The best gpus all time ever made, there are seven that really stand out.
The GPU is undoubtedly the most interesting component of a gaming PC: it provides the power required to boost resolutions and visual detail settings, and it is easily upgradeable generation after generation. It’s also the typical battleground for commercial and technological supremacy between Nvidia and AMD (though the fight has been shifting to the datacenter in recent years). These two firms have frequently fought tooth and nail with each generation, delivering graphics cards that aren’t just fantastic, but actually decisive in influencing the course of the industry.
It’s exceedingly tough to select even a dozen historical graphics cards; across the industry’s 30-year existence, you might suggest over 20 game-changing GPUs, and analyzing each one would simply take too long. I’ve chosen the seven most significant Nvidia and AMD graphics cards of the last 20 years, as well as how each signified a crucial turning point.
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro: Defining the term “legendary”
The graphics market was not a duopoly when it originally emerged, and the main players in the 1990s were Nvidia, ATI, Matrox, and 3dfx. Matrox had abandoned the gaming market by the time the GeForce 256 was released in 1999 (which Nvidia claims was the first GPU), and 3dfx was in the process of selling much of its intellectual property to Nvidia.
ATI was the final company that could compete with Nvidia, and the odds were stacked against them. The company’s Radeon 7000 and 8000 GPUs fell short of Nvidia’s own GeForce GPUs, and if ATI can’t compete, it could follow Matrox and 3dfx’s destiny.
To win, ATI decided to take a risk and create a GPU that was much larger than usual. Most GPU chips had an area of 100mm2, but ATI opted to make its R300 processor larger than 200mm2. Bigger GPUs are far more expensive to manufacture, but the performance gains are enormous. The R300 GPU has over 110 million transistors, significantly outnumbering Nvidia’s top-end GeForce4 with its 63 million transistors.
The Radeon 9000 series, which launched in 2002 with the Radeon 9700 Pro, was powered by R300. In almost every game, the 9700 Pro completely destroyed Nvidia’s GeForce4 Ti 4600, and in some cases outperformed Nvidia’s flagship by a factor of two or more. Despite being $100 more expensive than the Ti 4600, sites such as Anandtech gave the 9700 Pro great reviews. The success of ATI’s large GPU provided the corporation with a much-needed relief from Nvidia, but only for a short time.
Nvidia GeForce 8800: The only card that was important
Nvidia GeForce 8800 is one of the best gpus all time, the 9700 Pro set the tone for the following two decades of graphics cards, and it rapidly became evident that new top-end GPUs needed to be large. Nvidia and ATI followed up the R300 with 200mm and even 300mm2 chips, and while ATI launched the arms race, Nvidia eventually reclaimed performance leadership with the GeForce 8 series in 2006, which debuted with the GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS.
The flagship 8800 GTX outperformed ATI’s top-tier Radeon X1950 by 50% to 100%, resulting in a triumph described by Anandtech as “similar to what we saw with the Radeon 9700 Pro.” Nevertheless, the upper midrange GeForce GTS might tie the X1950 in some titles while outperforming it by 50% in others. Even at $600 and $450, the 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS garnered high marks.
The GeForce 8800 GT, which debuted in late 2007, was the true star of the GeForce 8800 family. Although being a somewhat reduced 8800 GTX, it sold for around $200, almost one-third the price of the top-tier model. It rendered virtually every other Nvidia and ATI GPU obsolete, even the most recent Radeon HD 2900 XT. What Nvidia achieved with the 8800 GT was shocking, and given the present status of the market, it’s unfathomable that such a thing will ever happen again.
AMD Radeon HD 5970: The modern graphics
This is one of the best GPUs of all time, following the GeForce 8 series, Nvidia dominated ATI, which was acquired by AMD in 2006. Because the Radeon HD 2000 and 3000 series were already planned when the acquisition occurred, AMD could only begin adjusting the path of its new graphics unit with the HD 4000 series. AMD observed the Nvidia-ATI dynamic and eventually rejected the massive GPU status quo that had prevailed since the Radeon 9000 series. The new method devised by ATI and AMD was dubbed the “small die strategy.”
The HD 4000 and 5000 series were designed with the core premise that large GPUs were too expensive to design and manufacture. Smaller GPUs might achieve much of the performance of larger GPUs, particularly if they used the most recent manufacturing process or node. If AMD desired a speedier GPU, it could use its CrossFire technology, which allowed two cards to communicate with one another. The small die technique came with the HD 4000 series, and while it didn’t outperform the GTX 200 series, AMD’s smaller GPUs were almost as fast while costing nearly half the price.
In 2009, the HD 5000 series not only iterated on the compact die idea, but also took advantage of Nvidia’s difficulties in releasing its disastrous GTX 400 series. The HD 5870 was AMD’s fastest GPU with a single graphics processor, and it outperformed Nvidia’s flagship GTX 285, which was plagued by age. The HD 5970, on the other hand, was a graphics card that used two of AMD’s top-tier graphics chips, resulting in a GPU that was practically too fast for most users. Nvidia’s severely inadequate GTX 400 assured that the HD 5970 remained the world’s fastest GPU until 2012, a three-year reign.
AMD Radeon R9 290X: Radeon’s swan song
The dynamic between AMD and Nvidia began to evolve and become more balanced after the HD 5000 and GTX 400. AMD’s HD 6000 series did not significantly improve on HD 5000, but Nvidia’s GTX 500 series addressed GTX 400’s performance and power efficiency issues. The HD 7000 and GTX 600 series fought to a stalemate in 2012, though AMD was credited with launching the world’s first 1GHz GPU. AMD and Nvidia were both using TSMC’s 28nm node at the time, and AMD would have preferred to move to the 22nm node in order to gain a competitive advantage.
That’s what AMD would have done if practically every semiconductor manufacturer in the world wasn’t having trouble moving beyond 28nm. In 2013, AMD couldn’t rely on a process advantage, and both firms debuted entirely new GPUs on TSMC’s 28nm node, resulting in some of the industry’s largest flagship GPUs to date. Nvidia beat AMD to the following generation with its $1,000 GTX Titan and $650 GTX 780 GPUs, which had a chip size of 561mm2 (large even by current standards).
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080: The face of modern graphics
The dynamic between Nvidia and AMD shifted considerably in the years following the release of the 290X. AMD has always managed to keep up with Nvidia and compete for the number one slot since the HD 5000 series, but financial troubles began to plague the business for a variety of reasons. When Nvidia debuted its new GTX 900 series in 2014, AMD had no new Chips to offer. AMD did release new cards in 2015, but the most of them were simply updated 200 series cards, with the top-end R9 Fury X failing to replicate the magical R9 290X moment.
Meanwhile, in 2015, TSMC finally launched its new 16nm node, implying that the next generation of GPUs could finally get a much-needed upgrade. Under normal circumstances, AMD would have benefited from this, and it would have used the 16nm node as soon as it was available if the company hadn’t been on the verge of bankruptcy. Instead, Nvidia was the first to use the 16nm node in 2016 with its GTX 10 series, which is fundamentally identical to the GTX 900 series except for the use of the 16nm node.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10GB: A bone
As one of the best gpus all time, the GTX 10 series was immediately followed by the infamously disappointing RTX 20 series. Until the Super refresh in 2019, these GPUs offered little to no significant performance improvements over the 10 series. Nvidia wanted to obliterate AMD with its innovative ray tracing and AI technologies, but a severe lack of games that used ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (or DLSS) made the 20 series a bad deal in general.
Nvidia needed to focus on delivering clearly better performance and value in order to provide a better next-gen product and avoid the imminent threat of AMD’s own upcoming next-gen GPUs. Importantly, Nvidia collaborated exclusively with Samsung, abandoning its previous partner, TSMC. Nvidia was sacrificing performance and efficiency by using Samsung’s 8nm node when TSMC’s 7nm was superior. However, because Samsung had less demand for processors, Nvidia is very likely to have gotten a great deal for its upcoming GPUs.
see also; Best Nvidia and Amd Graphics Card for Mining