Choosing the right graphics card is no longer just a problem for games, but also for streaming content over the Internet, as they contain hardware video codecs that free the processor from this task. So the question boils down to: What is the best graphics card for streaming? Well, this question has already been answered.
Originally, hardware video codecs were full-fledged cards capable of interpreting blocks of data and rendering video to the screen in real time. Over time, they were integrated into graphics cards until they ended up in a very small part that today does not even occupy 1% of the graphics chip of our PCs. However, their task is important, since they are responsible for playing the dozens of videos that we see every day without the central processor of our computer having to load them.
The next step came with video encoders, these are able to generate video from the succession of images that we see on our computer. In other words, they can capture them and for over a decade this hardware has been inside the GPU, taking up tiny space and saving us not just an internal or external video capture device, but they also do this by freeing up work for the CPU.
What is the best graphics card for streaming?
The Chips and Cheese blog put the two hardware video codecs of gaming graphics cards through their paces. On the one hand the NVIDIA RTX NVENCs and on the other hand the AMD VCNs and put them through their paces to see their performance. To do this, they evaluated the resulting picture quality using VMAF, an automated computer vision system that Netflix uses to recognize if a movie’s picture quality is good in the eyes of the average viewer.
The comparison was made using four different elements: the first is encoded through the processor and using the libx264 codec running on an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X based on the Zen 2 architecture, the second on an already veteran NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, the third in an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT and fourth in an NVIDIA RTX 2060. The two images above correspond to the ratio between the image quality evaluated via VMAF and the bitrate used and it is surprising that the VCN codec from AMD even lagging behind the CPU.
With 4K, on the other hand, the number of pixels to be encoded quadruples and the load on the processor is too high and therefore causes several positions to drop. It is in this resolution that it is clear that it is necessary to have a hardware video encoder. Whatever information we can get from the data, the best graphics card for streaming is an NVIDIA RTX today. This, then, is another of the pending tasks that those of Lisa Su have to face face to face with their direct competition.