When you’re building a new system for gaming, it’s to be expected that you want to get the best graphics card possible. Now, if you’re limited in terms of budget, this might be a bit of a challenge. Therefore, below we’ve got a couple of options for you. We’ll be taking a look at the best graphics cards on the market today, from some truly high-end monsters to excellent value propositions that will get you good framerates without breaking the bank. But, before we get into the graphics cards themselves, let’s get one important thing out of the way.
Looking for an enternal graphics card instead? This is our list with the best eGPUs.
People who are looking at the best graphics cards may or may not be that well versed in computer components. And with so many options out there, it’s easy to make a mistake. You could buy the wrong GPU if you don’t know how to pick the right one.
The first thing you should note is where the GPU sits in the respective manufacturer’s lineup. With both Nvidia and AMD, this is rather easy. A higher model number usually equals a better GPU and will give you better performance.
Next up, you should see how much VRAM you’re looking at. This is especially important if you’re going to be gaming at high resolutions. Those high-res textures need plenty of VRAM to load them quickly. The bare minimum nowadays is 4GB, but if you can afford it, go for 8GB or higher – the best graphics cards will usually top 8GB.
Then, check out the rest of the specifications. It’s impossible to look at just one thing – the GPU’s performance is a combination of frequencies, memory size and bandwidth, bus width, the chip you’re looking at, and last but not least, how much further did the board partners push the reference card.
At the end of the day, you should end up with the best GPU you can afford. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the options we have. We will also briefly discuss each of them to see why they made it on our list of best graphics cards.
With Nvidia releasing the 3000 series GPUs, the RTX 3090 is the new flagship, for quite a few reasons. First of all, it comes with a staggering 24GB of GDDR6X memory. This is more than plenty for modern gaming at high resolutions, and should provide plenty of futureproofing. It also has 10496 CUDA cores, as well as a boost clock of 1890 MHz in OC mode, at least in the case of the ROG Strix model we’re looking at.
The GPU comes with a triple-fan design that will keep things cool even when under load. These are ASUS’s Axial-tech fans with a reversed direction for the center fan, which provides better cooling and lower noise levels. There is also three DisplayPort 1.4a and two HDMI 2.1 ports, as well as ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting if you want to add a bit of bling to your computer case. If it fits your budget, the RTX 3090 is the way to go as far as the best graphics cards are concerned.
Not everyone can afford to spring for a high-end model. If you’re looking at saving a few bucks, something like the GTX 1660 Super can be a good choice. It’s one of Nvidia’s refresh models that came out after the RTX 2000 series, and it’s meant to give you respectable gaming performance without breaking the bank.
The GPU comes with a pretty decent 6GB of VRAM, as well as a 1830MHz boost clock, at least in the case of the MSI Gaming Super Gaming X model we’re looking at. This will get you excellent framerates at something like a 1080p resolution. Note, however, that you might need to turn down the details for higher resolutions, or higher framerates.
MSI has done a good job with the design, too, with a dual TORX FAN 3.0 design that looks great, further making the 1660 Super a great choice.
AMD makes a great case about powerful GPUs not needing to cost too much with their new lineup of GPUs. Even though the most expensive model, the RX 6800 XT gets you great value. At least it will, once the prices normalize a bit and drop down to MSRP or below. It comes with 16GB of GDDR6 memory and 4608 stream processors, which is plenty of performance and futureproofing.
Sapphire’s Nitro+ variant comes with a very interesting design. Three fans keep the GPU cool, while managing to make this only a dual-slot model. The GPU can boost up to 2360MHz which should keep you happy in terms of gaming performance. This is absolutely a 4K capable GPU, and if you want one of the best graphics cards in the high-end segment, without a high-end price, this is the one to go for.
Another one of Nvidia’s refresh cards, the RTX 2070 Super was introduced to bridge the gap between the RTX 2070, and the fairly expensive (at the time) RTX 2080. It does a great job, coming at a high price, but with a performance that justified it well before we got the 3000 series GPUs.
With features like 8GB of memory, as well as ray tracing capabilities, this is an excellent choice. Note that unlike with lower-end RTX cards, you’ll be able to enjoy higher framerates with the 2070 Super, which is excellent.
EVGA’s RTX 2070 Super spices things up with a near-quiet dual fan design, as well as a 1770MHz boost clock. The design is pretty nice, too, with a subtle all-black colorway. A nicer backplate would’ve been nice, but if you don’t care about that too much, by all means, go for it – it’s a great choice.
Even though the RTX 2060 is Nvidia’s lowest end first-gen RTX graphics card, it’s still a great choice. The main one is that if you’re willing to not push the settings all the way, you can get a taste of what ray tracing is about, with decent framerates, too. Of course, it’s now been replaced by the RTX 3060, but that one is still rather pricey.
This is a 6GB graphics card, and MSI’s Ventus XS variant is a great choice. It comes with a 1710MHz boost clock, three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, one HDMI 2.0 output, and a dual-fan design. It’s a fairly quiet GPU, too, as the fans don’t make all that much noise even when you’re pushing it hard.
Now, note that if you don’t intend on using ray tracing, the RTX 2060 is a very capable card for demanding titles, and you’ll easily get high framerates out of it. It’s an excellent midrange GPU choice.
Even though the RTX 3090 is the top-of-the-line GPU from Nvidia at the moment, it doesn’t really get you a particularly good value. The RTX 3080, on the other hand, gets you a lot of the performance, at a much lower price, making it an excellent choice.
Make no mistake, this is still very much a high-end GPU. You’re looking at 10GB of GDDR6X memory, as well as 8704 CUDA cores. EVGA’s FTW3 Ultra variant nets you a 1800MHz boost clock as well, which is neat. When it comes to 4K gaming, this is a good choice.
The triple-fan design is pretty great, and the triple HDB fans EVGA have went for get you better cooling and lower noise levels. Did we mention the all-metal backplate and adjustable RGB? If you don’t want to spring for the flagship, but still want great performance in just about any modern game, this is the GPU you’re after.
AMD’s previous-gen GPUs are excellent value, and the most budget-oriented of them all is the RX 5500 XT. Even at the wallet-friendly price it comes in at, it still manages to get you excellent performance in modern games. This is especially true if you use it for competitive titles that aren’t too demanding.
The RX 5500 XT comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory. Also, the ASUS Dual RX 5500 XT model we’re looking at nets you a fairly high 1865MHz boost clock, which is nice. We also liked the fact that ASUS recommends a 450W PSU, which means that you’ll be able to save a bit there, too.
When you factor in the quite subtle dual-fan design, which looks nice in just about any build (and is rather quiet, too), and the asking price, you’re looking at an incredible budget graphics card.
The regular, non-super variant of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 is still one of the best midrange GPUs on the market. The xx70 GPUs by Nvidia are famous for getting you excellent bang for the buck, and the RTX 2070 is no exception, especially with the RTX 3070 still commanding a rather high price.
It comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory, and in the case of the MSI Ventus GP, a boost clock of 1620MHz. There are three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, as well as one HDMI 2.0, which gets you up to four monitors at the same time.
The design is about what you’d expect from MSI. A black and white card with two rather quiet fans, and a black backplate to make sure the GPU looks nice in your system. With great performance, with and without ray tracing enabled, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the RTX 2070.
While far from brand new, the GTX 1650 has been holding its own as a decent budget option for people who aren’t too demanding. The price it comes at is very wallet-friendly, which makes it an even better pick.
Zotac has done a great job with it, too. The GTX 1650 OC is a very compact GPU, made for smaller builds. It still has 4GB of memory, as well as a 1695MHz boost clock, so the performance isn’t going to be too bad.
One thing that not everyone will love is the single-fan design. But as we mentioned, it’s made for small builds, and if that’s not your cup of tea, other GTX 1650 variants come with two fans, so you could take a look at them as well. Oh, and did we mention that you can run this with a 300W PSU? Yeah, it’s impressive for a budget card.
The last GPU we’ll be discussing is another AMD card, this time the 6800, non-XT. It’s right below the flagship in the lineup of AMD’s new GPUs, and it’s a card that does punch above its weight in some regards.
While typically other brands do a better job with AMD cards, we love ASUS’s TUF Gaming model, the OC edition. It comes with the expected 16GB of GDDR6 memory, as well as things like an all-aluminum shroud and a reinforced frame to eliminate GPU sag.
In terms of performance, you’ve got the OC mode that goes up to 2190MHz, which is neat, as well as 3840 stream processors. This GPU is pretty decent for 4K gaming, although not at the highest refresh rates, but it should easily run any game at 1440p.