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Best Graphics Card: Top 4 AMD and Nvidia GPUs

Introduction

A graphics card is one of the most important components in a PC, providing a huge part of the graphical grunt that enables the machine to play games and run demanding processes such as 3D modeling.

Picking the right graphics card is important, with each model targeting a different performance. For example, if you just want a basic GPU for playing Fortnite or lightweight video editing, there’s no point paying for a 4K-capable card. There’s also plenty of jargon and high-end features you need to be aware of, including DLSS, FSR and ray tracing

To help make it quick and easy to find the right graphic card for your specific budget and needs, we’ve put together this guide detailing the best graphics cards we’ve tested that are still on sale. 

Every card in this list has been thoroughly benchmarked and tested in one of our test rigs to take account of the key metrics that gamers care most about. These include performance checks with our team running a series of synthetic benchmarks and in-game tests to accurately determine how fast a card can run modern games in the most common monitor resolutions. From there, we check their thermals and power demands to gauge if they offer good value for money. 

And if you can’t find the perfect graphics card right now, then make sure to bookmark this page and return later. New AMD RDNA 3, Nvidia RTX 4000 Series and Intel Arc graphics cards are all expected to launch in 2022, so it may be worth sitting tight before shelling out a grand on a new card.

But  if you can’t wait, then below you’ll find our definitive guide, comprising the best cards we’ve reviewed that were still on sale at the time of publishing.

How we test

Learn more about how we test graphics cards

Every graphics card we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including performance, features, thermals, power consumption and overclokability.

These include formal synthetic benchmarks with third-party software, plus a series of in-games tests from some of the most recent AAA PC titles, with optimised picks for both AMD and Nvidia.

We also make sure to use the GPU for everyday tasks and gaming to make sure there are no real-time performance issues.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card for 4K gaming
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Pros

  • Excellent 4K performance
  • Ray tracing is awesome
  • Far cheaper than RTX 2080 Ti
  • HDMI 2.1 support

Cons

  • Very power hungry
  • Not massively overclockable

The Nvidia RTX 3080 is our top recommended graphics card for gaming in 4K. While we found the RTX 3080 isn’t the fastest card we’ve tested – with the RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3090 and RTX 3090 Ti flaunting more power – it’s still more than powerful enough to play most games in 4K with ray tracing activated. 

The Nvidia RTX 3080 managed to play both Control and Battlefield V in 4K, during our latest checks, with a performance over 60fps with their graphics maxed. On top of that, the RTX 3080 Ti typically only renders games around 5-10 frames faster than the base RTX 3080 in 4K with ray tracing and DLSS on. While these gains aren’t to be ignored, we still recommend most buyers opt for the much more reasonably priced RTX 3080 since it represents superior value. 

However, our tests did show that the card can run a little hot and, based on our experience, doesn’t have much room for overclocking. Smaller builds will also want to avoid it due to the card’s high thermals, which exceeded 90 degrees regularly when playing demanding titles in our test rig’s open case. This, plus its large dual-fan design, make it an awkward fit for smaller builds.

If you can’t get your hands on an RTX 3080 at the moment, we’d also suggest looking at the AMD RX 6800. The card offers excellent 4K gaming performance that was only a few frames behind the RTX 3080 during our checks with ray tracing and DLSS deactivated.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

Best graphics card for 1440p gaming
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Pros

  • Excellent 1080p and 1440p performance
  • Smaller design than RTX 3080
  • Amazing value

Cons

  • No real room for overclocking
  • Uses older VRAM

If you’re not that bothered about 4K or have a 1440p monitor instead, then the Nvidia RTX 3070 is the best graphics card we’d recommend to gamers. The card shares the same Ampere architecture and high-end features as its more expensive sibling, but isn’t quite as powerful. 

During testing, we could not reliably get demanding games (like CyberPunk 2077) running in 4K with ray tracing on and the graphics settings maxed. But with ray tracing off, the card generally performed excellently and proved fantastic value for money. Elden Ring ran smoothly in 1080p, 1440p and 4K with zero issue, as did Cyberpunk 2077 and Tiny Tina’s Wonderland.

However, we found the RTX 3070 generally played games around 15-20 fps slower than the RTX 3080. This meant games, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Control, failed to consistently hit 60fps when ray tracing was activated, averaging between 40-50fps during our tests. These frame rates are still comfortably playable, but they don’t offer the smooth experience you get on the more expensive RTX 3080. 

The compromise is forgivable as the 3070 also manages to outperform its AMD rival’s performance. Putting the RTX 3070 head to head with the slightly cheaper AMD RX 6700XT, the Nvidia card was constantly 10fps ahead in our in-game benchmark tests. This adds up to make it our recommended card for a 1440p resolution, and anyone who doesn’t care about ray tracing in 4K.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson 
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3070

Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

Best graphics card for 1080p gaming
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Pros

  • Solid 1080p Ray Tracing performance
  • Lowest power consumption of all Ampere cards
  • Cheapest current gen’ card on the market

Cons

  • Still not massively overclockable
  • Only 20% cheaper than an RTX 3070

If you still use an 1080p gaming monitor, then both the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 are overkill options based on our experience. Instead, we recommend opting for the cheaper RTX 3060 Ti. This isn’t the cheapest Nvidia card we’ve tested, with the RTX 3050 costing considerably less. But the RTX 3060 Ti is the cheapest we’ve benchmarked to offer reliable post-60fps performance with ray tracing on in 1080p.

The card shares the same perks and architecture as the RTX 3070, with the main changes being reductions to its clock speeds and general specifications. Specifically, it has less tensor cores and RT cores (the parts of the card that run ray tracing and DLSS). 

But we didn’t notice any serious issues running games in 1080p. The graphic card ran every game in our tests, even with ray tracing activated and their graphics settings maxed out. Control zoomed along at 84fps and Borderlands 3 never dipped below 60fps. As a result, we’d say this is the card to get if you care about ray tracing and other cutting-edge features, but are still gaming at a 1080p resolution.

The only downside is that the Founders Edition model we tested is still fairly large, making it a poor fit for ITX builds. If that’s what you’re after, you’re better off checking a single-fan card, like the Nvidia RTX 3050, despite occasionally struggling to hit 60fps, even in 1080p, during our checks.

Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
Full review: Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

Best budget graphics card
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Pros

  • Strong 1080p performance
  • Low power consumption
  • Wealth of features for Ryzen builds

Cons

  • Struggles with ray tracing without FSR activated
  • Not as powerful as Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti

The AMD RX 6600 XT is our current top recommended card for those on a strict budget. It’s the cheapest option in AMD’s current generation lineup and is built on the same RDNA 2 architecture as its more expensive siblings.

During our tests, we found the card can’t match the performance of Nvidia’s more expensive RTX 3060 Ti, especially when it comes to ray tracing. But for the price, it’s still a very capable card for 1080p gaming.

Modern games, including Doom Eternal, Destiny 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 all ran over 60fps in our 1080p benchmarks, while FSR compatible titles (like Godfall) can see the performance boosted even further due to some upscaling smarts. 

If you don’t care about sky-high frame rates or ray tracing when playing games in 1080p, the budget-friendly price makes the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT a solid choice.

FAQs

What is ray tracing?

Ray tracing is an advanced rendering technology that can create realistic lighting and shadow effects. Only modern GPUs and select games support this technology.

What is DLSS?

DLSS is Nvidia’s temporal image upscaling technology which boosts the frame rate performance of supported games without compromising on the image quality. Only Nvidia’s RTX 20-Seires and 30-Series GPUs support the technology.

What is Ampere?

Ampere is Nvidia’s latest GPU architecture.

We also considered…

We’ve reviewed

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Comparison Specifications

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USA RRP
EU RRP
CA RRP
Manufacturer
Size (Dimensions)
ASIN
Release Date
First Reviewed Date
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Trusted Reviews test data

Power consumption
Peak temperature
3DMark Time Spy Extreme
3DMark Port Royal
Borderlands 3 frame rate (4K)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Quad HD)
Borderlands 3 frame rate (Full HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (4K)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Quad HD)
Horizon Zero Dawn frame rate (Full HD)

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