AMD vs Nvidia: Who Makes the Best GPUs?

AMD vs Nvidia. If you’re building a gaming PC, you’ll inevitably be faced with choosing between the two GPU heavyweights. Both companies make GPUs that power the best graphics cards, fighting for supremacy in our GPU benchmarks hierarchy. AMD vs Nvidia isn’t the only decision you’ll need to make when building a PC, of course. You’ll also need to choose between AMD vs Intel CPUs. Our focus here will be on graphics, however, and we’ll be looking at performance, features, drivers and software, power and efficiency, pricing and more.

The AMD vs Nvidia flame wars have been cooking since the late 90s, with Nvidia currently leading in the GPU arena by many metrics. Its graphics cards account for the majority of GPUs on the Steam Hardware Survey, for example, and in terms of pure finances, Nvidia is worth roughly three times as much as AMD (with a large chunk of AMD’s resources devoted to CPUs).

But we’re not interested in the distant past or finances. We want to find a winner in the current battle of AMD vs Nvidia GPUs. That primarily means looking at AMD Big Navi and Nvidia Ampere graphics cards — and maybe one of these days, we’ll even need to add Intel Arc into the mix.

It’s important to keep the big picture in view throughout this analysis. We’re not just focusing on the fastest GPU, or the most power-efficient GPU, or the best bang-for-the buck GPU. We’ll consider all of the factors in each category, from budget to mid-range to high-end and extreme GPUs, along with the tech behind the GPUs. We will declare a winner today, but of course this isn’t the end of the war. It’s more like owning the heavyweight GPU title: A victory today doesn’t mean your opponent won’t come back leaner and meaner next year.

With that preamble out of the way, let’s pull out the boxing gloves and go the rounds with AMD vs Nvidia.

AMD vs Nvidia: Gaming Performance 

For decades, faster GPUs have enabled game developers to create increasingly detailed and complex worlds. While you can find everything from budget GPUs to high-end offerings from both AMD and Nvidia, when it comes to outright performance, Nvidia has a slight overall lead thanks to the chunky GeForce RTX 3090 Ti.

Beyond the pole position, however, it’s a closer match. If you look at our GPU benchmarks hierarchy, you’ll see that AMD’s RX 6950 XT owns the top spot at 1080p and 1440p, and Nvidia only wins at 4K or in ray tracing games. Of the top ten fastest GPUs, four are AMD and six are Nvidia, but part of that is thanks to quantity rather than truly different GPUs — the RTX 3080 12GB takes a bit of RTX 3080 Ti and a bit of RTX 3080 and mixes them together into a card that ended up matching the 3080 Ti at a lower price point.

Of course, the main benchmarks only look at games running APIs and settings that work on all GPUs, which means we haven’t included ray tracing or DLSS in the results. We also haven’t included any FSR results, and CPU bottlenecks certainly play a role at lower resolutions. Here’s the updated 2022 performance rankings, showing the overall performance from eight games and four settings/resolutions combinations four our standard test suite, and four more charts for our ray tracing suite that uses six complex DXR (DirectX Raytracing) games.

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