Looking to upgrade your rig, or build a new gaming PC? Then you’ll likely need to get a decent GPU.
Back in the day this would’ve meant handing over oodles of cash, but thanks to advances from Nvidia and AMD this is no longer the case.
The only reason you’d need to shell out for a top-end card, like the amazing Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti, is if you plan to play triple-A games in 4K. If you just want a small-form lounge PC for casual bouts of Overwatch or PUBG in 1080p you’d be better of saving your money and investing in a cheaper card.
If that’s still outside your price point, then you’d also do well to consider skipping a dGPU entirely and checking out one of AMD’s newest Raven Ridge APUs, which expertly pair the company’s stellar CPUs with Vega graphics.
Scroll down to see our buyers’ guide plus the full list of the best GPUs. But also make sure to check out our best gaming PC, which details our recommended builds for varying price points.
Related: The best graphics card deals
Third party cards
Whenever you buy a GPU you should also factor which manufacter you want to get, as the specs will differ. 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. Common brand names include EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, Zotac and many more.
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
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):
- Length of warranty
- Fan noise
- Visual flare
- Extra cooling fans
There’s one more thing to consider, and something we’ll discuss in the later entries in this round-up: AMD RX Vega. AMD’s top-spec cards have arrived very late to the scene, and look to undercut the Nvidia competition in terms of pricing, while still offering 1440p and 4K gaming performance. The jury’s still out on whether these will meet expectations; we wouldn’t hold off on buying a different GPU unless there’s something about AMD’s other technologies (such as FreeSync) that get your juices flowing.
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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.