When you are looking around for a new video card, you quickly end up with two brands. That is why you may be wondering: Nvidia or AMD, which card is the best to buy? In this article, we take a look at the most recent developments around these two giants.
The state of Nvidia video cards
At the end of 2020, Nvidia came up with the latest generation of video cards. The underlying architecture was called Ampere. The products fall under the RTX 3000 series, replacing the RTX 2000 series.
The RTX 3080, RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti have now been launched, for around 800, 500 and 400 euros respectively, with higher numbers of course being more powerful cards. In February the RTX 3060 (without Ti) will follow for 320 euros. Nvidia has taken a big step per generation. For example, the RTX 3060 Ti is more powerful than the RTX 2080, and cheaper. The RTX 2080 was an 800 euro card, so the new 400 euro card does better. Good news for anyone who can spend 400 euros or more on a video card.
However, the release of a new generation is gradual, partly because a manufacturer cannot make enough chips in one go to supply the entire market. And partly because the company knows that impatient consumers who have doubts between two models will buy the more expensive one if you launch the cheaper version a little later.
Because Nvidia has had little competition for several years, especially in the higher segment, the company had the advantage of having more time and space to invest in new features instead of just more performance. For example, they have fully invested in Ray Tracing, with which you get nicer shadows and reflections in some games, and DLSS 2.0, with which the performance is considerably increased in some games.
They also have some advantages for streamers and content creators. Their NVENC encoder is superior and there is the Nvidia Broadcast for extra possibilities with your webcam or microphone. If you want to stream or use Adobe Premiere, an Nvidia card is the obvious choice.
The state of AMD video cards
Where AMD’s CPU division has been doing excellent for years with the Ryzen processors, it is slightly more difficult for their GPU division. For example, it had not really worked for several years to really put Nvidia to the test. At the end of 2020, this changed with the new Radeon RX 6000 series, because for the first time in times they could really compete in the top segment.
The Radeon RX 6800 beats the RTX 3070 in most games, and the RX 6800 XT approached the performance of the RTX 3080 for a little less money. Something we did not think possible until recently.
Since AMD’s launches came slightly after Nvidia’s, they faced a similar problem: there were no cheaper next-generation cards available yet. For example, the cheapest new-generation video card costs almost 600 euros, and a competitor in the lower segment will not follow until sometime this year. So now we can’t say how competitive AMD is in the mid-market segment.
Another problem is that AMD has had to focus enormously on competing on performance, which means that the company has to make up for it in terms of features. AMD also has Ray Tracing capability on board, but in practice the performance is still a bit behind that of Nvidia.
The extra features for streamers could also use some improvements. AMD must therefore rely purely on gaming performance. Given that last year’s performance really improved enormously, it is obvious that we will see real competition in the high-end segment again in the long run.
One of the biggest issues with the launch of both Nvidia and AMD’s latest cards turned out to be availability. Both parties saw all their tickets sold out immediately, resulting in hugely different prices.
Video cards that should cost 500 euros sold for 700 euros as if they were nothing. Where the store stock would normally normalize within a month or two, this was not the case last year. Both AMD and Nvidia hit unprecedented demand; to be expected given the amount of home workers and home sitters, plus the fact that both parties have released really great products.
Not every new generation was as interesting as the Radeon RX 6000 series and GeForce RTX 3000 series. We hope that the market will stabilize somewhat by the time of publication, but bear in mind the possibility that there may still be shortages or higher prices than suggested in the near future.
In a next article we will dive deeper into the different cards that are now on sale, and what the best purchase is within your budget.
Looking for a new video card? Then read our article: Buy video card in 2021