For years a battle has raged in the graphics card market over which company makes the better product, AMD or NVIDIA. With every new product release, each company attempts to one-up the other and claim a new level of dominance. Rinse and repeat. The reality is that each company makes a good product and that “better” is a subjective term to gamers. Different needs require different cards, and different budgets mean performance is going to vary. So let’s take a look at the current GPU landscape and see which dedicated graphics card is best for your wallet.
Budget – Under $200
Depending on how you look at it, claiming victory in this price range is either the most difficult or the easiest. Building a gaming PC on a budget that can play a variety of the latest games has long been a challenge. When you consider that most of your budget is going to a graphics card, it is a tough decision.
If your budget is right around the $200 price point, you won’t find a better option than the RX 590. Let there be no question, this card is an outstanding buy. Build a PC gaming rig properly, and you will be able to play some of the latest AAA titles on the market at 1080p. Push a little harder on the card, and you get to see what 4K performance looks like on a budget-friendly price tag. Thanks to the dual fans and cooling technology, 4K gaming isn’t impossible, but keep an eye on the temperature to make sure you don’t overheat. And if you want to try your hand at virtual reality gaming, this card is ready out of the box.
Compared to our most recent favorite in this price range, the GTX 1050 Ti, the GTX 1650 is a considerable improvement. Pairing nicely with any G-Sync monitor and with solid frame rates for 1080p gaming, it’s a power-efficient chip that’s worth every penny. The Zotac model adds improvements in the cores and clock speed as well as faster memory. That it doesn’t require any extra external power supply to run means you will save on electricity while still playing some modern AAA titles.
At the end of the day, the AMD RX 590 comes out swinging and provides a much more compelling price-to-feature argument.
Mid-Range – $200 To $350
If you are comfortable with a little tweaking to get maximum performance, you cannot do any better in this price range than the AMD RX 5700. Anything short of the most demanding AAA title will fly with an average of 60-90fps thanks to 8GB of video memory. It will not come as any surprise that this card easily handles 60 to 90 frames per second for any modern game running at QHD. It is a surprisingly capable card for the price, and with a modification here or there, it will fly.
Like its AMD rival, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is a formidable competitor under the $350 price tag. Offering performance that can often rival its more expensive siblings, Nvidia packed this card with plenty of performance. You can throw any 1080p game at it, and it will smile and just keep going. One of the best aspects is that it has some of the best cooling technology on the market. Add that to a strong overclocking potential, and it is destined for the winner’s podium.
Winner: Too Close to Call
This is one category that really is too close to call. Nvidia pulls out all the stops with phenomenal cooling technology, but the AMD pulls ahead ever so slightly on performance. You can’t go wrong with either graphics card.
High End – $350 to $500
Setting the bar for under $500 performance is the AMD RX 5700 XT. Third-party gaming tests show around 30 percent better overall performance than its Nvidia 2060 Super rival. That gap is hard to ignore, especially when you are at a price point where eSports gaming is really blowing up. There is no question that the purchase of this GPU gets you dangerously close to high-end GPU performance, and that alone makes it a winner.
At this price point, you are starting to think about 1440p gaming, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super delivers. There is a lot to like here with a competitive price point and a card-build that actually looks good. You are not quite ready to tackle every AAA title, but there is more than enough power to handle both eSports and premium titles with power to spare. If consistent performance is at the top of your wish list, this card belongs on your Amazon wish list.
AMD pulled out all the stops with the 5700 XT, and the performance speaks for itself. You will pay a little bit extra over the NVIDIA option, but for that extra cost, you are getting much more performance.
No Limits – $500+
Unfortunately for AMD, once you start looking at the $500 and above pricing segment, things get a little dim. The company simply isn’t competitive compared to its Nvidia rivals at the higher end of the spectrum. Simply stated, AMD is not playing at this level. Our previous roundup highlighted the RX Vega 64, but it is hard to recommend that over the newer AMD 5700 XT and its strong performance for the money. The hope is that one day AMD will enter this end of the market and push the competition ahead as they have done at the lower and middle price segments.
As AMD struggles at the high-end, Nvidia is more than happy to pick up the pieces. If money is no object, pick up the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, the current king of the graphics card market. Throw any AAA game of your choosing at this GPU, and it will not slow down. There is no question that if you want to dive headfirst into virtual reality gaming or experience 4K graphics, this is the card for you. Aside from gaming, this card is ideal for anyone who wants to try their hand at 3D modeling. For anyone who cares about extreme performance, you cannot do any better. Your friends or family will be full of jealousy as you seamlessly play the best PC gaming has to offer.
It is hardly surprising that Nvidia comes out as the winner with no entry from AMD. Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Ti is an outstanding card and would be a fierce competitor to a comparable AMD offering. It is just that good.
In the dedicated graphics card market, the competition is heavy and that is a good thing for consumers. Both the lower end and mid-range portions have a fantastic level of competition. Once the dominant giant in the space, Nvidia is not content to sit and watch AMD pass them by. AMD has done a great job at jumping back into the space with some excellent options. For example, PC gaming sites agree the RX 580/590 series offers fantastic value and performance.
However, even as individual AMD cards can offer best-in-class performance, that isn’t the story overall. Thanks to its sheer volume of offerings, Nvidia remains the graphics card champion. There are strong recommendations at nearly every price point. That is good news for consumers who can often find these cards discounted from a variety of retailers.
Need to make a purchase today? You cannot go wrong with any of the graphics cards mentioned in each category. That might not make your decision any easier, but competition is always a good thing.