Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480

AMD vs Nvidia is a long-standing rivalry between two GPU manufacturers that has often led to community wars. In true UFC fashion, the green corner aka Nvidia, announced its pascal-based GPU, the GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 on 7 May, and on 19 July its GTX 1060. In the red corner, AMD announced its new Polaris GPU, the RX 480 on 1 June 2016 and has since also unveiled the RX 460 and RX 470.

Here's a comparison of their specs, features, power efficiency, UK availability and price. Also see our: GTX 1070 review and GTX 1080 review | AMD RX 480 vs RX 470 vs RX 460 | AMD Polaris UK release date, price, specification.

We would like to thank our colleagues in the US at PCWorld for some of the images.

Updated 19 July to add GTX 1060.

Podcast discussion: AMD RX 480 and VR

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480: UK availability, release date and price

The GTX 1080 and 1070 were both announced on 7 May with a release date of 27 May and 10 June 2016 respectively. You can therefore already purchase the GTX 1080 through selected retailers, such as Overclockers UK, eBuyer, Scan, Amazon, Maplin and Currys. Prices for the GTX 1080 range from £524.99 all the way up to £679.99 for a water-cooled variant of the GPU.

Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD RX 480 - 1080

The GTX 1070 comes in a Founders Edition for £399, but can be found cheaper at £374.99 from third-party manufacturers. The GTX 1060 was announced later on 19 July at a launch price of £239 through selected manufacturers and £279 through Nvidia's website for the Founders Edition. Read next: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060.

The RX 480 was launched on 29 June, with the Polaris GPU priced between £180 and £200 for the 4- and 8GB VRAM models respectively.

If you're on a budget or looking to get the best bang for buck, the RX 480 provides a lot more for full-HD (1920×1080) gaming than the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. AMD's Polaris card is less than half the price of the GTX 1070 and is an astonishing 70 percent cheaper than the GTX 1080.

The GTX 1060 does give the RX 480 a run for its money, however considering most full-HD gamers won't be pushing the 4GB VRAM limit of the RX 480, we feel the £180 RX 480 is best value option.

GTX 1080 & 1070 vs RX 480 - Red army

Given the popularity of the R9 390 and R9 380 among those who were looking for a budget GPU, the RX 480 provides a killer combination that combines key performance attributes of the R9 390, whilst being as cheap as the R9 380 – fantastic for those on a budget.

Winner: AMD RX 480

Read next: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 vs GTX 1070.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480: Specifications

Given the AMD RX 480's price, we didn't expect mind-blowing specs from the red team, however AMD hasn't disappointed us, with specs that sit between its older R9 380 and R9 390 – impressive considering it costs just as much as the R9 380 when it was released. The most impressive part of the GPU's specs is the high core clock it has versus previous generation AMD cards and the amount of stream processors.

RX 480 specs:

  • Stream Processors: 2304
  • Core Clock: 1120MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1266MHz
  • VRAM: 4 & 8GB
  • TFLOP: 5.8
  • Memory Clock: 7Gbps (4GB) & 8Gbps (8GB)
  • Memory Bus Width: 256-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth (GB/s): 224 (4GB) & 256 (8GB)
  • TDP: 150W
  • Transistors: 5.7b
  • Manufacturing process: FinFET 14nm
  • Power: 1x 6-pin

Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD RX 480 - AMD Card

The GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 both have impressive specs, they are as follows:

GTX 1080 specs:

  • CUDA Cores: 2560
  • Core Clock: 1607MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1733MHz
  • VRAM: 8GB GDDR5X
  • TFLOP: 9
  • Memory Clock: 10Gbps
  • Memory Bus Width: 256-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth (GB/s): 320
  • TDP: 180W
  • Transistors: 7.2b
  • Manufacturing process: FinFET 16nm
  • Power connector: 1x 8-pin PCIe

GTX 1070 specs:

  • CUDA Cores: 1920
  • Core Clock: 1506MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1683MHz
  • VRAM: 8GB GDDR5
  • TFLOP: 6.5
  • Memory Clock: 8Gbps
  • Memory Bus Width: 256-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth (GB/s): 256
  • TDP: 150W
  • Transistors: 7.2b
  • Manufacturing process: FinFET 16nm
  • Power connector: 1x 8-pin PCIe

The GTX 1060 is aimed at those who aren't looking for the top specs, but rather a solid performer, like the RX 480 in full-HD gaming:

GTX 1060 specs:

  • CUDA Cores: 1280
  • Core Clock: 1506MHz
  • Boost Clock: 1708Hz
  • VRAM: 6GB GDDR5
  • TFLOP: 3.8
  • Memory Clock: 8Gbps
  • Memory Bus Width: 192-bit
  • Memory Bandwidth (GB/s): 192
  • TDP: 120W
  • Transistors: 4.4b
  • Manufacturing process: FinFET 16nm
  • Power connector: 1x 6-pin PCIe

The Nvidia cards run on the latest architecture, Pascal. Seen in Nvidia's eyes as the new era of VR. Take away the VR focus and the cards are not only cheaper than its predecessors the GTX 980 and GTX 970, but the GTX 1080 and 1070 also out-punch the GTX Titan X, a seriously expensive card (£800-950 on Amazon) that was previously deemed as the best single-GPU card on the market.

The GTX 1060 on the other hand isn't trying to compete with the best, but rather is a slightly more expensive rival to the AMD RX 480. When put up against the AMD card, their benchmark results went back and forth in games. Making both cards relatively equal to each other in real-world scenarios. In synthetic benchmarks such as 3D Mark 11, the GTX 1060 comes out on top.

However, when you put the AMD RX 480 against the GTX 1070 and 1080, the AMD card is beaten by the amount of raw power the two Nvidia cards have, where it's hard for the RX 480 to realistically compete.

Looking at the specs, the RX 480 goes head-to-head with the GTX 1060, but both cards aren't able to compete with the GTX 1070 and 1080 which are both aimed at those who want to game at QHD or 4K.

Nevertheless, both the RX 480 and GTX 1060 provide fantastic value for money. If you're someone who's looking for the best full-HD (1920×1080) experience, then both cards will suffice. If however, you're looking for more, then the GTX 1070 and 1080 are the logical steps forward.

It should also be noted that the RX 480 does better than a GTX 970 (especially given its 3.5GB VRAM memory problem) and be on-par in certain areas as the R9 390. As far as we're aware, we might see the new undisputed featherweight champion of the world (OK, we'll stop with the MMA chants) – the RX 480.

GTX 1080 & 1070 vs RX 480 - Performance Comparison

If you're looking for pure specs and performance, it's a no brainer; the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 do more, but also cost more than double the RX 480 and the GTX 1060. Speaking of double, AMD did share a DX12 benchmark of two RX 480s running in CrossFire and outperforming a GTX 1080 – however Ars Technica debunked the benchmark, by showcasing the RX 480 in CrossFire beating a single GTX 1070 card, but not the GTX 1080.

Winner: Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070

Read next: Best graphics cards 2016.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480: Key features

Both red and green camps have their advantages and disadvantages, the biggest one being what the new architectures of both companies can bring to the end user.

The most obvious one is drivers and software support. AMD was previously known as having horrendous driver support. They've somewhat addressed the issues with new sleek and stylish software, but at its core, AMD still has software problems and sometime game compatibility issues.

Don't get us wrong, Nvidia isn't perfect, especially with some of its bundled software such as ShadowPlay (which allows users to record gameplay), but it's generally accepted that Nvidia drivers and software have less problems than AMD.

Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD RX 480 - Pascal

On the new Nvidia Pascal cards, the company launched Nvidia Ansel, an exciting tool for those who like taking pictures in games. The tool allows you to take multiple different images from a point-of-view that might not be present in-game. In other words, having the ability to take screenshots within a handful of games, where you can have multiple different perspectives and angles that you might not have ever seen on your monitor. Read more: Nvidia Pascal.

On the AMD Polaris card, you don't have photography abilities, but you do have AMD FreeSync. This is AMD's answer to Nvidia's G-Sync, a clever way for the graphics card to synchronise with your G-Sync-enabled monitor, in order to give you a tear-free experience. The major advantage of FreeSync is how much it costs – it's called Free…Sync for a reason – making monitors a lot cheaper to buy. Also see: Best gaming monitor.

Using FreeSync allows you to utilise the same benefits that Nvidia cards bring, but instead of paying an extra £100-200 on top of your desired monitor, you'll be spending a lot less on a monitor. Read next: Best budget displays 2016.

Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD RX 480 - GPU

Both architectures support game streaming, VR and have great display output capabilities (DisplayPort 1.3, HDMI 2.0a/b etc).

To compare the cards head-to-head, we find that Nvidia generally offers more features, however given AMD's stance on FreeSync it's hard to call a winner between the two.

We suggest looking at what features mean more to you, and then decide which architecture would better suit your general day-to-day usage. If photography is important to you, then the Nvidia cards would be an obvious first choice. If you're looking to upgrade your monitor in the future, but not looking to spend a lot of money, then you should get an AMD graphics card.

Winner: Tied

Read next: How to upgrade your graphics card.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480: Power draw, efficiency, heat dissipation and noise

In the past, power draw and efficiency are two things where AMD has got a lot of bad press. The AMD cards draw a lot of power, they are more expensive to run – this might not bother many, but heat dissipation which ultimately leads to fan noise, has been a focal point within the online community of PC builders.

Nvidia GTX 1080 & 1070 vs AMD RX 480 - Pascal card

In this respect, the AMD cards are known to run a lot hotter and because of this, for the same GPU load, are much louder. You might not think a graphics card can be that loud, but believe us, the AMD cards can sound like a jet wanting to take off. Thankfully, third-party manufacturers such as MSI designed very cool (pun intended) fans that did a lot better than the stock AMD coolers.

With the RX 480, AMD has addressed this by utilising the Polaris architecture to its full glory. Due to the card using much less power than its previous generation Hawaii GPUs (R9 3xx line), the RX 480 runs a lot quieter than any previous generation AMD card.

Back in the green corner, all new Nvidia cards run silently on both the stock fan design and the after-market coolers by manufacturers.

GTX 1080 & 1070 vs RX 480 - Efficiency

Taking this into account, it's hard to call a winner in this section of the comparison as both new AMD and Nvidia cards run silently.

Read next: How to build a gaming PC for under £500.

Winner: Tied

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, 1070 & 1060 vs AMD Radeon RX 480: User poll

Which card will you get or think is the better overall card given its price?

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition: Specs

  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU
  • Codename: Pascal GP104
  • Process: 16nm
  • Core clock: 1607MHz (base) 1733MHz (boost)
  • Memory clock: 10,000MHz
  • Memory bus width: 256-bit
  • Processor cores: 2560
  • Texture units: 160
  • ROPs: 64
  • APIs: DirectX 12, Vulkan
  • Memory type and capacity: GDDR5X 8GB
  • Cooling system: Nvidia NVTTM Cooler
  • Power connectors: 1x 8-pin PCIe
  • Ports: 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x DL-DVI-D
  • Simultaneous outputs: 16
  • Card width: 2 slots
  • Dimensions: 270 x 42 x 111mm
  • Cosmetic enhancements: None
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU
  • Codename: Pascal GP104
  • Process: 16nm
  • Core clock: 1607MHz (base) 1733MHz (boost)
  • Memory clock: 10,000MHz
  • Memory bus width: 256-bit
  • Processor cores: 2560
  • Texture units: 160
  • ROPs: 64
  • APIs: DirectX 12, Vulkan
  • Memory type and capacity: GDDR5X 8GB
  • Cooling system: Nvidia NVTTM Cooler
  • Power connectors: 1x 8-pin PCIe
  • Ports: 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 1x DL-DVI-D
  • Simultaneous outputs: 16
  • Card width: 2 slots
  • Dimensions: 270 x 42 x 111mm
  • Cosmetic enhancements: None
  • Warranty: 3 years

OUR VERDICT

On paper the Nvidia GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 come out on top, meaning if you're in search of performance, these two cards offers more horsepower. However if you're on a budget, the Nvidia GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 480 are both considerably cheaper and offer a solid performance across the board, making them the easy go-to GPUs for most gamers who play on a 1920×1080 resolution.

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