Best Graphics Card 2019: The 8 best GPUs for HD, 4K and ray tracing

It’s an exciting time for graphics cards. Not only are Nvidia’s Turing range making 4K accessible and showcasing the wonders of ray tracing, but now AMD’s releasing its Radeon VII GPU which promises a stellar performance. But which is the best graphics card for you? 

With so many cards on offer each very different features, knowing which to get is tricky. Here to help we’ve created a definitive list of the best GPUs we’ve tested.

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 Full HD gaming then the newly launched GTX 1660 Ti is the best value graphics card we’ve tested at just £260. And while this card doesn’t have RT Cores and Tensors Cores, it will still be capable of ray tracing from April – as will every other GTX graphics card – thanks to an upcoming Nvidia driver update.

Of course, RTX cards will still likely be supremely better at ray tracing than their GTX counterparts, so if you want a quality performance for light effects and reflections you’re going to need to upgrade. If you don’t want to spend a massive amount of dollar, then the RTX 2060 is a great option, offering fantastic value.

We’ll also be reviewing the AMD Radeon VII shortly too, but we’re yet to get a sample. As soon as we do, we’ll be sure to update this round up.

Related: Nvidia RTX 2080

How we test graphics cards

Each new card is plugged into Trusted Reviews’ test rig, which uses a set of uniform components that we believe is representative of most PC gamers at the time. Next, we use a series of synthetic and gaming benchmarks to discover the frame rate at which the card will play modern triple-A games at varying resolutions.

We then checkout the potential for overclocking and a card’s power efficiency using the FireStrike benchmark and an external consumption monitor. Throughout benchmarking we retest all previous-generation and competing cards to ensure that frame rates are accurate, and that cards have been tested using the latest drivers available.

Best Graphics Card Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Best for performance and ray tracing

Pros:

  • Capable of 60fps in 4K with the majority of games
  • Future-proofed with exciting features such as ray tracing
  • Super-overclockable
  • Keeps cool and quiet all of the time

Cons:

  • 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 exciting 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, only a few games currently support these features, 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.

PNY GTX 1660 Ti

2. PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Best value for Full HD gaming

Pros:

  • Fantastic value Full HD performance
  • Intelligent shading improves efficiency for modern games
  • Small enough for mini-ITX cases

Cons:

  • Limited overclocking potential

The GTX 1660 Ti represents fantastic value for money for 1080p gamers. It beats the GTX 1060 for frame rates considerably, and pushes both the GTX 1070 and RTX 2060 hard too. At £260, it’s also cheap.

Aimed squarely at buyers who want a new GPU, but can’t afford, or won’t appreciate the full benefit of the ray tracing and DLSS features of Nvidia’s flagship 20 Series cards, the GTX 1660 Ti is only available from a number of third party manufacturers – no Founders Edition version of this card is in the works.

The GTX 1660 Ti version we’ve tested is a XLR8 OC from PNY. Despite its name, there’s not much potential for overclocking here; we were able to get a 130MHz overclock during testing, but not much more than that.

That said, you’ll be able to get a 120fps Full HD performance on the likes of Fortnite, PUBG and Apex Legends, with minimal fuss. For battle royale shooters, you couldn’t ask for a smoother experience.

And even if you’re not fussed about big online brawlers, the GTX 1660 Ti is still the best value 1080p graphics card you can currently buy, as long you’re not upset by its lack of ray tracing and DLSS.

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

Best value for ray tracing

Pros:

  • Solid 1080p and 1440p performance
  • Future-proof with Turing
  • Decent value when compared to the 1070

Cons:

  • Ray tracing and DLSS still not widely supported

The RTX 2060 is the cheapest 20-Series card available which gives you all the benefits of Turing’s architecture. This means it’s the only semi-affordable way to take advantage of the full compliment of Ray Tracing and DLSS technologies.

This is a big deal as, from what we’ve seen testing Ray Tracing on Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus, 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.

GTX 1660

4. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660

Great Full HD performance at a low, low price

Pros:

  • Superb value for Full HD gaming
  • Adaptive shading gives modern games a performance boost
  • Incredible optimisation for battle royale game

Cons:

  • The slightly more expensive GTX 1660 Ti offers better value

The Gigabyte GTX 1660 is one of the cheapest mid-range Nvidia-powered graphics cards on the market, offering a superb Full HD for just £2o0. Thanks to the new Turing TU116 architecture and new efficient shading methods, the GTX 1660 card offers a big bump on performance compared to its similarly priced Pascal siblings.

Our tests prove the GTX 1660 is capable of running modern AAA games, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, at high frame rates, while even being able to achieve a respectable Quad HD performance for titles released a few years ago. Fortnite and Apex Legends fans will certainly benefit, with the GTX 1660 optimised specifically for battle royale games.

The only drawback to the GTX 1660 is that the GTX 1660 Ti offers a noticeably better performance at a slightly more expensive price. We’d recommend going for the latter, but if you’re on a super strict budget, the GTX 1660 will still serve you well.

ROG Strix RTX 2070

5. Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070 O8G Gaming

Stellar Quad HD and ray tracing performance

Pros:

  • Excellent value Quad HD performance
  • Ray tracing and DLSS support
  • Remains cool no matter how hard you push it

Cons:

  • Very poor overclocking potential
  • Just shy of a good 4K performance

The Asus ROG Strix RTX 2070 O8G Gaming suffers the middle sibling syndrome. This isn’t the cheapest 20-Series graphics card available, and it’s performance is dwarfed by the more expensive 4K-ready RTX 2080 Ti GPU.

What it does offer, though, is incredible value for its Quad HD performance. The Strix RTX 2070 can handle all but the most power-draining video games at a super-sturdy 60fps, even after activating ray tracing to revel in Battlefield V’s realistic reflections.

The only caveat with this Asus ROG graphics card is that it can’t muster much from an overclock, leaving the additional fan feeling like a wasted expense. On the bright side, you do get customisable RGB lighting, excellent heat dissipation and an improved boosted clock speed when you plump for ROG’s offering instead of Nvidia’s.

Nvidia RTX 2080

6. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

A cheaper alternative to the RTX 2080 Ti

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Best graphics card - AMD Radeon RX 570

7. AMD Radeon RX 570

Budget Full HD option


Pros:

  • Excellent Full HD performance
  • Wide range of designs available
  • Quiet cooler on this model

Cons:

  • 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.

Best graphics card - AMD Radeon RX 580

8. AMD Radeon RX 580

Budget Quad HD option

Pros:

  • Brilliant Full HD performance
  • Decent 1440p performance
  • Cheapest cards are great value

Cons:

  • 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.

Third-party cards
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: Best gaming monitors

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
  • Price
  • Overclocking
  • 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 Radeon VII . 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.