In the heat of the PC gaming community and as of recently the console community, is the video card. The video card is not only the device that drives your games, but also gives you clarity for movies, pictorial and video editing. Everyone wants the best but not everyone can afford it and those that can’t will get a decent card and be totally content playing at a slightly lower level.
Behind the PC community the next heated debate is whether you like AMD or NVIDIA. Both great card manufacturers in their respects and each have their fans. Here we compare High, Mid and Budget cards and for each category there is a clear winner. The comparisons are not only on benchmark performance but on pricing as well, all to help you make an informed decision. Pricing will only be gathered from Newegg as a reference.
In the Budget class, a spot suitable for most of us gamers and non-gamers alike, ($100-$120) we compare the Sapphire Radeon R7 250 and the EVGA GeForce GT 740. Coming in at $109.99 is the Sapphire Radeon R7 250 and at $99.99 is the EVGA GeForce GT 740. The Sapphire Radeon R7 250 features 1GB GDDR5 memory with 384 Stream Processors at a Core Clock of 1125Mhz and an Effective Memory Clock of 4600Mhz. The EVGA GeForce GT 740 features 5GB GDDR5 memory with 384 CUDA Cores at a Core Clock of 1059Mhz and an Effective Memory Clock of 1334Mhz. Both cards show the beginning of good things for both sides but the better performance with faster memory, core clock and processing core is the EVGA GeForce GT 740. The performance on the Radeon R7 250 compared to the GeForce GT 740 is considerably higher at 1920×1080 and computing power as well. The power draw and noise levels are slightly higher on the Radeon R7 250, a bit of a drawback but nothing too bad.
Winner: EVGA GeForce GT 740
In the Mid class, a comfortable place for many gamers ($200-$300) we compare the AMD Radeon R9 380and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 2GB 128-bit GDDR5. The AMD Radeon R9 380 runs you $219.99 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 $229.99 . This GeForce GTX 960 features 2GB of 128-bit GDDR5 memory with 1024 CUDA Cores at a Core clock of 990Mhz and an effect memory clock of 7200Mhz. The AMD Radeon R9 380 features 2GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory with 1280 stream processors at a core clock of 1010Mhz and an effective memory clock of 5500Mhz. These cards start pumping amazing speeds, overclocking and overall performance increases. While the GeForce GTX 960 shows fast and more promising memory and core clocks speeds it lags behind the Radeon R9 380. The R9 380 excels slightly in scores with 90% of games but the GeForce offers amazing cooling, which allows for more stable overclocks, longevity and lower levels of noise. The R9 380 seems to have missed out, the design and fans look to impress but can’t live up to the GTX 960.
Winner: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
In the High End class, where only few can go ($300 – $400) we compare the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 4GB 256-bit GDDR5 and the Sapphire Radeon NITRO R9 390 8GB 512-bit GDDR5. Both come in at $369.99, I wanted to match prices and memory and I think this will be a good one. The GeForce GTX 970 SuperClocked features and amazing 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory with 1664 CUDA cores at a Core clock speed of 1076Mhz (1216Mhz Boosted) and an effective memory clock of 7010Mhz. The Radeon NITRO R9 390 features and even more amazing 8GB of 512-bit GDDR5 memory with 2560 Stream processors at a core clock of 1010Mhz and an effective memory clock of 6000Mhz. While many games will not require more Video RAM, if you want to get to resolutions about 1920×1200 and the likes and have all of the eye candy on without any performance degradation you will need 4Gigs of RAM. Other things that will help with an abundance of Video RAM is multi-monitor setups. These cards highlight the fact that for some time now more Gigahertz does not equate to more performance. In my benchmarks the Radeon NITRO R9 390 comes up to be the leader in close to 98%. Not only was it faster than the GTX970 in overall scores but it was higher in minimum as well which means you will get the smoothest frame rates with all of the eye candy turned on. The noise was slightly higher, a common issue with seems with AMD graphics but it is something that gamer can handle as most of us have headsets on or a nice speaker setup.
It seems like there are clear winners in this review, not only AMD but NVIDIA as well. Straying away from default reference specs, NVIDIA has made great strides not only designs but also in overclocking and cooling. These cards run cooler than their AMD counter parts and cooler typically equals to more stable overclocks and performance.
Find them:EVGA GeForce GT 740
Sapphire Radeon R7 250
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960
AMD Radeon R9 380
Sapphire Radeon NITRO R9 390 8GB 512-bit GDDR5
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970