Avast Academy Performance Hardware AMD vs. Nvidia: Which Is the Best GPU?

AMD vs. Nvidia: Which Is the Best GPU?

With AMD and Nvidia competing for top spot in the GPU market, there’s never been a better time to get great hardware to heighten your digital experience. Here’s how to find the right graphics card depending on your needs. And make sure to get the best performance out of your gaming rig with powerful optimization software.

Written by Anthony Freda
Published on December 8, 2022

AMD vs. Nvidia: What’s the difference?

The most basic difference between AMD GPUs and Nvidia GPUs is that Nvidia chips tend to be more powerful, especially at the high-end, while AMD cards offer better value at lower price points and a more friendly user interface.

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    AMD and Nvidia are the two biggest graphics card manufacturers, and they’ve been locked in an ongoing battle for GPU supremacy that has resulted in a wide selection of new processors on the market that cater to various consumer preferences, performance levels, and budgets.

    While there’s not much to separate their top-of-the-line products, AMD’s budget cards offer strong value at an affordable price.  At the mid-range level, the AMD vs. Nvidia graphics card comparison is difficult — there’s little to separate the two manufacturers. Regardless of whether you buy an AMD GPU or Nvidia, you’ll get a powerful GPU with plenty of functionality.

    AMD vs. Nvidia GPU: Prices

    Both AMD and Nvidia offer a wide range of models at various prices, but AMD GPU prices are more competitive (and more affordable) in the lower-to-mid range. While it’s possible to pick up a relatively cheap $200 AMD graphics card that matches the performance of significantly more expensive Nvidia competitors, Nvidia fares better with mid-tier and higher-end GPUs, where the level of features and performance typically offers the best performance for those who can afford it.

    But the best GPU for the price can only be determined with hands-on research into the performance specs of particular models. There are lots of comparison websites to help you make sure you’re getting a good deal, and some will even tell you the FPS that each card can achieve with specific games.

    AMD GPU vs. Nvidia: Gaming performance

    As well as underlying specs such as clock speed and video RAM (VRAM), you need to think about how individual GPU models balance texture quality and FPS for individual games. But choosing between AMD or Nvidia for your gaming rig can get complicated when you consider more advanced features.

    If you value enhanced graphics features for a fully-immersive experience, you may want to pay more to get Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology, which optimizes ray tracing — an AI-enabled rendering technique that can model light effects with breathtaking realism. AMD uses a similar technique called FSR, but it’s not yet able to deliver the ambience of sunlight cutting through fog and other atmospheric experiences quite so convincingly.

    An example of Nvidia's DLSS-enabled ambient light effects in 'Kingdom Come: Deliverance'Nvidia GPUs use a technique known as DLSS to model ultra-realistic ambient light effects.

    Are you fine with sacrificing ray tracing for increased framerate? You’re likely an online multiplayer gamer who wants to minimize lag at all costs. If so, you’ll want to go with an AMD card that costs significantly less than an Nvidia GPU with equivalent native performance.

    Even for single-player gaming, the fact that AMD GPUs tend to have more VRAM is a powerful argument for many gamers. Not only does this give you extra power for today’s games, but your computer will be ready when games inevitably get more technically demanding. An extra high-capacity VRAM AMD card will help future proof your hardware.

    Many gamers also prefer AMD’s control panel for its ease-to-use interface and ability to overclock your GPU. Just make sure to check you’re not overheating your CPU and other critical components when overclocking. And because AMD doesn’t update its graphics drivers as often as Nvidia does, that can lead to performance issues.

    AMD vs. Nvidia GPU: Adaptive sync

    As in other areas, AMD and Nvidia are pretty much neck-and-neck when it comes to adaptive sync — the ability to dynamically adjust the display refresh rate to match the GPU frame output. Nvidia’s G-Sync feature offers slightly better absolute performance, while AMD’s FreeSync tool is generally better value for your money.

    Testing has shown that Nvidia’s adaptive sync technology is able to achieve lower latency and higher-quality output. But to achieve the best results, an Nvidia GPU like the RTX 3060 Ti needs to be paired with a compatible monitor. This locks you into the combined price of the graphics card and monitor, and it means you can’t mix and match for the sake of your budget.

    AMD’s FreeSync lowers response times, but it can lead to ghosting. The differences between G-Sync and FreeSync are small, and because FreeSync-compatible hardware is more affordable, opting for Nvidia’s G-Sync could mean paying a lot more for only a small increase in performance.

    Nvidia’s G-Sync is still the gamers’ favorite due to its unbeatable raw performance. But among AMD’s other budget and compatibility advantages, its FreeSync feature is also supported on current generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

    AMD GPU vs. Nvidia: Laptop performance

    When it comes to GPUs designed for laptops, Nvidia is the clear market leader thanks to its ability to produce thinner, higher-performance cards at competitive prices. For this reason, most laptops come equipped with an Nvidia GPU.

    While you can get laptops with a Radeon RX 6800 or another AMD card, you’re more likely to find one with an Nvidia GPU such as the 1650 gtx, 3080 ti, or 6800 xt.

    Apple is in the process of transitioning their full lineup of MacBook products to Apple Silicon graphics hardware, but some legacy models are still equipped with third-party GPUs. Find out what graphics card your Mac has, and see if it can handle certain games by testing your MacBook’s performance.

    AMD vs. Nvidia: Which GPU is better?

    In terms of sheer state-of-the-art gaming luxury, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 ti is probably the best, but the card that’s right for you is just as likely to be AMD or Nvidia. You might decide to forgo Ultra HD or 4K definition, and use the money you saved to try out a slew of new games you’re interested in. Or maybe you want to get the highest clock speed possible within a certain budget ceiling.

    It’s hard to say whether Nvidia is better than AMD, because both brands have much to offer depending on your budget and performance needs. Both AMD’s and Nvidia’s top-end cards achieve similar performance results, but the “winner” isn’t necessarily the one with the best benchmark scores. You need to find a GPU that delivers the user experience you need, with the right balance between price and performance.

    One of AMD's top-end GPUs, the Radeon 6650 XT, installed in a PC.AMD’s Radeon 6650 XT is one of the most powerful graphics cards on the market.

    Alternatively, you might pick a specific Nvidia or AMD GPU based on how well it runs your favorite games. The beauty of building your own gaming PC is you get to choose every component. Nvidia and AMD’s rivalry means that you can find something that works for you — so long as you take the time to consider your needs and research your options.

    What is a GPU and what does it do?

    A GPU, or graphics-processing unit, is a powerful processor that handles the intensive, complex task of rendering graphics during gaming or video editing. Because they pack so much computing power into a single component, GPUs often have built-in fans to help prevent overheating.

    Although they’re primarily designed for graphics-related processes, GPUs can run multiple processing threads simultaneously, which makes them useful for machine learning and other sophisticated applications.

    Along with other PC specs, it’s important to check your graphics card to ensure it’s compatible with other hardware and can run your desired applications. No matter how quick your CPU is, or how well you optimize Windows 10 for gaming, with an underpowered GPU you probably can’t run a graphically-demanding game at a stable framerate.

    What is an AMD GPU?

    Ever since AMD acquired the graphics company ATI in 2006, they’ve been producing increasingly competitive GPUs, steadily eating into Nvidia’s market share. While AMD GPUs still lack the pristine ray tracing capabilities in all but their highest-end cards, AMDs mid-range GPUs offer excellent value for their cost. They make PC gaming a reality on smaller budgets, with minimal performance or visual compromise.

    As well as the ultra-powerful Radeon RX 6800, and incredibly popular budget graphics cards like the RX 6600, AMD GPUs are known for their user-friendly control panel and widely lauded for their insistence on keeping their technology open-source.

    What is an Nvidia GPU?

    Nvidia GPUs are still considered the gold-standard when it comes to graphics cards, and their ray tracing and anti-lag capabilities are second to none. But that’s a luxury you have to pay for, with the newly-released RTX 4080 costing as much as some entire PCs.

    But Nvidia isn’t just about premium products and state-of-the-art tech. Depending on your needs, you might find that a budget Nvidia card like the RTX 2060 suits you better than an AMD one — which is reflected by the fact that a large majority of Steam gamers use Nvidia graphics cards.

    Improve your PC’s performance with Avast Cleanup

    No matter which brand you have, AMD or Nvidia, make sure you get the best out of your GPU with optimization software like Avast Cleanup.

    Avast Cleanup clears out junk files and bloatware that might be weighing down your system and causing your gaming experience to lag. And thanks to automatic scheduled maintenance that fixes disk errors and registry issues, you’ll enjoy faster start-ups and processing speeds. Try Avast Cleanup today and keep your machine running optimally.

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    Anthony Freda