AMD vs. Nvidia at CES 2022: The GPU battleground

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CES 2022 wasn’t focused on graphics cards, but AMD and Nvidia still came out in full force with announcements. We have new desktop graphics cards coming out within the month, new mobile GPUs already in laptops, and graphics options for gamers who don’t want to lug around a giant gaming machine.

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I’ll walk you through all the biggest announcements from AMD and Nvidia, plus which company I think fared better at CES this year. If you want all the gritty details, be sure to pull up our roundup of everything Nvidia announced at CES and AMD announced at CES.

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RTX 3090 Ti and RX 6500

Nvidia previews the RTX 3090 Ti GPU at CES 2022.

CES doesn’t typically bring new generations of graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia, and this year was no different. While we eagerly await the release of the RTX 40-series and RX 7000 GPUs, AMD and Nvidia took to CES to fill out their existing graphics card ranges.

AMD just announced a new graphics card: the RX 6500 XT. It’s not very exciting, targeting 1080p with the higher settings, but the price touched my ears. It’s only $199, which is great at a time when I was sure GPUs under $200 were all but dead. Of course, it won’t sell for $200 given its lack of GPUs, but it should offer a decent alternative to cards like the GTX 1650 and RX 570 that have become way Very expensive in the past year. It’s coming January 19th.

Pricing information for the AMD RX 6500 XT graphics card.

Nvidia announced two graphics cards: the RTX 3050 and RTX 3090 Ti. I’m excited about the RTX 3050, especially given the GPU pricing crisis. It’s launching on January 27th for $249, and it fills the low end of Nvidia’s RTX 30-series range. We never got the desktop RTX 2050, so I assumed this class of GPUs is dead for Nvidia.

Obviously, it is not so. Like the RX 6500 XT, the RTX 3050 has been offering an alternative to budget cards from years ago that have become too expensive. It can also run games like Guardians of the Galaxy And Control According to Nvidia, ray tracing is on, which is great for a graphics card at this price.

Nvidia announces RTX 3050.

The RTX 3090 Ti couldn’t be further from this. What is it, and why is it here? The RTX 3090 is already an extremely powerful graphics card, and Nvidia’s big reveal isn’t when graphics cards are so expensive. Nvidia has made a GPU faster than the world’s fastest GPU, but I couldn’t be more excited about it when I know it will cost $4,000 on eBay.

AMD and Nvidia both released graphics cards for around $200, and that’s what I wanted to see out of CES this year. The RTX 3090 Ti is fine, but it’s not giving Nvidia any extra points in this comparison.

Nvidia and AMD expand mobile

As always, Nvidia and AMD talked less about desktop and more about mobile. We have two new cards from Nvidia and four new cards from AMD, both of which are current generation parts for each brand.

After months of rumors, Nvidia announced the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti (remember, pronounced “tie”). I knew these cards were coming, but I had no idea how powerful they would be. Nvidia says the RTX 3080 Ti is more powerful than the desktop Titan RTX. It also comes with a massive 16GB of video memory.

The RTX 3070 Ti also looks powerful, but Nvidia didn’t share any hard performance numbers for either card. These new cards will likely replace the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 in most laptops, and we’ve already seen that on the 2022 Razer Blades and Acer Predator Helios 300.

AMD's Radeon presentation at CES 2022.

AMD announced the RX 6850M, RX 6650M, RX 6500M and RX 6300M. All of these new cards use a 6nm manufacturing process, so they’re a half-generation leap. AMD says the flagship RX 6850M offers up to 7% improvement over the RX 6800M and the RX 6650M offers a massive 20% improvement over the RX 6600M.

I’m glad to see AMD introduce these midlife upgrades to the mobile range, but it’s really hard to ignore Nvidia’s dominance in mobile. Nvidia may have only announced two graphics cards, but I bet you’ll see them in far more laptops than the four cards AMD announced.

Nvida Max-Q4 and AMD RX 6000S

Nvidia reintroduced the Max-Q at CES this year, just in time to announce a competitor to AMD. The fourth-generation Max-Q graphics card includes Dynamic AI Boost for performance improvements, a fan optimizer, and Nvidia’s optimal playable settings for video games.

New additions include resizable bars for a little extra performance and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), which in many respects seems like the key to optimizing mobile performance. It’s great that Max-Q is back, but we don’t know much about specific laptops that will have Max-Q graphics cards.

AMD is introducing the Radeon RX 6000S graphics card at CES 2022.

AMD introduced the RX 6000S series, which is also made for thin and light gaming laptops. Compared to the typical RX 6000M card, AMD says laptops with these cards are about 20% thinner and should be 4.5 pounds or lighter. These cards also use a 6nm manufacturing process, and they are still powerful. AMD says there’s an average 10% improvement over Nvidia’s flagship mobile GPUs.

We have S-series mobile processors from AMD, so it’s good to see an S-series graphics card to match. There are also four GPUs to start the range, which offer a lot of flexibility in price. I am happy to see Max-Q…

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