As you’ve most certainly noticed by now, the PC space moves quickly. While Intel is about to come out with its after just unleashing an , the best graphics cards are constantly changing to accommodate for increasingly high resolution displays and ludicrously demanding PC games. Although they for increased performance, the hardware you use in your PC is crucial.
So, to stay on track graphically with the rest of video game hardware, you’ll want one of the best graphics cards. Obviously, simply buying the most expensive GPU would be the easiest solution, but we aren’t all made of money. Rather, the goal is to find the best performance per dollar (or pound) as you comb through all of the top graphics cards. That way you can ensure that the price tag of whatever graphics card you choose is justified.
- Without the best monitor, having the best graphics card means nothing
Luckily, thanks to the newly-rekindled competitive graphics card market, the best graphics cards aren’t necessarily the most expensive anyway. Instead, they all span a wide range of budgets at reasonable prices depending on what you want to do. That being the case, whether you’re repping Team Red (AMD) or Team Green (Nvidia), we’ve narrowed our list down to the seven top graphics cards for both first-time and veteran PC builders.
Best graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
The best GPU to start PC gaming
Stream Processors: 1,280 | Core Clock: 1,506MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 8Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Brilliant 1080p performance
No SLI compatibility
Per our previous explanation, the best graphics card is all about offering the most bang for your buck. As such, it’s our consensus that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 is unparalleled when it comes to sheer value. For a modest sum of cash, this graphics card affords players full HD 1080p and – perhaps with a bit of overclocking – 1440p and even 4K gaming. At the same time, however, the GTX 1060 doesn’t bear support for SLI, so you’re limited to just one card.
Best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Titan X performance without the Titan X cost
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,480MHz | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 11GHz | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin; 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
Titan X-like gaming performance
A pricey investment for most
The Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti comes closest to dethroning the Titan Xp as the world’s most powerful GPU. It’s wildly more capable than the GTX 1080 proper, thanks to its 11GB of GDDR5X VRAM and dramatically higher CUDA core count. It’s still no match for two GTX 1080s in SLI, but this single card is cheaper and supports a larger pool of games. If you’re looking for a single part to run your games at 4K, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti is the best graphics card to do it.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Best QHD graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
The all-around graphics card champion
Stream Processors: 2,560 | Core Clock: 1,607MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 10Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Great all-round performance
Quiet and cool
A tad expensive
The Nvidia GTX 1080 is the best all-rounder graphics card for gaming we’ve ever tested. While it can make 4K gaming viable, albeit with a bit of tweaking in triple-A blockbuster titles, that’s not exactly where the GTX 1080 shines the most. Instead, that’s in its ability to run at their highest settings with the resolution cranked up to 1440p. Thanks to a recent price drop from Nvidia, too, it’s also more affordable than ever, making it that much more enticing.
Best Full HD graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
Punchy graphics performance above its weight
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,156MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 800MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
Maxed out 1080p performance
High energy consumption
Runs a tad hot
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is one of the best value-packed graphics card on the market right now. Benchmarks prove it runs faster than the Nvidia GTX 1070 and, thanks to the Bitcoin mining craze, it’s also cheaper to boot. The Vega 56 is arguably a little bit overkill for Full HD gaming, but that’ll come in handy for 144-to-240hz monitors and future-proofing. Users can also expect a great 1440p experience with this graphics card.
Best VR graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD’s return to high-end graphics cards
Stream Processors: 4,096 | Core Clock: 1,247MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 945MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
Impressive benchmark results Minute
GPU tuning control
Higher energy draw than Nvidia Pascal
AMD’s flagship graphics card may not have won titles for best for gaming on our list, but it is nevertheless a return to form for the Red Team. After all, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 has proved itself every bit as capable as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and for a lower price. Sporting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, this card has the brute computing power for physics-heavy VR gaming now and into the future. If nothing else, this is the AMD card to rule them all.
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Stream processors: 3,584 | Core clock: 1,506 | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory clock: 10Gbps | Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x DL-DVI-D
World’s smallest 1080 Ti
Runs hot and loudEmpty List
When you’re building a microATX – or, especially a mini-ITX – computer, you want to aim for the smallest parts you can find without compromising much on performance. Though it’s a given that you might have to sacrifice a few frames-per-second in favor of a more compact form factor, with Zotac’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini – the smallest of its kind at 211 x 125 x 41mm (8.31 x 4.92 x 1.61 inches) – there’s very little in the way of prodigious 4K gaming.
Best budget graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
The little GPU that could
Stream Processors: 640 | Core Clock: 1,354MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Small form factor for tiny cases
Maximum 2GB of video memory
The Nvidia GTX 1050 might not look like much on paper, what with only 2GB of video memory onboard, but this affordable GPU plays games better than you would think. If you’re willing to drop settings to medium, you can play Overwatch, CS:GO and other popular competitive shooters well above the silky smooth 60fps mark. Thanks to its compact size, it’s also perfect for small builds and entertainment center-bound streaming PCs.
Best eSports graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Competitive for both eSports and in price
Stream Processors: 768 | Core Clock: 1,290MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Solid 1080p performer
Good overclocking potential
Greater than 75W TDP
eSports games often demand high frame rates over beautifully rendered graphical details, and this is where the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti comes into its own. It’s an affordable but potent graphics card that can play most eSports games well above 60fps. It’s a tad more expensive than its lower-end Nvidia GTX 1050 brethren, but you’ll appreciate the extra legs on this card to play future eSports titles as well as the odd AAA game.