AMD vs Nvidia – what’s the best add-in GPU for you?

The only two GPU manufacturers that matter. But which one is right for you?

There is an incredible demand and supply crunch in the graphics card market right now like never before. Globally silicon shortages are affecting GPU quantities and prices, so it’s hard for you to get one. If you were to get one, it would all come down to a fight – AMD vs. Nvidia.

Nvidia has the status of being the more in-demand GPU maker, but AMD is no stranger to the business and is quickly catching up. For now, both offer some compelling GPU options, and it can be a difficult decision between a smaller quantity. Let’s take an in-depth look at AMD and Nvidia’s GPU offerings, and which one is the better choice for GPU buyers.

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AMD vs Nvidia – where they stand

AMD vs Nvidia is a long-standing rivalry, but it has had some twists and turns. First, AMD’s graphics division was formerly known as ATI. ATI began making GPUs in 1986, and AMD took over the company in 2006. Since then, AMD continued to use ATI badging for the GPU for a few years before dropping it, giving the AMD graphics division as we know it today.

Nvidia debuted in 1993 and soon evolved to match ATI’s GPU efforts. After several successful GPU launches, Nvidia became the second big name in graphics processors. Many other graphics card manufacturers existed, but as ATI and Nvidia got stronger, most others failed. ATI got some of them and Nvidia got a significant one – 3dfx. Other graphics makers were acquired, went out of business, or both.

ATI remained competitive, but AMD’s flip-flop pattern unfortunately slowed the business shortly after the acquisition. Around 2012, AMD began to be seen as a weak business while NVIDIA continued to grow. However, with the launch of Zen and then-Navi architectures, AMD climbed back up. Today, we have Nvidia with a small but significant lead with its RTX lineup and ray-tracing expertise, while AMD is rapidly catching up with Radeon.

The AMD vs Nvidia rivalry right now is more interesting than ever. Both companies offer GPUs worth buying, so the decision to choose between the two can be quite a difficult one. To help you understand both, we broke down each of their offerings. Let’s take a deep dive.

What does AMD offer?

AMD has a few GPU lineups to serve all segments of the consumer market and a relatively lean lineup of CPUs. The latest RDNA and RDNA2 based GPUs clearly dominate the lineup, but you can still grab some older cards as well.

AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series GPU

The AMD Radeon RX 6000 is AMD’s latest series of GPUs. Based on the brand new RDNA 2 architecture, this is a significant improvement over the previous generation. It promises a 1.65x performance boost compared to the previous generation. Additionally, you get AMD’s Infinity Cache for higher bandwidth and better ray tracing performance.

If you’re looking for the best AMD GPU you can buy, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is the way to go. This is the highest-end consumer GPU you can buy from AMD right now. It can do decent frame rates at 4K and respectable ray tracing thanks to the AMD GPU. Just below it are the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and AMD Radeon RX 6800. The RX 6800 XT is more of a mid-range 4K card, while the RX 6800 is a solid 1440p performer that delivers great value for your money.

The RX 6000 series is yet to completely fill the mid-range and entry-level. We have the RX 6700 XT at the bottom of the series right now, and it’s a solid 1080p card that can do some 1440p gaming. We expect to see a non-XT 6700 card, as well as the RX 6600 XT and 6600. However, given the current silicon shortage, quantities will be very limited for both existing and any upcoming GPUs.

AMD Radeon RX 5000 Series GPU

The AMD Radeon RX 5000 is the last generation of GPUs from AMD. Based on the rDNA architecture, this is the series that started a new chapter for AMD’s graphics efforts. AMD played it safe with this series and didn’t quite go to the high end. Instead, it offered solid mid-range and budget cards that are still good options.

Leading the series is the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT, just behind the RX 5700. The 5700 XT sits slightly below the RX 6700 XT in terms of performance, with some 1440p offering acceptable 1080p performance. Below that is the RX 5600 XT, followed by the RX 5500 XT and RX 5500. All three cards offer varying levels of 1080p gaming performance and fill the lower end of the GPU price bracket. These cards are some of the best options for those looking for a card for their low budget systems. AMD also introduced RX 5300 In 2020, which he held the last 5000-series card. However, the card is for specific retail channels and OEM systems – not regular retail.

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AMD Radeon RX Vega and RX 500 Series GPUs

AMD still lists these two older series on its website, sold at inflated prices despite not offering enough value. Both the RX Vega and RX 500 came out in 2017. The RX Vega series of GPUs uses the GCN 5th generation architecture, while the RX 500 series uses the 4th generation. The Radeon RX 500 had entry-level and mid-range GPUs, while the RX Vega series covered the high-end and enthusiast markets. Radeon Vega has also brought a new generation of integrated graphics to AMD APUs which have proved successful.

Some of these cards are still on sale. There are Vega 56 and Vega 64 in the Vega series, but they are rarer and more widespread. The RX 500 series still sells all models including the RX 550, 560, 570, 580, and 590. These cards are also more due to the price hike, which has hit the GPU market, but they have the advantage of being available. You can find these cards on sale now. However, given the aging architectures and the options in the market at their inflated prices, you probably shouldn’t get them at the inflated price tag.

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What does Nvidia offer?

Nvidia’s GPU lineup is more focused on ray tracing right now, with the RTX series branded exclusively for it. With the new generation, it has delivered remarkable performance gains with ray tracing. This is a key area where AMD’s offering lags. Nvidia also offers non-RTX GPUs to fill the lower price bracket.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series GPU

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 Series is the latest lineup of GPUs from Team Green. It has the most powerful set of GPUs ever made by Nvidia. With the RTX 30 series, Nvidia has finally made ray tracing a feature that works well enough to be a selling point. The RTX 30 series GPUs are based on the new Ampere architecture and bring faster memory and better DLSS.

On top of all that, we have the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, the best consumer GPU Nvidia sells right now. This is an all-out 4K gaming graphics card that can do high frame rates at resolutions and provides the best ray tracing performance you can get. It also has 24GB of memory, and the best features you can get on any GPU right now.

On the high end below that, we have the RTX 3080. It’s a solid 4K card that doesn’t make for a lot of compromises and offers a great value for money. In the upper mid-range, we have the RTX 3070, a perfect 1440p gaming GPU, which is the best value for money you can get from Nvidia. Below that is the RTX 3060 Ti, which is great for high-end 1080p gaming and some 1440p gaming. Last up is the RTX 3060, which is a solid 1080p performer. Nvidia may release more models in the RTX 30 series, but we expect availability to remain as scarce.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 Series GPU

The RTX 20 series is Nvidia’s last-gen flagship GPU lineup. Being the first generation of ray tracing-capable GPUs from Nvidia, the RTX 20 series was not very good with convenience. Plus, they’re solid GPUs even today. 20-series uses Turing architecture.

The leading consumer GPU in this series is the RTX 2080 Ti, which still makes for some solid 1440p gaming today. Slightly below that is the RTX 2080, which is still good for the high end of 1080p gaming and some 1440p gaming. Below that are the RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 GPUs, which are solid entry-level RTX GPUs.

These GPUs also have Super variants, which deliver better performance with slightly better hardware on board. There’s also the Nvidia Titan RTX, the most powerful GPU in the series. However, it is better suited for deep learning and AI applications for researchers, developers, and creators rather than your average consumer.

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 16, GTX 10 Series and Quadro RTX GPUs

Nvidia is still selling some of its older series of GPUs. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 16 series is arguably the most widely found series right now, especially considering its presence in affordable laptops and OEM systems, as well as better availability and affordability at retail. You get the GTX 1660 and GTX 1650, as well as their Super, Ti and other variants. With the 10-series, Nvidia isn’t really actively marketing it, but the cards still sell. They are not great value for money, especially considering the increased prices right now. Also, the total lack of ray tracing at the price point and the aging architecture doesn’t work in its favor.

The Nvidia Quadro series is another thing entirely. It’s the company’s lineup of workstation GPUs that lets you get the most out of RTX and related architectures. With the latest Ampere architecture, Nvidia has dropped the Quadro branding and made it the RTX A series. We now have three GPUs in this lineup – the A6000, A5000 and A4000.

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