Pro's and cons of Nividia and AMD- First Time Buyer Qs

So I decided to build my own PC, and I've worked my way through each component and now I'm down to the GPU.

What makes Nvidia different from AMD, and what are the pros and cons of each?

Please don't start a war here, I just want to be informed of the abilities of each card so that I can see which one would suit my rig more.

Along with that I would like to know what exactly G-synch does and the effect of Mantle of the performance of AMD cards.



Nvidia Pros:

- G sync

- Shadowplay

- Gamestream

- Streaming to Nvidia Shield

- PhysX

- 3D Vision

- Significantly better than AMD in applications that can use CUDA acceleration

- Lower power draw, heat, and noise levels (for the current generation GPUs, this could change in the future)

- Holiday Bundle which includes 3 free games (this won't be forever, obviously)

- Lower failure rate (I'm not being a fanboy, I'm making an observation based on a lot of the reviews I've seen on the Nvidia and AMD cards)

- Green


AMD Pros:

- Mantle

- More VRAM (better for higher resolution gaming)

- Wider Memory Bandwidth (also better for higher resolution gaming)

- True Audio

- Significantly better than Nvidia in applications that use OpenCL (Bitcoin and Litecoin mining for instance)

- Bundled with Battlefield 4 (this won't be forever, obviously)

- Red


 Now on to your questions about G-sync and Mantle.  G-sync is essentially a piece of hardware built into the monitor that syncs the monitor's refresh rate to the GPU's refresh rate, instead of the GPU's to the monitor's.  This essentially fixes the screen tearing issues that V-sync fixes, but it does so without causing input lag or stuttering.  It essentially makes the game super smooth, regardless of the frames per second you're getting.

Mantle on the other hand is low level hardware optimization for AMD graphics cards.  It should allow for much better performance from AMD cards in games the use Mantle, because the game code can interact directly with the GPU instead of going through a slow bottleneck like DirectX.  Unfortunately, no one has released any real world performance benchmarks for Mantle yet, so we don't know if it's going to be the massive game changer that AMD fans are hoping it's going to be, or if it'll just be another marketing gimmick.  I do have high hopes for it, and even if it doesn't bring significant performance increases, as long as it improves the performance a little, that's good.


Now as to which GPU to choose, that really depends on your price range and the games you play.  Some games run better on Nvidia cards, some run better on AMD cards.  The best way to decide to simply check out benchmarks for the cards in your price range, and make your decision based on that.  They're pretty much neck and neck at all price ranges, although the high end AMD cards are pretty much sold out right now because of Litecoin mining, so you may be forced to go with Nvidia at the moment simply do to the lack of availability of AMD cards.

Hope this helps!  Game on!

There man differences come down to games that are optimized, if you're a big BF4 guy then AMD is your go to guy, if you're more into the Elder Scrolls games I'd get a Nvidia as Skyrim is optimized for Nvidia cards. AMD has Mantle which we still don't have a lot of data on. Mantle is an API which is like Direct X. In theory the benefit from games that use the Mantle API will be improved framerate. Nvidia will have G-sync assuming you get a Kepler based Nvidia card. G-sync will make gaming at any framerate above 30 fps have a much nicer and cleaner feel i.e. 45 fps will actually be 45 vs. getting bumped down to 30 to accommodate v-sync. 

I feel that there is some mix-up here.

Mantle is NOT exclusive to AMD

Skyrim mods are found to work best with AMD drivers.


I wouldn't necessarily pick a GPU based on many of the closed features. I would just pick the best price/performance part and call it a day. Unless there is a specific need that is satisfied by either AMD or Nvidia. Or a specific game that works best with a AMD or Nvidia.

Agreed.  Those closed features are nice, but at the end of the day, the reason you're buying a graphics card is to display pretty graphics, so whichever card does that the best should be the card you choose.

Thanks the responses guys.

Right now I'm in a crux: 780ti or the 290x

I understand that the after-market 290x cards haven't come out yet but how much greater performance can they get for the reduced temperatures?

Am I better off just getting a 780ti?

780ti will most likely still be better.  But you could get 2 290's for 100 more and get massive performance gains on a 780ti (if memory serves potentially 190% comparatively).  Performance per dollar the 290 is one of the best cards right now.

While better cooling solutions have reduced the temps on the R9 cards, they don't have much more performance to give. So the 780ti might remain as the higher performing card, and it really does give incredible performance after overclocking.

I do have to ask; are you using a single 1080p monitor? Because I wouldn't be looking at these cards unless you're using 1440p or surround/eyefinity.

Many people disagree with me. But it is a serious misallocation of funds. I wouldn't advise someone to buy a GTX Titan and then use it to play on a 720p panel. Spend all of your money, if you wish. Just be sure to balance things appropriately.

Balance your GPU with your panel and your needs. You may be surprised to hear - as a first time buyer - that a 7870 could play 9/10 games on ultra 1080p.

More than 9/10. I don't own a game that doesn't run on ultra with a 7870. Granted, I don't play Crysis or BF4, so I can't say how it runs those, but damn near anything else is butter on a 200-dollar GPU these days.

also, the power draw difference between amd and nvidia is not a large as some would have you think...

other than that, it's pretty well covered here....

Yes, generally turning a light off somewhere in your house will more than make up the difference.

Personally i have to say that the 780ti and 290x aren't worth it for the price, i would go for the 780 or 290 instead.  I would wait though until you start seeing manufacturers work on non-refrence designs for the 290 series because that may be a HUGE game changer.  Personally you can't go wrong with either, but for the value i wouldn't get the best models simply because its a bigger price gap with less gain.  I'm trying to look out for you wallet.  NVidia around the corner mid next year has maxwell which is going to be big architecture change, we might see gk110 all across the board of their line up and 512-bit interfaces. Most likely as long as you stay with the gk110 design you'll be safe.

I have a 1080p monitor but I'm a bit of an FPS freak. I can't play a game unless its running 60 frames plus (and more than 100 if I'm playing a shooter of any kind).

So I'm trying to get the best performance card possible for a reasonable price.

Yeah, I think people underestimate cards like the 7870. It would struggle with a very very demanding game, but it can handle BF4 on ultra. I am really impressed with all these $150-250 cards that fall in that sweet spot. After that you start to pay more and get less in return.

That's understandable if you're competitive. But at 1080p, you can really get a lot of performance out of something like the 290. However, the 290 doesn't have third party coolers available at this time. I wouldn't blow money on a 780ti for 1080p. You can achieve what you want with a much cheaper card. 1080p gaming isn't the most demanding.

If you are prepared to wait I do think the 290 will suit your needs. The card itself is kind of geared towards 4k panels. But that extra performance will give you the high FPS you want at 1080p. Really good price/performance card. Just wait for the better cooling solutions that are due to be released.

Don't confuse the cards. The 290 is not the same as the 290x, but it performs nearly as well. Much cheaper option.

Would you recommend a water cooler for the 290? or 290x?

I can't say what I personally recommend. It seems that any cooling solution, including cheap air coolers, can knock about 20 degrees+ off the temps and take away much of the noise.

I have seen people use something similar to this. It could be the same cooler that they used and it works really well. Cheaper than a water cooler.

You'll be happy with the performance of something like a 280x or 770. Generally, the more you spend on a GPU the less you get in return. So if you're adamant that you want a 290, then you might consider the third party coolers that are being supported at retail in the coming month(s).

I really would like to upgrade to a late 7xxx series Radeon card.... Too bad it's next to impossible to snag one right now.

I used to own a couple of Radeons in the past, and the only downside was the really shitty bloated drivers. I don't know if that has been resolved in recent generation - and texture swapping pink triangles are now a long lost memory.

Price and actual hardware was a better deal than GeForce. I think NVidia knows their users will pay the brand name premium and they bank on it. I really hope AMD kicks some serious ass in next few generations.

That said I now buy GeForce exclusively, but only because the software I use works on their CUDA platform. If it used OpenCL my machine would be filled to the brim with AMD GPUs.

Its also really hard to get AMD graphics cards right now due to the mining boom.  Newegg has been raising pricing of AMD cards because of the boom as well.  To be honest though the whole AMD vs Nvidia is always a back and forth and you can justify the use of either card.  Best way to go is just go with a card that suits your individual needs.