Why I’m Almost Ready to Switch to AMD Streaming GPUs

Although AMD makes some The best graphics cards, they were much less efficient than Nvidia GPUs for streaming. Nvidia GPUs always offer better encoding performance and additional features that are absent from AMD cards. It’s one of the reasons for that I’ve decided to switch to Nvidia graphics Despite being a longtime fan of AMD; I just don’t want to give up a good streaming experience.

But that could all be different now thanks to two major AMD software updates: an all-new codec and AMD Noise Canceling System, which is a competitor to Nvidia NVENC and RTX Voice. I’ve tested AMD’s new gadgets and the results make me believe switching to AMD is a possibility now.

Streaming looks absolutely fine on AMD

Comparison of the AMD AMF encoder (left) and Nvidia's NVENC encoder (right).
Left to right, AMF vs. NVENC. Matthew Koncer/Digital Trends

When it comes to streaming, it’s essential to have a good encoder, and if you’re streaming games, you’ll probably want to use GPU encryption instead of CPU encryption. Nvidia’s NVENC encoder not only has good quality, but also doesn’t use a lot of data, which is critical for streaming. You want the best possible ratio of visual quality to data usage, and in this area, Nvidia’s codec is way ahead of AMD. But now that AMD’s latest version of AMF encryption has been released, I think Nvidia has lost this feature.

The image above is from the opening shot of 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark, which I scored using the 6000kbps Enhanced Streaming settings. I chose this particular part because there is a lot of foliage, which is often difficult to capture in good quality (especially when there is so little data to trade around), but as you can see the difference between AMF and NVENC is basically nonexistent. AMF did well in the rest of the benchmark as well, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if the two recordings weren’t rated.

It is especially important that AMF be able to achieve this using the same bitrate that NVENC was using. It would be pointless for the AMF to look good but it needs a much higher bitrate to compensate. Twitch, which is arguably the most popular game streaming platform, only allows up to 6000kbps, which is a very small amount of data to work with. In terms of recording, each video was only about 3 minutes long and each clip was about 100MB, which is really good for people who upload unedited VODs stream to YouTube for archiving purposes.

AMD RX 6950 XT graphics card on a pink background.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

However, only AMD GPUs based on the RDNA2 architecture (which include RX 6000 series GPUs) can take full advantage of the AMF encoder because older GPUs do not support B frames, which helps increase image quality. This is a hardware limitation, not software, so files RX 5700 XT You will never be as good as a file RX 6950 XT for broadcast.

What AMD really needs to focus on in the future is updating its encoder just like Nvidia. The latest version of AMF was implemented and was only open source software until Open broadcast software Contributors finally added it to the app, and now we have to wait for all streaming services to update so you can use the new encoder. I’d like to see AMD assume an active role like Nvidia’s in this area, not only when it comes to making updates but also distributing those updates.

AMD Noise Suppression is a good thing but has poor support

Podcast microphone with headphones on top.
Getty Images

Audio quality is an important (and sometimes neglected) part of streaming, and here too Nvidia has held the edge thanks to its RTX Voice software, which is essentially an AI-enhanced noise gate. AMD is catching up in this area with its new Noise Suppression tool, which is supposed to do exactly the same as RTX Voice.

Given that AMD GPUs don’t have AI acceleration features like Nvidia GPUs do, I was skeptical that noise suppression would be helpful. Much to my surprise, the results were pretty good: my gaming keyboard was almost inaudible, even as I spoke, and my audio quality didn’t degrade. If I switch to AMD Noise Suppression, I don’t think anyone watching my streams will be able to tell the difference.

But did AMD GPUs need this feature? Why not just set a noise gate in OBS? Well, the problem with noise gates is that they can only work based on volume, and background noise can be quite loud, especially clicking sounds from gaming keyboards. RTX Voice is an important part of your broadcast setup because it can intelligently separate voice and keyboard. Now that AMD GPUs have the exact same functionality, I can actually consider streaming on AMD hardware, like ROG Zephyrus G14.

I also like that AMD Noise Canceling is built into the Radeon driver set, while RTX Voice can only be used with Nvidia Broadcast installed. AMD’s solution is not only simpler, but also more reliable. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started streaming only to realize that my mic wasn’t coming on because Nvidia Broadcast was off for some reason. Nvidia can learn a lot from AMD when it comes to driver suites, not just for this specific feature but in general.

But I have quite a bit of criticism for AMD here when it comes to support. Noise suppression requires not only an RX 6000 GPU, but also a Ryzen 5000 or later CPU. The CPU requirements in particular are frustrating and certainly arbitrary. Not only does it ban users using older versions of Ryzen (most of which are still fast enough in 2022), but it also excludes everyone who uses an Intel CPU. It is impossible to justify this condition when Some of the best CPUs available today Made by Intel Corporation.

Finally stuck in key areas, for now

After finally closing the gap in video and audio quality features, AMD GPUs like Nvidia GPUs are finally able to broadcast in the most important areas. While the level of support that AMD offers leaves a lot to be desired, with the current generation of AMD hardware, you can stream games in the same quality you would see from an Nvidia-based PC. There are a few other features that Nvidia offers, such as a digital green screen for webcam users, but AMD doesn’t really need to offer the same feature when third-party software can do the same.

AMD’s focus right now should be to ensure it’s never this late again. AMF has been worse than NVENC for several years, and RTX Voice has been around since 2020. Technology is always a moving target, and it’s hard to see Nvidia resting on its laurels anytime soon. In order to compete with Nvidia, AMD can’t just rely on open source software and hope that someone will do something. AMD needs to do this on its own.

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