If you’re on the market for a new graphics card there’s never been a better time to buy. Over the last few months Nvidia’s launched its next generation Turing architecture and AMD’s follow suit launching a follow up to its stellar RX and Vega cards.
best overall graphics card
The GeForce GTX 1080 offers the absolute best performance compared to rivals. So if only the best graphics will do, this is the card you want. It'll even stretch as far as 5K resolution gaming.
If money is no object then the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the best graphics card you can buy right now. The card can play most triple-A games in 4K at 60fps and supports real-time ray tracing.
If you’re after a bargain and only care about 1080p gaming then the newly launched Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 is the best value graphics card we’ve tested.
Related: Nvidia RTX 2080
How we test graphics cards
best value graphics card
The GTX 1050 is our choice for best value for anyone looking to game on a budget. Keeping your expectations in check image quality-wise, you can expect very respectable frame rates in many top games. The small form factor and low power consumption are the cherry on top.
1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Capable of 60fps in 4K with the majority of games
- Future-proofed with exciting features such as ray tracing
- Keeps cool and quiet all of the time
- Incredibly expensive
- Ray tracing and DLSS support unavailable at launch
Part of Nvidia’s new Turing lineup, the RTX 2080 Ti is the most powerful graphics card that consumers can buy with amped up specs and potentially revolutionary features.
While the GTX 1080 Ti struggles to achieve 60fps in 4K for some of the most technically demanding games, the RTX 2080 Ti hits that golden standard for almost every title you throw its way.
Even more lust-worthy, the RTX 2080 Ti features brand new tech including real-time ray tracing and DLSS. The former will help to simulate more realistic light in video game environments, while the latter uses artificial intelligence to make image rendering slicker and more efficient. Sadly, neither feature is currently available with the required updates expected to drop later this year. On a more positive note, plenty of games are confirmed to be offering support including Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus.
The only significant negative thing about the RTX 2080 Ti? It costs a whopping lot. At £1099, it’s almost double the price of the ultra-powerful GTX 1080 Ti. But if you’re desperate for the best 4K performance possible, as well as the forthcoming ray tracing, then the RTX 2080 Ti is still a worthwhile investment.
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
- Solid 1080p and 1440p performance
- Future-proof with Turing
- Decent value when compared to the 1070
- Ray tracing and DLSS still not widely supported
The RTX 2060 is the cheapest card available with Nvidia’s shining new Turing architecture. This means it’s the only semi-affordable way to take advantage of the company’s new Ray Tracing and DLSS technologies without shelling out £500-plus.
This is a big deal as, from what we’ve seen testing Ray Tracing on Battlefield 5, the tech is pretty awesome. Ray Tracing improves how games render lighting effects, shadows and reflections, making them look super realistic. It’s also being touted by Nvidia as the future of gaming, which given the number of titles confirmed to support it this year the claim could well be accurate.
Ray Tracing aside, the RTX 2060 offers impressive grunt performance that easily matches the older GTX 1070. This means most triple-A titles will run at 60 fps or above with their graphics settings maxed at 1080p. This plus stellar cooling make it the best value graphics card currently available.
3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
- Offers ray tracing and DLSS for significantly cheaper price than RTX 2080 Ti
- Capable of running any game in 4K with smooth frame rates
- A sizeable upgrade from the last-gen GTX 1080
- Offers the same 4K performance as the cheaper GTX 1080 Ti
- Ray tracing and DLSS unavailable at launch
The middle sibling of Nvidia’s new 20 Series graphics cards, the Nvidia RTX 2080 hits the sweet spot for performance and price.
The RTX 2080 offers a significant frame rates boost compared to its Pascal predecessor, the GTX 1080, most notably for modern games such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Ghost Recon Wildlands. We’re talking enough power here to play these games in 4K with a super-slick performance. It’s not quite beefy enough to hit the 60fps target for such ultra-intensive games, with only the RTX 2080 Ti boasting the power for such a task, but if you fancy saving a few hundred quid the RTX 2080 is a very good compromise.
The RTX 2080 claims a very similar performance power to the GTX 1080 Ti. The only significant difference between the two cards is the former’s capability to support revolutionary features such as real-time ray tracing and DLSS. These features are yet to be released as we await an imminent update, but you’ll at least know this GPU is as future-proofed as they come if you do decide to invest.
4. AMD Radeon RX 570
- Excellent Full HD performance
- Wide range of designs available
- Quiet cooler on this model
- Blurred lines between RX 580 and GTX 1060 pricing
- Power hog when overclocked
The RX 570 is a minor improvement to the RX 470 we reviewed in 2016. It has slightly higher clock speeds and lower power consumption when not in use. It’s largely identical to its predecessor, however, so anyone running a 470 needn’t worry.
In terms of performance, expect to run the latest games in Full HD at High and Very High settings. We saw 90+fps in the likes of Battlefield 1 at High settings in Full HD.
It’s now on a level with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in some benchmarks, and with 4GB and 8GB models available, as well as loads of different cooler designs, if you can grab one for under £190, you’ll be getting a decent deal. But if you can spend a little more, consider an RX 580 instead, as the two are priced very closely.
5. AMD Radeon RX 580
- Brilliant Full HD performance
- Decent 1440p performance
- Cheapest cards are great value
- Power hog
- No compact cards
A minor update to the RX 480, the RX 580 is the new graphics card of choice for those with a budget of between £190 and £220. It will play the latest games at maximum settings in Full HD, and you can drop to High if you fancy some 1440p action. It’s very similar to the RX 480, and is based on the same GPU. So don’t eliminate AMD’s 400-series GPUs from your shortlist.
There’s a variety of third-party GPU options available, with various levels of overclocking and lots of different cooler designs. It’s a bit of a power hog, however, and you’ll seldom find a compact version of the RX 580. It’s here, where the more efficient GTX 1060 rules the roost as the best graphics card for the money with near-identical performance. Nvidia’s mid-range offering is better for that Mini-ITX build you’ve always wanted to do.
Those are our top picks of the best graphics cards. If you want to know more about about the different types of graphics cards and what to look out for when buying one then read on.
Whenever you buy a GPU, consider which manufacturer you want to opt for since the the specs will differ accordingly. 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 difficult. As such, 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 roundup: 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 is still out on whether these will meet expectations. We wouldn’t hold off buying a different GPU unless there’s something about AMD’s other technologies (such as FreeSync) that gets your juices flowing.