Nvidia vs AMD: which should be your next graphics card?

While console gaming sees the rivalry between PS4 Pro vs Xbox One X, PC gamers are equally zealous about the conflict of Nvidia vs AMD, the two top  graphics card companies . Unfortunately, if you don’t pledge brand loyalty to either of these companies, it’s easy to get left behind in the arms race between these two. 

As 2017 comes to a close, competition in the GPU space is especially heated. The Nvidia GeForce 10 series, based on the Pascal architecture, debuted in May of last year and is showing no signs of stopping. After all, the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti just came out, so we wouldn’t count on seeing the next-generation Volta cards until 2018 at the earliest – and Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has said as much 

On the other end of the spectrum, AMD has Vega. Serving as the long-awaited follow-up to the Fury-riddled Polaris architecture of years past, the Advanced Micro Devices company’s latest graphics cards have only been out since August of this year. 

So with both options here to stay, let’s take a look at the differences they both offer – from their initial costs, to the performance they exhibit, to their software and features, drivers and the often messily conceived exclusivity deals you’ll find out there.

nvidia vs amd

There are graphics card choices for days

Price

We’ve all been on Reddit (or, at the very least, read the comments section on a tech website before). AMD is widely known for its affordability, for better or for worse. But are the rumors true? 

Well, certain benchmarks would lead us to believe that the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56, which sells for $419 on Amazon (about £320, AU$543) right now, is a better performer than the $449 (about £344, AU$582) Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070. Admittedly, this isn’t a massive price difference, but it is indicative of what you can expect from both Nvidia and AMD at the mid-range.

Go higher and you’ll find that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 is most comparable to the AMD Radeon Vega 64. At an MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) level, both of these cost about the same. This is, of course, intentional on both companies’ parts. 

After revealing its 4K-focused GTX 1080 Ti earlier this year, the Green Team was keen on dropping the price of the 1080 in the process. So that card went from an MSRP of $599 down to $499. Before long, AMD was putting the Vega 64 onto store shelves at the same price. 

Across the board, AMD and Nvidia graphics cards both cost about the same relative to their respective performance benchmarks. Our pick of the best graphics card overall, the GTX 1060, is exactly the same price as the AMD Radeon RX 580, and in the budget space, the RX 560 can be found for the same price as the GTX 1050. 

Ultimately, who has the better price is more dependent on where you can find a heavy discount. We’d suggest holding off for Black Friday for the most savings.

nvidia vs amd

Performance

When you’re trying to build a PC that’s more powerful than your arch-enemy’s, buying a graphics card isn’t a matter of price but performance. Packing the best performance for the lowest cost is the arguably the most pertinent factor in driving GPU sales. 

In recent years, AMD fans have lauded the Red Team for doing exactly that, but we’re not convinced they’re right anymore. Instead, bearing in mind the price parity that the two companies have loosely achieved, we digress, Nvidia is killing it. That’s even the case if you ignore that AMD has yet to produce a contender to the GTX 1080 Ti. 

To be fair, Vega has only been available for a few months now, and there was no GTX 1080 Ti equivalent at Pascal’s launch either. Still, the GTX 1080 shows the RX Vega 64 up in several different areas, such as multi-rendering and NBody calculation, whereas the RX Vega 64 is better at rendering texture details and complex shading. 

In other words, AMD and Nvidia are so close at this point that which is better is more of a matter of what games you play and at what resolution. As we reported back in October, the Vega 64 is a better match for Forza Motorsport 7 at 1080p. At the same time, Nvidia’s flagship GPU managed the frame rate advantage in 4K. 

This trend continues down the list of cheaper graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia, including the RX Vega 56, which sees higher frame rates than the GTX 1070 Founders Edition in DirectX 12-heavy games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (91 fps vs 89 fps and 40 fps vs 31 fps, respectively), according to PCGamesN

Throw a Grand Theft Auto V into the mix, however, and we’re talking 64 fps on the RX Vega 56 vs 79 fps from the GTX 1070.

Software, drivers and features

One key draw to using Nvidia hardware over AMD is the Green Team’s GeForce Experience software. 

Because it delivers driver updates and optimizes games in addition to letting you broadcast gameplay and capture screenshots as well as videos directly from its easy-to-use interface, Nvidia GeForce Experience is posited as the one PC gaming application to rule them all. 

Meanwhile, AMD’s newly announced Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition aims to overtake Nvidia’s solution.. Previously known as Crimson ReLive, the latest re-skinned update of AMD’s graphics application is stacked with all of the features you’ve grown accustomed to since the UI was massively overhauled back in July, but with the benefit of more consistent updates driver updates to account for every major game release.

As of December 2016, you could already livestream via Radeon Crimson ReLive, but now you can take safety measures to ensure maximum power efficiency while you’re gaming. That includes the ability to underclock memory frequencies, cap frame rates on a hardware level and enable “Enhanced Sync” to decrease frame stutter while it simultaneously combats screen tearing.

Nvidia vs AMD

Still, GeForce Experience has the game optimization features we’re all crazy for. So when you don’t know what settings are best for your computer in The Witcher 3, Nvidia takes care of the heavy lifting for you. 

AMD users can download and install Raptr’s Gaming Evolved tool to optimize their gaming experience. However, the add-on is less than ideal considering its biggest rival’s audience can accomplish nearly everything from within GeForce Experience. That includes using Nvidia Ansel to take way cool in-game photos at resolutions exceeding 63K (16 times that of which a 4K monitor can display).

Nvidia also has a leg up when it comes to streaming games whether it’s to another gaming PC with at least a Maxwell-based GPU, as well as the company’s self-made tablets and set-top box. Not to mention, Nvidia also has a cloud-based gaming service call GeForce Now available to Windows 10 and MacOS users.

Exclusivity

It was once rumored that AMD and Nvidia were enacting shady tactics, “paying off” game developers to show preferential treatment towards one or the other. Were this the case, it would certainly explain why certain games run better using GeForce graphics than Radeon and vice versa. 

Fortunately, we don’t see these concerns from PC gamers as much anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. 

Following its Capsaicin & Cream livestream event at GDC 2017, we spoke with AMD its to discuss its strategy in contending with Nvidia. The news that the company would partner with Bethesda Softworks to optimize its games for Radeon, Ryzen or both was worrying to say the least. And it still is. 

At the time, the potential for games operating more smoothly on AMD systems meant that Nvidia could fight back by partnering with an equally large publisher. Although the latter maneuver hasn’t happened yet, early Wolfenstein II performance comparisons, such as this one from TechEpiphany on YouTube have exhibited better performance and lower temps coming from the AMD Radeon RX 64 when pitted against Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1080.

We’re not saying there’s a bias towards AMD in Bethesda’s technical design decisions, however we aren’t ready to take off our tin foil hats quite yet either.

Of course, Bethesda is hardly the only company to show favoritism to either team red or green. If you ever see an AMD or Nvidia splash screen ahead of the title page when you start a game, you can bet it will run better with that company’s hardware.

So, which is better? Neither

There’s so much to love, and in some instances “dis-love,” about both Nvidia and AMD graphics. In the end, both of these companies rely on competition with each other to thrive. Suffice to say, the Nvidia vs AMD debate requires that you understand there’s a reason Radeon and GeForce GPUs are so similar in performance right now. 

Each company is doing its best to keep up with the mindshare of the other, and that’s good for us. They’re basically fighting for our money, learning from each other’s mistakes and legislating marked improvements along the way. 

It’s up to you who wins the fiery contest of Nvidia vs AMD, although we will say this: Nvidia is unmatched in the 4K market right now. If it helps any, the GTX 1080 Ti is your best bet if you want your PC to keep up with the likes of your Ultra HD display. Otherwise, Nvidia and AMD graphics cards are about the same, at least for the time being.

  • These are the best PC games you can play right now

Google’s new DIY kit for Raspberry Pi lets you build your own smart camera

Following the release of its voice control kit earlier this year, Google has produced a new DIY kit for the Raspberry Pi which lets hobbyists turn the compact board into a computer vision system – or in layman’s terms, a smart camera capable of recognizing stuff.

The AIY (do-it-yourself AI) Vision Kit consists of a VisionBonnet circuit board, a lens kit, a button and speaker, along with a cardboard outer case and various connecting bits and pieces (including a tripod mounting nut).

When combined with a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a Raspberry Pi Camera, plus an SD card (and power supply), the user can build their own powerful computer vision system which has no need to hook up to the cloud for extra processing power. It’s a fully self-contained cardboard box of tricks.

The time for assembling the kit is estimated at around an hour.

Recognizing the benefits

It comes with software that can pull off feats like successfully recognizing common objects from a database, and recognizing human faces and their expressions (happy, sad, confused-why-are-you-pointing-that-camera-at-me, that sort of thing).

There’s a third piece of software (all of these utilize TensorFlow-based neural network models) which can be used as a person, cat or dog detector.

So, for example, you could set up a system that detects when a person enters the room, or when your pet appears at the back door, wanting to be let in because it has started raining.

The AIY Vision Kit will be unleashed at the end of this month, retailing at $45 (around £33, AU$60) in the US, with pre-orders now live over at Micro Center.

As we mentioned previously, Google also released an AIY Voice Kit back in May, which has many uses including potentially driving a voice-powered robot, or making your own digital assistant. That’ll set you back £25 (around $34, AU$45) over at Pimoroni.

The Raspberry Pi is nothing if not versatile, and has even been used – in very large quantities – to build a ‘supercomputer’ of sorts.

Via: The Verge

  • Wondering what else you can do with your Raspberry Pi? Check out our projects

Online game from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds dev let players send malware via in-game chat

Here’s something new (and very worrying) in the world of online gaming: Tera, an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online RPG) produced by the same developer responsible for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, had its in-game chat shut down over the weekend following revelations that it could be used as a medium to spread all sorts of malicious nastiness including viruses.

Developer Bluehole launched Tera back in 2011 in South Korea, and it followed to North America and Europe in 2012. It’s an online RPG with combat that plays out like an FPS, but panic struck over the weekend when the game servers were brought down for emergency maintenance to fix a gaping chat-related vulnerability.

Players themselves actually highlighted the flaw in Tera’s chat system, which apparently utilizes HTML, and could reportedly be exploited to bombard other players with dodgy images or links, collect user IP addresses, or even remotely execute malware.

As if MMORPG public chat channels weren’t toxic enough already.

The game’s North American publisher, En Masse, noted at the time: “There are very serious claims floating around of what this vulnerability potentially allows malicious users to do. We are taking these claims very seriously but, as of this time, we have no evidence that the vulnerability is being exploited in these ways or that any player information has been compromised.”

Fixing a hole

En Masse investigated the issue in conjunction with Bluehole, resulting in all chat being disabled save for guild chat last Friday, with the fix subsequently being deployed on Saturday at around 8:00 PST time in the US. Gameforge, the EU publisher, applied the fix on Friday at 16:00 UK time, a day earlier.

So the issue was dealt with fairly swiftly, as you’d hope, although by all accounts players had their game settings reset by the hotfix. Still, better that than a surprise virus arriving via a chat channel…

This is definitely a bit of an eye-opener and a cautionary tale for developers everywhere, for sure, in terms of security considerations when it comes to in-game systems.

And of course it’s particularly interesting that while Tera is hardly a big-name game, its developer is a big fish these days, and the force behind the juggernaut PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Via: Engadget

  • Your online gaming will run more smoothly with one of our best graphics cards

Nvidia CEO believes AMD has suffered a ‘great loss’ and Intel is playing GPU catch-up

Nvidia just posted some impressive financial results, and the company is certainly in a buoyant mood, with the CEO taking the time to divulge his thoughts on the recently-revealed AMD and Intel partnership in laptop CPUs, as well as the defection of a key executive from the former to the latter.

The Q3 fiscal results were certainly strong, with Nvidia notching up a record revenue of $2.64 billion (around £2 billion, AU$3.45 billion), an increase of a third compared to a year ago. The firm made big gains with data centers, but surprisingly also experienced a big jump in gaming revenue with a 25% increase year-on-year – flying in the face of analysts’ expectations.

After boasting of bulging coffers, chief executive Jensen Huang talked on the subject of Raja Koduri leaving AMD to become Intel’s senior VP of the Core and Visual Computing Group, with a remit to deliver ‘high-end discrete graphics’. Yes, discrete graphics solutions, not integrated (on-processor) affairs.

As Tom’s Hardware reports, Huang commented: “Yeah, there's a lot of news out there… first of all, Raja leaving AMD is a great loss for AMD, and it's a recognition by Intel probably that the GPU is just incredibly important now.

“The modern GPU is not a graphics accelerator, we just left the letter ‘G’ in there, but these processors are domain-specific parallel accelerators, and they are enormously complex, they are the most complex processors built by anybody on the planet today.”

He goes on to point out that this is exactly why “every major server around the world has adopted Nvidia GPUs.”

Graphic detail

So, there are a couple of things here. First of all, and obviously enough, it’s not surprising that the Nvidia CEO wants to paint Koduri’s departure as a bad thing for AMD, and AMD’s graphics cards, in terms of it being a ‘great loss’.

Also, on the Intel side of the equation, Huang focuses on the company’s need to drive forward with graphics processors as a critical one. And this likely reflects the fact that the mentioned discrete GPUs Intel talked about in its press release welcoming Koduri into the fold is more about targeting heavyweight arenas such as AI and machine learning, rather than anything to do with gaming.

In other words, Intel doing discrete graphics is certainly big news that will make big waves, but not in terms of consumer graphics cards.

Note that Intel has tried its hand at discrete graphics cards in the past – or had brief flirtations would perhaps be a better way of putting it – but you get the sense that it’s truly a serious drive this time around.

Furthermore, Huang took time to comment on AMD and Intel teaming up to make laptop processors with integrated AMD graphics, news which broke earlier this week.

His somewhat rambling comment on the matter was: “And lastly, with respect to the chip that they [Intel and AMD] built together, I think it goes without saying, now that the energy efficiency of Pascal GeForce and the Max-Q design technology and all of the software we have created has really set a new design point for the industry, it is now possible to build a state of the art gaming notebook with the most leading edge GeForce processors, and we want to deliver gaming experiences many times that of a console in 4K and have that be in a laptop that is 18mm thin.

“The combination of Pascal and Max-Q has really raised the bar, and that's really the essence of it.”

In short: Nvidia’s rivals need to do something, because the firm’s latest advances with Max-Q are pushing the notebook graphics envelope so much.

Strong words all round then, but given its current form, Nvidia is unlikely to be short of confidence. Particularly when looking to a future in which graphics processors are key to the likes of supercomputers and cutting-edge fields such as AI and machine learning.

  • These are the best graphics cards you can buy in 2017

Best monitor 2017: the top 10 monitors and displays we’ve reviewed

Even if you’re not the type to drop thousands of dollars just because the newest piece of tech came out, and you just have to have it, there are still plenty of reasons to pick up one of the best monitors. Out of all of the different components that go into a computer, the monitor is the only one you’re forced to look at all day. And it doesn’t matter if you’re working or just surfing the web, you shouldn’t have to subject yourself to a subpar display that makes you squint just to read your best friend’s Facebook post.

The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to have deep pockets to get your hands on one of the best monitors. You might not be able to pick up an ultra wide curved monitor for a couple hundred, but you can get high quality standard monitors that won’t hurt your bank account. A lot of them do sport high resolutions and refresh rates, though, and even the ones that don’t are so cheap they’re practically impulse buys.

But, we hear you. There are tons of monitors out there, from more manufacturers than you’d care to name. We get it. That’s why we’ve taken the time to compile a list of the 10 best monitors you can buy today. Each one of these has been rigorously tested and reviewed here in-house so you know that their inclusion on this list is earned. We’re not here to waste your time, we want to help you out.

  • BenQ PD3200U
  • AOC Agon AG352UCG
  • Acer Predator X34
  • Asus MG248Q
  • Acer S277HK
  • BenQ Zowie XL2540
  • LG 34UC79G-B
  • Asus ROG Swift PG248Q
  • Philips S-Line 243S7EHMB

Now that computers are equipped with the encoding technologies that can natively display at the intended resolution, 4K monitors are in increasingly high demand. That explains why BenQ has added the PD3200U, a massive 32-inch Ultra HD display, to its Designer Monitor range. Intended for worker bees, the company has, seemingly by mistake, crafted a screen that gamers can enjoy wholeheartedly as well, so long as they can fit it on their desks. Then again, given the comparatively sluggish 4ms response time, the PD3200U is best suited for creators. 3D designers, for instance, will be grateful for the inclusion of a CAD/CAM mode, while everyone else will revel in the factory-calibrated color accuracy and Rec. 709 adherence. 

Read the full review: BenQ PD3200U

The Agon AG352UCG from AOC is proof that an ultrawide display doesn’t have to be limited in resolution or extended functionality. In fact, this 21:9 IPS panel prides itself on its stately 3,440 x 1,440 resolution and G-Sync capabilities. That’s right, when paired with an Nvidia graphics card, this monitor uses G-Sync to eliminate screen tearing without adding stress to your PC hardware. What’s more, you can expect better response times from the AOC Agon than with its closest competitors, meaning lower latency in games like Overwatch or Lawbreakers that rely on faster pacing. The only downside is that the AOC Agon is rather bulky. Weighing in at 26 pounds (11.8kg) total, you’ll want to be sure your desk can support it.

Read the full review: AOC Agon AG352UCG

Display

When the classic 16:9 aspect ratio fails you, nothing does the trick like a cinematic, 21:9 display. Although it’s not ideal for streaming TV shows or playing one of myriad games that don’t support it, the Acer Predator X34 is a model example of what an ultra-wide screen should be. Flaunting an eye-catching aluminum bezel and a polygonal stand that resembles a crow’s foot, this massive 34-inch panel is a spectacle to behold. What’s more, armed with Nvidia’s G-Sync frame-smoothing tech, you don’t have to worry about enabling VSync and stressing out your graphics card. The Acer Predator X34 does all the heavy lifting for you. Save for the ho-hum speakers and missing ports, this is about as immersive as a gaming monitor gets.

Read the full review: Acer Predator X34

best monitor

If your PC can't swing 1440p or 4K gaming, the Asus MG248Q is the next best thing. Despite exhibiting a mere 1080p twisted-nematic, or TN, panel rather than IPS, the Asus MG248Q makes up for any shortcomings with lightning fast response times and Adaptive Sync. The latter reduces screen tearing if you have an AMD graphics card, a clear demonstration that the MG248Q tailors to the budget gamer. On the other hand, even Nvidia fans can rejoice at the 144Hz refresh rate. But, without the right GPU equipped, you might be better off saving for the G-Sync equivalent Asus ROG Swift PG248Q. 

Read the full review: Asus MG248Q

Best monitor

You’ll normally shell out an arm and a leg for a 4K display, but that’s not the case with Acer’s S277HK. In terms of pricing, this bezel-less beauty hits the sweet spot. With a 1,000,000,000:1 contrast ratio, a color gamut of 1.07 billion and a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, the Acer S277HK is better seen than heard about. Unfortunately, because of the way Acer designed it, there’s no way to mount it onto a wall for everyone to appreciate, nor is the height adjustable. But, and this is a huge but, if you prioritize high pixel density, reasonable cost and “zero frame” over malleability, this is a monitor to shoot for.

Read the full review: Acer S277HK

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out an alternative in the similarly-specced BenQ EW2770QZ.

Depending on your budget, it might break the bank in classic Alienware fashion, but Dell’s 25-inch gaming monitor won’t let your screen tear. That’s because, whether you’re using an AMD or Nvidia graphics card, there’s a configuration designed with specifically you in mind. Taking away some of the heavy lifting away from the GPU that would otherwise be spent on VSync, a software technology that accomplishes a similar thwarting of screen tears, the Alienware 25’s 120Hz refresh rate might actually be viable. In that case, you can expect the screen to garner up to 120 frames-per-second, so long as your graphics card can handle it and it isn’t being bottlenecked by your CPU. The 1ms response time is merely a bonus.

Read the full review: Alienware 25 

You might not believe it at first glance, but the BenQ Zowie XL2540 is every bit the gaming monitor that the Asus Predator X34 is. And though it may not seem it from the outside looking in, it does its job remarkably well too, sacrificing dazzling lighting effects for a zippy 240Hz refresh rate and nigh-instantaneous 1ms response time. There’s no G-Sync or FreeSync, as this monitor assumes you already have a rig that’s plenty capable of eliminating screen tears on its own. Instead, this monitor keeps it simple by supplying you with lots of visual presets, an “S Switch” control pod for managing those presets and even a pair of adjustable light screens.

Read the full review: BenQ Zowie XL2540

If you’re running games using AMD- or Intel-based graphics and want to get into ultra wide displays without spending a fortune, this is the monitor to look out for. At 34 inches diagonally, the LG 34UC79G-B is equipped with AMD FreeSync for screen tear elimination and a 21:9 aspect ratio best suited for games and cinema. Despite the resolution being lower than a lot of other widescreen displays on the market, there’s no denying that the LG 34UC79G-B pulls off a crisp image nonetheless – and with stunning color accuracy at that. Plus, you can change the height, which is more than can be said for even some of the pricier 4K monitors available today.

Read the full review: LG 34UC79G-B

Display

If you care more about frame rate more than graphics or resolution, this one's for you. Because of its mind-blowing 180Hz refresh rate capabilities, the Asus ROG Swift PG248Q takes the 60fps gold standard for gaming and triples it – provided you're equipped with a rig that can handle the extra stress. While you're unlikely to enjoy Forza Horizon 3 at 180fps on Ultra settings given its high demand, a higher refresh rate is more than welcome in fast-paced, competitive games that don't necessarily depend on a wealth of resources. Plus, as one of the most affordable G-Sync displays on the market, it helps that you can rely on the monitor to prevent screen tearing, too.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Swift PG248Q

Not exactly glamorous or high-end when it comes to both specs and appearances, gamers and graphics professionals will wince at the Philips S-Line 243S7EHMB just before realizing it’s not for them. That’s because this monitor was crafted specifically with business users in mind. That’s right, this panel is designed to replace that old clunker of a screen you have set up in your office right now. And, with both VGA and HDMI connections intact, you can expect it to be compatible with virtually any PC – whether it’s brand-new or collecting dust. Plus, although it’s not enabled by default, Philips’ LowBlue mode makes this monitor pretty easy on the eyes too.

Read the full review: Philips S-Line 243S7EHMB

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus MG248Q.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

  • Get one of the best monitors on sale this Black Friday