Graphics cards: Nvidia vs AMD
When it comes to graphics cards, there are two things on everyone’s mind: 1. When are these shortages going to end, and 2. Which brand is best?
Whilst it’s tricky to find an in-stock graphic card at the moment due to COVID-19 and a certain shipping issue involving the Suez Canal, the debate between Nvidia and AMD and which is best is ongoing, and we’re here to help you find one if you are lucky enough to find one in stock!
GPU or Graphics Card?
If you’re new to PC hardware the large volume of graphics card brands can be confusing, and what’s the difference between the GPU and the graphics card? The GPU is the chip that runs the whole graphics card (like a CPU) but is only used to process graphical data which means it’s responsible for production of the visuals that are displayed. Just like the way the CPU is the core of a computer, the GPU is the core of the graphics card.
There are currently only two GPU manufacturers in the world – Nvidia and AMD. These GPUs are then provided to the various graphic card manufacturers. The graphics card is what you actually purchase, and the GPU is the core. Because of this, all cards with the same GPU will have similar performance even if the card looks completely different.
So which GPU is best?
The current line of Nvidia is the RTX 3000 series (RTX3060, RTX3070, RTX3080, RTX3090 & TI models). The key benefit of the RTX cards that really sets them apart from others is their ray tracing capabilities. Ray tracing is a system of graphics rendering that produces realistic lighting, shadows and reflections in real time.
This technology has only been around for 3 years and is being pioneered by Nvidia which allows for far higher graphic fidelity and realistic visuals. The main con of Nvidia cards is their pricing as they generally have higher prices than the equivalent AMD cards. The price is often due to their new innovations like ray tracing.
AMD’s current line of graphics cards are the Radeon RX 6000 series (RX6700XT, RX6800, RX6800XT & RX6900XT). These are AMD’s first consumer released cards and now also feature real time ray tracing. This generation of cards features the release of AMD’s new infinity cache technology which increases the effective bandwidth of the data entering the GPU. AMD cards tend to have lower power consumption and cost with similar performance when compared to the equivalent Nvidia cards.
The downside of AMD cards is that historically their drivers and software is poorly optimised, especially when compared to Nvidia. Although this has been happening in the past, AMD have been improving with each generation of cards. Aside from their drivers, AMD also doesn’t have the highest performing card as Nvidia’s top card tends to always pull ahead in performance (but also has the higher price point).
Basically, the best GPU for you will depend on your individual needs and situation. With current stock issues and the resulting inflated prices, it might be a little while before you get a graphics card in your hands so make sure you’re ready for when the time comes by knowing what is best suited to you. If you want the best performance possible and money isn’t your main focus, going for the high performing Nvidia card will be best for you. If you are looking for value and the best performance for price, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the AMD cards.