GPU Hierarchy

Graphics Card Hierarchy: AMD and NVidia Card List

Most of your favorite PC games are patched and upgraded over time, with new texture packs, mods and even core game engine updates. And with all these updates and new AAA titles dropping frequently, your machine might start to struggle, typically this is caused by a GPU bottle neck. This is especially true if you're planning on running games at 4K or high FPS for eSports titles at 144 FPS + for 144Hz monitors. Both, pre-built gaming PC's and SOME gaming laptops typically allow for GPU card upgrade, and it is usually a simple with a large performance gain per dollar spent. For this reason along, if you're looking to drive extra frames we recommend you check out our guide on the best graphics cards for 2019.

The first step in this direction is to check what GPU your machine has currently and then look at what performance you'll need for the games that you already own at the frame rate and resolution you need. Aim for the recommended system specifications or go a little higher. 

Check out the following graphics cards ranked in different tiers starting from the highest to the lowest end.

Tier 1 – The Best in the Market

Nvidia

  1. Titan V 
  2. Titan XP
  3. GTX 1080 Ti

If you have deep pockets and are keen to play the latest games, you'll want a card from this tier. This topmost tier has the best graphics cards for 4K gaming and can easily run every AAA games butter smooth at high frame rates. In this category, NVidia outshines its close competitor AMD with the Titan line-up of graphics cards.

Despite not being a solely gaming GPU, the Titan V has all the great qualities of the Titan XP, but with a few improvements over the latter. The Vega 64 might have been AMD’s representative at this level if the Titan V wasn’t as good as it is. If you are ready to fork out more than 850 dollars, you’re in the right place – you also have to ensure that your system memory and monitor are at par with these graphics cards.

Tier 2 – The Runner’s Up


Nvidia

  1. Titan V 
  2. Titan XP
  3. GTX 1080 Ti

AMD

  1. RX Vega 64
  2. RX Vega 56
  3. R9 Fury X

At this level, AMD can put up a fight to offer variety. If you are into AMD GPUs, the second tier is the farthest that you can go. The GPUs at this level promise up to 60 fps of graphics output in resolutions as high as 4K.  The 2K resolutions should be much smoother at this level, and 1080p can give you up to 100 fps. The best performing GPU in this tier is NVidia’s GTX 1080 with 8GB worth of RAM and its popular Pascal architecture that enhances power saving and over-the-top performance.

AMD’s Vega 64 puts up a good fight against the best GTX 1080 and Titan V in regards to performance, but the two have a slight edge. NVidia still manages to outshine AMD at this level. Nonetheless, it is nice to see AMD trying to play catch-up, which would be a good thing for you as a consumer if the two manufacturers compete.

Tier 3 – The Sweet Spot


Nvidia

  1. GTX 1060
  2. GTX 980
  3. GTX 970
  4. GTX 780 Ti

AMD

  1. RX 580
  2. RX 480
  3. RX 570
  4. R9 390
  5. R9 290X

At Tier 3, you should start seeing more reasonable price points with the capacity to run most new games. These are mid range graphics cards and represent the most common choice among gamers. You can run games at an ultra-high setting but don’t expect much when it comes to 4K resolutions. Expect anything between 30 – 60 fps in 2K gaming and even higher frame rates at 1080p.

AMD and NVidia go head-to-head at this tier, with each offering great choices without having to break the bank. The AMD graphics cards even appear to have a slight edge over NVidia. Expect excellent performance from both manufacturers, enough to serve you in the next few years.

Tier 4 – Satisfactory Performance


Nvidia

  1. GTX 1050 Ti
  2. GTX 1050
  3. GTX 960

AMD

  1. RX 560
  2. R9 380
  3. R9 280X
  4. R9 280

GPUs at this level work satisfactorily well, but you shouldn’t expect the highest level of performance from them. If you’re working with a limited budget, you can go for one of these cards. AMD’s RX 560 and NVidia’s GTX 1050 Ti lead this pack, though you should be ready to work with resolutions of 1080p and below.

You can still run the latest games at this level, but you shouldn’t expect a smooth performance like on the higher tiers. These GPUs are ideal for older games with lower resolutions. However, if you cannot get the money needed for tier 3 GPUs and up, you can take one from tier 4 as you wait for the ideal time for an upgrade.

Tier 5 – Budget Friendly for the Less Demanding Gamer


Nvidia

  1. GTX 750
  2. GTX 650 Ti
  3. GT 1030
  4. GTX 560

AMD

  1. HD 7790
  2. HD 6870
  3. HD 5850
  4. R7 360
  5. R7 260
  6. HD 7770
  7. HD 6850

Most GPUs fall in this category, allowing you to save lots of money at the expense performance. Ideal for playing classic and less demanding games if that’s your thing. You can still run games at 1080p, but they will not be as stable as in the next tier. Anything higher and annoyingly large amounts of in-game lag will hit you. Most of the latest games wouldn’t even start up at this level. Go for one of these only if you use your PC for basic tasks and MOBA gaming.

The Bottom Line

Cards become more expensive as you move through the five tiers. However, going for Tier 1 GPUs is not necessarily the best thing to do. For one, they are quite expensive. Also, you may not need a GPU of this caliber as a slightly cheaper GPU in the next two tiers offer impressive gaming experiences at lower costs. You might not want to miss out on the best 4K gaming experience, but it is not worth the hype (currently). Instead, you should wait a few more years until 4K gaming becomes more mainstream and the Tier 1 GPU's come for less exorbitant prices. Essentially, going for the highest wouldn’t be a good idea because the performance difference may not be noticeable and it might cost you a lot of money.

About the Author Olivia Huntington

Hey You Guys! (Sorry I can't resist a good Goonies reference), as you may have guessed I'm a child of the 80's. I've grown up playing video games such as Doom, Quake, Quake 2 and Half-life which obviously lead me to serious Counter Strike addiction. Overwatch 4 life <3

Leave a Comment: