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, brand new GTX mid-range contenders and even something new from AMD, it’s a pretty good time to see what’s out there and consider buying a new graphics card.
As an additional side note, we probably won’t see anything new until late Q3 when AMD reveals its next-gen 7nm Navi GPUs, set to compete with Nvidia’s current lineup.
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.
Best Entry-Level GPU ($100 or less)
Radeon RX 560 vs. GeForce GT 1030
Before we had chosen the Radeon RX 550 over the GeForce GT 1030 in this bracket, but thankfully now you can get more for less. For those looking at spending no more than $75, 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 come with a measly 2GB VRAM buffer, so avoid those at all costs. There are 4GB versions but they cost upwards of $150, which is absurd.
Best Mainstream GPU ($200 or less)
GeForce GTX 1050 vs. Radeon RX 560
Radeon RX 570 vs. GeForce GTX 1050 Ti vs. GeForce GTX 1650
The Turing-based GTX 1650 arrived but nothing has changed. Not while 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.
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. Radeon Vega 56/64
The GeForce RTX 2060 is without question the best mid-range graphics card you can get your hands on. At $350 it basically eliminates the $500 RTX 2070 which is only marginally faster for a lot more money. 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.
AMD’s Vega 56 is hit or miss depending on the offer you get, while the GTX 1070 Ti is slowly fading into oblivion. Likewise, Vega 64 remains an opportunistic purchase, find one on sale for a killer price and you’re in business. But for most, the RTX 2060 presents as the better option for most users.
Unless you can get Vega 64 for less than the 2060 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 ~$1,200. 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 best deal we’ve been able to find so far is closer to $1,100.
Nvidia has 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 that only applies for the more value oriented price brackets. The GTX 1660 Ti places a ton of pressure on AMD’s GPU division, at least until Navi arrives, now confirmed for Q3 2019.