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

By Steve · 75 replies
Oct 26, 2015
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  1. You might say that 2015 hasn't been the most exciting year for graphics cards, though in many ways it was probably more eventful than 2014. All told, Nvidia unleashed just four new GPUs in 2015 while AMD delivered eight cards if you're willing to be loose with the definition of "new" and three if you're not: Radeon R9 Fury X, Fury and Nano.

    At this point, it looks like AMD and Nvidia have finally squeezed the most out of the 28nm design process. Before moving on, AMD will release a dual-GPU version of the Fury X while Nvidia could also return fire with a dual-GPU monster of its own.

    Something we haven't seen a lot of this year has been price cuts. AMD has been competitive at the upper end of the high-performance GPU market and has therefore felt less pressure to reduce prices. The key battles are currently being played out between the GTX 750 Ti and R7 360 at around $100, the GTX 950 and R7 370 at $150, the GTX 960 and R9 380 at $200, the R9 390 and GTX 970 at $300, the R9 390X and GTX 980 at $450 and finally the GTX 980 Ti and R9 Fury X at $650.

    Read the complete article.

  2. Peter Farkas

    Peter Farkas TS Addict Posts: 272   +88

    Looks like I am going to be just fine with my one year old GTX970 for a long time ahead... :)
    slamscaper, hahahanoobs and Reehahs like this.
  3. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,662   +1,948

    Waiting for Pascal to change this picture...
    Burty117, yRaz, Reehahs and 1 other person like this.
  4. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +1,092

    If you aren't in a hurry, I would hold off a bit to see more dx12 benchmarks before buying.
    And 14/16nm cards with HBM2 are slated to launch in 2016. These new cards could be a much better investment.
  5. Reehahs

    Reehahs TS Guru Posts: 574   +316

    Would be good to see how the new cards compare to past generation flagships.
    Savoz and mrtraver like this.
  6. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Anyone dabbling with SteamOS would likely agree.
    DX11 won't disappear. If anything, the greater onus on developers to code more intensively for DX12 rather than having the IHV's shoulder the burden makes DX12 uptake questionable for game developers. Many studio's can't get DX11 games out on time (or working well on launch day for that matter) - how does more coding responsibility make DX12 an attractive option for many?
    If you can afford to wait 6-9 months (or more), sure. Not everyone fits that category - least of all those people looking to buy/upgrade over the holiday season.
    The author has already done a comparative analysis of both AMD and Nvidia architectures. Using the newest models in those comparisons it isn't overly difficult to extrapolate further performance comparisons against the latest additions
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
    Steve likes this.
  7. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    For so many reasons the huge amount of speculation surrounding DX12 and which camp will be the best to go with is a bit silly.

    Rewind to the release of the first DX11 graphics cards, the GeForce GTX 480 and Radeon HD 5870. How long did it take before there were decent DX11 titles and were the first DX11 GPU’s even relevant in the DX11 gaming picture?

    Granted DX12 is a much more significant step, I still think the uptake will be much the same. This current generation won’t have much to do with it.

    dividebyzero said it best ;)
    dividebyzero likes this.
  8. mosu

    mosu TS Guru Posts: 474   +84

    For now, I think DX12 tests bear relevance only for people who are going to buy the actual generation of cards. From your test is missing Radeon R9 295X2 because TitanX costs the same and it's not about single or multi graphic card configurations, because I'm sure you know about scaling problems of Nvidia .For my friend who's waiting for me to post, the next generation AMD cards will have both 14nm and 16nm chips, from GloFo and TSMC respectively.
    To paraphrase Steve, AMD did it best!
  9. nerbne

    nerbne TS Rookie

  10. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,868   +2,035

    The Radeon 200 series is being phased out so we didn't include it.

    Important to note, all the pricing information below comes from Newegg and excludes sales. If pricing in your country or region differs from the Newegg's pricing in the US, which it likely will, then please draw your own conclusions based on the performance data provided. There's a heap of data to break down here, with at least half a dozen comparisons to be made, so let's get into it starting with the big boys.
  11. robb213

    robb213 TS Maniac Posts: 330   +100

    I'm betting DX12 adoption will mirror DX11, if not worse, because of the extra attention and knowledge needed to implement it. Seems silly for anyone to wait it out GPU wise because they'll be waiting for awhile. I waited...3-4 years with my older GTX 480, and in all that time the amount of DX11 titles that came out can be counted more or less on 1 or 2 hands (=very few).
    Steve likes this.
  12. rauelius

    rauelius TS Rookie

    It's irresponsible of you to recommend the GTX970 over the R9-390. I own BOTH an R9-290(@390 clocks) and a GTX970. The AMD card is routinely faster, and if your use-case allows(space requirements), the R9 is a smarter choice 100% of the time. Everything else is pretty on point.

    You're probably just trying not to piss of nVidia. The only logical cards they have are the GTX980-Ti and GTX950, for every other price category AMD has a better option. Basically, if you didn't give the nod to the GTX970, AMD would have had a clean sweep in the most profitable/popular part of the graphics card market.
  13. Iheartgaimwerks

    Iheartgaimwerks TS Rookie

    Hmmm 390 appears to be the better card and is less expensive but the 970 gets the win because is uses a bit less power? Man. The times they are a changing. I don't think that logic would have flown back when the 7000 series was more efficient than the 500 series.

    Even famous admitted nV fanboys have endorsed the 390 over the 970.
    Xecutor likes this.
  14. camicazi

    camicazi TS Rookie

    Not related to anything in your comment, but I thought you should know that there is an error on the page with the thief benchmarks, it says this under the last chart: Jumping up to 1600p we see that the R9 390X was 6% slower than the GTX 980 while the Fury X was also 6% slower than the GTX 980 Ti.

    But the chart shows that its the 980ti that is 6% slower than the fury x

    . Also, in the chart about power consumption, it says that the difference is only 22W between the gtx 970 and r9 390. Shouldnt the difference be much higher? If not, why are you recommending the 970 because of power efficiency when its only 7% more efficient but performs worse in all benchmarks?
    Xecutor, Savoz and farmergann like this.
  15. cpsheb

    cpsheb TS Rookie

    I have always been an AMD fan but broke down and got a gtx970 and it will be hard to go back. My 970 plays everything with no problems.
    Also I would like to mention that I mostly play racing games it would be great if you included some in your test comparisons. I would suggest Project cars or dirt rally both require good hardware to play at max settings.
  16. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 253   +70

    Waiting for Vive to draw the line between "good enough" and "not usable".
  17. UltraModernGuy

    UltraModernGuy TS Member Posts: 24   +14

    I've been an Nvidia user for about 10 years simply because I've been going with what I know. I'm constantly seeing posts in steam forums about issues AMD users are having. Are there still a lot of driver issues with AMD, or are the issues not as bad as others say? Are there compelling reasons to switch?
  18. deemon

    deemon TS Addict Posts: 253   +70

    DX12 is entirely different animal.
  19. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    So many issues with AMD drivers that they are sinking...
  20. Cryio

    Cryio TS Addict Posts: 207   +62

    AMD doesn't have the kind of DX11 performance Nvidia has, true, but the situation is greatly exaggerated.
    Evernessince likes this.
  21. mrtraver

    mrtraver TS Guru Posts: 380   +86

    I wish Nvidia had something between the 960 and 970, both in price and performance, like a 960 Ti. There is $110 difference between the cheapest of each on Newegg. The 960 is too close in performance to my GTX 480 to justify spending $180 or more, but the 970 at $290 and up costs too much for me to consider. I guess I'll just keep waiting, as long as this 480 stays alive.
    DanielSG likes this.
  22. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +901

    Oh I forgot to add the [sarcasm][/sarcasm]
  23. Hyrax

    Hyrax TS Enthusiast Posts: 22   +7

    Hmm, I was deciding between the 970 and the 390. Looked at the pros and cons and went with the 390 (MSI 390 8 GB). 970 is a good card, but I decided for 390 because it's more powerful, has more RAM, is newer (might edge in front even more with DX12) and in my country the price is basically same (for the models I was comparing).

    970 might be more power efficient, but it does not matter for me because I won't be running the card 24/7 at full power.

    It would have been fair to say it is a tie in that category.
  24. farmergann

    farmergann TS Rookie

    Actually, 16nm finfet won't bring the same improvements regarding price to performance of previous process shrinks due to the manufacturing process. On all but the extreme high end of performance and efficiency it is very likely 28nm cards will be competitive for the money vs the first gen 16nm finfet GPUs.
  25. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,040   +678

    In the wrap up (In a Nutshell), the GTX 970 in the chart links to a GTX 960 review.

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