OK, you've made it through the rankings, but we're not done yet. Prepare yourself for an onslaught of data, in the form of our historical video card Price-Performance curves. Just about every card mentioned in this article is plotted on this graph, based on its release date and original retail price. We calculate the performance per dollar rating of each card by simply dividing its Speed Rating by the original retail price (not sale prices, prices after rebate, prices with a cryptocurrency mining tax, or late-stage prices), multiplied by 100.
There's a lot of data to review here, from price/performance ratios (plotted on the vertical axis), to launch prices, to launch dates (on the horizontal axis). We've also included trend lines for two Speed Ratings for which we have a lot of data: 9x (brown), 12x (blue), 13x (yellow), and 15x (orange). There are three takeaways we'd like to highlight for our readers, as we discuss below.
First, you generally get more for your money over time. Note that it can be sped up through intense competition (witness the yellow line where the RTX 2060 Super and RX 5700 XT duke it out for value!). But massive mis-fires can drag down progress, like AMD's ill-fated Radeon Vega VII, which simply matched the GTX 1080 Ti at the same price sevral years later (shown by the orange line). Awful launch for AMD.
Second, the rate of progress has slowed down tremendously. In fact, Nvidia's Turing-based cards practically sent things backwards, especially when RTX 2080 cards came out at prices well above the GTX 1080 Ti, offering less performance per dollar over two years later (awful launch for Nvidia!). Similarly, the RTX 2080 Ti barely advanced the price/performance ball versus the halo Titan X Pascal and Xp from years past. Frankly, we just aren't impressed by Nvidia's continued reliance on a "Founders Edition" card and a "regular" card, which allows them to both market a lower price and sell everything for a higher price. It stinks, period. The RTX 2080 was supposed to be $700, but we've calculated a value at $800, because that's what it sold for during its first six months. Furthermore, the "$1,000" RTX 2080 Ti basically never arrived, and for all intents and purposes, this was a $1,200 GPU that Nvidia was able to get reviewers to judge using a $1,000 pricepoint. We call BS on that. Of course, Nvidia did have hell to pay when it came to sales, and once shareholders got news of this, Nvidia's stock dropped 50%, so we are quite sure Jen-Hsun will be changing his approach going forward. The RTX 2070 Super is a first sign of this, but we're hoping for even more performance per dollar in the future (alas, it didn't come with the RTX 2080 Super, released after we published the graph above, which offered a Performance/Dollar rating of 2.42, or barely more than 2017's GTX 2080 Ti rating of 2.15).
A third point is one that you don't see in the graphs but will become increasingly important, and that is features. There are so many we could list, but we'll just highlight five:
- Nvidia's Turing cooler is clearly superior to those that came before it, and it really set a new benchmark for performance that AMD has yet to match with its reference designs
- Nvidia's RTX ray tracing hardware provides image quality enhancements that AMD currently can't provide
- AMD's well-regarded new Radeon Image Sharpening technology could be a great benefit to gamers who want to play at resolutions below their native monitor resolution to increase framerates but still get great image quality
- VRAM, which AMD is generally more generous withh, absolutely makes a difference when it comes to future-proofing, no matter what anyone else says is "enough" today.
- Energy efficiency, which is currently a draw, but generally goes Nvidia's way.
In other words, there's a lot more in play than just straight-line performance. Just like with sports cars, there's much more than 0-60mph times to consider when comparing models, and so it is with framerates.
As always, we like to make some predictions for the coming year, but with so many new cards just hitting the market, it's possible we're in for a long stretch of no new news. With that said, we do believe that AMD will scale up Navi to compete with the RTX 2080 Ti. It only needs to boost performance by 50% to do so, and we think it can while still under-cutting the 2080 Ti's "$1,000" pricepoint (which is still more like $1,100-$1,200 as we write this). We expect this card to arrive at CES in January 2020 for $800. Nvidia has already gone on the record to state that there will be no "Super" version of the RTX 2080 Ti, but that doesn't preclude Nvidia from releasing an RTX 2090, and we fully expect that card to launch at CES 2020 as well, likely for $1,000 with performance that's 10% ahead of the RTX 2080 Ti. Alas, if you look at where we've come from, neither of these hypothetical product launches seem all that exciting, so in a sense we're being a bit conservative, but given the stale-ness of the high-end market over the past few years, we'd call it realistic.
Now, to keep us honest, we end with all of our past predictions, some of which were right, some of which were just a bit off base, and some of which were dead wrong. Flip to the next page to see what we've had to say dating back to 2014 and judge for yourself if we know what we're talking about!!!