2016 makes for quite a tricky year to tease out a winner for the best graphics chip. While NVIDIA went all out with its brand new Pascal architecture, which is targeted expressly at the performance market and enthusiasts, AMD went in the reverse direction. The latter instead doubled down on mainstream consumers, intent on wooing them with its Radeon RX 400 series cards, designed to provide the best bang for your buck with decent performance and even more palatable prices.
That said, while the AMD Radeon RX 480 is the flagship Polaris GPU, it is still in no position to compete with the behemoth that is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080. As a result, we decided to use the performance-per- watt metric to provide a fairer measure of comparison between the two cards and see which came out ahead. After all, more performance-per-watt directly signifies who delivers a more efficient product/architecture.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 is without doubt the faster card by a significant margin here, but it came ahead in terms of power efficiency as well, or more specifically, the amount of performance that can be squeezed out of each watt consumed. NVIDIA’s 2016 flagship has a lot going for it, not least its blistering performance – faster than last generation’s ultra-enthusiast Titan X – admirable power consumption figures, and relatively attractive price point (for a card of its caliber that is). That said, the higher performance-per- watt figures versus the AMD Radeon RX 480, a card based on a Polaris architecture tweaked for power efficiency as well, only further cements its place as the best graphics card of 2016.
For the full performance results, you can head to our respective reviews of the Radeon RX 480 and GeForce GTX 1080. Below, we've condensed the results to see how much 3DMark points-per-watt or frames-per-watt you can get out of both cards:-
|Criteria/Model||AMD Radeon RX 480||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080|
|Price (at launch)||US$239||US$699|
For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.