AMD vs Nvidia: The Key Differences Explained
Computer hobbyists and PC game system builders are well aware of the long, ongoing war for dominance in the graphics card market. The two titans locked in a battle for decades have been Nvidia and AMD, also referred to as the “Green Team” and the “Red Team.” Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has usually been viewed as the choice for budget builds, but AMD has had some moments when its new product launches have taken a temporary lead over the high-end offerings from Nvidia.
Whether you want to choose a new video card or you want to know more about these two companies, the following guide will compare them and the products that they currently offer.
AMD vs Nvidia: Side by Side Comparison
|Nvidia||Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)|
|Company founding date||April 5, 1993||May 1, 1969|
|Product categories||GPUs, Mobile graphics, motherboard chipsets, CUDA supercomputing solutions||Consumer processors, GPUs, Mobile CPUs, Professional CPUs, Server CPUs|
|Flagship graphics product||GeForce RTX 3090||Radeon RX 6900 XT|
|Adaptive synchronization technology||G-Sync||FreeSync|
|Current GPU series||Nvidia RTX line||Radeon 6000 series|
|Founder||Jensen Huang||Jerry Sanders|
|Graphics card drivers||GeForce Experience, Nvidia Control Panel||Radeon Adrenalin|
AMD vs Nvidia: 5 Must Know Facts
- AMD, despite its appeal to budget builders, is much more of a mature company than Nvidia, having been founded nearly 25 years earlier than Nvidia.
- Graphics cards from both companies are very close in performance, but Nvidia’s RTX series does a much better job with ray tracing and ultra-high resolution.
- Nvidia’s products are mostly graphics processing solutions, whereas AMD produces a large portion of consumer processors in the computer market along with their popular GPUs.
- Nvidia’s graphics processors are also used for advanced applications in artificial intelligence and deep learning systems via Nvidia’s CUDA technology.
- In addition to consumer processors and GPU products, AMD also manufactures RAM memory and solid state hard drives.
Nvidia Product Lines
Nvidia is best known in the consumer market for its popular GeForce graphics processing units (GPUs), but they produce technology products for a variety of other applications. Nvidia’s Tegra chip is a mobile device computing solution, and Tesla is their processor for scientific and engineering applications. Nvidia Drive is a series of technologies for autonomous self-driving vehicles, and nForce is a chipset technology that interfaces with system processors on popular consumer motherboards.
Nvidia GPUs are also used in scientific research and supercomputing. The CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) API is a technology that supports high numbers of GPU cores for parallel processing. Laboratories and research groups use CUDA in extensive neural net systems to power cutting-edge deep learning and artificial intelligence projects.
AMD Product Lines
AMD, which stands for Advanced Micro Devices, is a semiconductor company that produces a wide variety of microchip products. They are well known for their popular lines of graphics processors and system processors. AMD is regarded by consumers as a good option for performance on a low-to-medium budget, but their high-end graphics cards and CPUs sometimes rival Nvidia’s high-end products.
AMD has an extensive lineup of CPUs and APUs that include Athlon brand for the budget PC, A-series for laptops, Ryzen for performance desktops, and Ryzen Threadripper for professional creation software and high-end enthusiast builders. The product lines for AMD’s GPU chips include the popular Radeon, Mobility Radeon, Radeon Pro for workstations, and Radeon Instinct for servers and machine learning applications. AMD also manufactures RAM memory and solid-state hard drives.
Gaming Performance Comparison at Various Price Points
Both companies have graphics products that target the three main price ranges in the market which are divided into the categories of “budget,” “midrange” and “enthusiast.”
For the low-end or “budget” range, the $200 price point is the target for an ideal cost-to-performance ratio. The competing products from the two companies at this price range are Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 and AMD’s RX 5500 XT. Nvidia’s GPU boosts its memory clock speed higher than the AMD product’s, but the AMD card has 8GB of video RAM compared to the 6GB on the GTX 1660 from Nvidia. Overall, with better graphics drivers, the GeForce GTX 1660 slightly outperforms the AMD RX 5500 XT.
In the midrange level, where most PC gamers look to power their entertainment software, the price point is around $400. The two competing cards at this level are the RTX 3060 from Nvidia versus the RX 6700 XT from AMD. The card from AMD performs better than the product from Nvidia, but it comes at a slightly higher price.
In high-end products that cost $700 and above, the primary competing cards for comparison are the AMD RX 6800 XT versus the Nvidia RTX 3080. In benchmark tests, the AMD product performs better than the Nvidia card, but Nvidia pulls ahead when ray tracing is enabled and in ultra-high resolution. Given that ray tracing is not implemented extensively in today’s games, AMD seems to provide a better value at the enthusiast level. However, the choice is highly dependent on use cases, so the final verdict is somewhat of a tie.
Graphics Enhancement Features
Both companies have a solid array of technologies besides basic rendering power that improves the realism of video content. Nvidia’s approach is more proprietary in this regard, often creating technologies that only function with Nvidia hardware, whereas AMD tends to create features that can be used by other hardware manufacturer’s products, including Nvidia’s.
One notable feature packaged with Nvidia’s graphics solutions is Ampere, a feature that provides Nvidia Broadcast for streaming and other video content. Using artificial intelligence, Nvidia Broadcast enables streamers and broadcasters to replace the background of the person who is on camera to a custom environment. This feature can also filter out noises from the audio channel of the broadcast.
Game enhancing features that are only functional with Nvidia include DLSS, which stands for deep learning super sampling, which uses AI to improve rendering in games, and increases performance. Nvidia’s mainstream graphics cards also provide PhysX, a technology that enhances the computational power of a system to simulate physics within the gaming world.
AMD’s latest features are more centered on gaming. Contrast Adaptive Sharpening (CAS) improves gaming on high-resolution monitors. FidelityFX is a new feature that enables more gamers to play at 4K resolution when their hardware would normally struggle to function adequately at ultra-high resolution. Variable Rate Shading is a feature that intelligently chooses which areas of the video image to concentrate more power to render detail, delivering higher performance efficiency.
AMD vs Nvidia: Which One Should You Use?
For most people reading this, the question is mainly relevant for choosing the best video card for your budget and computing needs. Currently, gamers might find that Nvidia’s high-end cards provide better performance at 4K resolution, although the GPUs from AMD is performing slightly better overall in other use cases.
If you plan on playing a lot of next-generation game titles with ray tracing, Nvidia is currently the best option. For budget builds, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 is the best value. The bottom line is, a graphics card is a major purchase for most consumers, so don’t make a decision without researching what card is best for your needs and your budget.