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The Best Graphics Cards for the Money: Nvidia & AMD GPUs tested and compared

By Steve · 45 replies
Nov 12, 2014
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  1. graphics cards nvidia amd price point gpu gaming best of

    It's been an eventful year for GPU releases with updated models and prices across all budgets from both AMD and Nvidia. After finally shipping the Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 late in 2013, AMD returned to rebadging parts in February with the R7 250X (essentially an HD 7770), followed by an overclocked HD 7850 (the R7 265) and then a clone of the two-year old HD 7950(the R9 280).

    We received something fresh with the R9 295X2 in April, but with pricing around $1,000 it was cheaper to buy two R9 290Xs for the same or better performance. Rounding out the year, AMD delivered its next-gen Tonga architecture in the R9 285, but the card was crippled by a 256-bit memory bus.

    Meanwhile, Nvidia had already shown off its next-gen tech in February with the unassuming GeForce GTX 750 series. However, it wouldn't be until 7 months later that things would get interesting with the GTX 970 and GTX 980. 

    With no more releases from either camp for the remainder of the year the competition will likely center on price. That's exciting news for those of you who have a shiny new GPU at the top of your Christmas list. Let's break down each price bracket to determine which company offers the best value product.

    Read the complete article.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. Great article. How about also comparing the use of these cards for daily photo-shopping and video editing for those of us who cant afford the higher end cards but use these affordable gaming cards for these tasks. Greatly appreciated....
    TheLastPanda likes this.
  3. Stash

    Stash TS Member

    I feel that waiting till the first quarter of next year is the best option here. AMD have yet to show us next gen stuff and purchasing anything at this time of the year may be a waste when one considers that in two months time new hardware will be coming about and could also potentially push current prices down further. For now, I will stick to my HD6850.
  4. veLa

    veLa TS Evangelist Posts: 824   +266

    So my year old GTX 770 still chugs along fine eh?
  5. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Posts: 1,970   +231

    Video and photo editing doesn't heavily rely on the GPU, unless you're doing 3D rendering or a lot of After Effects. These tasks are typically CPU bound.

    Personally I have an R9 290 and regularly use GPU-accelerated Premiere Pro to edit videos. While the app does use the GPU, it doesn't stress it out too much at all, especially compared to games.

    You'll be fine with pretty much every card listed in this article, and I doubt you'd see significant performance gains moving to a more powerful card
    Julio Franco and Arris like this.
  6. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,964   +2,334

    Good luck convincing someone dying to play CoD AW of upcoming games such as Far Cry 4 :)

    The R9 290 is so cheap now I can’t imagine you could go to wrong.
    GhostRyder likes this.
  7. Stash

    Stash TS Member

    You are correct there, these next gen games are killing my card, but for the most part, I am getting 1080P. Even now, I am tempted, but my gut keeps telling me to wait for the new tech. Its one of the reasons I haven't upgraded my HD6850 all of theses years. If you compare it to the 7850 and even R9 280... well, you get the picture right?

    But, alas, the time for DX12 has arrived along with fancy new stuff like tressFX, mantle and all of that fancy jazz so one must upgrade. Especially for that 1440p eye candy. he he he:cool::p;)
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,283

    I haven't got the funds right now to throw around on upgrades so my GeForce RIVA TNT2 is going to have to suffice for AC Unity, I mean it's capped at 30 fps so it shouldn't be a problem, right? :p
    Seriously though, I'll wait until AMD drops it's next crop of cards on us and nVidia throws it's mid range models in our faces then take another look see, until then my GTX 770 does just fine at 1080p, there's no hurry.
  9. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,832   +191

    Can never wait on new tech gear to be better than current tech. If prices are lower now then new tech will cost more. If you buy best tech now then next model will be better. So you can't win at their game. So but what you feel is the best now. If your billionaire, you can always spend more and more on the best tech each year, which will make you happy. Others might not care to have the best tech. Technically speaking what you have today will serve you well.
  10. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,832   +191

    You make a solid point here. It's all about money. Right now what I have is working for me. I am in 1080p really don't seen the need to spend more on 4K hardware. Thus you spend more money just to have 4K which most people I know are not buying into it. By the time 8K gets to consumers 4K will be like 1080p is today.

    Online gaming for most is 1080p yet those with 4K hardware might find only a handful that supports 4K.
  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 10,774   +4,587

    I'm not even gaming at 1080P and perfectly happy about it.
  12. I am not sure about some of your results. While it is okay to focus only on the raw performance, I think the power consumption is very important. This is especially the case when building a small-form computer that simply cannot fit the power supplies necessary to feed the Radeons. Heck, think about the money you save on electricity bills!

    I think in that respect the GTXs have an edge over the AMD cards.
  13. Seventh Reign

    Seventh Reign TS Booster Posts: 131   +65

    Sorry, but no. There is something wrong with these 'benchmarks'. I own both the GTX 760 and the R9 280, and the 760 blows the 280 away. It isnt even close. Maybe there was something wrong with your test card.
  14. Just picked up an OC PNY GTX 760 for $185 off of Amazon with no rebates. Works greats and more then I need for 1680x1050 gaming. Replaced my GTX 560ti which was doing fine but it's hard not to give into the price for the 760 at the time. I also find it silly as people just give into AMD/Nvidia/developers constant updates for games that really don't have better graphics. The games may be more graphic demanding but once you turn down all that useless nonsense you can still play modern games on older video cards unless you really think having water glimmering and hair strands blowing in different directions makes or breaks a game.
  15. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Booster Posts: 168   +11

    You can pick up an R9 280 for $200 and an R9 280x for $230 in Canada.
  16. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Booster Posts: 168   +11

    At what resolution? Overall the R9 280 (Radeon 7950 Boost) and GTX 760 are about equal with the GTX 760 looking better at low resolutions and the R9 280 better at higher resolutions.
  17. what money will you be saving on 15w difference? Let me answer that for you;

    1. Look at the peak load system power chart from the techspot review
    2. Two systems at peak load of 323w & 340w gaming for four hours per day for one year (I.e. no life) with the average cost of kwh in the USA at 8.5 would save a person......$2.11 in one year. Tha would not even buy one medium cup of DD coffee for me. So in ten years the user would save just over $20.
  18. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,283

    There's no need to, as long as you're happy with what you have is all that matters. I bought a 1080p monitor long before I bought a 1080p TV and the only reason I bought one was because my 15 year old 74cm 4:3 CRT TV was no longer economical to repair, if it was I'd probably still be using it.
    Oh yes, new tech is always nice but I've never been in a hurry to buy into it. Why? Because it's false economy.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  19. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder This guy again... Posts: 2,151   +588

    Looks like the price war is a tight one but AMD is keeping the prices and winning it for value to performance.

    Cool article @Steve

    I would have liked to grab a lightning at a cheaper price instead of my 3 PowerColor cards now seeing as its below $400 :p
    Julio Franco and Steve like this.
  20. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,964   +2,334

    Seventh Reign stop following the light, come back to us … come back to reality. The GTX 760 has never been faster than the R9 280 and in this world never will be.

    For further proof please refer to this KitGuru review…


    Or alternatively any other review on the interest that features both these GPUs.
    GhostRyder likes this.
  21. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,294   +796

    Another good read. Thanks.

    I'm curious to see how future drivers affect performance on the new Maxwell cards. I'm also torn between the 970 and the 290X. The AMD price drops haven't hit Canada Computers yet, so I'll at least wait til then before I decide.
  22. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    Drivers don't really affect overall performance for single GPUs. It's more a multi-GPU and games on a case by case basis. As for pricing I hope you get some joy there although I note that Canadian (r)etail don't seem to be overly consumer friendly, and its hard to justify the same price (or more) for a 290X as a factory overclocked GTX 970 that equals or betters a GTX 980. At those prices it would likely be better to order direct from EVGA...you'll just have to wait in line though since there are a LOT of orders from people utilizing their "Step-Up" program.
  23. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    Doing a comparison on price alone does not give the full picture. I am sure I am not the only person who is prepared to pay a premium for electrical equipment with better quality components.
  24. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,840   +1,267

    The only problem there is that not only pricing variable - there is a sizeable "spot market" for short term specials, but limitations to decrease competition between AIB/AIC vendors means that not all vendors (or particular SKUs for that matter) are represented within a geographic distribution area.
    The comparisons are further complicated by the problem that reduced BoM models are slipped into the line up with little fanfare (and less than obvious model designations), often sporting flashy cooling and shrouds that both hide the pared down componentry and allude to the better specced parts because of visual similarity. As with any purchase, there is no substitute for doing some homework before making a purchase. A good board review (including Steve's here at TS) IMO includes a tear down to show the naked PCB and it doesn't take too much effort to find specifications and anecdotal pro's/con's of the chokes, capacitors, voltage regulators etc. being used
    Phr3d likes this.
  25. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,294   +796

    Totally disagree with your view on drivers being mainly for multi-GPU setups. Of course games are on a case by case basis. I read release notes. ;)
    Pricing here is very competitive.
    Those are sales not the new price drops.
    I don't shop for hardware online, because I don't need to to get the best price or availability.

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