A Little About Our Participants
In addition to the base experiment we wanted to run, we also sought to collect some information from the folks in attendance. We know they’re hardware enthusiasts—they’re reading Tom’s Hardware, after all. But how much time do they spend gaming? Were they confident enough in their answer to identify the machine with AMD’s technology inside? How about Nvidia’s? What are the specs of their current gaming PC? Did they have any self-acknowledged biases to one company or the other, and if so, why?
Right off the bat, we found it interesting that 10 of 48 respondents believed they knew which system was which. Of those 10, nine were correct, though for a variety of reasons. One respondent guessed the 390X-equipped PC based on the heat it was putting out, and indeed, AMD’s representative increased fan speed in Catalyst Control Center to help with stability under the tables we were using. Others cited smoothness issues, though in the games mentioned, both FreeSync and G-Sync would have been within their target ranges, so perceived fluidity could be affected by the game, driver optimizations or slight differences in performance (despite our best efforts to equalize frame rates through clock rate tuning). For what it’s worth, both Nvidia and AMD were on the receiving ends of these judgement calls; it wasn't just one or the other that benefited.
We didn’t qualify readers for our event based on any specific criteria aside from availability. Still, we wanted to know how much time the folks passing on their thoughts spent playing their favorite titles during an average week. You could argue that a seasoned gamer would have a heightened sensitivity to tearing or input lag. Or, there’s the counter-argument that a newbie might be less likely to draw conclusions based on preconceived notions.
That distinction didn’t end up mattering. Thirty-one respondents reported playing for more than 10 hours a week. Sixteen were between five and 10 hours a week. Just one claimed zero to four.
It’s a little more difficult to represent each respondent’s system specs visually, and I’m not even sure there’s a concrete correlation between someone’s primary gaming PC and their preference between the two technologies being compared in our experiment. Nevertheless, I was surprised at how many gamers are running high-end setups.
Although we took great pains to keep the hardware we were testing covered, ensuring personal biases didn’t affect our survey results, we still wanted to gauge the general predilections of our audience. Twenty-five respondents identified as agnostic, four claimed to be AMD fans and 19 were Nvidia fans.
As you might imagine, the reasons readers leaned one direction or the other varied greatly. Regardless of the answer, though, many of the folks who wrote in an explanation did mention favoring whichever solution yielded the best experience. Three of the four AMD fans specifically called out pricing. And the Nvidia fans overwhelmingly cited driver stability as their primary motivator, though efficiency came up several times as well.