Video Processors

The Right Video Card For You

Warren Buffet once said, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get". This quote holds true in the electronics industry. Ranging from televisions to the universal remote controller, you will get what you pay for. The same can be said for graphics cards. Once identifying the unique specifications of your computer's measurements and compatibilities, you will have to decide on a brand. If you are considering upgrading a unit's graphics card with or without a budget, further investigation must be done when picking out a card. The question in the realm of graphics cards must be modified slightly to "How much price to performance will I get within a particular budget".

When finding the right graphics card for you the first thing aspiring enthusiasts like to do is look at the most shiny or powerful card that they can get for what feels like the right price. However, this is a mistake, anyone that wants to upgrade their graphics card or build a computer from scratch needs to first take measurements. The interior of most mid to full tower ATX cases in today's market will allow for room for most cards. Some of the thinner cases will not allow for as much space as an ATX case and would need either a special adapter called a riser card(which will decrease bandwidth marginally), if this is not an option low profile(nongaming) cards can be found.

The next question you should ask yourself when building should be "Do I have the technology to operate this card". Put in to simpler terms, "will my processor be able to keep up with my graphics card or will my graphics card bottleneck my processor". Bottlenecks occur when the processor cannot keep up with the data being processed from the card and run all the current applications at the same time. This will directly affect the performance of your PC compared to someone with the exact same card with a more up-to-date or superior CPU. In this case, you may require a CPU upgrade before upgrading your graphics card.

Once you have determined that the card will physically fit in your case and your CPU is powerful enough you have one last step to make sure the card is the right fit. You must do some quick math to find out if you have enough power from your power supply to run your system along with your newly implemented graphics card. If you would like to check the power necessary to run your rig you can quickly input your PC specification in Newegg.com's Power Supply Calculator or another sites calculator. Knowing how much draw you have from the power supply is essential to determin how much power is needed to boot and run the system. It is as simple as, if your required wattage is too high get a larger PSU.

Advanced Micro Devices

AMD has been a company that produced processors since the late 60's up till today. The company started producing graphics cards when Nvidia arrived on the scene in 1993. Since then they have been each other's competition in consumer grade GPUs. What is the difference between the two? First, AMD has cards that range in priceing from the low hundreds up to around ~$500.00 but its flagship RX 480 runs about ~$250.00 and the more powerful R9 which runs around ~$500.00 depending on where you shop.

By way of performance the Fury X is the pride and joy of AMD. The cream of the crop when it comes to AMD graphics cards is the Radeon Pro Duo released a few years ago with performance levels and pricing nearly matching the Nvidia Titan. Regarding the lower end of the spectrum AMD offers its RX series that is almost unbeatable when it comes to pricing. The similarly priced Nvidia GTX 1060 offers around ~300 points less performance scor according to 3DMark Fire Strike testing. Taking us back a generation or two AMD offered a $330.00 card, the R9 290. During this time the flagship of Nvidia was the 780ti which had a marginally lower score but cost around ~$400.00 more.

The HD4000 generation of 2008 AMD recorded ~14.5% failure in all its produced cards. From the documented cases of failures ~50% of the failures were in the field and the other half were seen during testing. Compared to 2013's R7 and R9 series AMD managed to weed out ~13.5% of its card failures during testing and only ~1.92% occur in the field. This is a huge milestone that AMD had achieved by reducing the amount of field failures from ~50% to nearly ~20% of total failures.

Nvidia

Nvidia is a Graphics card company that was formed in 1993 and produced its first card in 1995. By 2002 Nvidia was named America's Fastest-Growing Company. In 2005 Nvidia was producing the graphics card for Sony's Playstation 3. The Nvidia Corporation may not be hitting the price point for some customers in the market for a new card. One thing is for certain, the company knows how to make a card that is top of the line. Over years of sparing back and forth AMD and Nvidia have fought on different levels of price, performance and drivers. In the last few years, however, Nvidia has no equal when it comes to raw power and memory speeds.

If you are getting an upper end Nvidia card one of the main advantages you are receiving is the unmatched power that the architecture that Nvidia offers. The Titan X came on the scene in 2016 and whent for about ~$1,200.00 but the newly released GTX 1080ti came out in 2017 that offers an even higher score on 3DMark Fire Strike and comes at almost ~60%($700.00) of the cost of the Titan X. Just under the score of the Titan X in the Nvidia domain by way of power is the regular GTX 1080. The regular version of the 1080 comes at ~$530.00 or under half the cost and has about one fifth of the 3DMark scre of the Titan X. Nvidia still offer notably good budget cards(such as the GTX 1050 and the 1050ti) starting in the low $100s.

During the same time that the AMD HD4000 series was relevant, the GTX 200 series was being tested. In 2009 Nvidia saw the same fifty-fifty percent failure in the field as they did during testing, however, the results showed roughly 3% less over all failures. In recent years Nvidia reduced its overall failures to nearly 2.2% and only 0.64% occur in the field. In comparison to AMD's 2009 field failures(1.92%) you are much less likely to experience this from a Nvidia card.

Price To Performance

Now that we have explored the current and past standings of both Nvidia and AMD we can come to a few conclusions when setting a budget. There are generally Low, Mid-range and High end cards. Low end Cards generally are under $300 while Mid-range cards can be between $300-500. High end or enthusiast cards can be anywhere from $500 to a couple thousand dollars. Setting a budget will allow the customer to make a safe decision based off the specifications of each card in their price range.

Low settings vs Ultra settings

The maximum low end or budget cards that AMD(the RX 480) offer come to ~$250. In the same price range, we can find an Nvidia GTX 1060 that would offer less price to performance. In the lower end of the cheaper cards we can compare the Nvidia GTX 1050 and 1050ti to the AMD RX 460. The GTX 1050 and 1050ti sell MSRP for ~$105-125 and the RX 460 will cost $125. The difference in the 1050ti and the RX460 will be in the framerate. When the RX series was released the RX460 was the best in its price range but the newly released 1050ti will outperform the RX460 any day. If you really don't want to break $100, there is a $75 card offered by AMD that will be the best in its price range.

The maximum Mid-range card that AMD(R9 Fury) offers is sold at ~$368. Nvidia's Mid-range GTX 1070 offers ~10% higher performance for ~$50 more which is roughly the same ~10% increase in price as well as performance. The other models that AMD offers are a bit out dated and still hold their price but the performance falls below that of the R9.

The High end cards are the most expensive and elite of each series that arrives with every new generation of AMD and Nvidia. The maximum priced High end Nvidia card on the market is the Titan X which costs ~$1200. This was an amazing card for 2016 but in 2017 the GTX1080ti was released. The card is ~$500 cheaper and delivers 90 points higher score in 3DMark Fire Strike. AMD released an AMD Radeon Pro Duo that was priced ~$200 above the Titan and showed less performance. Recently the card has dropped by nearly half the price to be relevant in the wake of the GTX1080ti.

Conclusion

We can draw many conclusions from the evidence on hand. There is not a superior brand of graphics card. Nvidia and AMD both have strengths as well as weaknesses. When a customer is on a budget it is much wiser to purchase an AMD card. Once you get past the $410 budget, Nvidia dominates the upper end of all performance cards. It all depends on the customers economic standing whether to buy AMD or make the leap to Nvidia.