We recently put together a "Top 5 Worst CPUs" feature as a fun side-article, and readers loved it. Requests were received for a similar article on graphics chips, and that's why we're going to look at it today.
Keep in mind that this shouldn't be taken too seriously. If you happen to have one of these GPUs on your graphics card, please don't be offended. If you're looking for built-in Intel graphics in this list, it's both fun and offensive, but don't fret, only discrete options apply.
Worst mobile GPU: Radeon M470X
Starting the worst GPU picks we chose to go mobile. To be honest, mobile gaming has been pretty stupid for a long time, and AMD's recent efforts in this area are roughly as possible. The Radeon RX 400 series was pretty good value for the desktop, although it wasn't the most energy efficient compared to Nvidia's GeForce 10 series.
Unfortunately, this was not a good sign for the Radeon RX M400 series. The "M" indicates that this is the mobile part. The RX 470 was the budget king and must have a GPU under $ 200 on the desktop, but for laptops it was the GPU that you absolutely must avoid.
The RX M400 series turned out to be so bad for laptops that only a few brands offered models to support it. Power consumption was the main problem here, and this caused a nudging effect on mobile parts that destroyed everything. Due to the poor efficiency, AMD had to reduce the Radeon RX M470X from the 2048 SPUs of the desktop part to 896 stream processors, which corresponds to a massive reduction of 56%.
This meant that the mobile RX 470 at best ran like a desktop RX 460, and if you remember, the 460 was embarrassingly slow.
In short, the Radeon M470X offered RX 460-like performance with power consumption comparable to that of the much faster GTX 1060. As a result, laptops using the AMD solution were thick, loud, and unfortunately much slower.
Worst-aged GPU series: Nvidia Kepler
It's hard to believe that the GeForce GTX 780 series is now around 4 years old. That means it really shows its age. Compared to the Radeon R9 390, the GTX 780 has fallen behind further today. It may be due to the architecture, or Nvidia's neglect of driver development, or both. Either way, we've never seen an Nvidia architecture fall like Kepler.
Kepler also saw the birth of the insane $ 1,000 Titan series, setting the tone for Nvidia's enthusiastic boning tactic. They know where to launch the $ 1 million model and launch a product later this year that offers the same or better performance at a much easier price. Like the GTX 780 Ti!
Yes, the GTX 780 Ti seemed to be the ultimate gift for high-end gamers at the end of 2013 and the ultimate curse by 2015.
Nowadays, Kepler-based GPUs are so well maintained in modern games that they are not even worth buying. You would have to pick up the once powerful GTX 780 Ti for pocket money to even consider it. It is not much faster than the GTX 1050 Ti in many modern titles, but consumes around 150% more power.
Fortunately, we haven't seen a noticeable drop in performance for the next generation, the Maxwell-based stuff. The GTX 970, 980 and 980 Ti still do very well in modern titles, but as always, we keep an eye on this stuff.
Worst mid-range GPU: Radeon R9 285
It was difficult for us to find out which GPU we should use for this category. We just wanted to go back a few years to keep the selection somewhat relevant, and we narrowed it down to a few options from AMD and Nvidia. Finally, we chose the Radeon R9 285, which launched the 3rd generation GCN architecture in late 2014, about a year after the Radeon 200 series was launched.
The main reason we chose this GPU was the terrible timing. Almost a year after the first models in the 200 series arrived, the R9 285 was launched in September 2014 for $ 250. We ended our assessment with the words …
“At $ 249, the R9 285 isn't exactly redefining the landscape, and on average only offers 4% more power than the card it will replace, the R9 280. Even if you have the big loss in Tomb Raider, which may be the Driver may not be considered In this context, the R9 285 is still only 6% faster than the R9 280. An increase of 4 to 6% at the same price is of course not bad, but we are not sure whether the R9 285 was also completely necessary. "
We also found that the Sapphire card we tested was overclocked by 5%, so the results are likely to be 2-3% overstated, making the margin between R9 285 and R9 280 even thinner. “The R9 285 came with FreeSync support and extended DirectX 12 functionality, but was not useful for most of the two at the time.
Another and possibly more serious problem for the Radeon was the GTX 970, which came on the market later that month. The GeForce offered significantly more performance with a price increase of ~ 30%. Within the same month, the R9 285 suffered a serious price cut to stay relevant.
Although there was nothing wrong with the R9 285 – the 2 GB VRAM buffer was questionable – its main problem came too late, did not change anything on the market and was therefore disappointed by the latest iteration of the GCN architecture. It was a bit of a buzz kill, you could say.
Worst GPU naming scheme: Nvidia's Titan
There were a few candidates for this category, but come on, who's going to contest this choice: the Pascal-based Titan series. Nvidia thrilled the world when they announced a crazy Titan X and I don't mean the Maxwell X-based Titan X in 2015, that was the GeForce GTX Titan X, I'm talking about the Nvidia Titan X, yes the Pascal version.
Okay, so confusing that we got a second graphics card called Titan X in August 2016. Since all of this was very confusing, some of us reviewers decided to rename the Pascal Titan X to Titan XP. XP was cool for several reasons. Of course, the P stood for Pascal, but XP or experience points are also something that will reward you in many modern games. Get enough XP and you can upgrade. So it was fun too.
While this was a questionable and possibly stupid decision on Nvidia's side, we just went ahead and went to benchmarking. Then, months later, the Nvidia marketing team decided to troll us again and actually released a "Titan Xp". Can you believe that?
However, the Titan Xp can only be purchased through Nvidia for $ 1,200 and is really no faster than a custom GTX 1080 Ti for gaming.
Worst reference designs: Radeon R9 290 / 290X
Finally, it's time to choose what I think is the worst reference card design from AMD or Nvidia in recent years. When I look at my shortlist, there are a hell of a lot more candidates from AMD than from Nvidia.
Of course, Nvidia had some shockers, but on a much larger budget they fixed past bad designs. In addition, they are now charging a price premium for their reference cards, which seems to be this type of fraud.
In any case, we don't have to go far back to find an AMD reference cooler that doubles as a leaf blower. One of my favorite AMD GPUs recently was the Radeon R9 290. It was an amazingly good buy. We originally tested the reference model in 2013 and still gave an overall rating of 95 out of 100, one of the highest ratings we've ever given to a GPU.
However, we found that the thermal results were less than desirable, which added to my expectation of third-party designs. The R9 290 screamed like a jet, but I was confident that board partner models would be much better, and they were. There was a long and noisy wait of two months for a high quality board partner card that could tame the R9 290.
Unfortunately, garbage reference cards are still the bane of AMD's existence and they don't seem to be able to do anything about it. Money is obviously a key issue here. The RX 480 reference card was another horror, and the air-cooled Vega 64 seems to be one of the worst results. We should probably just call them AMD choke card designs, now with automatic overclocking to protect your ears.
We hope you enjoyed it, we definitely enjoyed compiling it. Let us know what you thought of the tips and what your list looks like.
If you happen to have a computer with an older GPU that may be based on Kepler and would like to upgrade, please read our Upgrade My PC please! Series. It's a lot of fun and lots of cool prizes to be won. So give it a try!