We all love to root for the underdog, a position AMD values in the GPU space. This is especially true as Nvidia continues to raise its prices to new astronomical heights. Plus, when you’re buying a new graphics card for your system, there are a few legitimate reasons to go with Team Red.
Still, there’s a reason Nvidia continues to dominate. As much as I hate to admit it, there’s no doubt right now that Nvidia has the upper hand.
DLSS and Reflex
It’s impossible to discuss the rivalry between AMD and Nvidia without talking about some of Nvidia’s unique technologies. This includes things like Deep Learning Supersampling (DLSS) and Nvidia Reflex.
DLSS was born with the creation of the Nvidias RTX 20 series, but has had a major boost over the next two generations. Previously, DLSS used artificial intelligence to upscale low-resolution images without straining the graphics card. This allows games to run at higher frames per second (fps), while also improving picture quality.
Sure, there are some visual artifacts, but all in all, DLSS has always been one of the things Nvidia can brag about.
And then came DLSS 3.
DLSS 3 offers major improvements over previous versions. Aside from the Super Resolution factor (which is just upscaling technology), it also offers frame generation on RTX 40 series graphics cards. This can mean a huge increase in frame rates.
On paper, it shouldn’t even detract from your overall performance, so you’re essentially getting double or triple the fps with DLSS 3. Of course, as mentioned, visual artifacts can (and do), but the overall result is pretty great.
Nvidia’s bag of tricks also contains Reflex, a latency-cutting technology. Nvidia Reflex reduces the time it takes for mouse inputs to reach the display. Some gamers won’t mind too much, but if you enjoy competitive shooters and esports titles, Reflex can help you save valuable latency without having any negative impact on the performance of your rig.
DLSS only works on RTX graphics cards, and DLSS 3 is reserved for the latest 40-series GPUs. Reflex is available on far more cards, though anything including GTX 900 and above will do.
AMD’s answer to DLSS is FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR and FSR 2.0). While the technology is strong in its own way, DLSS (and especially DLSS 3) remains in the lead this generation. Nvidia has had an edge in the AI-related business, having optimized its GPUs on both the software and hardware sides to be able to support things like DLSS and ray tracing. AMD isn’t there yet, but is planning to introduce frame generation in FSR 3.0, which will be interesting to see.
At this point, it’s almost as if Nvidia is selling DLSS instead of the GPUs themselves, that’s how powerful the technology is.
Ray tracing is a rendering technique responsible for simulating realistic shadows, reflections, and lighting. Sometimes it makes games look better, much, much better, but of course it comes at a price.
Real-time ray tracing in games is computationally expensive and taxing; run a game like Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing enabled it’s hard on the GPU and often doesn’t end well. Only the most powerful GPUs can handle it and still deliver high fps.
Nvidia is the longtime dominator of the ray tracing scene. Sure, AMD cards offer ray tracing, but they’re never good enough to keep up with their Nvidia equivalents. And that’s true even now that the RX 7000 series has made some improvements to AMD’s ray tracing performance.
Enabling ray tracing increases immersion and brings a new level of realism to gaming, so it’s been a big selling point for Nvidia over the last couple generations. That’s because Nvidia is ready for hardware-level ray tracing. Nvidias RTX cards feature ray tracing (RT) cores, which support hardware-accelerated ray tracing. AMD has its Ray Accelerators, and that helps, but usually isn’t enough.
We compare ray tracing on the RX 7900 XTX to the RTX 4080, which is closest in terms of performance. While the RX 7900 XTX does better than the previous generation flagship (RX 6950 XT), it’s still nowhere near the same level as Nvidia.
When you run Cyberpunk 2077 in 4K and at ultra settings, the RTX 4080 is able to maintain an average of 29 fps. The RX 7900 XTX lags behind with 21.5 fps. The gap gets smaller or bigger in some games, but it’s always there.
Long story short, if you want acceptable (or high) ray tracing and frame rates, you still need to stick with Nvidia.
If all you’re aiming for is pure performance, you’d probably better set your sights on Nvidia right now. After all, it’s Nvidia that has the undisputed king of all graphics cards, the RTX 4090.
Is the RTX 4090 worth the money? Not unless you’re into the business side of things; there are better deals from both Nvidia and AMD if you want to aim for value. However, if you’re OK with spending $1,600 on a graphics card, the RTX 4090 is the GPU to go with.
This is the one graphics card that will never flinch when you run the latest games at 4K with ray tracing enabled. A smooth gaming experience is guaranteed across the board (apart from poorly optimized games, like Jedi: Survived).
AMD doesn’t have an RTX 4090 equivalent, and if interviews are to be believed, they have no plans to make one. Thus, AMD is only competing with the RTX 4080 and RTX 4070 Ti.
When we compare the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT with their Nvidia rivals, there’s a lot more to talk about than just praise for Team Green. AMD can hold on, but the RTX 4080 still wins, especially if you care about ray tracing.
The RTX 4070 Ti is in a weaker spot, often finishing slightly slower than the RX 7900 XT. It’s also not quite as good at ray tracing as its more expensive sibling. However, access to Nvidias DLSS 3 can make a good argument in favor of him.
AMD has an uphill battle
AMD is in a tough spot right now; Nvidia is dominating the GPU landscape in terms of performance. Value and price are something else altogether. AMD cards are cheaper, but they also don’t have much to offer discerning consumers. The latest generation AMD GPUs are also often seen as better value than the newer cards. The same goes for some Nvidia GPUs, but not to the same extent.
Despite having a solid RX 6000 series and now two decent RX 7000 cards, AMD still has a bad reputation for its weaker drivers. However, that’s no longer true to the same extent it once was. Both Nvidia and AMD have had their share of driver errors, but these issues are nowhere near as prevalent as social media would have you believe. However, this is often used as an argument against AMD.
Weird biases aside, I still have to say, with a heavy heart, that Nvidia is usually the better choice right now. AMD’s current-generation card portfolio is small, and Nvidia beats it in terms of performance and capabilities, not to mention artificial intelligence and machine learning.
If you’re still not convinced, let’s talk numbers. DLSS 3 was able to elevate the $600 RTX 4070 above nearly every other GPU when running Cyberpunk 2077 in 4K, with ultra settings and ray tracing. The RTX 4070 averaged 73fps in this test, while the RTX 4080 without DLSS 3 lags behind with an unplayable 29fps.
Still ripped? The choice is simple if you want the best you can get, go for Nvidia. Even if you’re not buying an RTX 4090, you’ll still be enjoying all the RTX-only goodies, even if it might cost you a few hundred dollars more.
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