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The best graphics cards 2021: all the top GPUs for gaming

Having one of the best graphics cards of 2021 at your disposal is crucial, regardless of whether you’re using your computer for graphic design work, video editing, or gaming. Only these heavy hitters can handle tasks that are graphically intensive.

For day-to-day computing, you can easily get away with integrating graphics. But, if you want your PC to keep up with gaming and creative tasks, you have to have a fantastic discrete graphics card at your disposal. The reason for this is because that’s what they’re specifically made for, particularly if you’re working (or playing) at higher resolutions or faster refresh rates.

Whether you’re putting together a new PC or upgrading your old one, you need a powerful GPU installed to get the most performance out of your rig. And, to help you find the one right for you, we’ve gathered our top picks here.

How to choose the best graphics card for you?

It can be difficult choosing the best graphics card for you. While there are just two companies, AMD and Nvidia, responsible for all the GPUs out there, each company has a number of entries for each price point and graphical need. And, while it may seem like the first logical step is to choose a company, it’s more important to consider what you can afford and what resolution you plan on gaming at. 

After all, a high-end GPU like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 may set you back quite a bit but, with that hefty price tag, the ability to keep up at 4K resolution. In general, AMD’s newest lineup of cards is going to run a little cheaper than Nvidia’s offerings – although that might not be for long with rumors about graphics cards possibly geting  more expensive next year swirling around. But, when Nvidia released their newest GPUs, they dropped the price to be more competitive. So, the difference in price is not so stark, though it should still be a consideration. In fact, each company has a GPU that’s competitive for each level of gaming, whether it’s 1080p, 1440p, or 4K, at similar price points. 

One important metric for finding out how powerful a GPU is how much memory it comes with. For example, a strong GPU for 1080p might have 8GB of GDDR6 RAM but one meant for higher resolutions, like the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT, comes with 12GB.

Where the performance between the companies differ is in ray tracing - new rendering technology that improves reflections, shadows, and more realistically mimics light. With AMD RDNA 2, the company is just getting started on implementing this new tech. Whereas Nvidia Ampere GPUs are not Nvidia’s first entries, although developers have recently found a way to enable it in Quake 2 on older GPUs. In fact, the company has been at it longer so it’s better implemented.

Other considerations, particularly if you’re about to build your own PC or upgrade one of the best gaming PCs, is to make sure whatever GPU you end up with is compatible with that PC’s motherboard. After all, you won’t be able to play the best PC games if your desktop is having trouble recognizing the GPU you installed.

And, while you won’t be able to swap the graphics card out on a gaming laptop, these same considerations apply. You might be able to get a cheaper one with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or splurge on one with an RTX 3080.

Where to buy the best graphics cards right now: 

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Best graphics card


Stream Processors: 4,864

Core Clock: 1.41 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)

Memory: 8 GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 1080p performance+Ray tracing performance is solid

Reasons to avoid

-Only entry-level 4K performance

Is AMD no longer the king of great value GPUs? The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti certainly threatens that claim with its price to performance ratio. The newest arrival in the RTX 3000 line, this graphics card punches way above its weight class, delivering a performance that could rival that of the RTX 2080 Super while keeping its price tag incredibly affordable for most people. And, that’s with impressive ray tracing included. 1080p gaming has never been this good and this affordable.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card, hands-down


Stream Processors: 8,704

Core Clock: 1.44 GHz (1,71 GHz boost)

Memory: 10 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 19Gbps

Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 4K gaming performance+Low temperatures

Reasons to avoid

-Still kind of expensive

With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 4K gaming just became a lot more accessible. Before, you had to shell out more than $1,000/£1,000 to get playable framerates with the RTX 2080 Ti. However, with the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards, the price of 4K gaming has been cut nearly in half, thanks to the RTX 3080. It boasts one of the largest generational leaps in GPU history, delivering a 50-80% performance boost over the RTX 2080 and a 20-30% boost over the RTX 2080 Ti, all while keeping the same price point as the RTX 2080. This is both an absolute powerhouse of a graphics card and a great value, if you have a bit of extra cash lying around. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Nvidia’s new Ampere leader


Stream Processors: 10,240

Core Clock: 1.37 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)

Memory: 12 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Outputs: HDMI, 3x DisplayPort

Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin

Reasons to buy

+Excellent performance+Beautiful graphics card+Same size as RTX 3080

Reasons to avoid

-Very expensive-Power-hungry

 There’s a new Nvidia champion in town, and it takes power and performance to an even more accessible price point. Delivering RTX 3090-level performance, an impressive feat in its own right, the long-awaited RTX 3080 Ti comes with an even better price tag, making all that sheer power more accessible than ever. It continues what the RTX 3080 has started – to take 4K gaming into the mainstream arena – with its breathtaking 4K at 60fps performance while slashing a few hundred dollars off the steep 3090 price. This is the best graphics card on the market right now, especially if you care about ray tracing. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

Best graphics card for creatives


Stream Processors: 10,496

Core Clock: 1.40 GHz (1,70 GHz boost)

Memory: 24 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 19.5Gbps

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

-Extremely expensive-Very large

You can’t beat the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 when it comes to performance. With a whopping 24GB of RAM, no game or, more importantly, heavy graphics project will suffer performance issues. In fact, you can even get some 8K performance at 60 fps out of the 3090. It is an incredibly expensive unit, and quite large too, so it will probably be too much GPU for most users. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is, in essence, a replacement for the Titan so it’s meant more for the creative user tackling intensive 3D and video rendering than for the avid gamer. Even so, it comes with a massive reduction in price compared to the Titan, even if it’s still out of most people’s budget.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

5. AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

A 1080p powerhouse


Stream processors: 2,048

Core clock: 1,968

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 16Gbps

Power connectors: 1 x 8-pin

Outputs: 1.4 with DSC DisplayPort, HDMI 2.1 VRR and FRL

Reasons to buy

+Strong 1080p performance+Great thermal efficiency+Low power consumption

Reasons to avoid

-Should be cheaper-Only slightly better than the RTX 3060

For rock solid 1080p gaming, you can’t go wrong with the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. Not only is the card a great performer, but it doesn’t use a lot of power so you can install it in a system with a smaller PSU. Because of its great thermal efficiency, you also don’t need a super expensive water cooling system built into your PC. Unfortunately, it is a bit pricier than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, its direct competition, and doesn’t come with ray tracing.

Read the full review:AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT


Best Graphics Cards for Gaming in 2021

The best graphics cards are the lifeblood of any gaming PC — they're they're the beating heart pumping out stunningly rendered pixels to your screen. While there's no single solution that's right for everyone, we're here to sort out the must haves from the wanna bes. Some want the fastest graphics card, others the best value, and many are looking for the best card at a given price. Balancing performance, price, features, and efficiency is important because no other component impacts your gaming experience as much as the graphics card.

Where our GPU benchmarks hierarchy ranks all of the cards based purely on performance, our list of the best graphics cards tries to look at the whole package. Price, availability, performance, features, and efficiency are all important, though the weighting becomes more subjective. Unfortunately, despite China's crackdown on cryptocurrency mining, Bitcoin and Ethereum prices have rebounded (again, after a slump at the end of September), which potentially means miners may want to try to expand. GPU mining profitability has dropped from where it was earlier this year, but it's not low enough to stop miners completely.

AMD's Radeon RX 6600 XT has now joined our benchmarks, and unlike Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 Ti and GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, we've given it a spot on our list of the best graphics cards — contingent upon people actually finding them in stock, naturally. We'll have to see how availability and street pricing shape up over time (hint: not great, but better than any other AMD RX 6000-series card so far). AMD is also rumored to have the vanilla Radeon RX 6600 coming in the middle of this month. Nvidia's cards also implement Nvidia's hashrate limiter, and LHR (Lite Hash Rate) models have replaced all of the other RTX 30-series GPUs, except the RTX 3090, potentially making those cards less enticing to miners.

Team Red also recently launched AMD FSR, FidelityFX Super Resolution. A GPU-agnostic upscaling algorithm that competes against DLSS sounds great, and performance and image quality at the higher settings are good. Now we just need for it to get used in more games, preferably stuff that lots of people are playing. At present, none of the games in our core suite of benchmarks support FSR.

We're going to list the best graphics cards that are theoretically available right now, along with their nominal prices. As an example of the problem we face, the GeForce RTX 3060 12GB sells for over $700 on eBay, and the Radeon RX 6700 XT goes for over $800 — more than double the suggested etail pricing (SEP). If you're desperate for a new GPU, you could maybe justify paying 25% more than the launch price, but double or triple the MSRP is simply too much. If you need to upgrade, we recommend taking a look at pre-built gaming PCs instead. Or just wait, but prices might not get back to anything close to 'normal' until some time in 2022.

We test and review all the major GPUs, and we've done extensive testing of graphics card power consumption, using proper hardware. We've also looked at the broader AMD vs Nvidia GPUs breakdown. More recently, ourRadeon RX 6800 XT andGeForce RTX 3060 Ti launch articles have included test results for the latest GPUs running on Core i9-9900K, Core i9-10900K, and Ryzen 9 5900X. Mostly, the three CPUs are pretty close, though things vary depending on the game and settings (and motherboard firmware and RAM). Here we cut things down to a succinct list of the best graphics cards that are currently in production, that might even be available to buy if you search around or get lucky.

Choosing the Best Graphics Card for You

We've provided a dozen options for the best graphics cards, recognizing that there's plenty of potential overlap. The latest generation GPUs consist of Nvidia's Ampere architecture cards and AMD's RDNA2 architecture offerings. You can check our launch reviews of the GeForce RTX 3090, GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, GeForce RTX 3080, GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, GeForce RTX 3070, GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, and GeForce RTX 3060 12GB for Nvidia, along with AMD's Radeon RX 6900 XT, Radeon RX 6800 XT and RX 6800, Radeon RX 6700 XT, and Radeon RX 6600 XT. RDNA2 brought ray tracing support to Team Red for the first time and greatly improved performance compared to the previous generation GPUs. That's a dozen new GPUs in about as many months, and we'll likely see additional options using scaled down GA106 and Navi 22/23 GPUs in the future.

Theoretically, cards like the RTX 3070 and RX 6800 cost less than half as much as the previous generation RTX 2080 Ti, and generally match or beat it on performance. Meanwhile, the RX 6800 XT and RTX 3080 are 30% to 35% faster than the 2080 Ti for less money, and the RTX 3090 is 10-20% faster than the 3080 — at more than twice the price. You can also see how the RTX 3080 scales with a wider range of CPUs. Hint: You'll want something made in the past few years, generally with at least 6-cores and 12-threads, and 8-core and above add a few extra percent in performance.

Unfortunately, that's only in theory, as cryptocurrency mining combined with an already limited supply have caused a massive jump in GPU prices — see our GPU price index. Our advice: Don't pay more today for yesterday's hardware. If you want an RTX 30-series or RX 6000-series graphics card, be patient and you'll eventually be able to buy one at close to the official MSRP. If you already own a decent GPU, stick with it — or sell it for a premium and save the money until prices come down (assuming you have a spare you can live with in the interim). Or, hell, just give Ampere and RDNA2 a pass and wait for Lovelace and RDNA3, which will probably arrive in late 2022 and will hopefully have better availability (don't count on that yet!)

If your main goal is gaming, you can't forget about the CPU. Getting the best possible gaming GPU won't help you much if your CPU is underpowered and/or out of date. So be sure to check out the Best CPUs for Gaming page, as well as our CPU Benchmark hierarchy to make sure you have the right CPU for the level of gaming you're looking to achieve.

Our current recommendations reflect the changing GPU market, factoring in all of the above details. The GPUs are ordered mostly by performance, but price, features, and efficiency are still factors so in a few cases a slightly slower card may be ranked higher. There's been a massive shakeup at the top of the performance rankings already, and provided you can find the various cards in stock, these are the best graphics cards.

Quick Shopping Tips

When buying a graphics card, consider the following:

• Resolution: The more pixels you're pushing, the more performance you need. You don't need a top-of-the-line GPU to game at 1080p.
• PSU: Make sure that your power supply has enough juice and the right 6- and/or 8-pin connector(s). For example, Nvidia recommends a 550-watt PSU for the RTX 3060, and you'll need at least an 8-pin connector and possibly a 6-pin PEG connector as well.
• Video Memory: A 4GB card is the minimum right now, 6GB models are better, and 8GB or more is strongly recommended.
FreeSync or G-Sync? Either variable refresh rate technology will synchronize your GPU's frame rate with your screen's refresh rate. Nvidia supports G-Sync and G-Sync Compatible displays (for recommendations, see our Best Gaming Monitors list), while AMD's FreeSync tech works with Radeon cards.
• Ray Tracing, DLSS, and FSR: The latest graphics cards support ray tracing, which can be used to enhance the visuals. DLSS provides intelligent upscaling and anti-aliasing to boost performance with similar image quality, but it's only on Nvidia RTX cards. AMD's FSR works on virtually any GPU and also provides upscaling and enhancement, but on a different subset of games.

Note: Prices on most of the graphics cards remain seriously messed up right now. We've listed the official MSRPs, which is what we would expect to pay under normal circumstances. You shouldn't pay significantly more than the above prices, and nearly all of the top GPUs remain out of stock.

While we sorted the above list in order of performance, we've sorted the cards below based on performance as well as our own subjective rankings. We look at performance, price, power, and features and then adjust things accordingly, though opinions naturally differ. Plus, it's very hard to know how to rank anything given the current prices.

Best Graphics Cards for Gaming 2021

1. GeForce RTX 3080

Best Graphics Card Overall, for 4K and More


GPU: Ampere (GA102)

GPU Cores: 8704

Boost Clock: 1,710 MHz

Video RAM: 10GB GDDR6X 19 Gbps

TDP: 320 watts

Reasons to buy

+Excellent performance+Reasonably priced compared to 3090 and 6900 XT+Can legitimately do 4K ultra at 60 fps or more+Substantially faster than previous gen GPUs

Reasons to avoid

-Availability is severely limited-Requires 320W of power-Overkill for 1080p displays-Only 10GB VRAM

Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 sports the new and improved Ampere architecture. It's over 30% faster than the previous gen 2080 Ti, for $500 less. The new RTX 3080 Ti didn't manage to supplant the incumbent, thanks to its significantly higher pricing. If you're serious about maxing out all the graphics settings and you want to play at 4K or 1440p, this is the card to get — it's mostly overkill for 1080p gaming, though enabling all ray tracing effects in games that support the feature makes 1080p still reasonable.

If you skipped the first round of RTX GPUs, the RTX 30-series might finally get you you on board the ray tracing train. With potentially double the ray tracing performance of Turing, and games like Cyberpunk 2077 using even more ray tracing effects, the RTX 3080 is your best bet at playing games in all their ray traced glory without nuking the piggy bank.

Ampere also brings improved tensor cores for DLSS, a technology we're bound to see more of in future games now that it doesn't require per-game training by a supercomputer. We're seeing a lot more games with DLSS 2.0 these days, helped by the fact that it's basically a toggle and UI update to get it working in Unreal Engine and Unity. Nvidia's RT and DLSS performance are also quite a bit faster than what you get from AMD's new RX 6000 cards, which is a good thing as Nvidia sometimes falls behind in traditional rasterization performance (which is what our raw numbers are based on).

The biggest problem with RTX 3080 by far is going to be finding one in stock, at prices that aren't straight up terrible. Given the high price of the 3080 Ti, though, this remains our best pick for a fast GPU right now.

Read:Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Review

2. Radeon RX 6800 XT

Best AMD GPU, Forget About DLSS


GPU: Navi 21 XT

GPU Cores: 4608

Boost Clock: 2,250 MHz

Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 16 Gbps

TDP: 300 watts

Reasons to buy

+New RDNA2 architecture provides excellent performance+Beats 3080 in rasterization games+Easily handles 4K and 1440p+Lots of VRAM for the future

Reasons to avoid

-Weaker ray tracing performance-FSR needs wider adoption-Supply might be even worse than Nvidia

AMD's Radeon RX 6800 XT is the best card for Team Red. The RX Radeon 6900 XT is technically about 5-7 percent faster, but it costs 54 percent more. That's not a great deal, at all, especially since you don't get more VRAM or any other extras. The RX 6800 XT provides a massive boost in performance and features relative to the previous generation RX 5700 XT. It adds ray tracing support (via DirectX Raytracing or VulkanRT), and is 70-90% faster across our test suite.

The GPU was affectionately dubbed 'Big Navi' prior to launch by the enthusiast community, and we got exactly what we wanted. Navi 21 is over twice the size of Navi 10, with twice the shader cores and twice the RAM. Clock speeds are also boosted into the 2.1-2.3 GHz range (depending on the card model), the highest clocks we've ever seen from a reference GPU by about 300 MHz. And AMD did all this without substantially increasing power requirements: The RX 6800 XT has a 300W TDP, slightly lower than the RTX 3080's 320W TDP.

A big part of AMD's performance comes thanks to the massive 128MB Infinity Cache. It improves the effective bandwidth by 119% (according to AMD). We're confident that few if any games in the coming years are going to need more than 16GB, so the 6800 XT is in a great position in that area.

What's not to like? Well, the ray tracing performance is a bit mediocre. Maybe it's because current games are more likely to be optimized for Nvidia's RTX GPUs, but overall the 6800 XT is just barely ahead of the RTX 3070 in ray tracing performance, and there are several games where it falls behind by up to 25%. And that's without turning on DLSS, which even in Quality mode can improve performance of RTX cards by 20-40% (sometimes more). AMD is working on FidelityFX Super Resolution to compete with DLSS, but it's not here yet and it's very much needed.

Read:AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT Review

3. GeForce RTX 3090

Fastest Graphics Card, Great for Creators


GPU: Ampere (GA102)

GPU Cores: 10496

Boost Clock: 1,695 MHz

Video RAM: 24GB GDDR6X 19.5 Gbps

TDP: 350 watts

Reasons to buy

+The fastest GPU, period+4K and maybe even 8K gaming+24GB is great for content creation workloads+Up to 30% faster than 3080 in professional apps

Reasons to avoid

-Over twice the cost of 3080 for 10-15% more performance-Extremely limited availability for now-High power requirements-Titan price without Titan enhancements

For some, the best card is the fastest card — pricing be damned! Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3090 caters to this category of user. At more than double the price of the RTX 3080, performance is only moderately better (10-15%) in most workloads. It's basically a replacement for the Titan RTX, at a still extreme price. Which is fine if that's what you're after — the 12GB RTX 3080 Ti doesn't reduce the price enough to shake things up.

The RTX 3090 is likely to reign as Nvidia's top GPU for a while as well. It sports nearly a complete GA102 chip, based off the Ampere architecture, so there's not really room for a new Titan card. Nvidia has said as much as well, that the 3090 brings Titan-class performance and features (specifically the 24GB VRAM) into the GeForce brand. If you simply must have the fastest graphics card available, that's the RTX 3090.

It's not just about gaming, of course. The RTX 3090 is the only GeForce Ampere with NVLink support, which is arguably more useful for professional apps and GPU compute than SLI. The 24GB of GDDR6X memory is also helpful in a variety of content creation applications. Blender for example frequently showed 30% higher performance compared to the 3080, and over twice the performance of the Titan RTX. Just watch out for lower than expected performance in some of the SPECviewperf 13 apps, where Titan RTX has additional features turned on in its drivers that aren't enabled for GeForce cards.

AMD's RX 6900 XT challenges the RTX 3090, and in traditional rasterization it's competitive. It also gets some wins in a few SPECviewperf tests. But if you want the absolute fastest graphics card right now, Nvidia wins, especially if you run games with ray tracing and DLSS enabled.

Read:Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Review

4. GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Best Bang for the Buck Graphics Card


GPU: Ampere (GA104)

GPU Cores: 4864

Boost Clock: 1,665 MHz

Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps

TDP: 200 watts

Reasons to buy

+Beats the 2080 Super for $300 less+Best overall value (fps/$)+Great for RT at 1440p with DLSS

Reasons to avoid

-Sold out and currently overpriced-4K is a a stretch even with DLSS-8GB might not be 'enough' VRAM long term

Nvidia's Ampere march continues with what might just be the best of the bunch. The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti has all the same features as the other 30-series GPUs, with a starting price of just $399. In theory, of course, as it naturally sold out just as quickly as all the other new graphics cards. 

The 3060 Ti ends up beating the previous gen 2080 Super in performance, winning every test we ran. It's also only about 9 percent slower than the 3070 but costs 20 percent less. If you're still sitting on a GTX series or similar GPU, like a GTX 1070 or RX Vega 56, the 3060 Ti is up to twice as fast — sometimes even more, in the latest games.

The only real concern is the lack of VRAM. 8GB is enough, for now, but some games are starting to push beyond that threshold. Of course you can drop the texture quality a notch, and you might not even notice the difference, but deep down inside you'll feel regret. (Not really — high settings often look indistinguishable from ultra settings.)

Until AMD releases its next round of RDNA2 cards, which we expect in the first quarter of 2021, there's nothing else that can challenge the 3060 Ti at anything close to the $399 price point. It's 35-45 percent faster than the 2060 Super, and 25-30 percent faster than the RX 5700 XT, all for the same nominal asking price.

The biggest concern right now is just finding one of these cards for sale. Mining performance pretty much matches the 3070 (at least for the non-LHR models) and AMD's latest gen cards, which means prices are often triple the official launch price. Also, 8GB still feels a bit stingy, considering the 1070 had that much memory over four years ago.

Read:Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Review

5. GeForce RTX 3070

Excellent 1440p Performance


GPU: Ampere (GA104)

GPU Cores: 5888

Boost Clock: 1,730 MHz

Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps

TDP: 220 watts

Reasons to buy

+2080 Ti performance at half the cost+All the Ampere enhancements+Not as power hungry as 3080

Reasons to avoid

-Totally sold out and/or expensive-Can't do 4K ultra in some games at 60 fps-8GB VRAM feels stingy

The GeForce RTX 3070 continues the Ampere onslaught and the march of next-gen architectures. It's a sizeable step down from the 3080, and has less than half the VRAM of AMD's RX 6800 series cards. However, the 3070 also costs less than AMD's new cards and still has generally superior ray tracing performance, plus DLSS. It's too bad all of the 3070 cards will likely continue to sell out for quite some time. The new RTX 3070 Ti delivers slightly better performance for $100 more, but also bumps the power use up by 30%, so we recommend sticking with the non-Ti card for now.

The 3060 Ti's $400 price point makes the 3070 less endearing. It's about 10-12 percent faster but costs 25 percent more. Of course, if you factor in the rest of your gaming PC, that extra $100 probably isn't too big of a problem. For new gaming PC builds, you shouldn't buy anything right now that costs $300 or more unless it's sporting an Ampere or Big Navi GPU. Especially at current shortage-induced prices. We do have some reservations, however.

While 1440p and 4K gaming are totally possible, 4K at maximum quality often drops below 60 fps. DLSS can fix that, if a game supports it, but ray tracing even with DLSS often means 40-50 fps at 4K. We're also concerned with the 8GB of GDDR6. Not only is that less memory on a narrower bus than the 3080, but it's clocked quite a bit lower. We've already encountered a few games where 8GB starts to be a bit limiting at maximum quality, and that's only going to get worse in the future. AMD's decision to put 16GB on its Navi 21 GPUs makes Nvidia's 8GB look even worse, and Nvidia put 12GB on the RTX 3060, which makes the 8GB on the 3070 and 3060 Ti look even worse.

If you want a fast Nvidia GPU for the lowest price possible, the 3060 Ti gets the nod. If you can fork over an extra $100, the 3070 is a reasonable upgrade, which then leads to another $100 for the 3070 Ti, and at that point why not just get the 3080? It's the 'best' overall card, after all. That's the problem with looking at higher cost cards, and the law of diminishing returns. For now, if you've always wanted an RTX 2080 Ti but couldn't justify the cost, the price of entry has been (sort of) slashed in half.

Read:Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Review

6. Radeon RX 6700 XT

Good 1440p Graphics Card, Lower Price


GPU: Navi 22

GPU Cores: 2560

Boost Clock: 2581 MHz

Video RAM: 12GB GDDR6 16 Gbps

TDP: 230 watts

Reasons to buy

+Good 1440p performance+Plenty of VRAM+Comes close to the 3070 in non-RT

Reasons to avoid

-Out of stock like everything else-Mediocre RT performance-FSR can't defeat DLSS

Start with the Navi 21 GPU and then cut down the various functional units to create a smaller die that can sell at lower prices and you have AMD's Navi 22 and the RX 6700 XT. It has the same number of GPU cores as the previous generation RX 5700 XT, but significantly higher clock speeds and more cache give it about a 25% boost to performance (at higher settings and resolutions, at least).

AMD's RX 6700 XT hits the highest clock speeds we've ever seen on a GPU, boosting at 2.5GHz and more during gaming sessions — and that's at stock, on the reference card. With some tuning and overclocking, we were able to hit speeds of 2.7-2.8GHz, still without cooking the GPU. That's very impressive, though we're a bit sad that it 'only' has 2560 GPU cores.

In our performance testing, the RX 6700 XT trades blows with the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti. It's a bit faster than the latter, and a bit slower than the former, so the launch price of $479 seems okay. Except, if we include pretty much any games with DLSS or ray tracing, the 6700 XT starts looking more like a 3060 Ti competitor.

The real issue is the same as with everything else. RX 6700 XT just launched, and it immediately sold out, even at radically inflated prices. Currently, the card shows up at over $1,100 on eBay. It's definitely not worth that, even if you want to mine Ethereum. Unfortunately, the prospects of finding a 6700 XT card at a more reasonable price are slim.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review

7. Radeon RX 6800

Great 1440p Graphics Card, Okay Ray Tracing


GPU: Navi 21 XL

GPU Cores: 3840

Boost Clock: 2105 MHz

Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 16 Gbps

TDP: 250 watts

Reasons to buy

+Excellent overall performance+Lots of VRAM and Infinity Cache+Easily beats the 3070 in non-RT

Reasons to avoid

-Good luck finding one-Middling RT performance-FSR will take a while to catch up to DLSS-Not much cheaper than 6800 XT

Take everything great about the new Navi 21 GPU that powers the 6800 XT (above), then trim it by about 10% and you get the vanilla RX 6800. You still get the full 16GB GDDR6 and 128MB Infinity Cache, but only 96 ROPs and slightly lower clock speeds. It's a reasonable compromise, but we think the 6800 XT is the better option all things considered (unless pricing eventually drops a bit more on the vanilla cards).

The RX 6800 also puts in a good showing against Nvidia's RTX 3070. In our current 9-game test suite, it's 9% faster overall. Of course it also costs 16% more, but we think having twice as much VRAM is a fair trade.

The real concerns are the same as with the 6800 XT: Ray tracing performance looks a bit weak, basically matching Nvidia's previous generation RTX 2080 Super. AMD's FSR as a DLSS alternative could help long-term, but right now it's only supported in a handful of games and can't quite match DLSS image quality. Take the RTX 3070 in DXR performance. Without DLSS, the 3070 is already 12% faster. Turn on DLSS Quality mode and the gap increases to more than 50%! Also, DLSS can be used without ray tracing, and typically looks better than temporal AA (or at least as good).

With AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution now available, it now needs game developers to implement the feature. It's open source, plus AMD RDNA2 GPUs are in all of the next generation consoles, which means FSR will probably see plenty of uptake… eventually. For now, we'd grab a 6800 more for the rasterization prowess and not worry so much about ray tracing. Not that you can find one in stock.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6800 review

8. GeForce RTX 3060 12GB

An Excellent Mainstream Graphics Card


GPU: Ampere (GA106)

GPU Cores: 3840

Boost Clock: 1,777 MHz

Video RAM: 12GB GDDR6 15 Gbps

TDP: 170 watts

Reasons to buy

+Lowest cost latest gen GPU+Great overall value for 1080p/1440p+Plenty of VRAM for mainstream+Limited mining appeal

Reasons to avoid

-Sold out and overpriced-Some people want to mine-Tied with old RTX 2070 performance-12GB of limited benefit

The lowest price and performance addition to Nvidia's desktop Ampere lineup is where the cuts to processing power might have gone too far. This is the first GA106 card, with a 192-bit memory interface and 12GB VRAM (though we suspect a 6GB model will show up eventually). But with 26% fewer GPU cores compared to the 3060 Ti, and less memory bandwidth, overall performance is only on the level of the RTX 2070. So, two and a half years later, you can now match a $500 graphics card with a $330 alternative.

Or that's the theory. Unfortunately, demand has once again eclipsed supply in a big way, and we're seeing RTX 3060 12GB cards selling on eBay for over $800. That's despite the measures Nvidia took to cut Ethereum mining performance in half, which ended up being meaningless when Nvidia hacked its own drivers (on accident). Word is miners had already found other workaround, and the pricing certainly suggests that's the case.

VRAM capacity at least isn't a problem, and there are a few instances where the 3060 12GB starts to close the gap with the 3060 Ti. It never quite gets there, however, and the 3060 Ti remains the better choice if you can find one at a reasonable price.

AMD's Radeon RX 6700 XT has the same amount of VRAM, but with the large 96MB Infinity Cache it ends up performance quite a bit better — and costing quite a bit more. Maybe an RX 6700 will show up next month to provide some needed competition in the sub-$400 range, though of course those will also sell out.

If you discount ray tracing and DLSS, the RTX 3060 ends up being roughly the same performance as AMD's RX 5700 XT, 18 months later. Not exactly something to set the world on fire, but then that's typical of mainstream parts. We can only hope supply and pricing return to nominal levels sooner rather than later.

Read:Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 12GB Review

8. Radeon RX 6600 XT

Good Mainstream Performance, Weak RT


GPU: Navi 23

GPU Cores: 2048

Boost Clock: 2,589MHz

Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 16 Gbps

TDP: 160 watts

Reasons to buy

+Faster than 3060 and RX 5700 XT+Power efficient design+Good 1080p performance+32MB Infinity Cache still works

Reasons to avoid

-Only 8GB VRAM on a 128-bit bus-Poor ray tracing performance-Expensive for 1080p-Still limited supply

AMD's answer to the RTX 3060 (sort of) comes via the Navi 23 architecture. Normally, we'd expect a 32 CU variant of Navi 22, dubbed the RX 6700 non-XT, but AMD trimmed CU counts, memory interface width, and Infinity Cache sizes to get a smaller and less expensive chip that still performs well. Right now, this is AMD's lowest cost current gen GPU.

Performance ends up slightly above the previous gen RX 5700 XT, which is impressive considering the memory bus has been cut in half to just 128 bits. There's a reasonable concern with the 8GB of VRAM, however, and there are certainly cases where the RTX 3060 ends up as the better choice. Still, it's surprising how much even a 32MB Infinity Cache seems to boost performance, when you look at the memory bandwidth. This is basically a chip that's smaller than Navi 10, built on the same TSMC N7 node, and it delivers 10–15% better framerates at 1080p.

There are instances where it struggles, however, ray tracing being a big one. Several games that we tested with DXR (DirectX Raytracing) support couldn't even do 20 fps at 1080p. Nvidia's RTX 3060 was about twice as fast, without using DLSS (where available). FSR doesn't really fix that, either, since it provides a similar boost in performance to both AMD and Nvidia — and even Intel — GPUs. Perhaps drivers and other tweaks will smooth out some of those idiosyncrasies, but after delivering impressive amounts of VRAM on the other Big Navi chips, the RX 6600 XT feels like a letdown.

Also, $379 as the starting point for a GPU that's ostensibly a replacement to the previous generation RX 5600 XT ($279 launch price) doesn't garner any goodwill. And while the initial launch supply at retail stores was pretty good, the RX 6600 XT is now sold out and commands prices at least 50% higher on places like eBay.

Read:AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT Review

10. Radeon RX 6900 XT

AMD's Fastest GPU, Severely Expensive


GPU: Navi 21 XTX

GPU Cores: 5120

Boost Clock: 2250 MHz

Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 16 Gbps

TDP: 300 watts

Reasons to buy

+Excellent overall performance+Lots of VRAM and Infinity Cache+Second place in non-RT workloads+Good SPECviewperf results

Reasons to avoid

-Almost impossible to find-Not much faster than 6800 XT-Poor value overall

This is the other end of the Navi 21 spectrum. Where the 6800 cuts performance and price a bit, the RX 6900 XT boosts performance a bit and increases the (theoretical) price by over 50%. It's a big jump for small gains, and you don't even get something like more VRAM (the one saving grace of the RTX 3090). Also, good luck finding one for less than $1,500 right now.

AMD pulled out all the stops on the RX 6900 XT. It has a fully enabled Navi 21 GPU, which helps account for its scarcity. It's still a big chip as well, which means AMD is better off making more Zen 3 CPUs or console processors than trying to crank out Big Navi. Even as a mining solution, it's pretty mediocre, as the RX 6800 matches it on Ethereum hashing performance.

The same red flags are still present as well, like the mediocre ray tracing performance and lack of a direct alternative to DLSS. Basically, FSR works on everything, but DLSS only runs on Nvidia and has a three year head start on getting game developers to use it. In short, if you want the best RT experience right now, Nvidia still wins (not that you need RT to enjoy games).

Those who just want the fastest AMD GPU will still be happy with the 6900 XT. Unless by 'fastest' you're referring to mining performance, in which case the old Radeon VII still comes out over 30% faster. (Yeah, it's also selling at extreme prices these days.)

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review

11. GTX 1660 Super

Best Mainstream Esports / 1080p High Graphics Card


GPU: Turing (TU116)

GPU Cores: 1408

Boost Clock: 1,785 MHz

Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 14 Gbps

TDP: 125 watts

Reasons to buy

+Available at decent prices+GDDR6 gives it a healthy performance boost over the vanilla 1660+Turing is very power efficient, even at 12nm

Reasons to avoid

-Pricing is trending up right now-No hardware ray tracing support-Last gen tech and no DLSS

Dipping down closer to $200 (sort of), the main choice comes down to the GeForce GTX 1660 Super, the vanilla GeForce GTX 1660, or the RX 5500 XT 8GB

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The best graphics cards in 2021

The best graphics card may seem like an elusive concept at the moment, with stock expected only to trickle in over the holidays. As of only a few months ago, it was impossible to source a new GPU, but the struggle has now lifted somewhat. And while GPUs fluctuate in price a lot as supply and demand balance out, we do have some tips as to how to buy a graphics card if you're still having trouble.

Although Covid-19 and cryptocurrency booms (among other things) have stretched the GPU market to it's limits, we've still managed to test every new graphics card from the most recent generation. Each one we've diligently put through our gaming benchmark wringer on our test bench, with in depth analysis comparing thermal performance, power draw measurements with dedicated tools, and even average frequencies and frame times.

One of our most major findings is that the GPU scene is finally getting competitive again. The launch of the Radeon RX 6600 XT made things very interesting, with Nvidia and AMD both now in the running for the title of top GPU. Next year, Intel will even be offering The Intel Alchemist graphics card, a new player in the GPU landscape.

Nvidia's Ampere generation has set the bar high for any prospective contenders. The GeForce RTX 3080 and GeForce RTX 3070 are two of the best graphics cards to date, and AMD isn't far behind with the Radeon RX 6800 XT—it rivals even the RTX 3080's stellar graphical performance at the high end.

Best graphics card

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card for PC gaming right now


CUDA cores: 8,704

Base clock: 1,440 MHz

Boost clock: 1,710 MHz

TFLOPs: 29.76

Memory: 10GB GDDR6X

Memory clock: 19 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 760 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Incredible gen-on-gen performance+Makes 2080 Ti look mid-range+Ray tracing no longer a sacrifice

Reasons to avoid

-Needs a beefy PSU-In high demand

Okay, right now, the RTX 3080 is rare as pigeon eyelashes, but there is no doubt Nvidia's new RTX 3080 is the best graphics card today. It represents a huge generational performance boost over the previous RTX 20-series. That's impressive when put up against either the RTX 2080 or 2080 Super, but when you consider that this nominally $699 card can not just match but massively outperform the $1,200 RTX 2080 Ti, it really hits home.

The thing which really stands out from our testing is the difference it makes to ray-tracing performance. The first generation of ray tracing-capable cards required such a huge frame rate sacrifice that most people shied away from turning it on, but that's no longer the case with this generation.

When you can now get ray-traced performance that exceeds the frame rates you'd get out of the top card of the RTX 20-series when running without it, you know that this is a whole different beast. And hey, the RTX 3080 can actually run Crysis.

Nvidia has managed this by adding a whole load more CUDA cores to the mix in this 8nm GPU and updated Tensor Cores (for extra DLSS goodness) and second-gen RT Cores to make with the ray-traced pretties.

The RTX 3080 may need a fair chunk more power—you'll want at least an 850W PSU—and be tricky to get hold of, but this is the most desirable graphics card around today. Which I guess is also why it's so tricky to get hold of.

Please read our full Nvidia RTX 3080 review (Founders Edition).

2. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

AMD's RDNA 2 architecture at its best


RDNA cores: 4,608

Base clock: 1,825 MHz

Boost clock: 2,250 MHz

TFLOPs: 20.74

Memory: 16 GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 16 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 512 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+4K excellence+Cheaper than an RTX 3080

Reasons to avoid

-Moderate ray tracing performance-Slower than the 3080 at 4K

As a red team alternative to Nvidia's high-end graphics cards, there have been few finer than the RX 6800 XT. A highly competitive card that comes so close to its rival, with a nominal performance differential to the RTX 3080, is truly an enthusiast card worth consideration for any PC gamer with 4K in their sights.

It's a tough call between it and the RTX 3080, but the latter pips AMD to the post with the final touches à la RTX. The RX 6800 XT is $50 cheaper, delivers high 4K performance and a hefty VRAM increase over the RTX 3080. However, it's easy to argue that an extra $50 dropped on the RTX 3080 is money well spent: a small price to pay for greater 4K performance, much-improved ray tracing, and DLSS. All are available today and with two year's worth of developer support in the bank.

Yet we're still big fans of what AMD has managed to accomplish with the RX 6800 XT, a return to form for the Radeon Technology Group that injects some much-needed competition into the GPU market and offers a worthy red team alternative for any high-end gaming PC build.

Read our full AMD RX 6800 XT review.

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

More affordable Ampere


CUDA cores: 4,864

Base clock: 1,410 MHz

Boost clock: 1,665 MHz

TFLOPs: 16.20

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 14 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Finally! Something a little more affordable+2080 Super performance+Under $400

Reasons to avoid

-Annoying 12-pin power connector-Not quite good enough for 4K

The best value Ampere to date, the RTX 3060 Ti, is very closely related to the RTX 3070. Both utilize the same GA104 GPU (the RTX 3060 Ti has fewer SMs enabled), with the same 8GB of GDDR6 memory across a 256-bit bus.

While 17% less capable in core count, the RTX 3060 Ti makes up for it with some judicious GPU Boost frequencies. That partially explains why the RTX 3060 Ti can be within 17% to just single digits off the pace of the RTX 3070, despite operating at a silicon disadvantage. Not bad for a $399 card (if you can find it for that price).

If you haven't already done the maths: At $399, the RTX 3060 Ti is 20% cheaper than the RTX 3070, so performance per dollar is on the up with the diminutive graphics card. That's why we love it so; it's a great GPU for the full stack of resolutions and has decent ray tracing capability to boot, courtesy of second-generation RT Cores.

If the RTX 3080 or RTX 3070 seem out of reach, the RTX 3060 Ti certainly makes for a decent stand-in. Perhaps most impressive of this graphics card is how it stacks up to the 20-series generation: It topples the RTX 2080 Super in nearly every test.

Please read our full Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti review (Founders Edition).

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

Finally, a reason for every 10-series gamer to upgrade


CUDA cores: 5,888

Base clock: 1,500 MHz

Boost clock: 1,725 MHz

TFLOPs: 20.37

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 14 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Turing-topping frame rates+Relatively low power+This FE card is smol

Reasons to avoid

-Annoying 12-pin power connector

Perhaps the only high-end Ampere that's anything close to reasonably affordable, the RTX 3070 is also impressive for its ability to match the top-string Turing graphics card, the RTX 2080 Ti, for less than half of its price tag.

At $499, it's still a significant sum by any means—we're talking next-gen console equivalent pricing here—but it's hardly an exorbitant sum when compared to PC gaming's top graphics silicon today. In return, you're gifted a 4K-capable graphics card that doesn't require too much fiddling to reach playable, if not high, framerates. And it'll absolutely smash it at 1440p, no question about that.

Its gaming performance credentials are undoubtedly impressive, but what makes the RTX 3070 our pick for the sensible PC gaming connoisseur is the entire Nvidia ecosystem underlying the RTX stack today. DLSS is a neat trick for improving performance, with only a nominal loss in clarity, and other features such as Broadcast and Reflex go a long way to sweetening the deal.

Please read our full Nvidia RTX 3070 review (Founders Edition).

Best CPU for gaming | Best DDR4 RAM | Best gaming motherboards
Best SSD for gaming | Best gaming laptop | Best gaming monitors

5. AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT

If you've money to burn...


RDNA cores: 5,120

Base clock: 1,825 MHz

Boost clock: 2,250 MHz

TFLOPs: 23.04

Memory: 16GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 16 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 512 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Occasional RTX 3090 performance…+...but cheaper!

Reasons to avoid

-Can lag behind RTX 3080 at times-Mediocre ray-tracing performance

The RTX 3090 may have sat unchallenged at the top rungs of graphics performance at launch, but it wouldn't be long until AMD rustled together a challenger in the RX 6900 XT, or 'Big Navi.' The RX 6900 XT hopes to knock Ampere's finest from its perch on high and send it spiraling back down to Earth. And it gets kind of close, too, with 4K performance a little off the pace of the RTX 3090—and all for one-third off the asking price.

For that reason, it's simply the better buy for any PC gamer without any ulterior motives of the pro-creator variety. But there's a reason it's not number one in our graphics card guide today, and that's simply due to the fact it's not that much better than an RTX 3080, and sometimes not at all. It's another $300 on top of the RTX 3080's price tag, and you'd hope for higher performance in both rasterized and ray tracing workloads. Yet, inevitably its ray-tracing acceleration lags behind the competition.

But the RX 6900 XT does come with assurances that the RTX 3080 can't make, such as its 16GB of GDDR6 memory, which is a whole 6GB greater than the 10GB of (faster) GDDR6X memory on the green team card. With that in mind, for raw gaming alone, the RX 6900 XT is a cheaper alternative to the RTX 3090 is still a victim to its own extreme price tag.

Read our full AMD RX 6900 XT review.

6. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

For the pro-creators, not the gamers


CUDA cores: 10,496

Base clock: 1,395 MHz

Boost clock: 1,695 MHz

TFLOPs: 35.68

Memory: 24GB GDDR6X

Memory clock: 19.5 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 935.8 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Confidently top of charts+Massive memory buffer

Reasons to avoid

-Not really for gamers-RTX 3080 isn't far behind

This colossal graphics card is supremely powerful but far more fitting of Titan credentials than GeForce ones. It's not built with your average gamer in mind. Instead, it's targeting creative professionals and compute-intensive application acceleration, and that's why it doesn't come with your average price tag, either.

As immense in price tag as it is in stature, the question on everyone's lips is: Is it worth it? For gamers, no. It's just not much quicker than the RTX 3080. But for pro-creators, for whom time is money and where lower render time has a direct correlation with how much they can earn, that's where the RTX 3090 comes into its own.

It's for that reason that we've placed this card near the bottom of our list, but since we know PC gamers will undoubtedly spend ungodly quantities of cash to save face and ensure bragging rights, it's still worth a mention. After all, it is the most powerful gaming graphics card on the planet right now, whether it's a great deal or not.

Please read our full Nvidia RTX 3090 review (Founders Edition).

7. AMD Radeon RX 6800

Third-tier RDNA 2 feels cut adrift


RDNA cores: 3,840

Base clock: 1,700 MHz

Boost clock: 2,105 MHz

TFLOPs: 16.17

Memory: 16GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 16 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 512 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Stellar 1440p card+Often outperforms cheaper RTX 3070

Reasons to avoid

-Doesn't compare well to the RTX 3070-Unexciting ray-tracing performance

As the only one of the AMD RX 6000-series cards to launch without undercutting a direct Nvidia Ampere rival, the straight RX 6800 feels as though it's almost been cut adrift. It's a strange situation because historically, we've always been keen to recommend the second string of any Radeon release. AMD tends to launch main series cards in pairs, one with the full might of the new GPU and a secondary card with a slightly stripped back chip.

Normally they perform at a similar level for a lot less cash. Except for this time, the performance gap is relatively large, and the price difference is not great enough to negate the issue. You've also got the RTX 3070 is priced $80 lower than this RX 6800 card. Sure, the RX 6800 does sometimes outperform the cheaper Nvidia card, but for the money, you'd surely want the only marginally more expensive RX 6800 XT because it's much faster. If I spent this much cash on a new GPU, the extra $70 would absolutely feel worth it.

The RTX 3070 also offers Nvidia's broad gaming ecosystem and, while ray tracing can be seen as a luxury, DLSS is an excellent performance-boosting feature still not matched by AMD. But it does have to be said; the RX 6800 is still a mighty impressive card outside of the ramifications of its place in the stack. This thing makes the $1,200 RTX 2080 Ti look bad.

Read our full AMD RX 6800 review.

Graphics cards buying advice

How do I get a GPU in the the graphics card shortage?

You could attempt to manually refresh every store page in the hopes of striking gold on the next restock; that's one way to go about it. Or, you could sign up for a trusty app that goes about trawling major retailers for you. It's not a bot that tries to snap up stock the wrong way; it just does the refreshing, so you don't have to.

We've had success with the app HotStock in the UK, and sites such as Stock Informer offer a similar service in the US, although we've not used this service to score stock personally.

Similarly, you can find plenty of free Discord servers with dedicated stock alert bots and eagle-eyed community members, such as the popular StockDrops server. 

And don't forget Twitch streams. Those dedicated to finding your stock will often fire out a deafening klaxon the moment stock appears. We recommend checking out Falcodrin on Twitch for Nvidia GPUs, but there are plenty of kind souls out there offering a similar service.

Is there an easy way to get a new graphics card?

It's not for everyone, but the best way to ensure you'll receive a graphics card this year, and a modern one at something close to MSRP, is to buy a prebuilt gaming PC. It's a worthy consideration if you're considering a total rebuild at some point in the future, at least. System builders appear to enjoy a more stable supply of graphics cards, and while some still expect delays, you are at least guaranteed a PC with GPU in situ eventually.

Which is better GTX or RTX?

The older GTX prefix is now used to denote older Nvidia graphics cards which don't have the extra AI and ray tracing silicon that the RTX-level cards do. This RTX prefix was introduced three years ago with the RTX 20-series, and highlights which cards have GPUs which sport both the Tensor Cores and RT Cores necessary for real-time ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling.

Is ray tracing only for RTX cards?

The RTX prefix is only used to denote cards which house Nvidia GPUs with dedicated ray tracing hardware, but they are still using the same DirectX Raytracing API Microsoft has created, and which is used by AMD's RDNA 2 GPUs. These AMD GPUs are able to suport real-time ray tracing, though with a higher performance impact than on Nvidia's GPUs.

Intel's upcoming Xe-HPG GPUs, with the Alchemist graphics cards first to use them, will also support ray tracing using Microsoft's DirectX Raytracing API when they launch early next year, too.

Is SLI or CrossFire still a thing?

If you're looking for maximum performance, you used to run two cards in SLI or CrossFire. However, it's become increasingly common for major games to ignore multi-GPU users completely. That includes all DXR games. There's also the fact that fewer of the next-gen cards actually support the linking of two cards. On the Nvidia side, only the $1,500 RTX 3090 comes with NVLink connections, only for creative apps.

So, no. It's not a thing.

Do I need a 4K capable graphics card?

The obvious answer is: Only if you have a 4K gaming monitor. But there are other things to consider here, such as what kinds of games do you play? If frame rates are absolutely king for you, and you're into ultra-competitive shooters, then you want to be aiming for super high fps figures. And, right now, you're better placed to do that at either 1440p or 1080p resolutions.

That said, the more games, such as CoD: Warzone that incorporates DLSS, the more Nvidia cards will be capable of making a close approximation of 4K visuals on your 4K monitor, but at higher frame rates.

What's a Founders Edition graphics card?

The Founders Edition cards are simply Nvidia's in-house designs for its graphics cards, as opposed to those designed by its partners. These are usually reference cards, meaning they run at stock clocks. 

Briefly, for the RTX 20-series, Nvidia decided to offer Founders Editions with factory overclocks. These had made it a little difficult to compare cards, as Founders Edition cards give us a baseline for performance, but Nvidia has since returned to producing them as reference again.

Top 5 Best Graphics Cards 2021 - Best GPU's of 2021

Best Graphics Cards 2021: Top GPUs for Every Budget

Between Nvidia's powerful Turing and Ampere GPUs and AMD's designs using a 7nm process, the graphics card market may be the most competitive it's been in some time. That competition means good value for you as a consumer, especially considering there's a graphics card to fit just about every need. So, if you're looking to outfit your gaming PC with one of its most crucial parts, you've come to the right place.

You can find graphics cards for a little over $300 that will make short work of 1080p gaming, and you won't break the bank to enjoy 1440p at high frame rates or even a perfectly playable 4K. Thanks to so many GPU variants, like Nivida's Ti and AMD's XT cards, you can find a graphics card that'll perfectly pair with your gaming monitor. We'll walk you through the best options, so you can pick out exactly what you need to make your computer hum – and click here to see them in the UK. And if you're looking for an easy way to pick up one of these new GPUs, you should check out the certified refurbished desktops on eBay.

TL;DR – These are the Best Graphics Cards:

1. Nvidia RTX 3070

Best Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3070

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 5,888 ● Base Clock: 1,500MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,730MHz ● Video Memory: 8GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 14Gbps Memory Bus: 256-bit ● Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin (12-pin adapter) ● Outputs: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4 ● Size: 9.5" x 4.4" x 2-slot

For an incredible marriage of performance and price, you can't do better than the new Nvidia RTX 3070 (read our review). This card costs just $500, but it is capable of offering performance levels exceeding even the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, which had been retailing often for more than three times the price of the RTX 3070.

This new graphics card offers up 5,888 CUDA cores that can run at a decent clip with a 1,730MHz boost clock. It also includes 8GB of GDDR6, so you'll have plenty of memory for game textures and frame buffer. This card can do some 4K if that's your aim, but it's best suited for maxing out on 1440p. We're not talking 1440p/60Hz either, but rather high-speed and high-resolution gaming.

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2. EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black

Best Budget Graphics Card

EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 3,584 ● Base Clock: 1,320MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,777MHz ● Video Memory: 12GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 15Gbps Memory Bus: 192-bit ● Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin ● Outputs: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4 ● Size: 7.94" x 4.33" x 2-slot

If you’re shopping for components for your gaming PC build on a budget and lucky enough to come across the EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black (read our review) at its retail price of $389, it’s a very worthwhile component. You’ll be getting a ton of power for your dollar with 3,585 CUDA Cores offering speeds and capabilities more in line with the previous generation’s RTX 2070 than with the RTX 2060 or GTX 1660 that it succeeds.

The EVGA RTX 3060 XC Black also dials things up above the stock RTX 3060. That comes in the form of a ramped up clock speed that we saw exceed the default boost clock of 1,777MHz, even going as high as 1.9GHz in our testing. EVGA has also built the RTX 3060 XC Black to run fairly cool and quiet, as it peaked at 69C and 36dB in our testing. As a bonus for those who like a subtle build, the card is also all black, including the PCB.

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition

Best 4K Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 10,240 ● Base Clock: 1,370MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,670MHz ● Video Memory: 12GB GDDR6X ● Memory Speed: 19Gbps ● Memory Bus: 384-bit ● Power Connectors: 1 x 12-pin ● Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.1 ● Size: 11.2" x 4.4" x dual-slot

Nvidia has stepped things up with the new GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition (read our review) graphics card. This new card is more than a small upgrade to the original RTX 3080. It has a whopping 10,240 CUDA cores, giving it over a 17% increase over the RTX 3080’s 8,704 CUDA cores and bringing it close to the RTX 3090’s 10,496 CUA cores. The RTX 3080 Ti may be running them at slightly lower clocks, but you’ll still see heaps of performance out of this card.

That’s not the only upgrade in store. The RTX 3080 Ti includes 2GB of extra GDDR6X memory and boosts the memory bus to 384-bit, giving it an edge when handling large game assets. Despite the increase in performance, the RTX 3080 Ti maintains the same proportions as the RTX 3080, so you should have no trouble fitting it into your system if you’re upgrading. And, at 350W, it’s only drawing 30W more power than the RTX 3080 before it.

4. AMD Radeon RX 6800

Best 1440p Graphics Card

AMD Radeon RX 6800

Stream Processors: 3,840 ● Base Clock: 1,815MHz ● Boost Clock: 2,105MHz ● Video Memory: 16GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 16Gbps ● Memory Bus: 256-bit ● Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin ● Outputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x USB-C ● Size: 10.5" x 2-slot

AMD came out swinging with the Radeon RX 6800 (read our review). This graphics card isn’t the most powerful you’ll find, but it goes toe to toe with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 in pretty much any match-up that doesn’t pull in ray-tracing and DLSS, and it usually comes out ahead. This performance sees it especially well suited for 1440p gameplay, where you can enjoy high frame rates.

The AMD Radeon RX 6800 needs a modest 250 watts of power, which should make it easier to slot into existing computers without needing to upgrade your power supply to something beefier. And, even if you’re only gaming at 1440p, the RX 6800’s 16GB of GDDR6 memory will serve as a solid buffer for your frames as well as home to extra-high resolution textures — the last thing you want is sharp and smooth visuals to show off low-res game textures because your card didn’t have enough VRAM.

5. Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition

Best 1080p Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition
Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 4,864 ● Base Clock: 1,410MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,670MHz ● Video Memory: 8GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 14Gbps Memory Bus: 256-bit ● Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin (12-pin adapter) ● Outputs: 1 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4 ● Size: 9.5" x 4.4" x 2-slot

4K and 1440p may be exciting, but they can also be an entry into the stressful world of constantly trying to optimize your gaming rig to run at either high quality or high frame rates. Playing at 1080p still provides clear visuals and makes it so much easier to just crank everything to the max without worrying too much about low frame rates. And, the new Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition (read our review) is geared for epic performance in 1080p.

This graphics card comes with the slick stylings of its RTX 30-Series siblings, but tones down the performance for a corresponding reduction in price. We're talking just $400. That'll land you a card that's got more than enough VRAM to handle high-quality game assets and enough muscle to spit out high frame rates a 1080p. And, unlike the GTX 1660 Ti, the RTX 3060 Ti is built with dedicated hardware for ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling. In many cases, the RTX 3060 Ti can even outperform the RTX 2080 Super.

6. Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3070

Best Nvidia RTX Graphics Card

Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3070

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 5,888 ● Base Clock: 1,500MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,730MHz ● Video Memory: 8GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 14Gbps ● Memory Bus: 256-bit ● Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin ● Outputs: 2 x HDMI 2.1, 3 x DisplayPort 1.4 ● Size: 11.81" x 5" x 2.7-slot

One of the best ways to enjoy Nvidia's excellent new RTX 3070 graphics card is through the options available from Nvidia's board partners. Asus's TUF Gaming RTX 3070 is an excellent option. You'll still get the same 5.888 CUDA cores and boost clock, but you'll be getting a different design that comes a few perks of its own.

There are a couple of chief differences between this card and Nvidia's reference model. For one, you'll get multiple HDMI 2.1 ports, letting you take advantage of the supported 4K/120Hz signal on multiple displays that lack DisplayPort. You'll also find two 8-pin power connectors instead of the new 12-pin connector that Nvidia has implemented. And then there's the triple-fan design, which should have no trouble keeping this card cool and quiet, just as the RTX 3080 version of this card did in our review.

7. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Best AMD Graphics Card

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Stream Processors: 4,608 ● Base Clock: 2,015MHz ● Boost Clock: 2,250MHz ● Video Memory: 16GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 16Gbps ● Memory Bus: 256-bit ● Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin ● Outputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x USB-C ● Size: 10.5" x 2.5-slot

At $649, AMD's Radeon RX 6800 XT (read our review) clears a niche for itself in the market of recently released graphic cards. It's more affordable than Nvidia's RTX 3080, and it's only a bit more expensive than the non-XT RX 6800 while increasing the number of compute units and clock speeds. That makes it an especially potent choice for anyone that's optimizing for value.

The RX 6800 XT can hold its own against the RTX 3080 in a lot of cases, with exceptional performance at 1440p and decent chops in 4K. It may not have much to offer when it comes to ray tracing, but that's still not a widely implemented feature in games, and the RX 6800 XT may yet regain some ground when AMD eventually launches its FidelityFX Super Resolution feature. So, if you're not overly concerned about uncertain performance in ray-tracing, the Radeon RX 6800 XT offers a compelling alternative to Nvidia's RTX 3080 while costing less and drawing less power from your wall.

8. MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio

Best for High-End Gaming for Most Gamers

MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio
MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio

CUDA Cores: 8704 ● Base Clock: 1,440MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,815MHz ● Video Memory: 10GB GDDR6X ● Memory Speed: 19Gbps ● Memory Bus: 320-bit ● Power Connectors: 3 x 8-pin ● Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.1 ● Size: 12.72" x 5.51" x 2.2"

If you're looking at the RTX 3080, you definitely are looking for speed. The MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio (read our review) takes the already excellent GPU card, and makes it even faster. In our testing, it was one of the faster RTX 3080 models. Those speeds come right out of the box as well, so with some tweaking, you could potentially see even more.

The MSI RTX 3080 Gaming X Trio is fairly beefy, as it's stacking on a triple-fan cooler to keep temperatures in check, and it'll require you to have three 8-pin connectors. That extra power may come in handy if you're trying to overclock this card for even more performance. MSI tops it all off with a bit of RGB lighting. All that's on offer here makes up for the $50 price hike over the Nvidia reference RTX 3080.

9. Nvidia RTX 3090 Founders Edition

The Out of Your Mind Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3090 Founders Edition
Nvidia RTX 3090 Founders Edition

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors 10,496 ● Base Clock: 1,400MHz ● Boost Clock: 1,700MHz ● Video Memory: 24GB GDDR6 ● Memory Speed: 19.5Gbps ● Memory Bus: 384-bit ● Power Connectors: 1 x 12pin (converts from 2 x 8-pin) ● Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.1 ● Size: 12.3" x 5.4" x 3-slot

If you need a machine that won't sweat in even the most demanding situations, then you'll want the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Founds Edition (read our review). Nvidia decided to make this the top dog in its new graphics card stack, forgoing a Titan card or 3080 Ti. The RTX 3090 more than doubles the CUDA cores found on the earlier Titan RTX that used to hold this ranking in our guide, and it runs all of those cores at an even higher base clock.

You'll need a beefy power supply to run the RTX 3090 in your system, but you'll get that energy back in the form of serious performance. The RTX 3090 can achieve smooth 4K gaming. Depending on the type of game you throw at it and whether it has any enhancements like DLSS, it can even make 8K playable. In our tests, we saw games like Rocket League and Rainbow Six Siege run at well over 60fps in 8K with no DLSS, and even Control and Death Stranding were in the ballpark of 60fps at 8K with DLSS in Ultra Performance Mode. And, when you're not gaming, this graphics card can put earlier Nvidia cards to shame in rendering and 3D modeling tasks.

10. AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Best HTPC Graphics Card

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Cores: 8 ● Threads: 16 ● Base Clock: 3.6GHz ● Boost Clock: 4.6GHz ● Graphics: Radeon Vega 8 Graphics ● L3 Cache: 16MB ● TDP: 65W

OK, hear us out. No, this isn’t a graphics card, but it can handle the graphics. The Ryzen 7 5700G is an APU from AMD that combines both the CPU and GPU on a single chip. While that may not be the ideal setup for a high-power gaming rig, it’s almost perfect for a home theater PC setup.

Going with an APU will let you stick with a smaller build. You don’t need to consider the space for a dedicated graphics card, nor do you need to alot for one in the power budget. The AMD Ryzen 7 5700G actually doesn’t require a beefy power supply to run, and with a 65W TDP, it doesn’t need all that serious cooling either. The eight Radeon Graphics cores on this APU will handle your HTPC needs nicely and can even spit out some playable frame rates in a wide variety of games. Just slap this baby onto a Mini ITX motherboard, feed it with some fast RAM (don’t slouch on memory for an APU, as the CPU and GPU share it), throw it into one of the best Mini ITX cases, and your home theater will be ready to rock.

Where to Get the Best Graphics Cards in the UK

There aren't too many differences when it comes to the graphics cards you can pick up in the UK, but the main takeaway is where you can purchase them. All of the following links have been updated with UK vendors, saving you some time and money if you're interested in picking up any of the graphics cards we've mentioned. Don't see the graphic cards below? Click here.

What's Next for Graphics Cards?

Much of the RTX 30-Series family is here, but the budget builders haven't had their dream card quite yet. Nvidia had announced the RTX 3060 at CES, and now we have a confirmed RTX 3060 release date of February 25. The new card won't be getting a Founders Edition, but Nvidia's add-in board partners should have plenty of designs to choose from, and they'll start at $329.

The new card may be affordable, but it should prove a nice leap in performance for any gamers coming from an earlier mid-range card. It will boast 3,584 CUDA cores that can cruise at up to 1.78GHz. Those CUDA cores should be able to hit up to 13 TFLOPS for shader performance while the RT and Tensor cores can deliver 25 RT TFLOPS and 101 Tensor FLOPS, respectively. The card will also feature 12GB of GDDR6 VRAM, slightly increased over what's found on the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 likely to make up for a lower 192-bit memory bus.

Retailers will be able to start selling the card at 9 AM PT/12 PM ET on the 25th, so you'll want to be ready and waiting if you plan to nab a card. With the incredible unavailability of graphics cards, even earlier models have been hard to find in stock. So these ones won't last long.

What to Look for in a Graphics Card

Below we explain how to pick the GPU for the display you have, why there are so many variants of the same Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, and a few factors you should consider when buying a GPU. Above all, you should buy the graphics card you need for the display you’re using.

If you’re gaming on a Full HD monitor, it would be a huge waste to buy a graphics card designed to play games at 2160p or 1440p. Likewise, you’ll want a powerful graphics card to drive games playing on that premium 4K gaming monitor or 4K TV.

We’ve laid out what are the best graphics cards to play games at 1080p, 1440p, and 2160p resolutions above, but here are some more general rules. For a decent to high-frame-rate Full HD experience, you should look at GPUs ranging from the GTX 1650 to the GTX 1660 Ti on Nvidia’s end. If you’re looking at AMD’s graphics card family, you’ll want a Radeon RX 5500 or up.

Jumping up to QHD resolutions will require a more capable graphics card, ideally an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti or AMD Radeon RX 5600 and up. 4K gaming using a single card is still a tough proposition, but thanks to recent developments it’s actually approachable with the latest graphics cards like the Nvidia RTX 2080 Super and AMD Radeon VII.

Another Variable

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing the right graphics card for your gaming monitor (or vice versa) is what kind of variable refresh rate technology can you take the most advantage of. For the uninitiated, variable refresh rate (VRR) technology basically syncs the number of frames shooting out of your GPU to the frame rate of your display.

This way the GPU isn't overworking itself for nothing while also helping to eliminate screen tearing on your monitor. Without this VRR tech, your GPU might end up clogging the frame bugger with two or more frames, which your display might then try and display two different shots of gameplay at the same time. If you have a TV and gaming monitor that supports FreeSync, you should get an AMD graphics card.

Alternatively, if you happen to be playing primarily a G-Sync gaming monitor or one of the latest LG CX OLED TVs then you'll want an Nvidia GPU. Luckily for you, the line separating G-Sync and Freesync is quickly disappearing as more and more displays that offer the latter are adding support for the former.

G-Sync-compatible gaming monitors are all the rage now because they offer a tear-free and smooth gameplay experience when connecting to either an AMD and Nvidia graphics card.

Graphics card variants

Ok, you’ve decided which graphics card you want, great! However, even with this monumental decision out of the way, the world of GPUs isn’t done being confusing and daunting just yet. Although there are only two companies—Nvidia and AMD—that actually manufacture GPUs, there are dozens of different variants of the same graphics card

For example, when the most recent graphics card launched, the Nvidia GTX 1650, there was a multitude of different versions from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA and the list goes on. In this case, while Nvidia may have introduced only one new GPU model, vendors or board partners will introduce their own versions featuring different overclock settings, cooling systems, and other differentiating factors we will explain below.

Length: One of the number one factors you should consider before plopping down cash for that shiny new graphics card is whether it will actually fit. If you’re building your PC in a Mini ITX case, you should be looking at the smallest or mini graphics cards that will actually fit inside.

Overclocking: Most third-party cards—and even Nvidia’s own Founders Edition cards—will often come factory overclocked, and this means the graphics card has been tuned to operate above its rated maximum clock speed. As you might expect, the higher the number the faster it will perform.

At this point, you won’t find many, including the entry-level cards, without some amount of ‘overclocking from the factory.’ However, even without a factory overclock, it’s easy enough do it yourself using software such as EVGA Precision X or MSI Afterburner.

Cooling solutions: In your quest for the best graphics card, you might have noticed that some models come with one, two, or up to three fans. As you might expect, more fans equal better cooling, but there are also two distinct ways of keeping your graphics card chilled. GPUs equipped with a single fan often use a blower-style cooler, which means the card sucks in air and blows it out the back like a leaf blower.

Dual and triple fan setups are often used in conjunction with 'open-air cooling systems,' which are designed to move cool air through the open heatsinks and exhaust heat in every direction.

Blower style coolers are typically most useful for PCs built into small Mini ITX cases because they help exhaust heat out of a compact chassis with restricted airflow. If the system you're building is in a Micro ATX PC case or a larger Mid tower chassis, you’d be better off with an open-air cooled graphics card, as there are more mounting points for multiple case fans to do the brunt of cooling while the GPU's own two (or three) fans blow heat off the card itself.

RTX vs GTX: With Turing, Nvidia didn’t just introduce better, faster graphics cards it also debuted RTX GPUs with hardware designed to support real-time ray tracing, and AI-powered supersampling and anti-aliasing (known as Deep Learning Super Sampling). So far, Nvidia premium RTX 20-series cards—including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2080, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2070, RTX 2060 Super, RTX 2060, and all their mobile counterparts—are the only GPUs to feature these dedicated components.

Thankfully, Nvidia decreed in early April 2019 that you don’t need an RTX card with dedicated RT Cores to process real-time ray tracing. So any of the GTX 16-series cards and (most) older 10-series cards can run games with ray tracing turned on. DLSS is still an RTX exclusive since it requires Tensor cores to function, but it’s a niche performance smoothing feature compared to the strikingly realistic reflections and complex shadows effects that ray tracing produces.

Bargain your way to getting a graphics card

Strangely, one of the more affordable ways to get yourself the latest graphics card is to buy a gaming PC while it’s on sale. Gaming PCs from brands like Asus, Dell, MSI, Acer, and HP will often see discounts for hundreds of dollars off, so not only are you saving a ton of money, you’re also avoiding potential headaches that can accompany a DIY build—and you also get a warranty.

Prebuilt PCs have come a long way, too. They aren't proprietary machines with randomly soldered-on components. They're mostly as upgradeable as anything you might put together on your own.

Another way of enjoying the latest graphics cards is through gaming laptops. There are plenty of Nvidia RTX 20- and GTX 16-series gaming laptops out there right now. New GTX gaming laptops have also hit the streets and they’re far more affordable than the RTX-equipped models thanks to the laptops introduced during IFA 2019 like the new Acer Predator Triton 300.

Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark


Cards good rtx

Most people who are in the market for a new graphics card have one primary question in mind: Which card will give me the most bang for my buck? Obviously, the answer will vary depending on your budget. Beyond that, there are a number of factors to  consider: Raw performance is important, but so are things like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software. And do you want to pay a premium to get in on the bleeding edge of real-time ray tracing?

Let us make it easy for you. We’ve tested nearly every major GPU that’s hit the streets over the past couple of years, from $100 budget cards to $1,200 luxury models. Our knowledge has been distilled into this article—a buying guide with recommendations on which graphics card to buy, no matter what sort of experience you’re looking for.

Note: There are customized versions of every graphics card from a host of vendors. For example, you can buy different GeForce GTX 3080 models from EVGA, Asus, MSI, and Zotac, among others.

We’ve linked to our complete review for each recommendation, but the buying links lead to models that hew closely to each graphics card’s MSRP. Spending extra can get you hefty out-of-the-box overclocks, beefier cooling systems, and more. Check out our “What to look for in a custom card” section below for tips on how to choose a customized card that’s right for you.

Graphics card news

  • It’s all but impossible to find graphics cards right now, especially at sane prices. Our explainer of the perfect GPU storm reveals why. The GeForce RTX 30-series and Radeon RX 6000-series sold out instantly and remain scarce in the face of overwhelming demand, with scalpers and bots snatching them up just as greedily as enthusiasts. Demand is so high that even older-generation graphics cards are selling for more than they cost new, years ago, in most cases. If you’re stuck without a graphics card, consider trying Nvidia’s free GeForce Now cloud streaming or a next-gen gaming console instead to tide you over. 

  • More affordable graphics cards may start to fill out this generation soon. Nvidia recently launched the GeForce RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti for mainstream laptops—the first time in recent memory a new GeForce GPU debuted in laptops rather than desktops. AMD also just launched its non-XT Radeon RX 6600, the first true 1080p graphics card of this generation—though at $329, it’s not exactly priced for the masses.

  • More relief will be on the way soon (though not too soon) in the form of a third contender. Intel recently took the wraps off its hotly anticipated “Arc Alchemist” GPUs, built on the company’s Xe architecture. These gamer-focused graphics cards—Intel’s first stab at discrete consumer GPUs—sometime in the first quarter of 2022, complete with hardware-based ray tracing support and XeSS, an AI-based image upsampling tool built to rival Nvidia’s DLSS tech.
  • Want to dive even deeper into your hardware? We’ve recently published guides explaining how to benchmark your graphics card and how to turn on AMD’s Smart Access Memory for faster gaming performance, as well as an explainer on Nvidia’s “Lite Hash Rate” anti-mining technology.

Best budget graphics card

amd ryzen

Editor’s note: Demand is through the roof for graphics cards right now. Newer models sell out instantly and often cost hundreds of dollars more than MSRP. Even older-generation graphics cards are selling for more than what they cost new, years ago. We can’t recommend people buy graphics cards at those markups, but if you’re lucky enough to find stock at MSRP, this guide should help. Note that prices below discuss MSRP, as it’s impossible to stay current with today’s volatile pricing.

The next-gen Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series and AMD Radeon RX 6000-series have yet to trickle down to budget markets, an understandable twist given how much graphics cards currently sell for. And with even ancient used graphics cards selling for hundreds of dollars, it’s virtually impossible to snag a graphics card on a budget right now. Consider trying Nvidia’s free GeForce Now cloud streaming or a next-gen gaming console instead to tide you over. 

If you need a local PC gaming solution those obviously won’t cut it though. Your best bet is to pick up one of AMD’s game-ready Ryzen 5000G APUs, which remain in stock in both DIY form and inside numerous prebuilt systems. “You can build a Ryzen 5 5700G machine today and get outstanding CPU performance along with OK gaming performance,” we said in our review. Yes, you’ll need to dial down some graphics options for the best performance, but you’ll be able to play esports games and even triple-A titles at a decent clip at 720p or 1080p resolution. At $259 for the Ryzen 5 5600GRemove non-product link and $369 for the Ryzen 7 5700GRemove non-product link, they aren’t exactly cheap, especially since you’ll also need a motherboard to plop them into, but remember that you’re getting both a CPU and a doable GPU stand-in for the price. And hey, they’re actually in stock.

Best 1080p graphics card

Editor’s note: Demand is through the roof for graphics cards right now. Newer models sell out instantly and often cost hundreds of dollars more than MSRP. Even older-generation graphics cards are selling for more than what they cost new, years ago. We can’t recommend people buy graphics cards at those markups, but if you’re lucky enough to find stock at MSRP, this guide should help. Note that prices below discuss MSRP, as it’s impossible to stay current with today’s volatile pricing.

The next-gen Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series and AMD Radeon RX 6000-series have yet to trickle down to more mainstream price points, an understandable twist given how much graphics cards currently sell for. That said, the Radeon RX 6600 is a good option for excellent 1080p gaming at 60 frames per second or higher, assuming you’re willing to spend $330 or more for 1080p gaming, a price that would be considered absolutely outrageous pre-pandemic. (You might be better off buying a console or turning to cloud gaming instead.) AMD’s GPU is the first true 1080p/60 graphics card of this generation, and it boasts extreme power efficiency that helps keep it running cool and quiet in your system, though it isn’t the best option if you’re hoping to flip on ray tracing.

The (ostensibly) $330 GeForce RTX 3060 is a decent option for high refresh rate 1080p gaming if you can get your hands on one, while the $379 Radeon RX 6600 XT is even faster yet. They’re overkill if you’re gaming on a standard 60Hz display, however, and going for $500 to $800 on the streets, so you may have a better time finding a Radeon RX 6600 or an older, less powerful GPU if you’re lacking a high refresh rate display. Both would also be uninspiring on account of their high sticker prices if the GPU market wasn’t absolutely bonkers right now. If you can find an RTX 3060 at MSRP, it’s a better option than the identically priced Radeon RX 6600—it’s faster, has 4GB more VRAM, and handles ray tracing better—but in the real world you’re probably going to have to spend $675 or more to get one. Gross.

The GeForce RTX 1660, 1660 Super, and 1660 Ti are all good 1080p gaming options for 60Hz panels, as is AMD’s older Radeon RX 5600 XT and 5700. The GeForce RTX 2060 is also worth considering if you want ray tracing and DLSS capabilities. Even older options like the Radeon RX 580 and 590 or Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 can do in a pinch, though you’ll need to make some visual compromises as they’re really starting to show their age.

Best 1440p graphics card

Editor’s note: Demand is through the roof for graphics cards right now. Newer models sell out instantly and often cost hundreds of dollars more than MSRP. Even older-generation graphics cards are selling for more than what they cost new, years ago. We can’t recommend people buy graphics cards at those markups, but if you’re lucky enough to find stock at MSRP, this guide should help. Note that prices below discuss MSRP, as it’s impossible to stay current with today’s volatile pricing.

If you’re looking to drive a 1440p display at 60-plus frames per second (and often much higher) with no graphical compromises, Nvidia’s $400 GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is a “virtually flawless” option. It’s faster than last generation’s $800 RTX 2080 Super—the second most powerful GPU in the world until a few months ago. “That performance paired with 8GB of GDDR6 memory makes the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti a fantastic 1440p gaming option,” we said in our review. “It exceeds the hallowed 60-frames-per-second mark in every game tested at that resolution, even with the most strenuous visual settings enabled. It flies well beyond that mark in several games, and it should have no problem holding 90 fps+ at 1440p in most titles if you don’t mind performing minor tuning on graphics options.”

The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti performs ray tracing better than AMD’s most expensive GPUs, thanks in no small part to Nvidia’s fantastic DLSS 2.0 technology. It’s also capable of fine 4K gaming, but the 8GB of memory could hold it back future 4K games.

If you have a 120Hz+ 1440p monitor, the $500 GeForce RTX 3070 is also worth considering, but it’s only 9 percent to 15 percent faster than the RTX 3060 Ti at 1440p depending on the game for 25 percent more cash. That makes the RTX 3060 Ti a better option for most people, though the RTX 3070’s performance boost may be worthwhile if you hold onto your graphics cards for an especially long time before upgrading again.

The $600 GeForce RTX 3070 Ti is very slightly faster than that, although it comes with much faster GDDR6X memory. Most people should get the 3060 Ti if they can find one at a semi-reasonable price.

The GeForce RTX 3070 (and 3060 Ti) only has 8GB of GDDR6 memory. That might not be enough for 4K gaming going forward, but it’s fine for 1440p in most scenarios—but not all. Watch Dogs Legion, for example, uses more than 8GB of VRAM at 1440p if you crank up the graphics settings and turn on real-time ray tracing. If you’re leery, consider buying the $580 Radeon RX 6800 instead. You pay a bit more for a bit faster performance, but more importantly, AMD loaded the Radeon RX 6800 with an ample 16GB of GDDR6 memory. Nvidia’s RTX 30-series cards are much, much better at ray tracing, however—and $80 cheaper.

The step-down AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT comes with 12GB of VRAM. It delivers great 1440p gaming performance that’s a little bit faster than the RTX 3060 Ti, but at $479 and up, it’s priced more in-tune with the RTX 3070, and that comparison does it no favors. 

Turning back to Nvidia, the $330 GeForce RTX 3060 also offers an ample 12GB of memory (thanks for the market pressure, AMD!) along with a good entry-level 1440p experience. You may need to turn down the graphics settings a bit in especially intense games to hit 60fps, but this should have no problem surpassing that hallowed target in every title. 

If you’re looking to max out a high refresh-rate 1440p monitor, or drive a 3440×1440 ultrawide monitor, Nvidia’s $700 GeForce RTX 3080 and AMD’s $650 Radeon RX 6800 XT are stellar options that trade blows in raw performance. Even with all the visual settings cranked to Ultra, these monstrous cards deliver above 100fps at 1440p resolution across the 10+ games we tested, and often well above. The RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT deliver over 50 percent more performance than the RTX 2080 as a baseline across the board and beat even the RTX 2080 Ti by a healthy margin.

All of these options are also fast enough to play ray traced games at a smooth clip at 1440p—something you couldn’t say with older RTX 20-series cards. You may need to tweak some visual options back when enabling ray tracing on AMD’s cards, however, while faster RT cores and DLSS technology mean you won’t need to make the same sacrifices with Nvidia’s GPU. AMD holds the memory capacity edge once again, however, at 16GB of GDDR6 versus 10GB of GDDR6X in the RTX 3080, but that shouldn’t matter too much at 1440p resolution.

Don’t buy the RTX 3080 or Radeon RX 6800 if you only have a 60Hz 1440p monitor. They’re expensive overkill unless you have a 120Hz-plus 1440p monitor that can put it ludicrous speeds to good use. They’re a fine pairing with a 60Hz 3440×1440 ultrawide display, though, as that higher resolution is more demanding.

Best 4K graphics card

The same concerns we listed about last-gen cards in our 1440p section continue here. The arrival of the new generation of Radeon and GeForce GPUs immediately turned most high-end cards from before into horrible values, and prices for all graphics cards are crazy right now, but you have more options among premium GPUs if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one.

The biggest considerations between AMD and Nvidia up here in the high end? Ray tracing and memory capacity. AMD’s Radeon 6000-series GPUs come with massive 16GB memory pools that should handle everything games throw at them for the foreseeable future. By contrast, Nvidia wasn’t quite as generous with the memory in its RTX lineup, and some rare, especially strenuous games are already pushing GeForce VRAM limits. But the RTX 30-series offer vastly superior ray tracing performance, both in raw horsepower and with the huge uplift provided by DLSS 2.0 supersampling, which AMD currently has no answer for. Ray tracing is picking up steam now that it’s in the next-gen consoles but remains relatively rare in today’s games, however.

Pick your poison; these are all great graphics cards.

If you’re on a $500 budget, or trying to power a 60Hz 4K monitor, the $500 GeForce RTX 3070 is worth considering. It’s just as fast as the former $1,200 RTX 2080 Ti flagship and exceeds or flirts with the 60fps mark in most—but not all—games at 4K resolution with graphics settings maxed out. Be warned that you’ll need to dial the visuals in some games back to hit 60fps, though, and the card can struggle if you turn on ray tracing in games that support it.

The RTX 3070’s modest 8GB memory buffer isn’t likely to be very future-proof either, as some games already exceed that capacity at 4K, so we consider Nvidia’s $500 card better for high refresh rate 1440p gaming, or 4K gaming with some small potential quality compromises. High graphics settings still look great at 4K, though the 8GB of VRAM would make me leery about buying the RTX 3070 as a long-term 4K gaming solution.

The $600 GeForce RTX 3070 Ti has faster GDDR6X memory and slightly more horsepower so it handles 4K a bit better than its non-Ti namesake, though all the same caveats generally exist for that card as well.

If you don’t want to make those occasional graphics quality tweaks or worry about whether 8GB of memory will be enough for 4K gaming in a year or two, consider AMD’s $580 Radeon RX 6800 instead. It’s a bit faster than the RTX 3070 and comes with a generous 16GB of GDDR6 memory. AMD’s Smart Access Memory technology also gives Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards an additional speed boost when paired with a Ryzen 5000 processor in an X570 motherboard.

If you want even faster performance, or have a high refresh rate 4K monitor, step up to the $650 Radeon RX 6800 XT or $700 GeForce RTX 3080. They kick ass, take names, and trade performance blows. There are no games in our test suite that fail to clear a 60-frames-per-second average at 4K resolution with all possible visuals effects enabled on these cards, and they often exceeds that mark by far.

 The GeForce RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT spit out frames up to 80 percent faster than the RTX 2080 in several games at 4K, and 60 percent higher in the others. They’re roughly 30 percent faster than the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, the $1,200 previous-gen flagship, and a ridonkulous 100 to 160 percent faster than the older GeForce GTX 1080. The overwhelming horsepower makes these excellent options for 3440×1440 ultrawide gaming, too.

The feature differences are especially key here. The Radeon RX 6800 XT packs a future-proof 16GB of GDDR6 memory, versus 10GB of faster GDDR6X memory in the RTX 3080. But Nvidia’s ray tracing advantage shines even brighter on the high-end, as its second-gen RT cores and DLSS technology enable 4K gaming with ray tracing enabled. AMD’s cards simply can’t play ray traced games beyond 1440p without frame rates slowing to a crawl.

Moving up yet higher, the even more monstrous GeForce RTX 3090 “BFGPU” wields 10,496 CUDA cores, SLI connectors, and a massive 24GB of that speedy GDDR6X memory. It’s a stunning value for creators who can tap into all that VRAM, and can achieve 60fps gaming at a ludicrous 8K resolution in a handful of games, but it’s only about 10 to 15 percent faster than the RTX 3080 at 4K for over twice the price. Most people should get the RTX 3080 instead for a still-superb 4K experience, but there’s no denying the GeForce RTX 3090 is the fastest gaming card on the planet—though AMD’s $999 Radeon RX 6900 XT hopes to challenge that claim when it releases on December 8.

In a surprise twist, Nvidia’s own Founders Edition cooler is phenomenal, which makes it a better buy than custom cards since the FE model sells at the card’s $1,499 MSRP, rather than coming with a steep premium. We’ve got 3440×1440 ultrawide benchmarks for the RTX 3090, too.

If you’re willing to spend four figures on a graphics card though, your best bet is the $1200 GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. It’s just as fast as the 3090 essentially, but knocks $300 off the price tag by dropping the GDDR6X memory capacity from a ludicrous 24GB down to a still-great-for-4K 12GB.

For the first time in a long time, AMD offers a rival to Nvidia’s flagship GeForce GPU, but it’s hard to recommend the $1,000 Radeon RX 6900 XT despite its steep discount against the RTX 3090. It’s only two percent slower than the RTX 3090 at 1440p gaming, so it could be worth considering for a high-refresh rate 1440p monitor, or for powering a 3440×1440 ultrawide experience, where it performs very well. It could also be a solid option for Linux users, since AMD drivers perform with much less headache there. And this card also offers much more overclocking headroom than rival GeForce GPUs if you’re into hardcore tweaking. 

But the Radeon RX 6900 XT loses to the RTX 3090 by over 9 percent at 4K gaming, and since AMD doesn’t offer a DLSS rival, ray traced games are limited to 1440p resolution—a bummer in a four-figure graphics card. And the $650 Radeon RX 6800 XT is almost as fast for $350 less, while the $700 RTX 3080 is essentially as fast at 4K with much better ray tracing performance. This is a fantastic graphics card, and it’s wonderful to see AMD competing against Nvidia at the high end after a long absence, but the Radeon RX 6900 XT doesn’t carve out a strong niche for itself. Hot-rodded custom versions of this GPU could hold a lot of potential when they hit the streets, though.

What to look for in a custom card

If you want to shop beyond the scope of our picks, know that finding the right graphics card can be tricky. Various vendors offer customized versions of every GPU. For example, you can buy different Radeon RX 6700 XT models from Sapphire, XFX, Asus, MSI, and PowerColor.

To help narrow down the options and find the right card for you, you should consider the following things when doing your research:

Overclocks: Higher-priced custom models are often overclocked out-of-the-box to varying degrees, which can lead to higher performance. Most modern custom cards offer the same essential level of performance,however.

Cooling solutions: Many graphics cards are available with custom coolers that lower temperatures and fan noise. The vast majority perform well. Liquid-cooled graphics cards run even cooler, but require extra room inside your case for the tubing and radiator. Avoid graphics cards with single-fan, blower-style cooling systems if you can help it, unless you have a small-form-factor PC or plan on using custom water-cooling blocks.

Size: Many graphics cards are of a similar size, but longer and shorter models of many GPUs exist. High-end graphics cards are starting to sport especially massive custom cooling solutions to tame their enthusiast-class GPUs. Double-check that your chosen graphics card will fit in your case before you buy.

Compatibility: Not all hardware supports a wide range of connectivity options. Higher-end graphics cards may lack DVI ports, while lower-end monitors may lack DisplayPorts. Only the most modern Radeon and GeForce graphics cards support HDMI 2.1 outputs. Ensure your graphics card and monitor can connect to each other. Likewise, make sure your power supply meets the recommended wattage for the graphics card you choose.

Real-time ray tracing and DLSS: AMD’s Radeon RX 6000-sereis graphics cards and all of Nvidia’s RTX offerings can play games with real-time ray tracing effects active. Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs hold a massive advantage over everything else though, propelled even further by dedicated tensor cores for processing machine learning tasks such as Deep Learning Super Sampling, which uses AI to speed up the performance of your games with minimal hit to visual fidelity. GeForce RTX 20-series GPUs also support DLSS, but AMD has no answer for it yet, though the company is teasing a more open “FidelityFX Super Resolution” feature to rival it in the coming months.

Check out our recent reviews

Below is a list of our most recent reviews for individual graphics cards. We’ve kept it to the most current GPUs.

Nvidia RTX Buying Guide - Best Graphics Card For You? [1080p, 1440p \u0026 4K TESTED] - The Tech Chap

The best graphics cards for gaming 2021: get the best GPU deal for your rig

The best graphics cards for gaming may be harder than ever to track down, but for those few gamers running the latest and greatest from Nvidia and AMD, there's little question that they, by extension, have one of the best gaming PCs around. Indeed, while it's challenging to know where to buy RTX 3080 or RTX 3070, there's no debate that these GPUs pack one hell of a punch for 4K and ray-tracing in all the latest titles. 

Due to the semi-conductor shortage, and other manufacturing roadblocks caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic, certain previous generation GPU models have very much retained their value, even three years after release, meaning that the RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2070 are still very much viable propositions for your money in 2021. 

That's to say nothing of the resurgence made by the RTX 2060, and the implementation of the GTX 1650 and GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards, in order to combat the hardware drought. After all, it isn't just the cutting edge that deserves its due; the mid-tier and every-level are very much considered here for reasons we've touched upon above.

And if you're looking to get your hands on a readymade rig, and skip the never-ending component chasing that so many of us are caught up in, you can do just that with the best gaming laptops and our picks for some exceptional cheap gaming PC deals to get your hands on the RTX-30 series, potentially, for a more affordable rate than some online retailers are offering for the standalone GPU.

And, just as a last public service announcement, if you're trying to buy one of the recently released graphics cards - or a machine powered by one - then these pages are going to be of interest:

Graphics card stock
Buy RTX 3060 | Buy RTX 3060 Ti | Buy RTX 3070 | Buy RTX 3080 | Buy RTX 3090 | Buy AMD RX 6900 XT | Buy RX 6800

Laptop deals and stock
RTX 3060 laptop deals | RTX 3070 laptop | RTX 3080 laptop

PC deals and stock
RTX 3060 PC | RTX 3070 PC | RTX 3080 PC | RTX 3090 PC

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card of 2021


GPU cores: 8,704

Base clock: 1,440MHz

Boost clock: 1,710MHz

TFLOPs: 29.76

Memory: 10GB GDDR6X

Memory clock: 19 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 760GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Great for gaming in 4K+High fidelity ray-tracing above Full HD+Outclasses all previous-gen cards

Reasons to avoid

-Very expensive

Nvidia promised the kinds of 'once in a decade' performance improvements with the RTX 30-series, and the RTX 3080 is certainly proof that it very much was the case, especially as this card retailed at release for considerably less than its 20-series equivalent did in 2018. 

It's going to be the darling of any builds, pre-builts, and laptops in the months and years to come, and one of the main reasons why is that it represents the best value for money way into reliably speedy and smooth, ray-tracing gaming. Beforehand, you might well have had to go for the 2080Ti if you wanted ray-tracing to be enjoyable at any kind of decent framerate; now, however, the 3080 makes easy work of combining the two.

You might have to rethink some bits of your current build to get one of these bad boys ticking over safely and reliably - it's a thirsty card so a hefty PSU is going to be in order - but this is now the card to beat and, considering what stock levels are like for the rest of the year, the one to try and get or wait for.

2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

Finally, a reason for every 10-series gamer to upgrade.


GPU cores: 5,888

Base clock: 1,500MHz

Boost clock: 1,725MHz

TFLOPs: 20.37

Memory: 8GB GDDR5

Memory clock: 14 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+2080Ti-beating performance+Excellent value+Compact

Reasons to avoid

-Good luck finding one for MSRP

The RTX 3070 is the underdog in the range of three big hitters and so was always going to be outshone, but it offers some exquisite performance levels at an exquisite price point. It might not share the brand new GDDR6X RAM of its 3080 brother but it can go toe-to-toe with the top tier 20-series card in the 2080Ti. This demonstrates the leap that this generation is offering, and is exaggerated by the fact that the 3070 costs a fraction of the price of a 2080Ti. This really is excellent value for money and represents a great way to finally upgrade and embrace this generation. 

However - and it's a big shame - you'll have to have good luck in your search as finding one is nigh-on impossible now. Just like every hardware launch of recent times. Sigh. 

3. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

The best from of AMD's RDNA 2 architecture


RDNA cores: 4,608

Base clock: 1,825 MHz

Boost clock: 2,250 MHz

TFLOPs: 20.74

Memory: 16 GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 16 GT/s

Memory bandwidth: 512 GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Great 4K capability+More affordable than the RTX 3080+Exquisite new RDNA2 architecture 

The new-gen offerings from AMD came out the blocks strong and made a decent riposte to Nvidia's 30-series cards, with the top pick from team red being the RX 6800 XT. It's in the same weight category as the RTX 3080 card and punches back hard - it really does go to tow with the 3080 on performance, and it too can give 4K gaming a proper go.

The RX 6800 XT does actually out punch the 3080 in some areas, such as an increase in VRAM and it offers quality 4K performance, and it costs a little bit less than the 3080 too! It's a very tempting package, though it still falls short of its RTX rival due to the latter offering DLSS, excellent ray-tracing performance, and slightly better 4K numbers.

Worthy of attention and consideration for all high-end gaming PC builds - hands down - this has really thrown the red cat among the green pigeons in the graphics card market now. (If only you could buy any of them...)

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Outstanding gaming performance for $399


GPU Cores: 4,864

Base Clock: 1,410 MHz

Boost Clock: 1,665 MHz

GFLOPS: 16.2

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory clock: 14 Gbps

Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Takes advantage of 8GB memory+Outperforms the RTX 2080 models+Makes the most of ray tracing

Reasons to avoid

-Don't expect native 4K60

The RTX 3060 Ti offers performance that was previously thought impossible from an entry-level graphics card only three years ago. The benchmarks don't lie; this video card runs circles around the RTX 2080 Super (the previous high-end GPU to beat) while costing half as much. It really is that simple. 

Now, 4K isn't really going to be the RTX 3060's strong suit. While achieving UHD visuals is possible, it's geared more towards higher frame rates in 1440p and steamrolling through Full HD games pushed to their absolute limit. Again, that's not to say that the GPU can't benefit from Ultra HD, but you're much more likely to experience 30FPS averages as opposed to a rock-solid 60 depending on the visual intensity of the title. 

If you can find the RTX 3060 Ti for a fair price online, then it's going to be ideal for the vast majority of PC gamers (if you can put aside a consistent 4K average in favor of more general gaming performance in lower resolutions, that is). 

5. AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT

The best graphics card for mid-tier AMD performance


GPU Cores: 2,560

Base Clock: 1,605MHz

Boost Clock: 1,905MHz

GFLOPS: 9,754

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Beats the 2060 Super for the same price+High efficiency RDNA architecture

Reasons to avoid

-No ray tracing or DLSS hardware

With a dramatic, pro-wrestling-style last-second price cut just days before launch, AMD managed to slightly undercut Nvidia's new Super launch. By shaving $50 off the price tag, AMD can now confidently claim their card outperforms the RTX 2060 Super but retails for the same price. 

Of course, what that kind of marketing jargon leaves out is that the RX 5700 XT lacks the RTX cards' ray tracing and Tensor cores. It's thus less well suited for games that employ ray tracing or DLSS, though in terms of pure horsepower, it jumps ahead of the 2060 Super by around 5-10%. It's also very power efficient as a result of AMD's 7nm process and the shiny new RDNA architecture. The RX 5700 XT also supports AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening, which AMD claims will sharpen graphics with almost no performance impact in games that support it. While at the moment it's more gimmick than feature, if it's adopted more broadly it could be a way for AMD to mitigate the lack of built-in RT and DLSS support on its parts.

6. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super

The best 20-series graphics card, all things considered


GPU Cores: 2,944

Base Clock: 1,515MHz

Boost Clock: 1,800MHz

GFLOPS: 10,958

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 1440p and 4K performance+Same price as the original 2080+Outperforms the base 2080 and 1080 Ti+Dedicated ray tracing and DLSS cores

Reasons to avoid

-No headlining new features-Still fairly pricey

While The RTX 2080 Super is still an expensive proposition at its current price, it does work out cheaper than the Ti model (which it outperforms by 5-10%). While the step-up version, the 2080 Ti, remains more powerful, the additional $400-$500 isn't worth it for a relatively marginal increase in computing power (between 10 and 30 percent), especially considering the relatively limited use cases for ray tracing that exist at the moment. While we're seeing more ray-traced games out in the wild now like Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), and Control, the current pool of games with DXR or Vulkan RT support remains relatively shallow. 

The RTX 2080 Super doesn't have any flashy new tricks up its sleeve. Instead, it feels like a mid-generation refresh, obviously targeted at taking the wind out of AMD's sails around the launch of Red Team's new RX 5000-series. While it's a counter-marketing success is a matter of much debate, one fact is undeniable: the 2080 Super is the best (borderline) mainstream graphics card on the market right now, delivering excellent 4K performance (and blistering QHD) for the best price point we've seen thus far for that level of performance.

7. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super

The best graphics card for ray tracing on a budget


GPU Cores: 2,176

Base Clock: 1,470MHz

Boost Clock: 1,650MHz

GFLOPS: 7,181

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Beats the RTX 2070 for around the same price+Lowest price point for ray tracing and DLSS+Solid QHD and great FHD performance

Reasons to avoid

-Still pricey for an 'entry level' card

The tip of the spear alongside the 2070 Super, the RTX 2060 Super is the cheapest way to prepare your rig for our ray tracing, DLSS enabled future. As well as packing Nvidia's much touted new features, the 2060 Super outperforms the card it's meant to replace, the vanilla 2070. It gets you everything packed into the 2070 Super's stable, just slightly less of each, but if you're looking to grab a card to handle 1080p and 1440p gaming the 2060 is the least expensive way to get onboard the ray tracing bandwagon.

If you've already got a card in the GTX 1070 range, the jump to the 2060 Super might seem premature, especially around launch when they'll be hovering near full price. But if you're looking to step up from a 970 or lower card, the 2060 Super is your best bet for great performance that will, to some extent, future proof your setup for the inevitable proliferation of DXR and Vulkan RT.

8. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

The best AMD graphics card for Full HD


RDNA Cores: 2,048

Base Clock: 1,375MHz

Boost Clock: 1,750MHz

TFLOPS: 8.07

Memory: 6GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 12 - 14GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 288 - 336GB/s

Reasons to buy

+The 'ultimate' 1080p graphics  card+Great base price+RTX 2060-level performance

Although now well and truly in the shadow of Nvidia's 2020 graphics card release in the form of the in the shadow, the 5600XT is a fine, fine card to have in your arsenal. And probably the best for 1080p gaming.

The card is good on itself, by all means, but a firmware update came to boost clock speeds and memory performances (on a lot, but not all 5600XT cards, that is) which really made the difference, particularly in the face of Nvidia's 2060 having a price cut. Because not all the 5600XT cards got this bump, it's worth doing some homework before committing. As our friends over at PCGamer advise: "It's worth checking the downloads section for any card you're looking at to see if it's had the BIOS update to 14Gbps and higher GPU frequencies before you drop your cash."

For under $300, you could do a lot worse, and the bang for buck is incredibly strong here despite an awkward positioning around the 1660 Super and 2060 mark. (Though if this is your budget mark, you have a great 'problem' in choosing between these excellent cards.)

9. AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB

AMD's best budget card


GPU Cores: 2,304

Base Clock: 1,257MHz

Boost Clock: 1,340MHz

GFLOPS: 6,175

Memory: 8GB GDDR5

Memory Clock: 8 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 256GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Excellent price and availability+Great match for current games

Reasons to avoid

-Starting to show its age

If you have yet to make the leap to a 4K display, spending a tremendous amount of money on an overpowered GPU may seem like an act of excessive decadence. While you’re saving cash for a new 4K monitor/panel, the $200 the 580 shaves off the price of the next tier of cards is very significant, and AMD’s budget option can easily cope with the tail of the 1080p era. 

For the budget-conscious and anyone looking to ensure your PC is keeping pace with current-generation consoles, the 580 is a great solution. And its 8GBs of GDDR5 is generous in comparison to Nvidia’s similarly priced 1060 line, overhead that will be greatly appreciated as rendering demands continue to escalate.

9. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660

Entry-level performance for a competitive price


GPU Cores: 1,408

Base Clock: 1,530MHz

Boost Clock: 1,785MHz

GFLOPS: 5,027

Memory: 6GB GDDR5

Memory Clock: 8 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 192GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Very affordable+Turing architecture +Excellent performance at 1080p Ultra

Reasons to avoid

-GGDR5 memory instead of GDDR6-Not the best for QHD (1440p)

If you're looking for a modern, entry level graphics card that provides reasonable performance at a sub $250 price point, the 1660 is the choice for you. Slotting into the space vacated by the GTX 1060, and providing something like 13-15% better performance at less cost, the 1660 takes advantage of the Turing architecture implemented in the RTX lineup but paired with the widely available (and thus inexpensive) GDDDR5 VRAM.

The 1660 is clearly Nvidia's play to get into that golden market below $250 where, according to Steam Hardware Survey results, the vast majority of PC gamers shop. It's a mainstream play, perhaps aimed in part at mitigating the slower-than-expected sales of the 20-series family, but it delivers exactly what you expect at a price you can live with. 

10. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

An absolute beast of the last generation


GPU Cores: 4,352

Base Clock: 1,350MHz

Boost Clock: 1,545MHz

TFLOPS: 13.4

Memory: 11GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 616GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Fastest graphics card around+Ray tracing and deep learning tech+More developers moving to embrace ray tracing

Reasons to avoid

-Still quite expensive in 2021

The Nvidia 2080 Ti is still one of the fastest graphics cards going - and thus one of the best graphics cards going in some eyes if we are measuring things by sheer power and numbers. Its price tag will still be a hurdle if you can find it - now that the 30-series cards are out, but if stock and availability levels out for those cards, then the price of the remaining 2080 Tis might drop to some delectable levels.

It might struggle to reach the dizzying heights of 4K, but if you want to run games on as high settings as possible and with ray-tracing then this is certainly a card still worth of your attention. However, and with little surprise, it's seriously hard to recommend hard to friends or readers given you can build quite a competent gaming PC that'll give you years of enjoyment for the cost of this one component - if the prices stay the same. If you have literally no budget problems or concerns or catch one at a reasonable price, then this is it, otherwise, go for something that's above on this list.

11. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

The best graphics card for solid 4K RTX performance and price


GPU Cores: 2,560

Base Clock: 1,605MHz

Boost Clock: 1,770MHz

GFLOPS: 9,062

Memory: 8GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14 GT/s

Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Reasons to buy

+Close to the original RTX 2080 for less+Packed with dedicated ray tracing and DLSS hardware+Amazing 1440p performance and solid 4K 

Reasons to avoid

-No new standout Super features

Coming in as the mid-tier card of Nvidia's new RTX Super stack, the RTX 2070 Super is the best of the bunch in terms of sheer dollars-to-frames. With the vanilla 2070 (and 2080) being phased out, the new Super version will be the only 2070 part available, and it's a worthy replacement. With performance that approaches the RTX 2080 but priced at only $499 (Nvidia has opted against a Founder's Edition premium on the new Super cards), it's hard to argue with the 2070 Super as a value proposition.

This is a card that delivers incredible 1440p performance in triple-A titles, even with ray tracing enabled in the games that support it. While games with GPU intensive ray tracing techniques like Metro's global illumination may stagger a little at higher resolutions, the 2070 Super does an admirable job even at 4K in most cases. This is especially true in games that also support DLSS, which is actually a frame saving technique Nvidia developed to downsample rendered images and then using artificial intelligence (powered by the RTX's cards Tensor cores) to add the pixels back in, without putting so much strain on the card's main processing capability. The result is an excellent card at an attractive price point, and an easy recommendation if you can afford it.


Now discussing:

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