We Pitch AMD vs Nvidia to see who Comes out the Overall Champion
For the most serious of gamers, there’s a rivalry every bit as important as Yankees vs. Red Sox, Coke vs. Pepsi, and Marvel vs. DC Comics. Who makes the better processor: AMD or Nvidia? There are some common conceptions in the community about the strengths and weaknesses of each, and we’re here to put those conceptions to the test.
The common conception in the gaming community is that AMD offers the better value for their products than Nvidia, and while that’s a fair assessment in general terms, the truth is slightly more complicated. Across a number of the major models, Nvidia’s CPUs often cost significantly more than their earlier generation counterparts. But part of this can be attributed to the fact that Nvidia has just recently reduced their new Turing generation. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the RTX 2080 Ti costs almost twice as much as the GTX 1080 Ti or that the standard RTX 2080 comes in at roughly $800.
But Nvidia promised at their keynote conference to bring their prices down, so that could be changing soon. And Nvidia already offers CPUs for as low as $150. For now, AMD offers significantly better pricing for most models, but that could shift as their next gen Navi hits the market and Nvidia makes some pricing changes. And where high-end gaming graphics cards are concerned, that discrepancy starts to become less discernible. The high-end AMD Radeon VII only costs $100 less than its Nvidia counterpart despite not quite hitting the same benchmarks.
Nvidia may charge premium prices for their gaming graphics cards, but many would argue that’s a privilege they’ve earned. The best Nvidia GPUs are pretty awe inspiring. The RT 2080 Ti may cost nearly a grand, but there’s nothing else like it on the market. The 11GB of GDDR6 memory is coupled with new ray tracing and AI-controlled sampling (which we’ll get into more below), and that makes it comfortably future proofed for the next generation of games and then some. And while the Radeon VII looks largely comparable in terms of specs, the difference is definitely noticeable for gaming once you start using DirectX 12.
The long and the short of it is that Nvidia’s processors are just more powerful, especially for gaming. They multitask better, perform exceptionally at high-end tasks, and manage to accomplish this with significantly less power usage. And while AMD processors offer more memory on their lower end models, that also means they overheat more quickly, and they simply can’t compete head to head on the higher tier. While the gap in terms of power is gradually narrowing, Nvidia still holds a distinct advantage in this metric.
Both Nvidia and AMD like to throw out a lot of buzzword technologies, but users shouldn’t overlook adaptive syncing, respectively represented by G-Sync and FreeSync. These technologies make the most of your monitor’s refresh rate to reduce tearing, provide consistency in frame rate, and generally just create a more pleasant gaming experience. And since these two technologies are only compatible with cards from their respective manufacturers, the difference is worth considering.
There are some distinct considerations here, because the two companies take drastically different results in implementation. G-Sync monitors exclusively work with monitors that support G-Sync, and that’s considered a premium feature often only more accessible in more expensive models. FreeSync, by contrast, has higher compatibility and will work with most monitors of $130 or more. But, as is a developing pattern with these two companies, AMD’s technology sacrifices power for affordability. G-Sync is hands down the superior option, and the higher standards applied to G-Sync monitors means they tend to really milk the adaptive syncing for all that it’s worth.
Winner: Tie, depending on how much you’re willing to spend
Today’s graphics cards are more than just a way to render the visuals on your screen, and that means that the most serious gamers will want to tweak their functionality. That means that the software platforms each company uses are important. The winner here used to be distinct. Nvidia’s software came with a range of useful functions that AMD simply lacked. But recent years have seen AMD close that gap and fewer game companies create settings specifically tailored to one manufacturer or the other.
That’s not to say that Nvidia’s GeForce Experience isn’t impressive. Driver updates are automatic, and you can capture screenshots and stream video directly through its interface. And while AMD has started to implement more gaming optimization features into their software (and doing a pretty good job of it), they’re still playing catch up to their more established competitor. The GeForce Experience’s optimization automation is exceptional and a great way to get the best gaming experience without having to be a tech fiend.
That said, the newest edition of AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin has some cool tricks up its sleeve. Not only does it offer automated overclocking, but it can also stream games directly to your mobile device, including virtual reality options.
Winner: Nvidia by a hair
In terms of all-around features, AMD had done a great job of catching up to Nvidia, but that’s in the past tense. The rollout of the Turing generation brought with it two fundamental game changers: ray tracing and AI-controlled sampling. The former creates an unprecedented level of detail when capturing light, and while it hasn’t been implemented that much in the current generation of games, the demos that Nvidia showed at CES are absolutely stunning. But the biggest boost could come in the form of Turing’s A.I. cores. Through machine learning, this artificial intelligence can intuitively improve the quality of graphics based off of its shared experience.
This is a situation where timing has been an advantage for Nvidia. While there are rumors that AMD’s next graphics cards will employ ray tracing, they have yet to be released, and there’s still no word regarding the sophisticated A.I. that goes into the newest Nvidia’s processors. And while neither of these technologies have received wide adoption in the gaming community yet, you can expect that to change as developers become more comfortable with them and the next generation of consoles pushes the expectations for cross-compatible games.
So who’s the winner? Neither. While Nvidia may take the lead in most categories, AMD’s win in pricing is a big deal. A top line Nvidia gaming graphics card will cost you quite a bit, and you can also expect to invest deeply in a solid CPU, motherboard, and monitor to really do it justice. In short, if you demand the best, get a Nvidia. If you’re okay without the truly top shelf option, AMD offers a fantastic bargain, especially on graphics cards under 200 bucks.
Chances are that the distinctions between these two will only become narrower in the years to come. AMD has shown some promising pushes into the high-end market, and Nvidia has already vowed to lower their pricing in the months to come. Keep a close eye on the market, as the release of the next AMD generation will really set the path for the next battle of the processor wars.