Brief Breakdown – Fall 2016 Graphics Card Buyer’s Guide

Nvidia-logoIt’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at any PC hardware, and with the recent release of Nvidia’s 1080 series of graphic cards, I thought it would be a good time to see if an upgrade might be in order. Now that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality devices are somewhat more common these days, both Nvidia and AMD have been tweaking drivers and releasing new cards in an effort to provide the best experience in these new consumer realms. While there is still undoubtedly a lot that needs to be improved upon before VR/AR headsets are as widespread as their creators would like, the market will continue to grow. You can bet your life that the two graphics giants will keep fighting it out to get to the top.

NVIDIA

Regardless of which GPU maker you prefer, it’s undeniable, at least for the moment that Nvidia is bringing the strongest cards to the current market. The Titan X Pascal is a power to be reckoned with and if you’re willing to dish out the cash, your gaming rig will be future proof for quite some time. However, Nvidia’s new kid in town is the GTX 1080, and while it’s not quite as powerful as the Titan X, you’re still going to be getting a lot of bang for your buck. If these two high end cards are a bit out of your price range, then Nvidia has yet another powerful card, the GTX 1070, which will still play just about anything you throw at it.

Continuing down Nvidia’s impressive lineup, the GTX 980Ti is still a worthy contender, and it’s cheaper than ever before. Finally, if you’re really intent on pinching those pennies, the GTX 1060 is definitely work taking a look at as a very good budget GPU.

  • nvidia-titan-x-pascalTitan X Pascal
    • Base Clock: 1417
    • Boost Clock: 1531
    • Memory: 12GB (GDDR5X) / 10 Gbps
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 7680×4320@60Hz
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
    • Price: $1,200 USD – Only available through GeForce.com
  • GTX 1080 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1607
    • Boost Clock: 1733
    • Memory: 8GB (GDDR5X) / 10 Gbps
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 7680×4320@60Hz
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
    • Price: $600 – 1000
  • GTX 1070 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1506
    • Boost Clock: 1683
    • Memory: 8GB (GDDR5) / 8 Gbps
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 7680×4320@60Hz
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
    • Price: $400-650
  • GTX-1080-Nvidia-Fall-2016-Buyer-GuideGTX 980Ti (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1000
    • Boost Clock: 1075
    • Memory: 6GB (GDDR5) / 7 Gbps
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 5120×3200
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.2, HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
    • Price: $350-800
  • GTX 1060 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1280
    • Boost Clock: 1506
    • Memory: 6GB (GDDR5) / 8 Gbps
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 7680×4320@60Hz
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
    • Price: $200-300

AMD

On the other end of the spectrum this year rests the relatively quiet AMD. True, they did release the RX 400 series of GPU’s, but these cards primarily serve the budget graphics category. However, if you’re an AMD fan waiting on their next round of high end, enthusiasts cards to hit the market, you’ll have to wait until 2017 when their new Vega GPU will be released.

The RX 400 series is based on a 4nm FinFET Polaris architecture and comes in three flavors: the 480, 470, and 460. If you’re still running something like an Nvidia GTX 750 or a Radeon HD 7790, or another card in that range, the RX 400 series is a worthy budget upgrade.

  • amd-radeon-rx-480-graphics-cardRX 480 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1120
    • Boost Clock: 1266
    • Memory: 4GB (GDDR5)
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 5120×2880
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
    • Price: $220-400
  • RX 470 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 926
    • Boost Clock: 1206
    • Memory: 4GB (GDDR5)
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 3840×2160
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0
    • Price: $199-300
  • RX 460 (variable specs depending on manufacturer)
    • Base Clock: 1090
    • Boost Clock: 1200
    • Memory: 2GB (GDDR5)
    • VR Ready: Yes
    • DirectX 12 Compatiable
    • Max Res: 3840×2160
    • Display Connectors: DP 1.4, HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
    • Price: $100-200

performance hierarchy
Image Source: Tom’s Hardware

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