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Saturday, June 18, 2022

GPU Performance Hierarchy and the Best Graphics Cards, 2022


With graphics cards finally back in stock, I've put together this comprehensive GPU performance hierarchy of the past two generations of graphics cards. These are the best graphics cards around, but it's also important to know what you're getting. I've benchmarked all of these cards, at multiple resolutions and settings. Here's how they stack up across a test suite of 15 games.

GPUPerformancePrice (MSRP)Specifications
GeForce RTX 3090 Ti161.6$1,845 ($1,999)GA102, 10752 shaders, 1860 MHz, 40.0 TFLOPS, 24GB GDDR6X@21Gbps, 1008GB/s, 450W
GeForce RTX 3090153.0$1,507 ($1,499)GA102, 10496 shaders, 1695 MHz, 35.6 TFLOPS, 24GB GDDR6X@19.5Gbps, 936GB/s, 350W
GeForce RTX 3080 Ti149.0$1,089 ($1,199)GA102, 10240 shaders, 1665 MHz, 34.1 TFLOPS, 12GB GDDR6X@19Gbps, 912GB/s, 350W
GeForce RTX 3080 12GB145.6$899 ($799?)GA102, 8960 shaders, 1845 MHz, 33.1 TFLOPS, 12GB GDDR6X@19Gbps, 912GB/s, 350W
Radeon RX 6950 XT144.7$1,099 ($1,099)Navi 21, 5120 shaders, 2310 MHz, 23.7 TFLOPS, 16GB GDDR6@18Gbps, 576GB/s, 335W
GeForce RTX 3080140.3$799 ($699)GA102, 8704 shaders, 1710 MHz, 29.8 TFLOPS, 10GB GDDR6X@19Gbps, 760GB/s, 320W
Radeon RX 6900 XT134.8$899 ($999)Navi 21, 5120 shaders, 2250 MHz, 23.0 TFLOPS, 16GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 512GB/s, 300W
Radeon RX 6800 XT128.0$769 ($649)Navi 21, 4608 shaders, 2250 MHz, 20.7 TFLOPS, 16GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 512GB/s, 300W
GeForce RTX 3070 Ti121.4$699 ($599)GA104, 6144 shaders, 1770 MHz, 21.7 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6X@19Gbps, 608GB/s, 290W
Radeon RX 6800115.1$699 ($579)Navi 21, 3840 shaders, 2105 MHz, 16.2 TFLOPS, 16GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 512GB/s, 250W
GeForce RTX 3070115.0$619 ($499)GA104, 5888 shaders, 1725 MHz, 20.3 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 220W
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti112.9$899 ($999)TU102, 4352 shaders, 1545 MHz, 13.4 TFLOPS, 11GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 616GB/s, 250W
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti104.9$525 ($399)GA104, 4864 shaders, 1665 MHz, 16.2 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 200W
Radeon RX 6750 XT102.7$549 ($549)Navi 22, 2560 shaders, 2600 MHz, 13.3 TFLOPS, 12GB GDDR6@18Gbps, 432GB/s, 250W
Radeon RX 6700 XT97.0$479 ($479)Navi 22, 2560 shaders, 2581 MHz, 13.2 TFLOPS, 12GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 384GB/s, 230W
GeForce RTX 2080 Super96.6$799 ($699)TU104, 3072 shaders, 1815 MHz, 11.2 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@15.5Gbps, 496GB/s, 250W
GeForce RTX 208092.7$799 ($649)TU104, 2944 shaders, 1710 MHz, 10.1 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 215W
GeForce RTX 2070 Super85.6$579 ($499)TU104, 2560 shaders, 1770 MHz, 9.1 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 215W
GeForce RTX 306080.9$409 ($329)GA106, 3584 shaders, 1777 MHz, 12.7 TFLOPS, 12GB GDDR6@15Gbps, 360GB/s, 170W
Radeon RX 6650 XT79.4$399 ($399)Navi 23, 2048 shaders, 2635 MHz, 10.8 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@18Gbps, 280GB/s, 180W
Radeon RX 6600 XT77.6$359 ($379)Navi 23, 2048 shaders, 2589 MHz, 10.6 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 256GB/s, 160W
GeForce RTX 207076.0$579 ($449)TU106, 2304 shaders, 1620 MHz, 7.5 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 175W
GeForce RTX 2060 Super72.2$409 ($399)TU106, 2176 shaders, 1650 MHz, 7.2 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 175W
Radeon RX 660065.6$299 ($329)Navi 23, 1792 shaders, 2491 MHz, 8.9 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 224GB/s, 132W
Radeon RX 5700 XT61.7$399 ($399)Navi 10, 2560 shaders, 1905 MHz, 9.8 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 225W
GeForce RTX 206060.3$340 ($299)TU106, 1920 shaders, 1680 MHz, 6.5 TFLOPS, 6GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 336GB/s, 160W
GeForce RTX 305058.8$329 ($249)GA106, 2560 shaders, 1777 MHz, 9.1 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 224GB/s, 130W
Radeon RX 570054.4$399 ($349)Navi 10, 2304 shaders, 1725 MHz, 7.9 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 448GB/s, 180W
Radeon RX 5600 XT48.5$299 ($279)Navi 10, 2304 shaders, 1750 MHz, 8.1 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 336GB/s, 160W
GeForce GTX 1660 Super36.5$288 ($229)TU116, 1408 shaders, 1785 MHz, 5.0 TFLOPS, 6GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 336GB/s, 125W
Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB33.3$249 ($199)Navi 14, 1408 shaders, 1845 MHz, 5.2 TFLOPS, 8GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 224GB/s, 130W
GeForce GTX 166032.9$249 ($209)TU116, 1408 shaders, 1785 MHz, 5.0 TFLOPS, 6GB GDDR5@8Gbps, 192GB/s, 120W
Radeon RX 6500 XT28.6$179 ($199)Navi 24, 1024 shaders, 2815 MHz, 5.8 TFLOPS, 4GB GDDR6@18Gbps, 144GB/s, 107W
Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB27.9$199 ($169)Navi 14, 1408 shaders, 1845 MHz, 5.2 TFLOPS, 4GB GDDR6@14Gbps, 224GB/s, 130W
GeForce GTX 1650 Super26.5$239 ($169)TU116, 1280 shaders, 1725 MHz, 4.4 TFLOPS, 4GB GDDR6@12Gbps, 192GB/s, 100W
Radeon RX 640022.0$159 ($159)Navi 24, 768 shaders, 2321 MHz, 3.6 TFLOPS, 4GB GDDR6@16Gbps, 128GB/s, 53W
GeForce GTX 165020.0$199 ($159)TU117, 896 shaders, 1665 MHz, 3.0 TFLOPS, 4GB GDDR5@8Gbps, 128GB/s, 75W

If you're looking at those numbers and wondering where they come from, they're a composite score generated by using the geometric mean of testing conducted at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. Ray tracing hardware and DLSS factor into the scores as well, where applicable, which is why Nvidia's RTX GPUs generally outclass their AMD counterparts.

Prices are not a factor in the above rankings, but I've listed the best current Amazon price I was able to find on each GPU. Obviously, previous generation parts tend to be far less desirable, as prices have not dropped nearly enough relative to the performance on tap. Note that I do get Amazon affiliate compensation if you use my links.

With the overall performance rankings out of the way, I've also selected my top four picks for the enthusiast, high-end, mid-range, and budget markets. Here's where price becomes a much bigger consideration.

The Best Enthusiast Graphics Card: GeForce RTX 3080 12GB ($899)

Nvidia hasn't even given an official MSRP for the 12GB variant of the RTX 3080, though I'd say it's worth about $100 more than the 10GB model. It has a few more GPU shader cores, but more importantly it gets 20% more memory bandwidth. With its superior ray tracing hardware and DLSS support, the RTX 3080 12GB comes out just ahead of AMD's latest and greatest Radeon RX 6950 XT, all while costing $200 less. It's basically as fast as the RTX 3080 Ti as well, again for quite a bit less money. Without absolutely destroying your bank account, this is the top enthusiast graphics card right now.

The Best High-End Graphics Card: Radeon RX 6750 XT 12GB ($549)

Picking the best high-end GPU is a bit more difficult. The RTX 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti are all worth a thought, but overall I give the edge to the Radeon RX 6750 XT. It has more memory, it performs nearly as well as the Nvidia cards — better if you're not worried about ray tracing effects — and it's reasonably priced at $549. You can also opt for the RX 6700 XT, which is only a few percent slower and costs about $70 less.

The Best Mainstream Graphics Card: Radeon RX 6600 8GB ($299)

There's little question about this one, as the RX 6600 delivers excellent performance and only costs $299. Such prices were practically unheard of during the past two years for a GPU of this quality, but with the massive drop off in GPU mining profitability, there appears to be a growing surplus of AMD's Navi 23 parts. Our overall performance ranking puts it quite a bit behind the RTX 3060, but that card costs over $100 more. Online prices are lower than even the RTX 3050, a card that's easily eclipsed by the RX 6600. This is arguably the best graphics card value right now.

The Best Budget Graphics Card: Radeon RX 6500 XT 4GB ($179)

This is a tough one, as the Radeon RX 6500 XT has a lot of limitations. It doesn't have much memory, it's limited to a 4-lane PCIe interface, it only has two display outputs, and it doesn't even have video encoding hardware. The problem is that the next step up basically puts us right back at the $300 midrange price point. Given you can find the RX 6500 XT for just $179, and it competes with the GTX 1650 Super that costs $60 more, there just aren't many other worthwhile options for under $200.


Looking Forward to Ada and RDNA 3

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Nvidia's next generation Ada architecture (RTX 4000 most likely) and AMD's next generation RDNA 3 architecture (RX 7000 most likely) are slated to arrive before the end of the year, possibly as early as September. While I could argue that you should just wait for the new parts to arrive, there's little reason to expect great prices. Both AMD and Nvidia will almost certainly launch with their fastest and most expensive GPUs first, leaving high-end, mainstream, and budget offerings for next year.

If you already have a decent graphics card, there's no rush to upgrade today. I wouldn't be surprised to see an "RTX 4080" that performs better than the RTX 3090 Ti while costing closer to $1,000. That's still a $300 jump over the current RTX 3080, and very likely such cards will sell out and go for higher prices until early 2023. AMD will probably do the same thing with an "RX 7800 XT" that's faster than the RX 6950 XT but costs at least $1,000.

Keep in mind that the wafer costs on the upcoming architectures are going to be significantly higher, and prices were paid in advance, many months ago — when GPU prices were still far higher. 5nm class GPUs will simply be inherently more expensive to make, and AMD and Nvidia will want to keep decent profit margins. If the cards have a total manufacturing cost of $500, which seems likely, I'd expect retail prices to be double that.

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