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Brett Nordquist (Customer Experience Engineer)

The Top Video Cards (as determined by our customers)

Written on February 1, 2013 by Brett Nordquist

When it comes to building a custom PC, one of the most important selections is the graphics card. What used to be viewed as a distinction, often limited to gaming systems is now a vital part of many computers ranging from post-production workstations to trading PCs requiring support for 8+ monitors.

Since the number of choices for graphics cards can be overwhelming, we cull through many brands and models until we find those which meet our performance and reliability standards. Only then do we offer specific brands and models for placement in a computer crafted by Puget Systems.

Although there are a few specialty manufacturers, the two dominant companies in this market today are NVIDIA and AMD. Both companies offer an array of cards are various price points. They also build both mainstream and professional grade cards. NVIDIA produces the GeForce and Quadro while AMD makes the Radeon and FirePro cards.  It’s not uncommon for both companies to leapfrog each other in terms of performance with each new generation.

Out of curiosity, I went back through our sales data for the past three years to determine which brand has been the most popular with our customers. The first graph below shows NVIDIA with a substantial margin in popularity and growing!

I also wanted to determine the most popular models of 2012 which is shown in the graph below. I included onboard video as a reference and to show how popular it has become. Because NVIDIA released a new series of cards across their product line, I combined models where it made most sense. For example, the GeForce GTX 580 was replaced earlier in the year with the GeForce GTX 680.

I found it interesting the GeForce GTX 660/560 has been the most popular series of cards which reflects the favorable price/performance ratio many reviewers and our benchmarks have acknowledged.  The high-end GeForce GTX 680/580 models are also popular with our customers, and the fact that are often purchased in pairs for those who play the most demanding games in SLI, helps drive their sales past a number of less expensive cards. The AMD equivalent to the 680 is the Radeon 7970, but it hasn’t sold well enough to make the list, although its less powerful siblings, the 7950 and 7750 did.

But as you can see, NVIDIA’s GeForce models hold the top six spots in terms of sales, and it’s difficult to see that trend changing anytime soon.


I love how the Nvidia is dominating the video card market at the moment. Generally, price was always the biggest factor and everyone knows how AMD is great producing products for lower costs. However, the time has come where performance has been the biggest decision among computer enthusiasts.
Understand, people who have done unbiased, wide variety of tests have seen that AMD wins in most cases. HOWEVER, Nvidia cards are stable unlike AMD. AMD cards are known to jump around in terms of framerates.
I am not a fanboy. I own AMD card right now and I have framerate drops during gpu intensive games. It is about time I switch to a quality product like Nvidia.... when I can afford it.

Posted on 2013-02-02 02:29:27
Sean Long

Wow. My 7970 isn't even on the chart.

And all that, despite AMD offering better bang for your buck, too! No, I don't mean AMD cards are more powerful - truth be told, NVidia cards do hold that distinction. But, I believe you get more power PER DOLLAR with an AMD card, than with anything from NVidia. :)

Of course, I'm an AMD fan all-round, so that might be my own bias talking.

Posted on 2013-02-02 05:07:49

Both are fine options these days. My brother has an all AMD setup from about 2-3 years ago that is still doing great for him, and while I used to be a big AMD CPU fan back in the Athlon hey-days I am now running Intel + NVIDIA... but both work well. AMD disn't seem to do as much to partner with / help out system builders for a while either, though, but they have been working with us more of late (like in our Spirit give-away last December). Long story short, I don't think you can make a 'wrong' decision in these areas, though of course we each have our own biases :)

Posted on 2013-02-04 04:14:28
Eric Garay

I'm not sure about other lab techs or product reviewers, but the GPU that is offered to those I know in the industry the most by NVIDIA and AMD partners tends to match this graph. In fact, NVIDIA and AMD often share a similar marketing message at some point. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between 1080p capable GPU and market trends. Without more affordable monitors with higher than 1080p resolutions available, you'll find consumers sticking to that resolution as their foundation.

Posted on 2013-02-02 18:32:53
Chris pryor

And this is why Apple makes so much money. Most people are ignorant.

Posted on 2013-02-04 01:41:53

Most people want products that just work.

Posted on 2013-02-04 02:53:49

Well then, they shouldn't buy a Mac! ;) <ba-dum-bum>

I kid, I kid... mostly. What I don't like is that they have all the control: you can't build your own Mac, and on their mobile side things are so locked-down. If they decided an app shouldn't be around any more - poof! They are the sole source for getting apps, no option to install other app stores or whatnot (short of jail-breaking, I suppose). I much prefer the freedom that comes with Windows or Linux on the desktop, and Android on the mobile side.

Posted on 2013-02-04 04:19:43

Desktop and mobile are two very different platforms that's probably worth a separate blog post.

Posted on 2013-02-04 17:44:34
Daniel Gies

How does that have anything to do with this article? It seems like you're just trolling.

Posted on 2013-02-04 04:06:35
Chris Pryor

Partly yes, but my intention was to point out that people will pay for the "name brand" of Nvidia just as they will Apple, to no practical advantage.

Posted on 2013-02-04 20:17:27

Hey now, it isn't true trolling if you admit to it!

Posted on 2013-02-04 20:19:23
Daniel Gies

I've been something of an ATI fan for years but their stock fans are just plain loud. Puget specializes in quiet systems so it should be no surprise Nvidia finds favor here.

Posted on 2013-02-05 08:47:54
James Hoover

who uses stock fans? <3 me my vapor x gpu cooler

Posted on 2013-03-12 05:32:00

sir what computer specs can u recommend if i want to play the upcoming mmorpgs (multi-client 3 at max) . I dont think ill be needing high end specs. descent performance will be enough. also can u explain how the new cpus (integrated with gpu) work, do they still need another video card? thank u.

Posted on 2013-02-18 06:17:09
James Hoover

Well NVIDIA will have a run for its money in the coming years With the PS4 and rumored Nextbox both will run using AMD, so games when they hit the PC will be primed for Radeon Cards, Like with the Tomb Raider that just hit the market Radeon users like myself had barely any issues but NVIDIA users are having a fucnky time waiting for an update. A sign of what to come?

Also kinda shocked that the 7750 made it up there when the 7770 is not that much more and comes overclocked I has the Sapphire vapor x edtion <3 best $119 I have spent

Posted on 2013-03-12 05:27:42

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Posted on 2013-03-21 10:30:56