Nvidia vs. AMD: Fierce Competition, But One Clear Winner

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If you need the very best graphics card on your gaming PC, there are solely two choices: Nvidia and AMD. Though their rivalry dates again many years — again earlier than AMD purchased ATI for its graphics division — they’re nonetheless battling it out in 2021. And the competitors has by no means been extra fierce.

We’re right here to interrupt down the entire variations between Nvidia and AMD, how every of their graphics playing cards carry out, and what you may count on to pay. There are a variety of variations between Staff Inexperienced and Staff Purple, they usually each make glorious graphics playing cards. Primarily based on our testing and expertise, although, there’s one clear winner.

Nvidia vs. AMD in 2021

Earlier than attending to the specifics, let’s set the stage. Nvidia and AMD launched new GPU generations in 2020, they usually’re anticipated to launch new generations in 2022. Nvidia is presently promoting its RTX 30-series graphics playing cards, and AMD is promoting its RX 6000 graphics playing cards. Subsequent yr, we should always see RTX 40-series and RX 7000 GPUs.

Listed below are the newest desktop graphics playing cards Nvidia is promoting, ranked by uncooked energy with the RTX 3090 being essentially the most highly effective:

AMD has an identical lineup of desktop graphics playing cards accessible. Listed below are the newest AMD graphics playing cards, additionally ranked by uncooked energy:

Though we ranked the playing cards primarily based on uncooked energy, that doesn’t imply it’s best to gun for the highest card from every vary. The RTX 3090, for instance, is essentially the most highly effective card out of Nvidia’s lineup on paper. Nevertheless, a variety of that energy reveals by means of in skilled artistic workloads, comparable to 3D modeling and rendering. Equally, the RX 6900 XT is the quickest card from AMD’s lineup, however the RX 6800 XT is sort of nearly as good on the subject of gaming.

These are the newest playing cards from AMD and Nvidia, however you shouldn’t low cost earlier generations. Proper now, we suggest sticking with both current-gen or last-gen components. We’ll clarify why all through this comparability, however the wanting it’s that the final two generations of AMD playing cards have been significantly better than the generations earlier than, and the final two generations of Nvidia playing cards have entry to some crucial gaming options.

Pricing and availability

Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD, pictured holding an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT graphics card.
AMD

For years, AMD has been the most suitable choice for PC builders on a price range. In 2021, nevertheless, Nvidia and AMD are intently matched on the subject of pricing, and AMD is even a bit dearer in some circumstances.

Beginning with Nvidia, the most cost effective RTX 3060 has a listing worth of $329 and the costliest RTX 3090 has a listing worth of $1,499. AMD’s most cost-effective card, the RX 6600, additionally has a listing worth of $329, however its costliest RX 6900 XT solely lists for $999. Throughout the vary, you’re a $50 distinction at most for comparable playing cards outdoors of the RX 6900 XT. The RTX 3070, for instance, is $20 dearer than the RX 6700 XT.

Sadly, checklist costs imply nothing in 2021. The GPU scarcity has skyrocketed the value of graphics playing cards on the secondhand market, and a slew of tariffs and provide chain points have led to elevated costs at retailers. Virtually universally, playing cards are promoting for twice their checklist worth, even at retailers.

Cryptocurrency mining rig from computer graphic cards
A cryptocurrency miner hooked up to a laptop computer Getty Photographs

There are a number of notable exceptions. The RX 6900 XT is simply promoting for $500 greater than its checklist worth, and it’s one of the vital available playing cards at retailers. The RX 6600 and RX 6600 XT are close to checklist worth, too, although many third-party fashions launched with a worth of $100 or greater than what AMD set.

Throughout the board, AMD playing cards are cheaper and have higher availability. We’ve tracked the GPU marketplace for over a yr now, and AMD playing cards are those that come again in inventory earlier than Nvidia ones. AMD playing cards promote for about $100 lower than their Nvidia counterparts on the secondhand market, although that largely comes all the way down to what vendor you could find.

Within the overpriced GPU market of 2021, no person wins. We suggest selecting primarily based on efficiency and options earlier than searching for out the very best deal on the cardboard you need.

Efficiency

The RTX 3060 installed in a computer.

Nvidia has been the market chief in GPU efficiency for years, however AMD has made up a variety of floor. Though Nvidia graphics playing cards are higher performers general, the margins are a lot thinner than they was. And in some circumstances, AMD playing cards truly shoot forward of the Nvidia competitors.

The RX 6600, RTX 3060, and RX 6600 XT are the most cost effective playing cards accessible, they usually all goal 1080p gaming. At 1080p with the graphics settings turned up, we discovered that the RX 6600 trails the RTX 3060 by about 7% throughout our suite of benchmarks. The RX 6600 solely managed to outclass the RTX 3060 in a single sport — Murderer’s Creed Valhalla.

AMD RX 6600 AMD RX 6600 XT Nvidia RTX 3060
3DMark Time Spy (GPU rating) 8,071 9,644 8,629
Purple Lifeless Redemption 2 59 fps 68 fps 65 fps
Fortnite 98 fps 137 fps 132 fps
Murderer’s Creed Valhalla 71 fps 83 fps 64 fps
Battlefield V 120 fps 139 fps 123 fps
Civilization VI 138 fps 161 fps 143 fps

For the RX 6600 XT, it managed to beat the RX 6600 and RTX 3060 by a large margin, with as much as a 16% hole between it and its non-XT counterpart. The RX 6600 XT encroaches on the territory of the RTX 3060 Ti when it comes to worth, although. In that comparability, the RTX 3060 Ti is the clear winner. It’s the very best 1080p graphics card primarily based on our testing.

At checklist worth, the RTX 3060 Ti is surprisingly near the RX 6700 XT for nearly $100 much less. It’s nonetheless behind, however not by a lot. The RX 6700 XT and RTX 3070 goal 1440p, they usually’re each succesful playing cards at that decision. As soon as once more, our testing confirmed that AMD’s providing is about 10% behind, with some video games, comparable to Murderer’s Creed Valhalla, favoring the AMD GPU.

Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti Nvidia RTX 3080 AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
3DMark Time Spy 13893 16108 11726
3DMark Hearth Strike 26516 28460 26830
Murderer’s Creed Valhalla 50 52 42
Battlefield V 80 100 69
Fortnite 70 95 58
Civilization VI 139 158 115

Previous these playing cards, we get into 4K territory, and issues begin to get unusual. The RTX 3070 Ti simply barely pushes over the 4K line, however the RTX 3080 beats it by a large 14% margin general. Primarily based on our testing, the RTX 3080 is the very best entry level to 4K gaming assuming you could find one at an affordable worth.

AMD’s competing RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT are near the RTX 3080. Primarily based on third-party testing, the RX 6800 XT is inside a number of frames of the RTX 3080 with ray tracing turned off. The RX 6800, in the meantime, delivers efficiency simply forward of the RTX 3070 Ti. In contrast to the low-end playing cards, the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are evenly matched so long as you don’t think about ray tracing.

You actually shouldn’t go above both the RX 6800 XT or RTX 3080 for gaming. The RTX 3080 Ti reveals a few 9% benefit over the RTX 3080, however at $500 extra. The RX 6900 XT and RTX 3090, in the meantime, are the very best of the very best. However as is the case with all top-of-the-line components, they present diminishing returns.

Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti Nvidia RTX 3080 AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
3DMark Time Spy 17634 16108 17340
3DMark Hearth Strike 30951 28460 38911
Murderer’s Creed Valhalla 56 52 69
Battlefield V 104 100 106
Fortnite 95 93 99
Civilization VI 177 158 184

Take the RX 6900 XT for instance. It’s $200 lower than the RTX 3080 Ti, nevertheless it ought to carry out on the extent of the RTX 3090. Primarily based on our testing, it provides a minor uplift over the RTX 3080 Ti throughout video games, although not sufficient to make a distinction.

That leaves the RTX 3090, which is pointless for gaming. The RTX 3080 Ti is nearly an identical when it comes to specs, and the RTX 3090 solely performs about 3% above in most video games. The RTX 3090 is a artistic workhorse, shining with its 24GB of video reminiscence in 3D modeling and rendering purposes.

General, AMD playing cards path their Nvidia counterparts at every worth level, with the hole shrinking from about 10% on the low-end playing cards to a couple proportion factors on the high-end ones. It’s vital to bear in mind worth, although. Efficiency is at all times relative, and you may’t separate worth from that. AMD playing cards promote for much less on the secondhand market, so don’t low cost Staff Purple. RX 6000 playing cards are glorious performers.

Ray tracing and upscaling

Ray tracing showcase in devil may cry 5.

If you happen to’re concerned with ray tracing and upscaling, you may throw the entire efficiency numbers above out the window. Merely put, Nvidia is the one possibility on the subject of ray tracing and upscaling. AMD provides hardware-accelerated ray tracing and its personal upscaling characteristic, however they don’t come near the competitors from Nvidia.

Throughout our testing of ray tracing video games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Management, we discovered the identical outcomes again and again. AMD playing cards can’t deal with ray tracing like Nvidia playing cards can. That comes all the way down to a elementary distinction within the two corporations method GPU design.

Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs embody devoted ray tracing cores. These cores deal with ray tracing they usually’re separate from the GPU cores. AMD, alternatively, packs a ray accelerator into every compute unit. AMD playing cards nonetheless have hardware-accelerated ray tracing, however the cores that deal with ray tracing don’t have practically as a lot energy behind them.

The massive purpose Nvidia has a bonus, although, is Deep Studying Tremendous Sampling (DLSS). Ray tracing is demanding, and though Nvidia playing cards are higher arrange for it, you may nonetheless count on your body charge to tank with ray tracing turned on. Enter DLSS, which makes use of A.I. to upscale video games and enhance efficiency.

Primarily based on our testing of DLSS, it might probably over a 100% enchancment in supported video games. DLSS takes benefit of Tensor cores on RTX 30-series and 20-series graphics playing cards. The Tensor cores principally run an A.I. mannequin that has been skilled on high-quality scans of a sport, so it might probably reconstruct the picture with stunning accuracy in actual time.

Upscaling modes in Deathloop.

AMD has an upscaling characteristic, too: FidelityFX Tremendous Decision (FSR). In contrast to DLSS, FSR works throughout all graphics playing cards — Nvidia and AMD alike. That’s as a result of it doesn’t leverage any devoted {hardware} and it doesn’t use A.I. to upscale the picture. FSR relies on an older spatial upscaling algorithm that AMD tweaked.

DLSS and FSR aren’t the identical factor, even when they drive towards the identical purpose. FSR provides a bigger uplift in efficiency, as you may see in our FidelityFX Tremendous Decision evaluate, however at a big value to picture high quality. DLSS nonetheless offers a big improve whereas trying a lot nearer to native decision.

Within the context of ray tracing, upscaling is important. It’s nonetheless too demanding for contemporary {hardware} to run, so it’s essential activate both DLSS or FSR to get the very best efficiency and picture high quality. DLSS is the higher possibility out of the 2, and it’s usually included alongside ray tracing. It’s only a disgrace that DLSS is restricted to the final two generations of Nvidia graphics playing cards.

Software program and drivers

There isn’t a lot of a comparability between AMD and Nvidia on the subject of driver assist. We’ve seen points with each on the subject of driver releases up to now, and each are fast to resolve these points once they come up. AMD and Nvidia additionally steadily launch drivers alongside new video games releases. Single out a single sport or single driver launch, and also you’ll discover a winner. General, AMD and Nvidia are evenly matched in driver high quality and assist.

They aren’t evenly matched in software program, although. Nvidia provides GeForce Expertise for its graphics playing cards, nevertheless it’s extra of an overlay than anything. The app means that you can apply optimized settings to supported video games, which Nvidia dials in primarily based on the graphics card you will have. In any other case, the app is only a solution to activate the in-game overlay.

The games page in Nvidia GeForce Experience.

The overlay means that you can do all types of issues, together with streaming to Twitch, capturing gameplay, and displaying efficiency numbers in your display screen. You too can apply photograph mode to any sport with Nvidia Ansel, in addition to dial in an overclock with the built-in efficiency tweaker.

For many, the moment replay and highlights options are those that stand out. Instantaneous replay means that you can seize as much as 20 minutes of previous gameplay footage, and highlights mechanically seize moments once you obtain sure situations in supported video games (say, a medal in Future 2). All of those seize strategies use Nvidia Shadowplay, which helps screenshots and movies at as much as 8K.

AMD has Radeon Software program, which comes with a way more sturdy checklist of options. It has nearly too many to checklist. Like GeForce Expertise, you will have entry to instantaneous replay, screenshot and video seize, efficiency monitoring, and graphical settings for supported video games. You too can stream with Radeon Software program, in addition to apply an overclock to your GPU.

Home screen in AMD Radeon Software.

Radeon Software program has a number of additional goodies, although. Integer Scaling, for instance, upscales retro video games to work on fashionable shows, and AMD Hyperlink permits you or your pals to hook up with your PC remotely on nearly any system. All of AMD’s gaming options — FreeSync, Radeon Chill, and Radeon Anti-Lag, to call a number of — are accessible by means of Radeon Software program as nicely.

That’s the most important distinction between the 2. Radeon Software program offers you a window whereas GeForce Expertise offers you an overlay. By itself, GeForce Expertise does little or no. You must use the overlay, and that’s an issue when the overlay is susceptible to fail whereas taking part in video games. On prime of that, some Nvidia options are restricted to the Nvidia Management Panel, which is a separate piece of software program that’s in determined want of a facelift.

The 2 items of software program are evenly matched on options, with a slight edge to GeForce Expertise because of Ansel. Radeon Software program is less complicated to make use of, nevertheless, and it contains extra high quality of life enhancements.

Cellular GPUs

Together with desktop graphics playing cards, Nvidia and AMD have cellular GPUs. However you’ll discover much more laptops with Nvidia graphics playing cards. Much like Intel vs. AMD, Nvidia has a a lot bigger stake within the cellular market, and also you’ll usually discover laptops with an Nvidia graphics card and Intel processor.

It’s troublesome to attract any agency conclusions about how AMD and Nvidia cellular GPUs carry out in contrast to one another. For instance, the RX 6800M contained in the Asus ROG Strix G15 outperforms the RTX 3080 contained in the MSI GS66 Stealth. The MSI laptop computer doesn’t characteristic a totally powered RTX 3080, although, and it doesn’t have as sturdy of a cooling resolution. So, is AMD higher for cellular graphics playing cards? It’s a bit extra difficult than uncooked efficiency.

Asus ROG Strix G15 running Fortnite.

Cellular graphics playing cards don’t match their desktop counterparts, and laptop computer designers are free to decide on how a lot energy the playing cards get. The RTX 3080 contained in the MSI GS66 Stealth, for instance, tops out at 95W. The RTX 3080 contained in the Razer Blade 15 can draw as much as 105W of energy, and it unsurprisingly performs higher. Add on prime of that completely different cooling options, and the comparability isn’t so easy.

On the subject of cellular GPUs, particular person laptop computer evaluations are a should. There are completely variations between graphics playing cards — the RX 6800M will carry out higher than the RX 6700M, and so forth. However on the subject of two comparable graphics playing cards, the laptop computer design performs a way more vital position in efficiency than when you went with an AMD or Nvidia GPU.

Have in mind DLSS and ray tracing, although. Nvidia cellular GPUs nonetheless have entry to those options, and our conclusions on the desktop playing cards apply right here.

Efficiency parity, characteristic chief (Nvidia wins)

RTX 3080 Ti in front of a window.

AMD has tried to succeed in efficiency parity with Nvidia for years. And RX 6000 graphics playing cards hit that mark, typically even exceeding it. That places the concentrate on pricing and options. For pricing, AMD graphics playing cards are promoting for lower than their Nvidia counterparts. Consider ray tracing and DLSS, although, and that additional worth is justified.

That doesn’t imply AMD is a foul possibility. In 2021, AMD is a greater possibility than it has been in years. That stated, it’s exhausting to suggest AMD over Nvidia just because playing cards from each manufacturers are overpriced in 2021. Perhaps that adjustments when costs cool down, however for now, Nvidia is the winner.

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