Cost per Frame: Choosing the Best Value Graphics Cards on the Market Today

For those who missed it, we recently posted an April 2022 GPU price update that shows GPU prices continue to move in the right direction… down. We’ve been tracking GPU prices for over a year now, and it’s good to see prices getting closer and closer to MSRP.

But as we mentioned in this article, it’s hard to say how interesting that is for potential buyers, given that most of these products are now 18 months old and will likely be replaced by much more powerful next-gen hardware by the end of this year. Again, we believe that if gamers had the opportunity to buy the $730 RTX 3070 or the $570 RX 6700 XT earlier this year, they would jump at it. So while prices still suck compared to 2019, they could be worse, much worse. If you need proof of this, just go back and check out our May 2021 GPU pricing update when the 3070 was closer to $1600(!).

In any case, for those of you who are ready to buy now and don’t want to wait for the next generation of products – because, let’s be honest, prices will almost certainly be inflated and availability will be poor on launch day – what should you buy now? To do this, we collected fresh data and conducted an analysis of the cost of a frame.

Today’s goal is to test all current generation AMD and Nvidia GPUs to determine FPS performance and using that data to do some cost per frame comparison. There are 17 current-gen GPUs in total (or up to 18 if you include the RX 6400, but we don’t have any of them yet) and we don’t think we’re missing out on anything really valuable.

Since there are a lot of GPUs to cover, we only tested them in 6 games, but we chose games carefully based on the last 50 gaming tests. Titles include Red Dead Redemption 2, Rainbow Six Siege, Far Cry 6, Hitman 3, Dying Light 2, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Instead of looking at data for individual games, we calculated the geometric mean of six games and will use it to report cost per frame. The reason for using medium quality settings in almost all games was to allow entry-level models to reach a reasonable level of performance, and then at high levels we can look at 4K data.

We tested at 1080p, 1440p, and 4K using a Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor with DDR4-3600 CL16 memory and BAR resizing enabled. We used price information collected on April 20, which means that some price movement should be expected, although the bulk of the data should be reliable.

The most valuable information here is the frame rate data. Just pick the level of performance you’re interested in, take the current price you’re looking at, and divide it by the frame rate to get your cost per frame. Even if you are not located in the United States, since we usually make recommendations based on prices in this market, you can check the prices of the relevant products in your area and using the formula above, you can easily find the option that gives you the most value. meaning for you.

Best value for money at 1080p

Right now, the best 1080p GPU is the Radeon RX 6600, which costs $2.98 per frame in our testing. This makes it 16% cheaper than the 6500 XT per frame. What’s shocking about this data is that the 6500 XT should cost ~$170, which is the same frame cost as the RX 6600, and it will do so with half video memory, half PCIe bandwidth, no hardware encoding, and no AV1 decoding at all.

In other words, even though the Radeon 6500 XT is getting closer to the MSRP, it continues to be a terrible product that should never have been sold for more than $150 – in fact, $100 or less is much more appropriate for this class. products. It’s crazy to think that this GPU was selling for over $270 just a few months ago, with some reviewers recommending it simply because it was the cheapest new GPU you could buy.

The Radeon RX 6600 also mocks the RTX 3050 as the GeForce GPU costs 26% more per frame. According to our pricing data, it might be $10 cheaper, but since it’s 20% slower, it’s not that much.

The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti performs better despite the higher cost per frame. That’s $10 more than the 6700 XT and only 5% slower, so you could argue that features like DLSS help make up for that gap. To compare more expensive graphics cards, let’s jump to 1440p.

Best value for money at 1440p

The difference between the Radeon 6700 XT and the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti remains about the same at 1440p, and the GeForce GPU costs about 7% more per frame. As we move beyond the mid-range and get closer to more expensive models, AMD is showing good results.

The Radeon RX 6800 XT offers 5% more performance than the 12GB RTX 3080, suggesting that the 6-game sample is slightly more AMD-friendly compared to our 50-game test, but we’re only talking about a 5% discrepancy. keep that in mind.

In terms of overall FPS performance, the 6800 XT, RTX 3080, 3080 12GB, 3080 Ti, and even the 3090 are very similar. The 3080 Ti and 6800 XT match well here as they both averaged 157fps in our testing, but the Radeon GPU is currently 24% cheaper in the US, making it more attractive in terms of cost per frame.

Best value for money in 4K resolution

As we expected, Nvidia’s RTX Ampere GPUs perform better at higher 4K resolutions, and the 6800 XT is now on par with the 12GB 3080. With a wider selection of games, the RTX 3080 will pull ahead by about 5 to 7% margins, and we know this because we recently tested them, but it was not possible to test 17 graphics cards in 50 games for this feature.

The data for mid-range and low-end GPU models matched what we saw in our 50-game test, so we suspect the lower quality settings are what favors AMD’s high-end models a bit more in this scenario.

Here we see half a dozen AMD and Nvidia GPUs in the 90-105fps range, including the Radeon RX 6800 XT, 6900 XT, GeForce RTX 3080, 3080 12GB, 3080 Ti, and 3090. The most affordable GeForce option is the original RTX 3080. $1,000, while the 6800 XT costs $920. This is a small savings, so as usual, it comes down to the importance of additional features, namely ray tracing and DLSS performance.

Where the GeForce range gets ridiculous is in the RTX 3090 series. The $1,700 3090 is silly, and the $2,000 3090 Ti is just as silly. The battle for the high-end is between the 6900 XT and the RTX 3080 Ti, both offering similar levels of performance, with the GeForce GPU priced 21% more.

Back in February we compared the 6900 XT and 3080 12GB in 50 games and at that time the GeForce GPU was $1600 to $1800 while the 6900 XT was closer to $1500-$1600. The 3080 12 GB model cost $100 to $200 more, just like today. We think ray tracing and DLSS give the GeForce GPU a 10% boost, but 20% is too steep for us.

Best value for money at 1440p (Australia)

While the majority of our audience is in the US, we thought it would be interesting to check out price trends in a few other regions, so let’s start with Australia. The best option here is the 6600 XT, barely outperforming the RX 6600, basically both Radeon 6600 series GPUs represent a similar level of value. Then we have the 6700 XT, which simply outperforms the 6500 XT in terms of value, but you know we’re skeptical about the 6500 XT’s frame cost given all the issues with this product. We are also testing it with PCIe 4.0, which means it will be much larger when using PCIe 3.0.

The best GeForce GPU in Australia is the RTX 3060 Ti or 3060. The 3060 Ti costs only 2% more than the 6700 XT per frame, so depending on the features you’re interested in, a GeForce GPU might be a better value.

For those looking for a high-end GPU in Australia, the Radeon 6800 XT appears to be a suitable option at AU$1350 as it is 23% cheaper than the RTX 3080 Ti at the same performance level. Even if you deviate from our 50 game data, where the 3080 12GB and 6800 XT performed at the same level of performance, the 6800 XT will cost $9 per frame, making it 16% cheaper per frame than the 3080 12GB. This is a big premium for excellent ray tracing performance and DLSS support, but of course it’s up to you to decide if these features are worth it.

Best value for money at 1440p (Europe)

We also have some data on prices in euros, and here we see some significant changes in price trends. Using prices from Mindfactory, we can see that the 6500 XT offers the lowest cost per frame at €210, but of course the RX 6600 is significantly better despite being 86% more expensive.

Interestingly, the RTX 3060 Ti ranks very well here and is the best mid-range product, offering similar performance to the 6700 XT at a 10% discount. The RTX 3060 also competes with the 6600 XT.

When we get to high-performance components, AMD performs well. The 6800 XT can be bought for 950 euros, while the original RTX 3080 costs 1140 euros, making it a whopping 36% more expensive. Then, compared to the RTX 3080 12GB, we see that the GeForce GPU is getting almost 50% more per frame, and if we step back from the 50 games data and say the two GPUs are the same in terms of performance, 12GB 3080 is still 41% more expensive per frame.

Based on Mindfactory pricing, you will no doubt buy the 6800 XT over any 3080 or 3090 series GPU from Nvidia.

Final Notes

Here’s where things stand with GPUs as of April 2022. Of course prices are very volatile at the moment and may have changed for some models by the time you read this. We advise you to find out what level of performance you need and then compare the current prices of these products.

The numbers here serve as a rough guide, but if you want very accurate data for certain matches, be sure to check out the 50 game benchmarks. At the moment, we have updated the data for most GPUs. The only graphics card we strongly advise you to avoid is the Radeon RX 6500 XT and possibly the new 6400 XT, which we will review shortly.

The Radeon RX 6600 is one of the best budget graphics cards you’re going to get right now, we wouldn’t pick anything below that. On the other hand, the RTX 3090 and 3090 Ti should also be avoided, not because they’re bad products, but because they’re still overpriced and don’t offer much value. We hope this guide will help those of you who are buying a new graphics card right now.

Trade Labels:
  • AMD Radeon RX 6700XT on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800XT on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6600 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 on Amazon

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