For a long while, the conventional wisdom for getting a new graphics card was to go with Nvidia and, if you adhered to it, you likely saw both the RTX and the GTX suffix. If you’re confused as to which one of these you should buy, you’ve come to the right place.
Despite the fact that, as of 2021, AMD is able to offer some really good alternatives to Nvidia with its latest generation of graphics cards, Nvidia is still a relatively better option. This is mostly because of its longevity as the market leader and because the vast majority of cards released by Nvidia in the past five years are better than what AMD had to offer.
Let’s talk about what each prefix means and how and why it’s been used. Since GTX is older, we’ll start there.
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Giga Texel Shader eXtreme (GTX)
Since the release of the GeForce 7000 series in 2005, Nvidia has used the GTX suffix to mark its best cards.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that this trend continued all the way up the release of the RTX cards as Nvidia started gradually increasing the number of GTX-branded cards. Following the release of the 900 series cards in 2014, virtually all GeForce cards had the GTX suffix.
Seeing how cards from the era before the 900 series aren’t really useful for much in 2021, we’ll only discuss the 900, 1000 and 1600 series cards in this section. It’s also a good point to section out this discussion as AMD wasn’t on par with Nvidia after the 900 series cards released and all the way up to the release of the 6000 series cards in 2020.
Although the 1600 series cards do technically belong with the GTX cards, it’s interesting to note that they were released in 2019, a year after we got the first RTX cards. So, despite the GTX 1080 Ti being considered the best GTX card for a while, it is in fact the GTX 1660 Ti that is the best GTX card on the market today.
Although the performance margin isn’t extremely different, the price differential is simply too large to ignore. So, if you’re looking to get a GTX card, then the GTX 1600 series should be a no-brainer. However, there are some rather significant downsides to it compared to the RTX cards.
Ray Tracing Texel eXtreme (RTX)
First and foremost, the RTX cards have ray tracing, a technology which creates hyper-realistic lighting effects by doing real-time particle simulation. This thing on its own is more than enough to justify the additional cost. Furthermore, with the release of the RTX 3000 series cards, the affordability of ray tracing has skyrocketed.
Below is a tech demo from Nvidia showcasing the advancement in ray tracing technology using its cards.
Despite its release date of September 2020, the availability of the RTX 3000 series cards as of holiday season 2020 is still a little unreliable.
However, at a certain point, likely in Q1 2021, we’re bound to see these things level out and be able to have easier access to these cards. It is at this point that the RTX 3000 series cards will be available for the same price as the top GTX 1600 series cards while being leaps and bounds better.
The RTX 3000 series cards aren’t the first RTX cards released. In 2018, we saw the RTX 2000 series, which completely changed the landscape of video game graphics.
However, these cards are a bit on the expensive side, so if you’re really interested in buying an RTX card (and have the patience), you should wait until the RTX 3060 Ti is released or get an RTX 3070.