AMD vs Nvidia: 10 Videocards Go Head-to-Head

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kenyirol

I bought an AMD 6850 last November for my new build, and it's great. I can play any game I want, and I've even played Crysis at 1080p with High settings! This card has well exceeded my expectations. Highly reccomended. but is very bad

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Ceadderman

The 460 better than the 5770?

Not hardly.

1st there is the heat issue.

Then there is the ATi issue. We all know that ATi drivers sucked. I consistently had to roll back my drivers just to play old games because the drivers wouldn't work with the game engines'. But now AMD is making it up to us ATi guys in so so so many ways.

Starting with Catalyst. Before I got my 5770 all I read and heard from friends was "go to MSi and download their afterburner program..." which is a solid option still, but AMD has really simplified Catalyst. My grand parents could adjust anything to their hearts content if they were alive and well. My mother who is not technically savvy has no issues with it at all. Though like all moms will probably ask if there is a question that comes up and I can walk here through it step by step. Try that with Windows. lol

Then you have PhysX. NVidia you dirty bird you cornered market share from ATi for so long because game manufacturers rushed out and started coding to meet this demand. Still there are quite a few developers that don't use the technology. Doesn't matter anyway because AMD came up with BullitPhysX to shrink the gap even further.

And now you have Game Giant source company Steam giving their customers another avenue to update their drivers. Oh?, what? Not NVidia friendly? Bout damn time. 

The coold thing about AMD being in the mix, is they have the pockets to compete with NVidia and put things on a level playing field. Sure there is still a performance gap when you move up the GPU chain, but at the entry point to Enthusiast Cards 5770 has it over the 460 in spades. Price, performance gap is in a dead heat and I don't have to introduce the rest of my components to an ice bath after every gaming session. Walk the plank Fermi.

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jackal49

I love you MacPC, but what happened? Why would you use the nVidia 460 at the 250 price point and not the GTX 560 Ti? It's been out for almost a month now. I plan on gaming at 1080p, and im torn between a 560, with SLI in the future, or a 570. Maybe I should bite the bullet, spend the extra 150, and go for the 580...

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loyd

The article was written in December, before the 560 Ti existed.

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btdog

Excellent article!  I always love reading and comparing specs on video cards and this seems like a "who's who" of video cards. 

My one bone:  I think the 6850/460 (768MB) & the 6870/460 (1GB) comparisons are a tad unfair to the nvidia cards.  I think the 6850 should have been compared to the 460 (1GB); the 6870 vs. the 470.  The price points are little closer and I think the comparisons would have been much closer.

Then again, anyone that gets either 460, or the 6850/6870 should be happy with their purchase.  They are all dynamite cards with an excellent price/performance ratio!

 

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Ceadderman

How is it unfair?

If you want to make a point about Fairness, how about pointing out that Companies like EA still code to give NVidia an unfair advantage over their competition. That right there shrank the Video Card market to two chip manufacturers. NVidia and ATi. 

Can you imagine if ATi had just gone the way of the Dodo without AMD to come in and pick up the pieces? Do you understand we were VERY close to having a monopoly in the Graphics market? One that people would have been forced to buy NVidia regardless if they liked it or not?

All because NVidia works better when it can take advantage of the software that Game developers built into their games. If this is a coinkydink I'll eat my 5770 without condiment.

All things being equal, yes it would be unfair to compare the 460 to the 6850 and the 6870, but AMD didn't do anything other than address their tesselation issues. While NVidia addressed what they didn't complete with the initial Fermi.

So now you tell me, which is unfair?

Having the market cowtow to one manufacturer for so long and comparing their cards which have the unfair advantage to anyone else.

Or comparing both on an equal footing? If 3D is used then I can see the problem since Fermi isn't a 3D card. But I've got this issue and I didn't see any 3D benches being used in the argument. Not even in the way that PhysX was used for so long, even though a only a handful of developers were using the technology.

I don't see how people can cry foul over this comparison. 

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febtiger

fav article, boys.

now i know which card to get, was confused about the 580 decision but now i'm set. benchmarks really helped!

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akula2

My first post as a newbie :)

Thanks for excellent article, great job but still I've few doubts left:

1) which is faster/powerful? 6950 or 5870? (thanks to ati's wierd numbering!)
2) I read at many places that Sapphire 5850 Toxic is the best card available compared to other makers in its class. Say, we could OC the card etc. How does Toxic 5850 fare against reference 6950?
3) What are the equivalent of the above cards in nvidia? Please mention only if they draw less power and generate less noise.
4) How good is 3D support in 6950/570 gtx? (3 LCDs or connecting to a large display such as a Sony TV 46" or 50" or above).
5) For only one card, what's the best buy in terms of price/performance: 5850 toxic or 6950?

Please clarify. Keep it up :)

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loyd

The 6950 offers a much more robust tessellation engine, so will do better in the more recent generation of DX11 games than a 5870.

There have also been reports of BIOS updates that turn a 6950 into a 6970, but that would be a lucky byproduct; I wouldn't count on that.

The 6950 is roughly equal to a 560 Ti. Note that Nvidia's stereoscopic 3D support for games is much better at this point. AMD relies on third parties with rather spotty game support. However, those work well with 3D Blu-ray.

 

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akula2

Thanks for the update, lyod.

I'm planning to go with Sapphire 5950 2GB Toxic Ed. card once it's launched, hope they launch it by April or so because am planning buy i7-2600K and P67 MOBO in that time. Reason is I'm not sure of Nvidia 570's power and aacoustics compared to that 6950 card. Any input in this regard? (first hand experience). Thanks. 

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fygquas

If the overclocked ASUS 460 is noisy, why not use Gigabyte's or EVGA's? Do you guys think ALL overclocked 460s are noisy?

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akula2

I also noticed that most cards were either XFX or Asus. I guess they are some kind of sponsors to this magazine?

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loyd

No, it was more like Asus, XFX and eVGA were able to deliver cards for testing before our deadlines. I did try to hit up other vendors, too, but they weren't able to participate.

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Keith E. Whisman

Now I need to build a new gaming box. Thanks for the article.

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B1Gx5MurF

So in this article you guys said the 768mb gtx 460 beats the 6850... yet in the conclusion you recommend the 6850 over its for twice?

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loyd

The benchmarks show the two cards being pretty close... but the 1GB VRAM on the 6850 will likely mean better performance with AA and AF turned up. Plus, the 6850 is more power efficient and quieter.

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mario_ramalho

This article really clarified a lot of confusion I had in the GPU field, since numbers and specs show one thing, and real world use and benchmarks show another. I've been searching for GPU's in a certain price range and it has been a struggle to decide which one to get, since the specs can get confusing. This article eased my decision substantially. Two thumbs up.

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Sparx10

580 doesn't beat a 5970...

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aferrara50

5970 is only super fast for dx10 applications. Even gtx 480s dominate the 5970 in a majority of applications. I own quadfire 5970s as well as tri sli 480s. In 90% of applications and dx11 games the tri sli 480s slaughter the quadfire 5970s. I don't game in dx10 so the 5970s rarely get used. If you look at benchmarks the 580 scores higher than the 5970 in most modern cases.

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jagstangsrule

Woops, wrong page for the below comment... haha. But just the same, great article.

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jagstangsrule

Just about any article you guys create that contains benchmarks is the bees knees. lol. Especially since unlike a preview or opinion article, you actually have to go through the task of preparing each setup, recording data, then write a story about your findings. Although this being said, I'm going to have to just put this out there that while I enjoy all of them (please don't kill me), Gordon's are usually the ones I read, re-read and re-read some more. Useful stuff. But,  I'm going to have to agree with most of the people here and say that my favorite recent article is Loyd's AMD vs Nvidia: 10 Videocards Go Head-to-Head article. My buddies and I always have enlightening arguments on what it is the latest and greatest part on each price level and CPUs and GPUs are always mentioned in the conversation. Aside from the article being clearly spoken, well written and extremely informative, it settled most current GPU debates. Haha. Great aticle from a great magazine. I'm going to have to re subscribe since it runs out next month though. haha

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vectorizer

"While both cards support HD video decoding, AMD’s third-generation Unified Video Decoder (UVD3) offers hardware decoding of key HD codecs, including VC-1 and H.264. It also handles MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 Part 2, including DivX and xVid in hardware."

As far as I can tell by my own research, current Nvidia cards including the ones reviewed have the same claimed digital video hardware decoding capabilities. The marketing name from Nvidia is "PureVideo", and "VP3" seems to offer substantially the same codec support as AMD's "UVD3". Is there actually a significant difference in decoding capabilities between these Nvidia and AMD cards?

As to HD video encoding, Nvidia's CUDA seems to be much more widely exploited for GPU processing in general, including use by encoding software.

Of course, for most MaximumPC readers, video decoding and encoding capabilities are fairly minor considerations, though it's important to me.

BTW, I'm not an Nvidia fanboy; I have both types of cards in different systems.

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PhotoMaker

In the 12/1/10 article, "How to Build the Ultimate Digital Photo Studio the recommended GPU was the Evga GeForce GTX 470.  In light of the upcoming GPU's would you still recommend this as the best GPU for a computer build oriented toward still and/or movie photography. 

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loyd

It's really all about what Adobe officially supports. For example, while there were hacks to enable GTX 460 cards to accelerate Premiere, Adobe only officially supported the 470 and above. I'd suggest sticking with supported cards to minimize support hassles. Adobe only seems to update the supported cards list on an irregular basis.

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Cade795

Loyd,

 

I would like to know your thoughts on the new gtx 560 ti and how they stack up to hd 6870. I currently have a gtx 280 and will be upgrading my rig soon, any input you have on a sub $300 card is appreciated.

 

intel q9450 2.66 ghz

4gb ddr3

nvidia gtx 280

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loyd

The 560 Ti is a pretty killer GPU. It's pretty much unbeatable at the $250-$260 price point, and forced AMD to drop the price on the HD 6870.

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pk44

I like this article because it felt very fair to me. I've seen a lot of reviews for the news series of cards where they declare a manufacturer a winner, not an individual card. This felt very much true to the cards as individual cards and not a fanboy mudslinging contest like a lot of reviews I've seen these days. Well done.

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Derek Fredette

An article relevant to the purpose of your magazine. 

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Cruzg10

Wow! awesome reviews. Keep up the good work guys

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Portal

I bought an AMD 6850 last November for my new build, and it's great. I can play any game I want, and I've even played Crysis at 1080p with High settings! This card has well exceeded my expectations. Highly reccomended.

BTW, great article!

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