Graphics card performance over the years – AMD vs Nvidia

Graphics processors have come a long way since the advent of 3D gaming, and are now able to rapidly solve complex physics calculations, process large amounts of polygons, and render high-resolution textures.

The industry has been dominated by two GPU manufacturers, Nvidia and AMD (previously ATI).

The companies are competing at the cutting-edge of graphics technology and are constantly refining and improving their products.

After the launch of graphics cards based on the new Polaris and Pascal architectures, GPUs from both brands experienced a leap in performance relative to previous architecture improvements.

This is largely due to die shrinkage and usage of the 14nm and 16nm FinFet manufacturing processes.

Benchmark Tests

To see how far the cards have come, we compared benchmark scores for single graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia over the last four generations to see how their GPUs have improved.

Benchmark scores from Anandtech’s benchmark repository were used to provide an average benchmark score across a number of games for a single graphics card.

The benchmark tests used to find the average score for each graphics card were:

  • Rise of the Tomb Raider 1080p – Very High Quality (DX11)
  • Ashes of the Singularity 1080p – Extreme Quality (DX12)
  • Battlefield 4 1080p – Ultra Quality
  • Crysis 3 1080p – Very High Quality + FXAA
  • The Witcher 3 1080p – Ultra Quality (No Hairworks)

We compared a single graphics card from each architecture, focusing on GPUs of the same performance class.

The benchmark scores for Nvidia and AMD graphics cards are detailed below.

Year
Architecture Graphics Card Average Score
Nvidia
2012 Kepler (28nm) GeForce GTX 660 25.7
2013 Kepler (28nm) GeForce GTX 760 33.2
2015 Maxwell (28nm) GeForce GTX 960 37.2
2016 Pascal (16nm) GeForce GTX 1060 69.0
AMD
2012 Pitcairn (28nm) Radeon HD 7850 25.6
2014 Tahiti (28nm) Radeon R9 280 35.9
2015 Tonga (28nm) Radeon R9 380 40.2
2016 Polaris (14nm) Radeon RX 480 59.0

Now read: Asus Tinker Board vs Raspberry Pi 3 – Specifications and Pricing

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Graphics card performance over the years – AMD vs Nvidia