Are you planning to buy a gaming PC or build your own? If you are, you’ll have to decide what kind of graphics processing unit (or GPU) you want. There are several options available in the market but, if you take a closer look, you’ll see that there are two major choices: AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
If the names the sound familiar, it’s because these two companies have the biggest market shares in the graphics card industry. They have built a name and loyal fan bases for themselves and, as years go by, they’ve come up with innovative designs and high-quality products that have changed the gaming landscape.
What Exactly Are AMD and Nvidia?
You probably know the answer to this if you’re an avid gamer, but those who are new to the scene would probably wonder what these companies are all about. Basically, Nvidia and AMD (which stands for Advanced Micro Devices) are two companies that design and manufacture graphics cards as well as other kinds of hardware for smartphones, video game consoles, and gamingPCs. Over the years, they have released numerous GPUs that have innovative designs, excellent specs, and impressive performance.
AMD has worked with Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft and now provides the hardware for some of these companies’ video game console systems. This means that PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One owners who look under the hood will definitely see an AMDgraphics card in their gadgets. But these don’t mean, though, that Nvidia has been left behind. AMD may have a monopoly on the video game console market, but Nvidia is focusing on the desktop PC industry and seems to be doing a good job of it. In fact, as of 2014, the company had conquered 65 percent of the PC gaming market and gained a 15-percent increase on its GeForcegamingGPU revenues. This is an impressive figure considering that the PC market has been slowing down as a whole in the past years.
AMD and Nvidia: The Main Differences
Many experts point out that comparing AMD and Nvidia products can be a bit like comparing apples to oranges. This comes from the fact that the two companies have different approaches to processing graphics. AMD, for instance, adopts the “more is better” philosophy by installing small, simple stream processors in large quantities. Since they have numerous processors, AMD cards excel in handling many simple calculations at the same time. Nvidia, meanwhile, has the “less is more” approach and opts to install fewer but better-performing processors in its cards. These complex and highly capable processors make NvidiaGPUs better at doing more complicated calculations.
With these in mind, it’s obvious that the two companies have different things to offer to consumers. AMD packs high-performance equipment in cost-effective packages, making them a favorite of consumers who’d like to upgrade their gaming rigs but are on a tight budget. Nvidia, meanwhile, is known for offering its products at a higher price tag but make up for it by providing highly stable and reliable GPUs that consume less energy. These make it popular among gamers who are willing to pay top dollar to get the best possible equipment.
Because of these, it’s not always easy to compare AMD and Nvidia products and choose one that’s better than the other. Many gamers and computing experts point out that the best way to choose a GPU is to look at your specific needs and budget. If getting the best bang for your buck is your number one priority, for example, you might find that AMD is the best option. This comes from the fact that its products aren’t just offered at lower prices but also have quality hardware and often come bundled with the latest games. If reducing heat output and energy consumption are your main concerns, you’ll love the graphics cards offered by Nvidia. Of course, you need to consider the games that you love to play, as some titles are optimized for AMD while others work well in Nvidia systems.
The AMD-Nvidia Rivalry
Many gamers usually stick to either AMD or Nvidia and are loyal to their products (although there are some who don’t mind the brand as long as the GPU works well). In fact, if you browse through the web, you can find several forums where people argue over the merits of each company. Even your local computer technician or the computer shop clerk in your neighborhood might favor one company over the other.
The competition between these two brands doesn’t just stop at online debates and bickering between their loyalists. Despite the fact that AMD and Nvidia offer different kinds of graphics cards, the two companies do consider each other as rivals. In fact, over the years, their rivalry has become something of a back-and-forth never-ending table tennis game: sometimes, AMD gains a higher score when it releases a fast and cost-effective graphics card, then Nvidia takes the ball away when it launches a more powerful GPU.
In 1999, for example, Nvidia had the upper hand when it released the GeForce 256, a graphics card that had the fastest speed at the time and was the first one to have lighting capabilities. AMD bounced back a year later with the Radeongraphics card and, in 2002, with the Radeon 9700 Pro, which was the most powerful card at the time and was the first to have fully programmable shaders. Nvidia came up with the GeForce 6800 series in 2003, in which it introduced its multi-GPU SLI technology. Since then, the two companies have been in a constant race and continue to release new GPUs that leapfrog each other in terms of specs, price, and performance.
The competition between AMD and Nvidia hasn’t exactly been friendly. In fact, it came to a point where AMD accused Nvidia of being a “threat to gamers” because of its GameWorks program, which allows developers to use exclusive tools to improve game graphics. According to AMD, Nvidia was essentially hijacking the gaming industry since GameWorks can prevent the latest titles from performing well on AMD-powered systems. Nvidia denied this accusation, saying that they never restricted developers from getting access to AMD tools.
But, even if things haven’t exactly been peaceful, it’s important to note that the rivalry between the two companies is healthy enough. In fact, their desire to outperform each other has led to increasingly impressive innovations over the years. AMD and Nvidia may be striving to edge past each other, but it can’t be denied that their efforts have resulted to fast, powerful gaming systems that many consumers enjoy.