If you’re a PC gamer or just someone who wants to up their visual game, a graphics card is a must-have. It’s the magic behind the scenes, making all your favorite games and videos look their best. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one for you?
Well, the first thing to consider is what you want to use it for. If you’re just casually gaming on a Full HD monitor, you can probably get away with a more budget-friendly GPU. But if you’re a hardcore gamer who wants to experience the best 4K visuals, then you’ll want to invest in a high-end graphics card.
Unfortunately, the recent popularity of cryptocurrency mining and a global shortage of electronic components has sent GPU prices through the roof. But don’t worry, both NVIDIA and AMD are still launching new graphics card families with top-notch performance and price tags to match. And Intel has even entered the game with its Intel Arc cards, but we’ll have to wait and see if they can keep up with the big dogs.
To help you find the best graphics card for your setup, we’ve tested a ton of options. From budget-friendly choices to the ultimate in performance, our top picks are all right here in this guide. So, whether you’re a casual gamer or a visual wizard, we’ve got you covered.
Best Value High-end Graphics card: AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
If you’re looking for a top-notch graphics card, look no further than the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX. It’s our current pick for the best GPU, thanks to AMD’s super-efficient RDNA 3 architecture. With a 5nm and 6nm manufacturing process for the GPU cores and memory modules, respectively, you can expect some serious performance gains.
This baby’s got some speed too – the base clock speed is 2.3GHz, but it can boost up to a blazing 2.5GHz. And if you pair it with a Ryzen CPU, you’ll unlock even more benefits related to memory. Plus, with a whopping 24GB of GDDR6 memory on a 384-bit bus, you’ll have plenty of room to play. And with 3,500GB/s of memory bandwidth, you’ll never have to worry about slowing down.
Sure, it might not have as many cores as NVIDIA’s RTX 40 series GPUs, but the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX makes up for it with faster clock speeds and higher memory bandwidth. And it’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high-end GPU, including ray tracing support and AMD’s own Radeon Super Resolution, which is their version of NVIDIA DLSS. So, if you’re ready to step up your gaming game, this GPU is the one to get.
Just a heads up, this GPU is a bit of a monster in size – it’ll take up three PCI slots in your PC case and is 287mm long, so make sure your case can handle it. And you’ll need a beefy power supply too – AMD recommends at least an 800W PSU and this GPU can drain up to 355W of power.
But don’t worry, all that power pays off. This is AMD’s most powerful GPU, as we confirmed in our testing for our review. It’s pretty much on par with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080, but it’s a lot more affordable, coming in at an MSRP of $999. Sure, it’s not exactly cheap, but for a top-notch graphics card, it’s a pretty reasonable price tag.
Most Value for Money Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
If you’re looking for a solid graphics card that won’t break the bank, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is a great choice. It was a game-changer when it first came out, offering amazing 1440p gaming for under $400. With 4,864 CUDA cores, it packs more power than the RTX 2080 Super!
This little guy is quick and nimble with its base clock speed of 1.4GHz and boost of 1.7GHz, and you can even try overclocking it with an aftermarket card from AIB partners. 8GB of GDDR6 memory is perfect for 1440p gaming, but it may struggle with 4K. The memory bandwidth of 448GB/s means you won’t sacrifice much performance.
With 38 ray tracing cores and 4,864 processing cores, you can enjoy visually stunning games with ray tracing effects. Just remember you’ll need tech like NVIDIA’s DLSS to help with performance. With a TDP of 200W, the RTX 3060 Ti is easy to install in a mid-range PC without needing a power supply upgrade.
It may be part of the previous generation of GPUs, but it still handles new games with ease. So go ahead, give it a try, and be pleasantly surprised by its power and performance!
Top Performer: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090
So, it’s time to talk about the beast – the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090. This bad boy is the top dog in the graphics card game right now, but it comes with a hefty price tag of over $2,000. Yeah, you read that right. But, let me tell you, the results are amazing, especially when you’re playing on a 4K monitor with all the visual bells and whistles turned on.
AMD and Intel just can’t keep up with what this GPU can do. It’s seriously exciting to be able to game at 4K with high frame rates and know that the GPU can handle even more before it becomes a bottleneck. For most PC gamers, it might not make sense to spend that much on a GPU, but for those who want the best, this is it.
For content creators, the RTX 4090 is a dream come true. Whether you’re into 4K gaming or media rendering, this GPU has got you covered. With support for hardware AV1 encoding and a fast NVENC encoder, it’s a breeze to encode your 4K videos. All this power is thanks to its latest Ada Lovelace architecture and killer specs like 16,382 CUDA cores, 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM, a base clock of 2.23 GHz, and 3rd-gen ray tracing cores. It’s the first NVIDIA GPU to support DLSS 3.0 and has HDMI 2.1 outputs on the back.
As well as the price, the RTX 4090 is a very power-hungry GPU. It’s rated at 450W and requires a new 12VHPWR connector. This will be much better once more ATX 3.0 PSUs hit the market and we can supply power through a single cable, but for now, you will need to carefully attach multiple PCIe cables and hope your PSU won’t be overloaded. To be safe, we recommend a PSU with a capacity of at least 900W.
Finally, you’ll need to bear in mind the size of this GPU. The sheer amount of gaming performance available requires a beefy cooler to keep it from overheating and as such you may find it a struggle to cram it inside a smaller PC case. You probably don’t need an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090, but it would be amazing if you can afford one.
Best 2K Gaming Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly GPU that can handle some sick graphics in both 1440p and 4K, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is your guy. It’s a step up from the RTX 2080 Ti and it’s even better than the newer RTX 4070 Ti in terms of value. With 5,888 CUDA cores, 46 ray tracing cores, and 184 tensor cores, you’ll be able to play your games with all the bells and whistles.
And don’t worry about the specs – the RTX 3070 has a boost clock of 1.7GHz, 8GB of GDDR6 RAM, and a memory bandwidth of 448GB/s. That’s all you need for smooth 1440p gaming, and you can even play some 4K games if you’re feeling fancy. Plus, with NVIDIA DLSS technology, this GPU will perform even better than you’d expect. Just beware, you might have to pay a little extra due to the current high demand for GPUs, but if you can snag an RTX 3070 for its normal price, go for it!
Best Budget Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super
If you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy some solid gaming, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super might be just what you’re looking for. It’s not the fastest GPU out there, but it won’t break the bank either and won’t gobble up too much power.
This GPU is built using the older Turing platform and a 12nm manufacturing process, but don’t let that fool you – it’s still a great choice for 1080p and some 1440p gaming. Plus, you won’t have to shell out $2,000 like you would for some other GPUs!
With a base clock of 1.5GHz and a boost clock of 1.8GHz, 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM, and a memory bandwidth of 336GB/s, this GPU is a steal. Just make sure your power supply is rated at 500W or above, as it has a TDP of 125W. If you’re into streaming, you’ll love that the GTX 1660 Super has enhanced Turing NVENC.
NOTE: Keep in mind that, as a GTX-series card, it doesn’t support ray tracing and doesn’t have the RT cores for that kind of graphics. But other than that, it’s a solid choice for a very attractive price, and you won’t need a fancy cooling setup either – just a decent airflow in your build should do the trick.
What Graphics card to Buy?
Well, if you’re looking for the best of the best, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is a solid pick. It’s not the fastest, but it’s not the most expensive either. And if you’re feeling fancy and have some cash to spare, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 is the most powerful GPU out there. Just be ready to fork over a pretty penny. When shopping for a GPU, keep these things in mind:
- Make sure the GPU you’re buying meets your needs, not just because it’s new or the fastest.
- Before you buy a power supply, check the manufacturer’s “Recommended Power Requirement“, not just the GPU’s “Total Graphics Power.”
- There’s more to a GPU than just clock speed and memory. Check the specs table for things like memory bandwidth, TGP, etc.
- Make sure your PC case can fit the GPU you want – check the case manufacturer’s GPU length clearance.
- Know your gaming needs before you pick a GPU to save some cash. No need to buy an RTX 3080 for 1080p gaming.
- A good GPU isn’t enough for gaming – make sure your other components are up to snuff too.
- Keep in mind that all the GPUs mentioned here are based on reference models, like “Founders Edition” or the base model with stock speeds.
- Not all GPUs support things like ray tracing and DLSS, so check the product page to make sure.
Don’t forget to grab some peripherals like monitors, keyboards, and webcams when building your system. The PC-building game is stronger than ever and the options are only getting better.