AMD vs. NVIDIA: Which GPU Wins the Gaming War?

Why Trust Techopedia

If you’re in the market for the best graphics cards, it’s pretty much a binary choice: AMD or NVIDIA, with a few others battling it out for third. Often it was a simple calculation: price (AMD) or performance (Nvidia). Today, both brands are on a path to parity, and the differences are less stark.

Imagine selecting a color swatch from multiple shades of ‘pretty great.’ It’s a buyer’s dilemma, but look closely, and there are still distinctions that matter.

We dug into the details of Nvidia vs. AMD GPUs, considered the use cases, and declared a winner.

Key Takeaways

  • AMD used to be the price-conscious choice but recent upgrades have closed some of the performance gap with Nvidia.
  • One thing hasn’t changed: the two companies follow divergent paths when it comes to features and compatibility.
  • In the end of the AMD vs. Nvidia GPU battle, we chose Nvidia. However, on the streamlined user experience and price advantages, it’s AMD for the win.
  • The ongoing war of attrition between the two leading GPU brands means you’ll likely need to re-assess in a few months’ time.

AMD vs. Nvidia: Side-by-Side Comparison

Let’s start with a spec-for-spec look at each company’s something-for-everyone, flagship mid-range GPU: the AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070.

AMD Radeon vs. Nvidia GeForce Specs

Metric AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
Shaders 3840 5880
Ray processors 60 46
VRAM 16GB GDDR6 12GB GDDR6X
TGP 263W 200W
AI Processors 120 184
Price $499 $599

When AMD released the RX 7800 XT to take on Nvidia’s RTX 4070 late last year, it kicked off a mid-market battle between two of the top GPUs in the class. AMD had a well-earned reputation for affordable quality when it launched the RX 7800 and went one-to-one with its more upscale rival.

The AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT is a brilliant option for gamers or video creatives who don’t want to shell out more for Nvidia’s pricier equivalent. On performance GPU benchmark comparison it wrestles the RTX 4070 to a draw – though it’s only marginally better than its sister GPU, the less expensive RX 6800 XT.

As good as it is, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4070 offers a broad mix of performance, price, and features that gamers and creatives will want at a price point that’s premium, but still within reach.

Verdict: Stalemate

Advertisements

The price differential between Nvidia and AMD at the mid-range level is around $100 and overall performance is evenly matched. Two different flavors of great.

Nvidia vs. AMD: Key Features

If we delve into a detailed GPU comparison, AMD and Nvidia have different philosophies when it comes to standard software features. AMD casts the net widely to maximize compatibility across devices. Nvidia focuses on its own proprietary systems and keeping customers locked in. Despite taking different routes approaches, the overall feature sets of RX vs. RTX are very similar.

AMD’s biggest recent enhancements are Freesync and FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), which uses AI to scale up image resolution or auto-sharpen lower-rez images when they need to be rendered in a larger size.

Nvidia offers something similar to FidelityFX called Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). DLSS is more established and we think it’s more consistent than FSR when images need to be scaled up. Having said that, FSR can deliver major gains in terms of frame rate.

AMD’s FreeSync tool helps keep the frame rate of your monitor in sync with the GPU. Nvidia’s take is called G-Sync and it offers the same capability.

Both Nvidia and AMD offer built-in noise suppression to keep ambient microphone noise to a minimum.

At the GUI level, AMD takes a dashboard approach and offers all features from a single menu. Nvidia’s interface is less user-friendly, with menus and submenus separated across multiple programs.

Winner: AMD

Factoring together the streamlined user experience, price advantages, and broad parity with Nvidia on some key features, on balance it’s AMD for the win.

General AMD Radeon vs. Nvidia GeForce Gaming Performance Comparison

So how do both mid-range products fare on the gaming front? Let’s look at how Nvidia GeForce vs. AMD Radeon features and capabilities translate into user experience and overall value.

Nvidia GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
Pros Better rasterization Solid 4K gaming experience (with DLSS)
Improved ray tracing Brilliant 1440p gaming experience
Less expensive Form factor is compact and convenient
Cons Minor improvement on the RX 6800 XT More expensive than AMD
Demands a lot of power Built-in 4K performance could be better
Ray tracing not quite as good as Nvidia Comes with a 16-pin connection

Nvidia was first to market, so we’ll start with them. The RTX 4070 gives gamers 1440p graphics plus advanced ray tracing. That makes 4K gaming a tangible option, though possibly diminished by a smaller 12GB VRAM pool.

AMD’s RX 7800 XT, on the other hand, maximizes its best-in-class rasterization capabilities with notable improvements to ray tracing performance. The combination is impressive, despite being a generation behind Nvidia’s RTX 4070 in terms of ray tracing performance.

Winner: Nvidia

You could argue it’s a toss-up, but we’re inclined to give Nvidia the edge. Serious gamers probably won’t be deterred by the $80-100 price difference and choose performance and user experience over the price tag. In the mid-range, Nvidia comes out on top – just.

AMD vs. Nvidia for High-End Gaming

Gamers are a diverse group, so let’s look at other comparable products each company offers at different tiers. Comparing graphic cards on a pure performance basis, it’s hard to find fault with either brand.

AMD Radeon vs. Nvidia GeForce GPU Benchmarks Comparison

Market segment AMD Nvidia
Budget RX 7600 = 60 fps RTX 4060 = 60 fps
Mid tier / 1140p RX 7800 XT = 95 fps RTX 4070 = 72 fps
Top tier / 4k RX 7900 XTX = 71 fps RTX 4080 Super = 67 fps
Mega / 1080p set to Ultra Radeon RX 7800 XT = 42 fps RTX 4080 Super = 88 fps

At the budget level, both the Nvidia RTX 4060 and its near-peer AMD RX 7600 can deliver 60 frames per second (fps) or more for a mainstream RPG.

The high level of detail and clarity that 1440p gaming delivers will test most graphics cards to the limit. Moving up to mid-tier, the Nvidia RTX 4070 can deliver 72 fps, while the AMD RX 7800 XT jumps ahead at 95 fps.

Raise the bar again, however, and Nvidia starts to flex its frame rate muscles. Looking first at 4K performance with ray tracing, Nvidia’s RTX 4080 Super can deliver rates of up to 67 fps on a standard RPG. AMD’s equivalent RX 7900 XTX answers back with a small uptick to 71 fps for a standard RPG.

So far, so equal, but push the preset to ‘ultra’ for 1080p graphics with ray tracing, and the RTX 4080 Super runs at a searing 88 fps. At 42 fps, AMD’s roughly equivalent Radeon RX 7800 XT can’t even manage half that level.

Winner: Nvidia

At gaming’s high-end GPU test, where hardcore users demand a premium experience, Nvidia takes the win.

Non-Gaming Features

Looking beyond gaming at other graphics-intensive applications, AMD and Nvidia follow different paths.

Nvidia cards typically come with dedicated memory for encoding and decoding media. Combined with hardware acceleration, it offers faster, low-lag performance for multimedia tasks like video production or graphics.

AMD tends to rely on its firmware for encoding and decoding. That’s a consumer-friendly approach which allows users to run the latest releases features and technologies on non-AMD GPUs (including Nvidia’s) – though naturally they run best on proprietary AMD silicon.

On the downside, AMD has a reputation for uneven driver support. Nvidia, meanwhile, prefers to keep users inside its ecosystem. Sought-after features like DLSS 3 only work on an Nvidia platform and then only with its latest generation GPU. The company’s Ampere 3000 cards from 2021, for example, only support DLSS 2 or below.

On a more positive note, Nvidia’s Studio suite has recently been updated with new features to ease creative workloads, and it has capabilities the average user will appreciate too. Nvidia Broadcast applies AI to replace backgrounds in any Zoom or other video-conferencing application. It also filters out irritating ambient and background noise from co-workers and coffee shop customers while the call is live.

AMD’s focus remains on gaming and ramping up its 4K ray-tracing capabilities. Its Radeon RX graphics architecture for laptops is designed for advanced content creation, though mainly for next-generation premium laptops.

Winner: Nvidia

AMD’s Radeon RX is one to watch, but for now, Nvidia has the lead in intensive graphics capability outside of gaming.

Compatibility

Deciding who’s better at minimizing compatibility issues is tough. Both companies devote extensive time and resources to fixing compatibility and performance issues. Both release firmware updates on a consistent schedule. To a certain extent, deciding on a winner is beyond either company’s control.

Software developers tend to prioritize Nvidia graphics cards for the simple reason that Nvidia has a bigger market footprint – more people own their GPUs. In most cases, this imbalance isn’t a big deal. But it does stress the need to check the compatibility of your most-used applications, particularly those for professional or work-related use. Popular 3D graphics apps like Autodesk Maya, for example, are known to support more Nvidia cards than AMD.

For gamers, ray tracing is the place where AMD and Nvidia visibly part ways. When new drivers are needed for applications that support ray tracing, Nvidia’s optimization options are typically more advanced and glitch-free. While games with ray tracing that only support Nvidia GPUs are becoming less common, AMD cards still aren’t fully recognized by developers.

Winner: Nvidia

We’re likely in a time of transition when AMD will ramp up capability. For now, given AMD’s second-place performance in ray tracing overall, Nvidia is the obvious winner.

Price

Ask any gamer about the best GPUs, and they’ll likely tell you it’s AMD for price and Nvidia for perks and performance. That’s still largely true. Comparing video cards for price alone, AMD almost always comes out ahead.

AMD vs. Nvidia Price Comparison Chart

Price Segment AMD Nvidia
Budget RX 7600 = $269.99 RTX 4060 = $299.99
Mid-range RX 7700 = $449.99 RTX 4070 = $599.99
Top-tier RX 7900 XTX = 999.99 RTX 4090 = $1,699.99

Starting at the accessible consumer end, Nvidia’s RTX 4060 (MSRP $299.99) offers great performance and features like ray tracing and DLSS support. But it’s not a knockout by any means. AMD’s equivalent in the sub-300-dollar range is the RX 7600 (MSRP $269.99). It still delivers a solid experience for about 30 dollars less.

For the mid-range segment, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 has an MSRP of $599.99. AMD’s Radeon RX 7700 XT equivalent comes at an MSRP of $449.99. While there are other options from both companies in the middle tier, there is variability in the amount of VRAM they offer, which can seriously impact the card’s performance.

At the top of the heap are AMD’s Radeon RX 7900 XTX (MSRP of $999.99) and Nvidia’s premium RTX 4090 (a whopping $1,699.99). Needless to say, these are for serious gaming/creative activities that require intensive graphics rendering at speed.

Winner: AMD

One way to level the playing field is to compare frame rates per dollar (USD), and on that metric, AMD wins easily. If you don’t need ray tracing and gaming is your high-performance computing activity of choice, AMD offers better value.

Should You Buy AMD or Nvidia in 2024?

So, AMD vs. Nvidia, which is better for you in 2024? In the GPU space, there’s much to commend both companies. AMD and Nvidia each bring something different and valuable to the table. Meanwhile, the battle for gamers’ and creative industry hearts & minds keeps everyone sharp.

There’s a symbiotic relationship at work where both companies look to incrementally adopt the best elements of the other. That makes it a buyer’s market.

In our AMD vs. Nvidia review, Nvidia took four categories out of seven, so we have to give them the win.

Ultimately though, it’s up to you. And with PC makers using both brands in their builds, expect plenty of options for upgrades and pre-installed hardware.

Overall Winner: Nvidia

The Bottom Line

For the categories we’ve looked at, Nvidia edges ahead. However, the truth is that both AMD and Nvidia make excellent products. Do your research, consider how you’ll put your graphics card to work, and decide what features matter most.

You might try making your own table of Nvidia vs. AMD GPU pros and cons to see who wins on balance. It would be hard to go wrong.

FAQs

Which GPU is better, AMD or Nvidia?

Will AMD ever beat Nvidia in GPU?

What is the most powerful GPU?

Which is better, RX or RTX?

Advertisements

Related Reading

Related Terms

Advertisements
Mark De Wolf
Technology Journalist
Mark De Wolf
Technology Journalist

Mark is a freelance tech journalist covering software, cybersecurity, and SaaS. His work has appeared in Dow Jones, The Telegraph, SC Magazine, Strategy, InfoWorld, Redshift, and The Startup. He graduated from the Ryerson University School of Journalism with honors where he studied under senior reporters from The New York Times, BBC, and Toronto Star, and paid his way through uni as a jobbing advertising copywriter. In addition, Mark has been an external communications advisor for tech startups and scale-ups, supporting them from launch to successful exit. Success stories include SignRequest (acquired by Box), Zeigo (acquired by Schneider Electric), Prevero (acquired…