The best graphics cards in 2021
The best graphics cards will help you run resource-intensive creative software, such best high end graphics card for the money Photoshop or 3D tools smoothly and efficiently. They also allow you to play games at 1080p or even 4K.
In short, whether you want to run AAA games; open, render and edit high-resolution photos and videos; create complex digital artwork; or create 3D models and animation, you need the best graphics cards in your computer.
There are two broad types of graphics cards. Consumer graphics cards are geared towards playing computer games. They can range in price from budget GPUs that cost less than £100, to cutting-edge monsters that cost over a grand. Then there are professional graphics cards. These are very powerful GPUs aimed at pros, which tend to be very expensive.
There was time when the latter was the only realistic choice for pro 3D artists, animators and video editors. However, these days many consumer graphics cards come close to offering the same best high end graphics card for the money, for a fraction of the cost.
The biggest brands in this space are Nvidia and AMD. Graphics cards featuring their processors tend to be in high demand and stock often runs out, so it's worth acting quickly if you spot a good price.
In our guide, we'll look at the best graphics cards across the board, with a mix of consumer and professional options for every budget. If you need advice on how to choose between them, jump ahead to what to consider when buying a graphics card. Or if you prefer to opt for an external GPU, see our guide to eGPUs.
The best graphics cards available now
01. MSI GeForce RTX 3070
One of the best graphics cards for creatives
Memory: 8 GB
Memory Clock: 14 Gbps
Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin
Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Reasons to buy
+GPU performance to beat+Up to 8k performance
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Very large
This high-end MSI card with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3070 is one of the best graphics cards readily available. It's expensive, but it's more affordable than many professional cards, and it can handle intensive creative workloads. For creatives looking for outstanding performance but at a slightly more accessible price, this option offers good value for money. Whether you're a gamer looking for the best experience at 4K resolutions or a creative who needs professional-grade performance without the huge price tag, this is definitely worth considering.
02. MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio
The best graphics card for professionals
Stream Processors: 2,176
Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
Memory Clock: 19.5Gbps
Power Connectors: 3 x 8-pin
Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4a x3, HDMI 2.1
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly powerful+Stylish RGB
Reasons to avoid
For those who need the very best, the GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio, makes the existing RTX 3090 even more powerful. It raises the boost clock and slightly raises the power limit. Although it's still an RTX 3090, it has the cooling power to handle this GPU at its stock settings and enough drive to overclock it and make it even more powerful. For game creators, It's the icing on the cake for a GPU that makes small work of all PC games at 4K.
As another plus, instead of the unusual 12-pin power connector that Nvidia employed in its RTX 30-series Founders Edition cards, this behemoth has three standard 8-pin best high end graphics card for the money connectors. It should offer the potential to get even more performance from this GPU.
03. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
A powerhouse raytracing GPU that balances capability with budget
CUDA Cores: 10,240
Base Clock: 1,370 MHz
Boost Clock: 1,670 MHz
Memory: 12GB GDDR6
Reasons to buy
+Lots of cores and ram for 8K content+HDMI and 3x DisplayPort output+Nvidia studio drivers for creatives
Reasons to avoid
-Fans can be loud
Nvidia's RTX family of GPUs has impressed since its release but the range-topping 3090, while offering extreme performance, is at the higher end of many budgets. The 3080 and 3080 TI however are substantially cheaper, yet manage to offer a best high end graphics card for the money amount of power.
The 3080 TI gives creators much of the power of a 3090 with far lower initial outlay. It offers all the hallmarks of a high end GPU for content creators including raytracing and can easily handle tasks such as 3D rendering complex scenes, best high end graphics card for the money 10240 cuda cores and up to 12GB GDDRX video ram for high resolution textures, and 8K video editing and colour grading.
04. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
A modern mainstream card that replaces the GTX 1060
GPU Cores: 1,536
Base Clock: 1,500
Boost Clock: 1,770 MHz
Memory: 6GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth: 288GB/s
Reasons to buy
+Very affordable+Solid 1080 and 1440p performance
Reasons to avoid
-Not for 4K gaming-Modest memory bandwidth
The Geforce GTX 1660 Ti is a much more affordable Nvidia graphics card than the pricey, high-end RTX series. It's based on the newer 12nm Turning architecture of the RTX cards, but without the ray tracing hardware.
It offers 6GB of GDDR6 memory and a modest 1,536 Cuda cores, but it's still capable of delivering excellent gaming performance at 1080p and 1440p. It also has plenty of grunt for accelerating plugins and filters in creative software. That makes it one of the best graphics cards for those on a lower budget. Some manufacturers, such as PNY, offer it in an extra short design that can squeeze into small PCs.
05. AMD Radeon RX 6800
A fantastic GPU from AMD
Stream Processors: 3,840
Core Clock: 1.82 GHz (2.10 GHz boost)
Memory: 16GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 16Gbps
Power Connectors: 2 x 8 pin
Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, HDMI 2.1 VRR and FRL
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Finally, AMD ray tracing
Reasons to avoid
AMD is gunning for Nvidia's crown when it comes to high-end performance in graphics cards, and the battle between the two companies means that both are now releasing powerful graphics cards at more competitive prices.
The AMD Radeon RX excels in both gaming and creative scenarios, including ray tracing (new for AMD graphics cards). In short, you're getting performance that beats the RTX 3070, while costing less.
06. AMD Radeon Pro WX8200
A professional-grade GPU from AMD
GPU Cores: 3584
Base Clock: 1200MHz
Boost Clock: 1,500MHz
Memory: 8GB HBM2
Memory Bandwidth: 512GB/s
Reasons to buy
+Outpaces similar Quadros+Fast
Reasons to avoid
-No Cuda support -Expensive
This nifty professional-grade graphics card is another bid to steal some of Nvidia’s thunder, bringing the performance of AMD's higher-tier WX9100 card to a tastier price point (relative, to the generally much higher pricing of Radeon Pro and Quadro cards).
The AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200 is still based on the Vega architecture, but has 3,584 cores, with 8GB of ultra-fast HBM2 memory to deliver some great performance in specific tests.
Depending on the tools you use, AMD cards may offer better performance. 3D animators who rely exclusively on Maya or Blender, for example, may benefit from choosing AMD over Nvidia, although we’d recommend further research and consideration of your own workflow before investing. OpenCL applications work great with AMD graphics cards.
07. AMD Radeon RX 5700
One of the best graphics cards from AMD for lower budgets
Stream Processors: 2,304
Core Clock: 1,465 MHz (1,725 MHz boost)
Memory: 8GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 14Gbps
Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin and 1 x 6-pin
Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, 1 x HDMI with 4K60 Support
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
-No ray tracing
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 proves that AMD can make graphics cards that aren't just incredibly powerful, but also offer excellent value for money. For the price, you're getting a mid-range card that can easily handle the latest games at 1080p and 1440p at their highest settings, which means getting amazing graphics in your games is now more accessible than ever before.
If you're not a gamer, and want a GPU for creative work, then the RX 5700 is still a fantastic choice, thanks again to its balance between price and performance.
08. Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
A powerful graphics card for creative software
GPU Cores: 3,072
Base Clock: 1,620MHz
Boost Clock: 1815MHz
Memory: 16GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth: 448 GB/s
Reasons to buy
+Monstrous levels of application rendering+Massively improved Cuda and OpenCL compute performance
Reasons to avoid
If you’re not interested in gaming, the Quadros may be a better choice for creative software than Nvidia's GeForce cards. While the 8GB Quadro RTX 4000 best high end graphics card for the money the more affordable choice, the 16GB Quadro RTX 5000 packs in a lot more performance, making it better for demanding users who are willing to shell walmart bakery products for serious performance.
It offers a lot more rendering power than the previous Pascal generation, driving Cuda and OpenCL applications to new levels and leaving other graphics cards looking comparatively weak.
09. Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 3080
Another one of the best graphics cards from Nvidia
Stream Processors: 8,704
Core Clock: 1,845 MHz
Memory: 10 GB GDDR6X
Memory Clock: 19Gbps
Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin
Outputs: 2x HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1x HDMI 2.0
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K gaming performance+Low temperatures
Reasons to avoid
The Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3080 Xtreme Graphics Card comes with Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080, which is one of the best graphics cards you can buy right now. The RTX 3080 brings all the advancements of Nvidia's latest Ampere architecture, including next-generation ray-tracing capabilities and 10GB of fast GDDR6X memory, which means it can easily handle 4K gaming.
For creative professionals, it's an excellent choice as well, with ray tracing and AI support that speeds up your workflow, be it rendering ultra-high-definition video, or creating complex and realistic 3D models. Best of all, it offers up to 80% performance increases over the last generation RTX 2080. The RTX 3080 is in such high demand, that it's hard to find in stock, but the Gigabyte AORUS might be your best chance.
10. Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000
A reasonably affordable professional-grade graphics card
GPU Cores: 2,304
Base Clock: 1,005MHz
Boost Clock: 1,545 MHz
Memory: 8GB GDDR6
Memory bandwidth: 416 GB/s
Reasons to buy
+Better for design than a GeForce card+Excellent with OpenCL and Cuda software
Reasons to avoid
-No good for gaming-Quite pricey for the spec
The Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 is highly recommended for a workstation-class graphics card at a (just about) affordable price. It boasts excellent performance in design applications and comes in a svelte single-slot design that helps best high end graphics card for the money fit into small cases. It also requires less power than a bulkier GeForce card
OpenCL and Cuda applications in particular absolutely fly on the Turing architecture, so the RTX 4000 will make a massive difference when working with creative software, plug-ins and filters, driving excellent performance when rendering images, 3D and video.
Graphics cards, also known as GPUs, serve two roles in modern computers. In games, they accelerate 3D visuals, using their under-the-hood hardware power to determine the frame rate and resolution for the visual effects, whizz-bang explosions and pyrotechnics we’ve come to expect in modern games.
For digital creatives, including graphic artists, designers, illustrators and 3D professionals, the same hardware can dramatically boost rendering times in tools such Premiere and Photoshop (found in the Adobe Creative Cloud), Blender, Maya and 3DS Max – at least in specific parts of the software, phh mortgage questions login as when applying certain plugins, filters and effects. A powerful graphics card can make a huge difference with some tools, with some effects unable to run on a CPU alone.
It's also worth noting that for each graphics card, there is a generic reference model, which often isn’t for sale. Each manufacturer (MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, and so on) will sell their own versions of each card, which will all look slightly different.
Quadro vs GeForce vs Radeon vs Radeon Pro
Nvidia and AMD make two kinds of graphics cards that are roughly aimed at either gaming or design use. For Nvidia, you may have already heard of the GeForce gaming brand, while its Quadro cards are better suited for creative professionals. AMD has Radeons for gaming and Radeon Pro for creators. The professional-grade cards tend to cost a lot more.
The higher-priced Quadros and Radeon Pros offer the same underlying design, architecture and similar specs, but with some crucial differences. Quadro and Radeon cards have certified drivers. That means they've been tested for compatibility with specific software, offering better performance with design software in certain circumstances, and are (theoretically) less likely to run into issues.
They have ECC memory for extra precision and sometimes they run at lower clock speeds, meaning they have lower power requirements and thermal demands. If your livelihood depends on your design work and you want absolute reliability, you may want to consider best high end graphics card for the money Radeon Pro or Nvidia Quadro.
Another difference is how the two classes of graphics cards are manufactured. With gaming cards, Nvidia and AMD produce and sell reference designs, but a long list of other manufacturers, including Asus, MSI, Zotac, EVGA and Sapphire, sell variations on the reference specification with different cooling systems and faster clock speeds. For Quadro cards, though, Nvidia works with a single manufacturer – PNY – to produce all its hardware.
The best graphics cards: Jargon buster
Reviews of the best graphics cards come full of jargon used to specify the performance you can expect. The key specifications often quoted are memory (capacity, bandwidth and speed), the number of cores (basically the guts of the hardware), and the card’s clock speed (in MHz).
These specifications vary between GPU generations and across the various tiers, and the cores in Nvidia and AMD cards aren’t the same. Nvidia uses the term Cuda cores while AMD refers to GCN cores. That means AMD and Nvidia cards cannot be compared in that sense.
The best graphics cards: How to pick the right one for you
There are some basics to consider when shopping around. The higher resolution you're are working at (or gaming at), the higher your memory needs. If you intend to work with 4K resolution or with larger textures, you need a graphics card with more memory – 8GB or more is now common on the higher tier cards.
The faster the performance of your card, the best high end graphics card for the money detail and more advanced graphical effects you’ll be able to switch on in games at higher resolutions. The sweet spot for fluid performance is 60fps, but if you’ve invested in a 144Hz display, you’ll be working your graphics card even harder to keep up.
The number of cores determines the overall rendering power of a card. These vary dramatically across the various price and performance tiers, from entry level £100 cards to £1000+ behemoths.
The clock speed of the graphics card is quoted as a base figure. Similar to the Turbo mode on Intel CPUs, when a graphics card is under heavy load it will run foreclosed homes for sale tulsa a higher clock speed for better performance until it hits a predetermined maximum, which is in place to avoid overheating.
Don’t forget to consider the display(s) you work with, and the outputs of the graphics card you buy. All modern graphics cards use digital video outputs only, either HDMI or DisplayPort (which may be either a small square-ish miniDP connector or a big D-shaped connector).
For 4K or 5K displays, all graphics cards now support at least the DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 standards that offer the bandwidth needed for 60hZ refresh rates – which was a serious problem on older graphics cards when higher-resolution displays first became a mainstream proposition. When 8K displays finally become more realistically affordable, this same problem will rear its head again.
Lastly, the single biggest differentiator of performance in graphics cards is the hardware generation of the series of cards, always codenamed for reference. Nvidia names its cards after scientists – Pascal, Turing, and so on, while AMD is a little more obscure, with Polaris and the newer Vega architecture currently on the market.
Nvidia and AMD produce a new series of graphics card roughly every two years. When a new generation comes out, it raises the bar in all technical areas – more cores, more memory, more bandwidth and more features, often squeezed into the same power and thermal demands of the previous generation. For the best possible performance and best future proofing, sdsu student account service look at the newest cards.
Best high end graphics card for the money -Buy RTX 3080 RTX 3080 Ti stock
Best graphics card 2020: every major Nvidia and AMD GPU tested
Replacing your graphics card is the number one upgrade you can make for your PC and the most profound in terms of improving gaming performance, so it makes sense to spend some time researching your options. Choosing the right card depends on many factors, so we've streamlined that process for you. Right here, you'll find strong graphics card recommendations for budget 1080p gaming PCs all the way up to 4K and high refresh rate beasts, based on our extensive testing of every graphics card on the market.
If you just want our direct, no-nonsense GPU upgrade recommendations, that's not a problem.
- Right now, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is our top pick for the best graphics card. If you want the highest possible frame-rates in games, plus support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing and other modern techs, then the RTX 2080 Ti stands head and shoulders above any other consumer card from Nvidia or AMD.
- If you're looking to maximise your performance per dollar, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 offers excellent 1080p and 1440p frame-rates and is the cheapest card with hardware-accelerated ray tracing. That makes it our pick for the best value graphics card.
- In terms of our lower tier picks, we've targeted a degree of longevity and better-than-console throughput for our best budget graphics card - in this case, the old but still powerful AMD Radeon RX 570.
While these are our top picks, we've also highlighted a few alternatives for each category, so look out for those after each major recommendation.
Want to know how much of an upgrade you can expect? Take a look at the Digital Foundry GPU Power Ladder, which ranks every current graphics card, from weakest to strongest, based on our extensive testing.
Graphics card buyer's guide
While gaming desktop PCs tend to be last longer than the average games console or gaming laptop, the graphics card is one component you'll need to replace regularly if you want to keep getting good performance in the latest games. Where processors might get faster by only a few percentage points every few years, graphics cards can see gains of 25 per cent from one generation to the next - and sometimes, the increase in performance is even more substantial. For example, the Intel Core i7 2600K launched back in 2011 and still holds up pretty well in modern games, yet graphics cards of a similar vintage will struggle even at low quality settings.
Choosing the right graphics card is important because this is the component that does most of the heavy lifting that brings your games to life. Graphics hardware capable of easily running triple-A titles starts at around the £110/$110 mark, with Nvidia's GTX 1050 and AMD's RX 560 offering (on paper at least) significantly more graphics processing horsepower than the base PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. That means that every major multi-platform title should run at least with ballpark equivalent performance. From there, it's all about paying more and scaling up, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti sitting at the current top of the pile.
Of course, it's also important to avoid building a bottle-necked system, so you should aim to pair your video card of choice with a suitably powerful CPU, RAM and other components. We generally recommend system builders plump for at least 8GB of system RAM, with 16GB being a worthwhile upgrade. If you're using an AMD Ryzen or a mainstream Intel CPU, using two RAM modules in dual or even quad-channel mode ensures you're not handicapping your performance. Your choice of processor is also crucial to building a balanced system. AMD's Ryzen 5 and Intel's Core i5 are the price/performance champions for 60fps gaming, but if you're looking to run the latest games at the highest possible frame-rates, particularly on a high refresh rate display, we would recommend the Intel Core i7 8700K or its ninth-generation successors.
Thankfully, we've reached the point where even the cheaper end of the discrete GPU market offers some good results if you're prepared to put just a little effort into tweaking your in-game graphical settings. Beyond that, there's seemingly a graphics card for every kind of use-case - and that's where this guide comes in. Every GPU worth considering is included in this exhaustive guide, and if you're looking for more detailed performance metrics, we can link you through to the some of the most detailed gaming benchmarks around so you can see exactly what kind of performance you should expect.
Best graphics card
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti: 4K gaming at 60fps or more, plus some exciting new tech.
The RTX 2080 Ti is the culmination of decades of work from Nvidia, and it shows. The 2080 Ti comes with significant improvements to raw graphical horsepower over the GTX 1080 Ti card it nominally replaces, plus exclusive access to new technologies like real-time ray tracing (RTX) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS) that can improve the looks and performance of supported games. With real-time ray tracing coming to both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, expect the value of this technology to only increase over time.
Outside of new technologies, the powerful RTX 2080 Ti can handle resolutions up to 4K with ease, and performs well at high refresh rates too - just remember that high refresh rates also demand a powerful processor, so don't spend all of your cash on a new RTX card without at least a Core i7 7700K or better in your build. The RTX 2080 Ti is also a brilliant choice for VR gaming, especially for high-res VR headsets such as the Valve Index.
With the right system to back it up, you can roughly expect your RTX 2080 Ti to deliver at least 144 frames per second at 1080p, 100 frames per second at 1440p and 60 frames per second at 4K. Obviously, more recent and intensive titles may show poorer performance, while older esports-focused games are likely to perform significantly better.
- Fastest consumer graphics card available
- Excellent performance at 4K and under
- Features like real-time ray tracing and DLSS are getting better over time
- Most expensive consumer graphics card available
- RTX and DLSS support still isn't a given, although expect much more in 2020
Best AMD alternative for 4K or HFR: Radeon RX 5700 XT
The RX 5700 XT is the top Radeon card on the market, following the departure of the short-lived Radeon 7. This GPU performs well at 1080p and 1440p, while 4K gaming is also in reach if you're willing to accept a few compromises in the settings menu. One nice feature of the RX 5700 XT is that it's based on a more advanced 7nm process than AMD's previous 14nm cards or Nvidia's existing 12nm lineup, which translates into better energy efficiency and less heat generation - a big improvement over AMD's historically hot and power-hungry flagships.
The RX 5700 XT includes support for the latest AMD software features, including Radeon Image Sharpening (a filter that makes edges in an image more noticeable) and Radeon Anti-Lag (a feature that synchronises CPU and GPU to minimise input lag in DX9, DX11 and Vulkan titles). However, there's no support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which is set to become more popular in 2020 as both next-gen consoles will ship with the feature.
- Strong gaming performance, particularly in DX12 and Vulkan titles
- Cooler and more power-efficient than previous Radeon cards
- Provides access to the latest Radeon software features
- Performance in DX11 games, especially at 1080p and 1440p, leaves a lot to be desired
- No support for hardware-accelerated ray tracing or variable rate shading
Best value Nvidia alternative for 4K or HFR: GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Nvidia's newly upgraded upper-mid-range card offers 1440p performance in spades, while also packing in the new features that define the Turing generation: real-time ray tracing (RT) and deep learning super sampling (DLSS). The RTX 2070 Super handles 4K resolutions better than the 2060 Super and RX 5700 XT, allowing a comfortable 60fps with a bit of settings tweakery - and that's without factoring in DLSS. Similarly, high refresh rate monitors can also be tamed by the 2070 Super, although a powerful CPU is key here as well.
- Strong 1080p and 1440p performance in even the toughest games
- 4K gaming is viable on most titles, with some settings tweaks
- DLSS and real-time ray tracing can be transformative
- Expensive for a GeForce xx70 card
Best value graphics card
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060: the cheapest future-proof GPU for 1080p and 1440p.
The RTX 2060 is an excellent card at the price, offering solid mid-range performance plus the RTX and DLSS features that define Nvidia's 20-series cards - and at a new lower price point, thanks to the release of the RTX 2060 Super. To give you some perspective on its prowess, the RTX 2060 outperforms 2015's Titan X Maxwell - which was once the very best of the best in terms of graphics hardware.
The performance level on tap allows the 2060 to tackle higher resolutions (1440p versus 1080p) or higher refresh rates (like 144Hz). If you're willing to experiment with lower detail settings or you're playing less demanding esports-focused titles like CSGO or Rocket League, your PC could easily drive a popular 1440p/144Hz monitor combo flat-out. With DLSS in play, you could shoot for even more demanding resolutions and refresh rates. However, remember that high refresh rates and low resolutions shift more of the load to your processor, so ensure you've got a worthy CPU on board; we recommend a Core i7 8700K or better for optimal performance.
Finally, against expectations the RTX 2060 can indeed power ray-traced visuals at 1080p60 in games like Battlefield 5 and Control. With DLSS available in many games to offset the extra horsepower requirements, the RTX 2060 has only gotten better with time. This card also feels like a particularly canny choice with sampler feedback streaming and variable rate shading coming to the Xbox Series X, not to mention ray tracing arriving on both next-gen consoles - all of which are supported here.
- Great 1080p and 1440p performance
- Can stretch to 4K gaming, particularly with a G-Sync monitor
- Relatively cool and efficient
- Inclusion of RTX and DLSS is proving a big bonus
- Significantly more expensive than the last-gen GTX 1060
- Only 6GB of VRAM compared to 8GB on the GTX 1070 and RX 5700
- Achieving 4K at 60fps requires significant settings tweakery
Best AMD alternative for 1440p: Radeon RX 5600 XT
The RX 5600 XT was fairly unremarkable when first announced, but a pre-launch BIOS upgrade for several models - including the Sapphire Pulse we tested - left the card considerably faster than expected. In our testing at 1440p, the RX 5600 XT was only six per cent slower than the RX 5700, which costs around 25 per cent more. That makes this GPU an outstanding value for 1080p or 1440p gaming, with enough horsepower to rival the RTX 2060 and embarrass the GTX 1660 Super - just make sure you select a card like the Sapphire Pulse which runs with 14Gbps memory and 1750MHz boost clocks. The only major downside to this card is its future performance, which may be limited by its lack of support for features like hardware-accelerated ray tracing, which is set to come to both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
- Excellent frame-rates at 1080p and 1440p
- Normally both cheaper and faster than similar-price Nvidia cards
- No ray tracing or variable rate shading support on this generation of Radeon cards
- Aggressive BIOS means there's little extra performance to find through overclocking
- Not all cards have upgraded BIOSes available, so check specs carefully
Best Nvidia alternative for 1440p: GeForce GTX 1660 Super
The GTX 1660 Super is a newer version of the GTX 1660 with faster GDDR6 memory, allowing for strong results at 1080p and the option to stretch for 1440p with some settings tweaks. That makes it a good cut-price alternative to the RTX 2060, which is only around 20 per cent faster in most games we tested. However, the GTX 1660 Super isn't our overall best value pick because it lacks support for some next-gen techs like RTX and DLSS, which could hurt its long-term viability as a top graphics card. It's also outperformed by the similarly-priced AMD RX 5600 XT, especially models that operate at blazing 1750MHz clock speeds.
- Significantly better performance than RX 580/GTX 1060
- Good option for 1080p; can usually stretch to 1440p
- More future-proof than its RX 580/GTX 1060 competitors with VRS and new NVENC
- Slightly less VRAM than the RX 580 8GB, although this doesn't matter in most games
- The lack of RTX and DLSS could limit this card's utility in the future
Best budget graphics card
AMD Radeon RX 570: an older mid-range card available at an entry-level price.
With the release of new generations of graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia in late 2019 and early 2020, older AMD cards are seeing significant price drops that bring them into new relevancy. Case in point is the RX 570, a once mid-range card that is now among the cheapest and most performant graphics cards available. This card offers good performance at 1080p, even in the latest games, although you may have to turn down a few settings in some games to guarantee a 60fps average.
However, the RX 570 does have its share of drawbacks. Chief among these is higher CPU utilisation than similarly powerful cards from Nvidia, so we recommend at least a quad-core processor - preferably a recent AMD Ryzen or Intel Core model - to avoid CPU bottlenecking. The RX 570 also tends to draw more power than the GTX 1060 3GB or GTX 1050 Ti, so it may not work well in systems with limited or non-standard power supplies.
If you're up for overclocking, you can wring more performance out of the RX 570. How much depends as always on the silicon lottery, but some units - especially those with beefier cooling solutions - will be able to nearly match the RX 580.
- Unparalleled performance for its price
- Full HD resolution at 60 frames per second is within reach
- Can't always hit 60fps at maximum settings
- Requires a quad-core processor to avoid bottlenecking
Best AMD alternative for 1080p: Radeon RX 5500 XT
While the RX 570 remains one of the best value 1080p cards, the latest games may require a slightly more powerful card, especially if you're targeting high frame rates. The RX 5500 XT is a good choice in these situations, offering better performance than Nvidia's option at this price point, the GTX 1650. Both 4GB and 8GB versions are available, with the 8GB variant better able to handle ultra texture settings in recent games, but the 4GB model offering identical performance if you don't exceed its more limited VRAM capacity.
- Excellent performance at 1080p, even in modern games
- Can stretch to 1440p gaming with settings tweaks
- Better power efficiency and thermal characteristics than RX 570
- 4GB of RAM variant can be limiting in some recent titles
- Not quite powerful enough for no-compromises 1440p gaming
Best Nvidia alternative for 1080p: GeForce GTX 1650 Super
Nvidia is a little out-gunned in the low-end space at present, but their best offering is the GTX 1650 Super. This card offers slightly less 1080p and 1440p performance than the RX 5500 XT, but normally costs a little less too. A few Turing-era features are included here, including variable rate shading and the new NVENC encoder, making the card slightly more future-proof than some of its rivals. However, Nvidia's standout RTX and DLSS features are absent, in common with all GTX cards.
- Good performance at 1080p, on par with the GTX 1060 6GB
- Nvidia's driver is more efficient than AMD's, resulting in lower CPU usage
- Includes some Turing features, including VRS and the new NVENC encoder
- 4GB of RAM makes running at ultra texture settings difficult in some games
- AMD's low-end offerings, old and new, are generally more performant
And with that, we reach the end of our current graphics card recommendations. Be sure to check out the Digital Foundry GPU Power Ladder, which ranks every current graphics card from weakest to strongest, for another useful perspective on whether a GPU upgrade makes sense for you.
If you'd like a personalised graphics card recommendation or just a friendly chat about PC gaming, you can reach me or Digital Foundry at @wsjudd and @digitalfoundry, respectively.
Top 5 Best Budget Graphics Cards in India
Released with barely a few weeks after the GTX 1080 Ti, the Nvidia Titan Xp is the best you can get for your money. For $1200 or Rs. 1.3 lakhs it completely decimates the GTX 1080 Ti and all its overclocked variants. It's boost clock is at 1582 MHz which is similar to the GTX 1080 FOUNDERS EDITION but with a lot more CUDA cores and memory, it's way ahead in terms of performance. Like the previous TITAN series graphics cards, the new TITAN Xp will not sell in India and should you need one, get it from overseas.
Featuring a pretty decent overclock of 1733 MHz and a boost clock of 1873 MHz, the new Aorus line of graphics cards from GIGABYTE offer a mix of good build quality as well as gaming performance. The graphics card has two switchable profiles with the clocks we've mentioned being the OC profile. The default is the Gaming profile which has the base clock of 1708 MHz and boost clock of 1847 MHz.
Yet another GTX 1080 Ti, this one from ZOTAC not only comes with a pretty beefy overclock but they’ve made a few changes to the design as well. It’s still a triple slot graphics card so you should have a motherboard with adequate spacing between x16 slots or you’ll have to end up sacrificing one slot to put this card in. The ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! EXTREME edition has a base clock of 1645 MHz and a boost clock of 1759 MHz, and the best part is that it doesn’t come with different profiles which you’d have to play around with. The overclock comes applied straight out of the box.
This one’s here purely for the fact that the Founders Edition cards are turning out to be quite popular. There is the fact that these are built to NVIDIA’s strict specifications and have a metal body that’s limited to two PCIe slots which makes it favourable for SLI enthusiasts. However, there is the fact that you can only get the Founders Edition for a few weeks before partner cards can make it to the retail market. So there’s the lack of choice which makes for better sales figures for the GTX 1080 Ti.
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We all called this the TITAN XP before the TITAN Xp came around. The original Pascal based TITAN X card really pushed the limits of the Pascal architecture by giving consumers the best of what the GP102 GPU could offer ensuring that all cards released under the Pascal banner would never beat the TITAN XP. That is, until the GTX 1080 Ti came out and with barely any time gap, was followed by the new TITAN Xp which completely decimated its predecessor. The original TITAN XP had a base clock of 1417 MHz and a boost clock of 1531 MHz, but we don’t think anyone would want to opt for this anymore.
GIGABYTE’s GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING comes in a really large package that not only packs the graphics card but a few goodies as well which includes a 5.25-inch bay adapter that houses HDMI and USB 3.0 ports for VR headsets. Though more of a convenience, this was a welcome change from the usual graphics card retail package. However, it also sported a really massive price tag as well. Or should we say, it cost a ‘premium’ of Rs.20K over the base GTX 1080.
One of the top contenders for the Zero1 Awards of 2016, the ASUS GTX 1080 STRIX OC sports the typical STRIX look and only takes up two PCIe slots. It’s triple fan cooler has the added advantage of adding two system fans to it as well allowing you to control them via the GPU separately. While most users would prefer that every single cooling mechanism be controlled by a single entity, we always like to have the choice to switch things up. Featuring a base clock of 1759 MHz and a boost clock of 1898 MHz, you had the option of switching to a higher profile of 1784/1936 MHz using the included software.
Moving away from the shroud design of the 980 Ti AMP! Extreme, the GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme takes away the triple slot design and moves back to a dual slot one. Also, the Light Id system had been renamed to Spectra with more lighting zones for the 7-colour LED accents. The GTX 1080 launch had the Founders Edition cards being pushed at the same time but since the aftermarket cards sported better coolers and higher clocks, there was no reason to go with the Founders Cards. The ZOTAC GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme has a base clock of 1771 MHz and a came with multiple profiles as well.
This was the first time we ever heard of the GTX 1080 Founders Edition and it turned out to be nothing but the reference design that NVIDIA sent out to their partners. While Maxwell did certainly rile things up, Pascal pushed it a lot further with the GTX 1080 with some games scoring more than 25 percent better compared to the GTX 980. And the latest GTX TITAN Xp made an even bigger splash with a performance difference of 30 percent compared to the GTX 1080. Coming back to the GTX 1080 Founders Edition, you can still get them in the market but there’s absolutely no reason why you should get one given that better performing cards are priced lower.
Like the GTX 970 before it, the GTX 1070 ended up being the card of choice for most enthusiast PC gamers. The sweet spot king is still the GTX 1060 in India due to the messed up pricing, however, should you get an opportunity to get the GTX 1070 overseas, then it’ll be a lot better buy and especially if you’re looking to get a factory overclocked card, then the ZOTAC GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme should be one of your top picks. Like the GTX 1080 AMP! Extreme, the 1070 also features a triple fan cooler design with a decent factory overclock of 1607 MHz and a boost clock of 1797 MHz.
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List Of Top 5 Best Budget Graphics Cards In India
|NVIDIA Titan Xp||N/A||₹ 120,000|
|GIGABYTE AORUS GTX 1080 Ti 11G||Amazon||₹ 94,999|
|ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! EXTREME||Amazon||₹ 85,000|
|NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti FOUNDERS EDITION||Amazon||₹ 112,625|
|NVIDIA GTX TITAN X Pascal FOUNDERS EDITION||N/A||₹ 199,999|
|GIGABYTE GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING Premium Pack||N/A||₹ 63,775|
|ASUS GTX 1080 STRIX OC||N/A||₹ 65,931|
|ZOTAC GTX 1080 AMP! EXTREME||N/A||₹ 63,250|
|NVIDIA GTX 1080 FOUNDERS EDITION||Amazon||₹ 214,529|
|ZOTAC GTX 1070 AMP! EXTREME||Amazon||₹ 57,447|
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Best Graphics Card: Top 5 AMD and Nvidia GPUs for every build and budget
- Excellent performance in 4K
- Ray tracing support
- Future-proofed connectivity
- The performance gains you get don’t fully justify how much more expensive it is over the regular RTX 3080
The Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti is the most powerful graphics card to pass through Trusted Labs in quite some time. It’s a powerhouse card that has more in common with the top end RTX 3090, which we’re yet to test, than the base RTX 3080.
As a result, it’s currently THE best graphics card for gamers who want a no-compromise 4K performance. During testing, it blitzed through every benchmark and process we threw at it, proving capable of playing demanding AAA games, including Cyberpunk 2077, at post 60FPS framerates with Ray Tracing and DLSS on.
The main downside is that, like all Ti cards, the 3080 Ti is an absolute power hog and requires a very hefty PSU to run. It’s also got next to no room for overclocking, which will put off some buyers.
This plus its hefty upfront cost mean that, while we’d whole heartedly recommend it to hardcore gamers looking to enjoy Ray Tracing in 4K, we’d suggest that most people invest in the cheaper RTX 3080, which is much better value for money.
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti