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.
At the Top of the Food Chain
Uber expensive Titan X aside, we find the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and Radeon R9 Fury X. Both are seriously fast, especially at 2560x1600. The GTX 980 Ti is the faster of the two albeit by a slim margin, beating the Fury X on average by 4%. Of the eight games tested the GTX 980 Ti came on top in five of them.
Frame rate performance is not the only reason why we feel the GTX 980 Ti is the best buy. It's also marginally cheaper than the Fury X, availability is better, and there are plenty of custom examples to choose from, not to mention that it consumes a little less power and overclocks far better. Gamers should be able to squeeze out an additional 20% performance for free.
Priced between the GTX 980 Ti and GTX 980 is the R9 Fury, an odd product that has suffered from poor availability for much of its short existence, and yet we rather like it. It finally looks as though major retailers are starting to get decent stock levels of the Fury and consumers are no longer limited to just Asus and Sapphire.
The $550 price tag means that the Fury has no direct competition, but more crucially, for ~15% less than the Fury X, the Fury is the better buy considering it's only some 5% slower. Compared to the GTX 980 Ti, the Fury was on average 8% slower, yet it's also 12% cheaper so you could go either way.
Next to the GTX 980, the Fury is 14% more expensive and coincidentally 14% faster on average, so again it'll come down to how much money you want to spend.
Great Performance for Less
The next head to head battle takes place at $400 - $499 between the $480 GTX 980 and $420 R9 390X. The Radeon 390X is 13% cheaper but only 3% slower. The only disadvantage here is that the 390X uses a little more power, but nothing that should tip the scales. The 390X is our preferred choice.
Moving to the $300 range, we find the highly popular GTX 970 along with the R9 390. There was a small ~3% performance difference in favor of the Radeon R9 390 across eight titles and both delivered a similar gaming experience at 2560x1600. With pricing and performance so close to call this match is very much a tie. However, we would invest in the more efficient GTX 970.
There is of course the argument that the R9 390 will perform better in DX12 titles and finally be able to make use of that huge 8GB VRAM buffer. For now that is pure speculation and we only like to make recommendations based on the facts at hand.
Slashing another $100 off the budget brings you down to the R9 380 and GTX 960 for around $200. AMD was the performance winner of this battle as the R9 380 was on average 5% faster at 1080p and is slightly cheaper to boot. AMD is the logical choice.
Other more affordable choices are the $150 R7 370 and $160 GTX 950. The R7 370 was on average 5% slower and is about 5% cheaper, so this one's a draw. When we reviewed the GTX 950 at launch it was 10% faster than the R7 370, but with a few driver updates AMD has been able to close that gap.
The R7 370 does have the advantage of being the more efficient GPU. If your priority is frame rate performance over power consumption then the GTX 950 is the best choice, but if you prefer a more efficient graphics card then the R7 370 is your best bet. We acknowledge that there isn't a clear cut winner here, so for most gamers it will come down to which GPU maker they prefer.
Finally, we have the battle of the penny pushers, the GTX 750 Ti versus the R7 360. Both cost $110 and delivered about the same performance, so you could go either way and still get the most bang for your buck. Gamers will be best off researching how each GPU performs in the games they will be playing to make the final decision. That said, the GTX 750 Ti did consume considerably less power so we would favor it over the R7 360.
In a Nutshell
|The Best Graphics Cards at Every Price Range|
|Over $500||GeForce GTX 980 Ti||$630|
|$400 - $500||Radeon R9 390X||$420|
|$300 - $400||GeForce GTX 970 or Radeon R9 390||$300|
|$200 - $300||Radeon R9 380||$200|
|$150 - $200||Radeon R7 370 or GeForce GTX 950||$150|
|$100 - $150||Radeon R7 360 or GeForce GTX 750 Ti||$110|
The previous-gen R7 260X is the best $100-$149 solution, just as it was last year. Once remaining 260X stock runs out gamers will be just as happy with either the GTX 750 Ti or R7 360, but we prefer the GTX 750 Ti for its superior efficiency.
The $150-$199 comparison is much the same, but we would go with the R7 370 over the GTX 950. The R9 380 is your best bet at $200-$249, and the GTX 970 is a smart pick at $300. If your GPU budget extends to $400-$499 we recommend the R9 390X, and if you're going to drop $500 or more the GTX 980 Ti is your best bet.
The three definitive picks we've made are the GTX 980 Ti over the Fury X, the R9 390X over the GTX 980 and the R9 380 over the GTX 960.