Video graphics card requirements have come a long way from the Unreals and the Quake OpenGLs of the early 90’s.
With thousands of high-end titles and an endless array of spellbinding graphics, there’s never been a more captivating time to be a gamer.
But how do you choose a graphics card to bring out the sparkle in your gaming?
Today, we’ll be putting two of the gaming world’s biggest card producers under the microscope. Join us, as we look into performance, price, and software, and find out who comes out on top: Nvidia or AMD.
Choosing A Video Graphics Card
There’s no getting away from it: video gaming is a multi-billion d
With hundreds of new releases every year, major consoles vying for your attention, and a mountain of computer hardware, there’s a lot to digest.
And, when it comes to computer rigs, there’s no bigger talking point than the question of graphics cards.
For those not in the know, a graphics card is a piece of expansion hardware that goes into your computer and helps your machine process graphics. You might get a machine with one already installed, or you might buy a new one, separately, after the fact. Whatever the case, these cards take complex data from the CPU and translate it into graphics output for your screen.
There is a distinction made between these cards and so-called “onboard” graphics processors. The only thing you need to know is, a video graphics card is, typically, your best bet at being able to play a high-end video game.
And there are no bigger players in the video graphics industry than Nvidia and AMD.
But how do you go about choosing the right card for you?
Let’s take a closer look at these two gaming titans, and what each brand has to offer you.
Nvidia’s graphics processing technology has been at the forefront of gaming technology since the late ’90s.
But it’s their GeForce card line that’s really stood the test of time.
Nvidia has pioneered significant developments in graphics processing. Their product line includes high-performance drivers, builds, chips and wireless communications.
So how does it stack up?
Part of the purchase when it comes to Nvidia is a slightly higher price for a high-end card.
How high of a price are we talking about?
Their best-performing card, the Titan Xp came in at a breathtaking $1,200 launch price, earlier this year. Which isn’t exactly fair, as this marks the extreme end of their pricing. Newer releases have featured hardware that at least challenges its performance.
Prices, on average, tend to range from $400 to $700.
NVidia graphics cards are popular purchases for people looking for high-performance graphics processors.
As mentioned, their highest-performance card at the moment is the Titan Xp. This powerhouse rounds off their 1080p 144fps cards with a full-fat Pascal GP102 GPU.
Ratcheting down your performance from there, Nvidia offers a robust range of 1080p, 4K, 900p, and 1440p 60fps and VR performance cards.
On the lower end of their product line, the GT 730 through GTX 460 cards offer performance to carry you through most classic and indie games.
Drivers and software
As one of the most widely-used graphics cards for video gaming, Nvidia offers competitive drivers and software.
Their software, however, is an area where Nvidia has been able to truly shine.
The GeForce Experience software allows for automated driver updates and seamless game optimization. It also allows for screenshots and video capture. This is actually one area where Nvidia currently dominates, with a clear focus on the needs of the gaming community.
AMD (or Advanced Micro Devices) is actually a microprocessor manufacturer with a line of GPU products.
That being said, it’s not like their graphics cards are anything to sniff at.
Generally considered to be better value for money than Nvidia tech, AMD cards provide high-end performance at a reduced cost.
But how does that reduction in cost affect their competitive edge?
AMD cards, as we’ve mentioned, typically cost less for about the same amount of money. This, however, isn’t usually by any significant amount, and recent releases have actually put them largely at the same prices.
The line’s midrange card, the $420 AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 bettered its price equivalent, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 on certain benchmark lists. That said, subsequent releases have put the two brands almost neck and neck.
While you might still find better deals on AMD over Nvidia, the truth is, the market price on these two lines has largely evened out.
While AMD does perform well in most of their cards, they have garnered a bit of a reputation for following in Nvidia’s footsteps in recent years.
AMD released Freesync tech in their processors, adapting monitor refresh rates to specific games. This was a good development, but one that Nvidia had already managed with their G-Sync monitors.
Sometimes AMD’s ahead, as was the case with their TressFX hair physics which beat Nvidia’s Hairworks to release. By and large, however, AMD has made its mark on the industry by developing open features, and not by innovating before anybody else does.
As a final note, AMD cards, whether deserving or not, have a bit of a reputation for “running hot”, heating up over long periods of use.
Drivers and software
AMD’s integrated software takes the form of their Radeon Crimson ReLive package. As a UI that maintains and controls GPU processes, it’s a platform designed to complement the brand’s flagship Vega video graphics card.
It’s a powerful application, but one that, unfortunately, apes a lot of the functionality of the GeForce Experience. Still, with the ability to underclock memory frequencies and cap frame rates on a hardware level, it’s not like you’re losing out in any way by using it.
There’s a misconception in the video graphics card community that you have to love either Nvidia or AMD and completely reject the other.
The truth is, they’re both significant players in gaming hardware. With dozens of releases at a wide range of prices and performance, and with both lines scoring high marks on various games, there’s no one clear winner.
That said, you came here to find a winning graphics card. Going by price comparisons, features, software and innovation, Nvidia has earned their spot at the top of our list.
Interested in learning more about PC gaming? Check out some of our comprehensive hardware, title, and PC reviews, and take your gaming to the next level, today.