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Tested: Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon graphics cards for every budget

Brad Chacos | Feb. 16, 2015
Which graphics card is best for your money? We test over a dozen AMD and Nvidia GPUs to help find the answer.

Likewise, Metro: Last LightRedux is a remake of the utterly superb Metro: Last Last, which you should absolutely play if you haven't yet. It runs on 4A Games' custom 4A Engine. We test the game with SSAA disabled because the feature cuts frame rates in half--and the game looks gorgeous enough without it.

We also tested the cards with a pair of traditional benchmarks: Unigine Valley and 3DMark 11 Fire Strike.

We'd be remiss not to talk about the power efficiency and temperatures of these GPUs. As you can see, Nvidia's Maxwell GPU architecture is a power-sipping savant. AMD's R9-series graphics cards run hot and loud in comparison, though models with aftermarket coolers are still plenty quiet for everyday gaming.

And look at that Radeon R9 295X2! The dual GPUs gobble electricity like it's going out of style, but despite that the integrated water cooling setup helps the behemoth run remarkably cool and quiet.

Extra! Extra!
Beyond raw performance stats, both AMD and Nvidia offer a slew of extra features--normally software-related--to coax you toward Team Red or Green, respectively.

Some of those features are common to both companies, though each naturally puts its own brand on the technology and the technical implementations may be slightly different. Two relevant, standout examples: High-resolution downsampling and the quest to eradicate pesky screen tearing artifacts.

Recent graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia allow you to choose to render games at resolutions higher than what your monitor actually supports--all the way up to 4K resolution--then apply a filter to downsample the image to your display's native resolution in real time. Doing so provides a far crisper picture than you'd usually see, and you won't have to muck with anti-aliasing, either. On the downside, rendering games in such high definition can put a big hurting on your frame rate, so you'll only want to do this in games where you're seeing ridonkulous performance already.

Nvidia's implementation is dubbed Dynamic Super Resolution, while AMD calls theirs Virtual Super Resolution.

Both companies are also trying to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering by forcing your graphics card and your monitor to synchronize their refresh rates. Each implementation requires compatible monitors, however. Monitors supporting Nvidia's G-Sync technology have already started to appear on store shelves, but G-Sync requires an extra hardware module that drives up the cost of the display. AMD's FreeSync can work over a standard DisplayPort 1.2a connection--no extra hardware (read: cost) required--but compatible displays have yet to hit the streets.

With that out of the way, here's an overview of some of the highlight features for each individual brand.

Nvidia
Nvidia has a few aces up its sleeve.

 

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