PC Gaming has come a long way over the years, especially in the past decade with technology advancing at such an exponential rate. The main components dominating the field being graphics cards (GPUs) and processors (CPUs) with new and improved products coming out almost every year. While RAM has also impacted the gaming landscape, the gaps between new generations are less exciting, considering DDR4 RAM came out 6 years ago, and DDR5 is only expected to release in 2021. Lets start by taking a look at GPUs and the leaps and strides that have been made over the years.
AMD vs Nvidia, The Never Ending Race
The GPU market has been historically dominated by two companies, Nvidia and AMD. Nvidia has, for the post part, held the top position over the years by always releasing products that really outshined their predecessors. It’s only recently with the announcement of the AMD 6000 series GPUs that it looks like Nvidia’s reign at the top might be coming to an end. With that said, lets have a look at the defining cards of the past decade.
2009 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 295
This was a high end card at the time built on 55nm architecture with 896MB VRAM with a 448 bit bus width, running on GDDR3 VRAM.
2012 – AMD Radeon HD 7970
This high end card was build on 28nm architecture with a whopping 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM with a 384 bit bus width. This card was made on AMD’s GCN 1.0 architecture.
2013 – AMD Radeon R9 290
This card can still hold up today as an entry level card, even though at the time of its release it was considered high end, with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM and a 512 bit bus width.
2014 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
This card still performs today in recent titles at 1080p. With 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and a 256 bit bus width, the 970 can still be used as a mid range graphics card.
2016 – AMD Radeon RX 480
This card was designed as a well performing and affordable mid range graphics card, with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM and a 256 bit bus width, this card was designed on the 14nm process.
2016 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
The 1080 is a card that will still run modern titles on high graphics today, with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM on a 16nm chip.
2018 – Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 TI
The first of the RTX series cards, the 2080 introduced revolutionary new ray tracing and variable rate shading. With 11GB of GDDR6 VRAM on a 12nm process, this card will hold up for many years to come as a high end gaming GPU.
2020 – Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
The current king of the hill in the gaming scene, the 3090 can handle 4k gaming at 140 fps, and 8k gaming at 60 fps. With 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM, this card is going to remain a serious competitor in the near future.
2020 – AMD RX 6900 XT
The recently announced 6900 XT, which is set to release in December 2020, is a 16GB GDDR6 card that gives the RTX 3090 a run for its money, all while having lower power consumption and costing 300 dollars less. We are still waiting for the official benchmark results, but the information provided when AMD announced the cards is very promising, This could be the turning point for AMD to beat Nvidia.
AMD vs Intel, Slow and Steady Wins the Race
When it comes to the CPU market, AMD and Intel have been the two companies dominating the field, with Intel being in the lead for quite some time, it is only in recent years that AMD have started offering comparable performance, with their Ryzen series processors offering higher multi-core performance than Intel. Lets have a look at their defining CPUs over the years leading up to now.
2010 – Intel i7 980X
The i7 980X was their first 6 core processor, with a base clock of 3.3 ghz and a boost clock of 3.6 ghz. It was a 6 core, 12 thread CPU on a 32nm process.
2010- AMD Phenom II X6 1100T
This 6 core 6 thread CPU had a base speed of 3.3 ghz and a boost speed of 3.7 ghz. It ran on a 45nm process.
2011- AMD FX 8100
This was the world’s first 8 core desktop processor with a 3.8ghz boost clock speed.
2014 – Intel i7 5960X
After 3 years intel caught up to AMD in terms of core count, with this being their first 8 core desktop CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads, a base clock speed of 3.0 ghz and a boost speed of 3.5ghz.
2016 – AMD Pro A12-9800
This APU had 4 cores and 8 threads, with an impressive boost clock of 4.2 ghz.
2017 – Intel i9 7900X
Intel’s first i9 was a 10 core 20 thread CPU with a base clock speed of 3.3 ghz and a turbo boost speed of 4.5 ghz.
2017 – AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X
AMD’s first threadripper, a high powered desktop CPU, aimed at content creators had 16 cores and 32 threads, with a base speed of 3.4 ghz and a boost speed of 3.4 ghz. It was at this stage that AMD CPUs started to really shine on their new Zen architecture.
2018 – Intel i9 9900K
This was Intel’s pride and glory at release, declaring itself as the best gaming CPU in the world at the time. With 8 cores and 16 threads, the CPU boasted a 5 ghz boost clock speed.
2019 – Ryzen 9 3900x
This was AMD’s first 7nm chip, which is something that AMD currently has over Intel’s 14nm process. With 12 cores and 24 threads, and a base speed of 3.8 ghz and a boost of 4.6 ghz, this CPU closed the gap between AMD and Intel, putting them on par with Intel’s 9th gen CPUs.
2020 – Intel i9 10900k
Another 10 core 20 thread CPU, the 10900k offers up to 5.3 ghz speeds. At release this was considered the best gaming CPU on the market.
2020 – AMD Ryzen 9 5950X
The newly released Ryzen 9 5950X is currently the world’s most powerful gaming CPU, offering higher single core and multi core performance than the Intel 10th gen CPUs. This CPU was the first CPU to ever get a score of over 600 in cinebench for single core performance. With 16 cores and 32 threads and a boost clock speed of 4.9 ghz, this processor put AMD at the top. The 5th gen Ryzen CPUs also introduced a new design that let all the cores of the CPU access a single 64MB cache, minimising latency and optimising performance.
Then vs Now
From 896MB of VRAM in 2009, to 24GB of VRAM in 2020, and a 6 core CPU in 2010 to a 16 core CPU in 2020, gaming hardware has come a long way. With 4k gaming becoming commonplace and 8k gaming on the horizon, there’s no telling where we will be in the next 10 years. In 2030 will we look back at the Nvidia 30 series and AMD 6000 series GPU’s and think of them as basic cards that won’t cut it the same way we view the GTX 295 today? One would think that the current high end GPUs and CPUs will still be as relevant in 10 years time, but there is no way to know for sure. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride as the gaming experience becomes more and more immersive.