best value ends up being NVIDIA’s RTX 2060. NVIDIA ray tracing is generally reckoned to be arguably the best.

    Once again, you have to ask what your priorities are. These might be:

    Power Consumption and Heat Output

    Tests show that “the most efficient GPUs are a mix of AMD’s Big Navi GPUs, NVIDIA’s Ampere cards, and some first-generation Navi and NVIDIA Turing chips.

    AMD claims the top spot with the Navi 21-based RX 6800, and NVIDIA takes second place with the RTX 3070.”

    How power consumption and heat can affect gaming experience

    Most parts of a computer produce heat, and the more powerful the component, as a general rule, the more heat is produced.

    If any component – including the graphics card – gets too hot, performance suffers. There are several solutions to this for both AMD and NVIDIA cards. The most expensive is water cooling, but most cards intended for PC gaming, for example, come with fans.

    Which brand is more efficient in terms of energy consumption and heat output?

    Once again, this AMD vs NVIDIA game has no clear winner. It depends on the sector – low cost or high cost etc.

    Frequently asked questions about AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards

    I hope to have covered the pros and cons of these graphics cards here, check out some FAQs or contact me today:

    Availability and Market Share

    There was a worldwide shortage of GPUs in 2022 due to a perfect storm of increased demand (due to the pandemic when everyone was stuck at home playing computer games) and a shortage of components (due to the pandemic when workers in factories producing them were at home playing computer games!).

    However, things are getting back to normal, and both AMD and NVIDIA are getting back to normal production. Happily, the retail price of GPUs has come down a lot too.

    Comparison of market share between AMD and NVIDIA

    In the AMD vs NVIDIA battle for market share, NVIDIA is streets ahead with a market share (in the PC market) of around 85%, with AMD taking just under 10%.

    Both AMD and Nvidia have lost a little market share to a new entry into the market – Intel. However, Intel only has about 5%.

    Which graphic card brand is more popular among gamers?

    NVIDIA has a huge market share, making it the most popular choice for gamers.

    Which brand is better for gaming needs?

    Are AMD graphics cards better value than both NVIDIA’s and, now, Intel’s? For that, you need to define “better”, and that depends on every individual’s requirements.

    Certainly, you have more choices with NVIDIA, but the GPU market is a crowded one. Do you really desire NVIDIA’s G Sync? Is AMD Radeon the least you will accept?

    Final thoughts and recommendations for choosing the best graphic card for gaming purposes

    In the AMD vs NVIDIA contest, you need to decide what is important.

    • Cost – This will probably lead you to the AMD cheaper cards.
    • Usage – If you play incredibly demanding games with high screen resolution, you will need a more capable and expensive GPU. You will also need a computer with a good memory, a fast processor, etc. Your GPU is just one link in the chain.

    There is no “best” GPU. It is always a balance between cost and performance. If you are a gaming enthusiast, you can find sites on the internet that will go into each GPUs statistics in excruciating detail. This article has only skimmed an atom off the surface of the subject.

    If you would like more advice on GPU cards, please get in touch with Lee Harvey today! Or if you’ve got a problem with your computer, we offer servicing and other computer repair services here across the West Coast.

    To learn more about computer care, check out recent blogs here:

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    Lee Harvey

    Lee is an experienced computer repair engineer and operates across Cornwall from his base in St Austell.

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