Here Are the Best Graphics Cards From Both Team Green and Team Red | IGN

The graphics card market is in a great place right now. If you’re looking to build your first gaming PC, there’s a lot of great, affordable options from AMD and Nvidia starting at just $200. Then if you’re seriously hardcore into the scene you’ve got some of the most powerful GPUs to ever release thanks to Nvidia’s Turing architecture and it’s 1.5 version Super graphics cards.

Picking the right GPU might seem like a simple matter of picking the one that’ll give you the highest frame rate for your gaming monitor‘s resolution, but there’s also a lot to consider about size, cooling, and choosing between hundreds of variants of each individual GPU model. That’s exactly why we’ve put together this guide to the best graphics cards on the market for you.

TL;DR – These are the Best Graphics Cards:

1. Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC

Best Graphics Card

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If you ask me, the best graphics card isn’t automatically the most powerful, but rather the one that strikes the right balance of performance to price. Following that logic, the Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC (read our review) is the best graphics card you can buy.

For a little more than $300, this graphics card churns out silky smooth 1440p gaming in most cases, and even some playable 4K experiences hovering around 30 frames per second (fps). It’s might be more expensive than the recently introduced GTX 1660 Super, but we think it’s worth paying a little extra for rock-solid 1080p gaming, not to mention it better handles higher-res gaming and virtual reality experience. The level of performance you get out of this GPU even cuts close to the RTX 2060.

The Asus ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC is a top of the line, overclocked version of Nvidia’s mid-range card, so those looking to spend less than $300 for a fast GPU should consider the more affordable EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming or Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G instead.

2. Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Ti OC

Best 4K Graphics Card

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Seriously, the Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Ti OC (read our review) is an amazing graphics card if you want to run the latest games at a full 60 fps, or faster, at 4K and Ultra quality settings. Alternatively, this is the GPU you want to run high-res VR games on your Oculus Rift or Valve Index Also, if you want to live in the Nvidia’s world of ray-traced graphics, look no further, you won’t find another consumer GPU better equipped to give you realistic reflections in Battlefield V.

Out of all the RTX 2080 Ti GPUs I tested, including the Zotac GeForce RTX 2080 Ti AMP (read our review), this card came out on top in terms of performance. The Asus ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Ti OC’s overclocking goes a step further than the Zotac and the other 2080 Ti cards, putting it at the top of my list.

While this is the absolute most powerful consumer GPU you can get, the power increase doesn’t march lock-step with its price. You will pay significantly more for a 2080 Ti over a 2080, with only a slight jump in performance. If you absolutely require the best of the best, by all means, but if you don’t see the value in it, consider any of the other GPUs on my list.

3. XFX RX 5700

Best 1440p Graphics Card

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The AMD Radeon RX 5700 (read our review) is the best and most affordable option when it comes to 1440p gaming. For just $329, this mid-range GPU delivers an average of 60 to 90 fps experience with modern games running at QHD. And unlike the Zotac RTX 2060 AMP or any other variant of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, it comes with a full 8GB of video memory rather than just six gigabytes.

It’s a great GPU to use with a variety of displays thanks to its native support for FreeSync, which you’ll find on the majority of today’s gaming monitors and gaming TVs. It was also practically built to play games built on Vulkan, AMD’s own API. Alternatively, if you have a MacBook Pro and want to step up its gaming and media creation capabilities, this GPU pairs well with an external GPU box. The Radeon RX 5700 really is one of AMD’s most versatile and capable graphics cards the company has ever released.

4. Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT

Best 1080p Graphics Card

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The Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT (see our review) might be a graphics card best suited for playing games at only 1080p, but it’ll give you a great experience in any way you’re gaming at Full HD. Whether you’ve got this card hooked up to an office monitor or one of the new crazy 360Hz gaming monitors, this GPU can push all the frames per second you’ll ever need.

This particular version of the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT already comes with a lot of power out of the box, but keep an eye out for a bios update to unlock its true potential. Once updated, you’ll see this graphics card’s memory bandwidth climb up to 14GB/s. Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT can also hit a 1,615 MHz Game Clock and a maximum boost clock of 1,750MHz with the bios update

5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super

Best Nvidia RTX Graphics Card

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Out of the entire Nvidia Turing lineup, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super (read our review) is arguably the most sensible GeForce RTX card to buy. For $399 it’s a fantastic graphics card for gaming at 1440p resolutions and unlike every xx60 GPU that came before, it comes with a full fat 8GB of GDDR6 video memory.

In my testing, I had no problem getting over 30 fps in 4K with everything turned up in games like Monster Hunter World. Games like Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 5 also hit over 60 fps at the same settings. Impressive for a card at the $400 mark.

6. AMD Radeon VII

The Best AMD Graphics Card

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The newest GPU from AMD, the Radeon VII (read our review), is also its best GPU yet. The “world’s first 7nm gaming GPU” delivers great 4K and stellar 1440p performance, and its list price is unsurprisingly better than a comparable card from Nvidia.

You don’t get the fancy ray-tracing promised by the new RTX series cards, but given how few games take advantage of the new technology, it’s probably still not worth the trouble yet. In my testing, the Radeon VII proves to be a great GPU for both gaming and compute tasks. It’s 16GB of video RAM might look excessive on paper, but it comes in handy in more games than you would think, as multiple modern titles end up using more than 8GB of video memory.

If you’re an AMD diehard, or you’re just looking for a great way to dive into the world of 4K gaming without paying the Nvidia tax, the Radeon VII is a great choice as both the best AMD card around right now and one of the best graphics cards for the money.

7. EVGA RTX 2080 Super XC

Best for High-End Gaming for Most Gamers

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The EVGA RTX 2080 Super SC has a 1,830MHz boost clock, three big, whisper-quiet fans to keep it running cool, but perhaps most importantly, it has the power of RGB lighting. If you’re going to spend a bunch of money on a graphics card to make your gaming PC into a 4K powerhouse, you’re going to want to show it off, so why settle for anything less than flashy lighting?

Beyond the flashy presentation, the Super SC comes with EVGA’s X1 overclocking software, so you can push it beyond its factory limits. And really, isn’t that the true heart of PC gaming? To give you an idea of what the EVGA is capable of, you can check out the RTX 2080 Founders Edition (read our review), and then imagine it with RGB lights and even better overclocking.

8. XFX Radeon RX 570 RS XXX Edition

Kick-Off Your Esports Career with this Graphics Card

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The AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU is a well-performing graphics card for 1080p gaming and its particularly spectacular for Esport gaming. Its low, low price of just $150makes it a spectacular buy for users on a budget. With 8GB of video memory and a 1,284MHz boost clock, it offers all the performance you need to play Overwatch, Dota 2, and Rainbox Six Siege at a competitive level.

Whether you’re using a 1080p 144Hz gaming monitor or 240Hz gaming monitor, this graphics card gives you fantastic Full HD gaming experience without breaking the bank. The RX 570 is a superb choice for Esports fans.

9. Nvidia Titan RTX

The Out of Your Mind Graphics Card

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When you absolutely, positively need the most powerful graphics card money can buy, you should look no farther than the Nvidia Titan RTX. For the kingly price of $2,500, the Titan RTX is fully loaded with an absurd 4,608 CUDA cores, 24GB of GDDR6 video memory, and 1,770 MHz boost clock. With these supreme specs, it offers 4K Ultra gaming at frame rates well above 60 fps that no other single GPU can offer.

But honestly, buying this card just to play games would be a waste, as it’s also rendering powerhouse for video editing, 3D rendering, and other creative pursuits. If you have the money and the need for a GPU this powerful, the Nvidia Titan RTX is the graphics card of your dreams.

10. Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1650 Super

Best HTPC Graphic Card

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The original Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 was a pretty thorough disappointment featuring fewer than a 1,000 CUDA cores and some very slow ‘s GDDR5 video memory. Thankfully Nvidia went back to the drawing board and gave us a much more capable Super version that fixed all of the original GPU’s shortcomings.

We’ve chosen the Zotac Gaming GeForce GTX 1650 OC 4GB as the cheapest, and yet still capable graphics card you can buy for just $160. It’s not going to blow your mind and let you play 4K games with all the visual fixings, but it’s more than enough power to run that home theater PC you’ve always wanted to connect to your gaming TV.

For the most part, this GPU is best used for watching 4K HDR media first and gaming second. That said, the GTX 1650 has proven itself to be pretty spunky for Full HD gaming with Ultra settings. And it can even render 1440p games at a playable 30 fps, or even 60 fps with some titles and settings tweaking.

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What to Look for in a Graphics Card

Below I 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.

I’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 ore 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.


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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 I 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.

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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.

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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.

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