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I am taking a speacialist course about game developing with Unity 3D and thinking about replacing my (good???) old GTX 650 by any of the new GTX 1000 series or RX 400 series graphics card. The goal is to make some lightweight games, mostly for smatphones and low-poly games, for fun. I'm not an 3D artist, so won't make high-end games with thousands polygons per prop... by now.

The primary usage of my PC is software development, mostly server-side and mobile development, so the GPU should fit into that too.

The software I am mainly using is Unity 3D, GIMP, Blender, Inkscape, Android Studio, Visual Studio, Xamarin Studio, NetBeans, VirtualBox and Xcode (under virtualized macOS). Core specs of my rig is Intel Core i7 4790, Gigabyte GA-B85M-D3H, 16 GB DDR3, Windows 10.

Since I am going for Unity 3D, should I stay with Nvidia GPUs due to PhysX?

Would a mid-range graphics card under 300$ work for me? What would be my best purchase?

  • Do you play games on this system? If so, what games? Your old card should be good enough for your needs, unless you are planning on playing modern VR games. – Cfinley Aug 26 '16 at 20:23
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Go with the GTX 1000 series... I have a GTX 1060 paired with a r7 370 in my rig. I use the GTX 1060 for working (mostly for cuda in blender and adobe premiere) and I use the r7 370 for running my screens. The GTX 1060 goes for about $270 on Amazon. Alternatvely, you could get the founder's edition for about $300 from nVidia's website. I personally have the founder's edition. I'm very happy with the GTX 1060 and it has worked excellently so far. It does support physX.

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  • +1 to this. The card is cheap comparatively but incredibly powerful for what it is, showing average benchmarks similar to that of the highest end graphics cards of the last generation. – Anoplexian Sep 26 '16 at 17:50
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My advice will be the opposite of 0-60FPS's advice. Do not get an Nvidia card. If anything, develop using a high-end Intel chip like the HD 4600 or better - this will be closest to some of your market. It's also currently in your system in the form of your CPU's onboard graphics and can be enabled via BIOS if it isn't already.

However, you have asked for a GPU, so I'll recommend the AMD RX 460. AMD currently has an architecture more advanced for the new DX12 and Vulkan stuff - it takes better advantage of these new technologies than Nvidia's 1xxx lineup. It's also cheaper. Keep your GTX 650 if you ever want to use PhysX - you can dedicate the card to PhysX in the Nvidia control panel, leaving the rest of the game rendering job to your AMD card. The R7 460 will represent a decent step up from the GTX 650 as well.

Both cards can be used at once in Blender and GIMP as well, so that's nice (though since OpenCL alone is supported on GIMP and AMD traditionally outperforms Nvidia in OpenCL applications, the Nvidia card might not offer much help in GIMP). Also, with an AMD card in your system alongside your Intel and Nvidia cards, you'll have the trifecta - a good example of each major graphics player's architectures. Comparing in-game performance will be as simple as switching which one you use as your display output when you start your computer up.

It will be interesting to see if my recommendation changes with the release of any 1050s or whatever, but I don't think so, since you'd lose out on that trifecta of compatibility testing.

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  • -1. OP mentioned they mainly do Server-side and mobile development. Also, benchmarking shows the 6GB Vram 1060 card having a 5% boost (overall) on the AMD cards. DX12 still hasn't been widely accepted for gaming and is not shaping up to be for a long while. Having them get the newest AMD for less power, or use an on board card to be closer to market (which may actually hamper their developmental capability and put their technology behind in terms of advancement) is IMO not the way to go. – Anoplexian Sep 26 '16 at 17:54
  • @Anoplexian, Do you think that having a more powerful card is very important for mobile development? In what way do you imagine having 6gb of vRAM to play with is at all useful for the server-side or the mobile side of any game in that market? I'm not recommending AMD because of DX12, I'm recommending it so that he has the trifecta of cards in his rig - Intel, Nvidia, and AMD (Adreno users rejoice). AFAIK it is fairly standard to develop using hardware that is close to your target at least somewhere in the loop. If you can explain HOW this will hamper them, then perhaps I will change/delete. – Adam Wykes Sep 26 '16 at 18:51

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