When it comes to graphics cards we go fully in-depth. We test dozens of GPUs year in and year out, and we keep evaluating them months after release as new games and drivers come about. With GeForce RTX cards readily available, a brand new GTX mid-range contender and even something new from AMD, it's a pretty good time to see what's on the cards and consider buying a new graphics card.
Don't mind all the testing, marginal fps gains, power consumption figures, or overclocking potential. TechSpot's Best Graphics Cards is written to get a simple question answered: Given a certain budget, which is the graphics card you should buy? Fret no more.
- Entry-Level GPU ($100)
- Mainstream GPU ($200)
- Mid-Range GPU ($300)
- High-End 1440p GPU ($400+)
- High-End 4K GPU ($600+)
Best Entry-Level GPU ($100 or less)
Radeon RX 560 vs. GeForce GT 1030
In our last update we chose the Radeon RX 550 over the GeForce GT 1030. For those looking at spending no more than $80, we'd still highly recommend going with the RX 550. However, if you can increase that budget slightly by $25, you can now land an RX 560 and we strongly suggest this is the way you go.
For starters you get twice as much VRAM and today the difference between 2GB and 4GB is significant. That alone helps to justify the price increase. The big drawcard here though is that you’re getting over 50% more performance and in games such as Metro Exodus that’s the difference between an unplayable game, and one that is very playable at 1080p using medium quality settings.
The cheapest GeForce GTX 1050 cards also start at $120 and only come with a measly 2GB VRAM buffer, so avoid those at all costs. There are 4GB versions but they cost upwards of $150 -- most around $180 -- which is absurd.
Best Mainstream GPU ($200 or less)
GeForce GTX 1050 vs. Radeon RX 560
GeForce GTX 1050 Ti vs. Radeon RX 570
No dramatic changes will be seen in this price bracket until the GTX 1650 arrives sometime in April 2019. Meanwhile, the value of the Radeon RX 570 keeps getting better. Right now the RX 570 is selling for as little as $130 which truly is amazing. Both Asrock and PowerColor have $130 models and there’s plenty selling for less than $150 which is still a great price to have them.
The Asus ROG Strix version, for example, can be had for $150 and remember, RX 570 cards come with 2 free games. Choices currently include Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry 5 or The Division 2. Say you planned to buy one or two of those games, you're virtually getting the graphics card for free or at a heavy discount.
With all that said, this pick could change as soon as next month as the GTX 1650 is rumored to become available for $180, but of course we’ll have to evaluate that product once it’s released.
Best Mid-Range GPU ($300 or less)
GeForce GTX 1660 Ti vs. GTX 1660 vs. GTX 1060 vs. Radeon RX 580 vs. RX 590
Gamers looking to spend between $200 and $300 have plenty of good options. The most recent Nvidia releases, the GTX 1660 Ti and vanilla 1660 have put AMD in a tight spot as they no longer command a better value.
The GTX 1660 Ti at $280 was the first GPU release in some time that we’ve come away feeling completely pleased. We’re getting GTX 1070-like performance for a slight price premium over the old GTX 1060 6GB. In today’s games the RX 580 is more of a 1080p solution, whereas the 1660 Ti can be used for high refresh rate 1080p gaming or 1440p gaming. It’s also much more efficient and we expect all cards to run cool and quiet.
As of writing the RX 580 has dropped down to $190 which still makes the Radeon a viable alternative for some. The RX 590 has seen a heftier price cut with numerous models now available at $220. This GPU is finally down to the price it should have launched at. Given it’s a little slower than the 1660 but costs about the same, it’s not quite as good in terms of value.
Best High-End 1440p GPU ($400+)
GeForce RTX 2060 vs. RTX 2070 vs. GTX 1070 Ti vs. Radeon Vega 56/64
This performance category has traditionally targeted the sub-$400 price range and we wanted to keep it that way. So in our last update when the RTX 2060 hadn't yet been released, we scrubbed out the RTX 2070 when we saw it didn't offer great value. That left us with Vega 56 and the GTX 1070 Ti. Of those two options we noted that it was a close battle, but overall you could usually find the GTX 1070 Ti for a better price and more crucially, get better quality AIB models. Vega 64 was more of an opportunistic purchase, find one on sale for a killer price and you’re in business. But for most, the GTX 1070 Ti presents itself as the better option of that group.
None of that matters now though. The GeForce RTX 2060 is cheaper and offers the same level of performance. In our 36 game benchmark it edged out the 1070 Ti and came in just behind Vega 64. It’s also only about 10% slower on average when compared to the RTX 2070 -- which costs 30% more -- making the more expensive 2070 pointless a few months after release.
Unless you can get Vega 64 for under $400 we wouldn’t bother with it. As before, the RTX 2060 is similar in terms of performance, but is more power efficient, runs cooler and quieter and is available in a wide range of board options. If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of performance the sub-$300 king, the GTX 1660 Ti, is a better value option overall.
Best High-End 4K Gaming GPU (Over $600)
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti vs. Your Wallet
You could argue about the merits of Vega 64 and we guess even the out of stock Radeon VII, if you’re that way inclined... but it’s impossible to argue against Nvidia's dominance and hold over the performance crown. Gamers spending over $500 have two choices right now: the RTX 2080 or the glorious RTX 2080 Ti.
If you have the means but feel like overspending is not justified for you, we’d snap an RTX 2080 for $700 and pocket the change for other hardware upgrades, a superb monitor, or a GPU upgrade in a year or two.
But for extreme, best-in-class 4K gaming experience, the RTX 2080 Ti is the best GPU you can buy. The nasty side to this inevitable pick is that they are grossly overpriced at $1,300. But if you want the best of the best, this is it. The MSRP for AIB models is supposed to be $1,000, however the cards must be selling in big enough volumes to enable a 20-30% markup across all brands.
Nvidia’s continued to muscle AMD out of the market with their Turing GPUs. Just a few months back, if you had $300 or less to spend, then buying a Radeon GPU was a no brainer, today though that only applies for the more value oriented price brackets. The GTX 1660 Ti places a ton of pressure on AMD’s GPU division, and with the GTX 1660 and 1650 rumored to be arriving soon, things are likely only going to get worse for AMD before they get better.
- The Best GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Cards
- Display Tech Compared: TN vs. VA vs. IPS
- The Best Gaming Monitors
- DLSS Tested: Overpromised, Underdelivered & DLSS Take Two with Metro Exodus
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 & 2080 Ti Review
- FreeSync vs. G-Sync
- The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Used Graphics Card