Best graphics card 2017: We run through what to look out for when buying a GPU, and then take you through our pick of the top eight options that could find themselves in your next gaming rig.
Picking a graphics card for your PC doesn't have to be difficult; you simply have to work out your overall budget and what sort of games you want to be playing. The graphics card you buy should fit into a balanced gaming PC, so it's worth checking our Best Gaming PC build guide for examples of balanced specifications that prioritise gaming at each price point.
Related: Best gaming PC
In this guide, we provide a top-line look at which cards to consider. That is to say, we’re choosing the model numbers from the two big GPU manufacturers: Nvidia and AMD (GTX 1080, RX 570, and so on).
Also part of the decision will be the custom cooler design. Common brand names include EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, Zotac and many more. Together, you get a combined name that includes the brand name, GPU part number and cooler design. For example: Asus ROG Strix GTX 1080 Gaming, Zotac GTX 1080 Amp Extreme, XFX Radeon RX 480 GTR Black Edition.
Nvidia’s latest 10-series cards also include so-called ‘Founders Edition’ designs, which are the models we review. Third-party models tend to be more expensive and perform slightly better.
With prices constantly shifting and special offers appearing daily, recommending a specific model purely on its price is hard, so this guide will offer each card’s usual price range and the sort of performance you can expect.
Related: The best CPUs for gaming, tested
Manufacturer’s cooler designs will also affect performance, but only by single-digit percentage points – this is especially true of cheaper cards. With more expensive GPUs card manufacturers push the boat out, throwing clever fans and software into the mix and offering up higher clock speeds, which can make a difference.
Things to look out for on each card include (in order of importance):
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the best graphics card at each price and performance point to discover which one is best for you.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £534.99 | Now £487
AMD Radeon RX 480 at Amazon.com | Was $219.99 | Now $199.99