Tech stock investors today are presented with a staggering array of options to try and beat the market. And for those participating in the right industries, many tech leaders have proven that size doesn't matter when it comes to generating outsized growth and returns.

To illustrate that point, let's take a closer look at two promising tech stocks sitting at very different points in their respective growth stories: GPU chip specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), and Internet of Things (IoT) pure play Sierra Wireless (NASDAQ:SWIR).

NVIDIA's Tegra K1 processor


How NVIDIA is powering the AI revolution

First up, NVIDIA has delivered stunning returns for investors of late, with shares skyrocketing 241% over the past year. As of this writing, that brings NVIDIA's market capitalization to a staggering $94.75 billion. 

If you're wondering why such an incredible climb, look no further than Wall Street's inability to accurately predict NVIDIA's jaw-dropping growth. To be fair, NVIDIA has effectively crushed its own guidance for each of its last three quarters, starting with a surprising acceleration in revenue and earnings growth late last year as the company's aggressive investments in multiple high-potential industries began to yield fruit.

That growth has proved sustainable even from NVIDIA's enormous base. Revenue last quarter climbed 48% year over year to $1.94 billion, led by 49% growth in NVIDIA's core gaming platform to $1.348 billion, and 186% growth in data center segment revenue to $409 million. On the bottom line, NVIDIA's adjusted earnings per share rose 85% to $0.85, as the company benefited from its greater scale and higher operating leverage.

Better yet, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang insisted, "The [artificial intelligence] revolution is moving fast and continuing to accelerate." Researchers, internet leaders, and small companies alike favor the unrivaled computing power and efficiency of NVIDIA's cutting-edge GPU deep-learning platform.

What's more, NVIDIA is generous with capital returns and plans to give back $1.25 billion to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases this fiscal year alone. With shares trading at 45.6 times this year's expected earnings -- an acceptable premium given NVIDIA's incredible earnings growth -- I think NVIDIA has what it takes to continue rising from here.

How Sierra Wireless is connecting the world

On the other end of the tech spectrum is Sierra Wireless, a relatively small company (with its market cap of less than $900 million today) whose shares have climbed a still-impressive 64% over the past year as of this writing. Sierra Wireless, for its part, specializes in designing and manufacturing wireless communications equipment, a wonderful niche considering the increasing ubiquity of connected devices worldwide. 

But unlike NVIDIA -- with its growth accelerating from a position of relative strength -- Sierra Wireless' bounce was more the result of a turnaround of sorts. Most recently last month, Sierra Wireless shares climbed 15% in a single day after the company confirmed that revenue had grown a modest 13.3% year over year to $161.8 million. For that, the company largely credited improved demand from established OEM customers and programs -- something with which Sierra Wireless struggled amid macroeconomic headwinds early last year. On the bottom line, adjusted net income tripled to $7.7 million, or $0.24 per share. 

Perhaps most encouraging, Sierra Wireless' OEM strength was broad-based, with wins in segments ranging from automotive to energy, payments, networking, and mobile computing. 

In addition, Sierra Wireless isn't afraid to improve its position through acquisitive growth. Revenue at its smaller enterprise solutions business climbed nearly 45% last quarter to $21.7 million, thanks to combination of new products and its purchase of vehicle telematics and GPS specialist GenX Mobile last year. And earlier this year, it made an astute $3.2 million acquisition of the assets of global navigation satellite system technology from GlobalTop. In doing so, Sierra Wireless expanded its reach in the asset tracking, telematics, drones, and automotive spaces with new cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth modules.

The verdict

In the end, I tend to favor a "winners keep on winning" mentality, so I'm attracted to both NVIDIA and Sierra Wireless as potential portfolio candidates. But I also want a little more time to gauge the sustainability of Sierra Wireless' recent momentum. That's not to say NVIDIA won't be susceptible to its own potential plunge should any signs of weakness surface in the coming quarters. But as a longtime shareholder myself, I've watched in awe as NVIDIA's flagship GPU technology has only become more pervasive on a nearly universal basis across multiple industries.

So with the caveat that I would be comfortable owning shares of both companies, I think NVIDIA is the better buy for investors today.