At the time of purchase, PC gamers need to know what the best GPU for the money is. And if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, fear not, we've compiled a simple up-to-date list of the best GPUs for gaming at the most popular resolutions, virtual reality, and eSports.
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Best GPUs For Gaming
Update 7/10/2017: replaced AMD Radeon RX 580 with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060.
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June 2017 Updates
In the weeks since our last Best Graphics Cards update, Nvidia introduced two new products targeting the very top and very bottom of the add-in board market.
Its Titan Xp replaced Titan X (Pascal) at a $1200 price point. More than anything, Titan Xp “fixes” the aberration of a $700 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti outperforming Nvidia’s priciest desktop offering in many games. It shares the 1080 Ti’s complement of outputs (three DisplayPort and one HDMI), yet recycles the original Titan X’s fan shroud.
Under the hood, Titan Xp employs a complete GP102 processor with 3840 CUDA cores, 240 texture units, 96 ROPs, and a 384-bit aggregate pathway to 12GB of GDDR5X. Nvidia even shoots for the 1080 Ti’s typical GPU Boost clock rate, adding overclocked memory to carve out whatever advantage it can get. As we showed in our Nvidia Titan Xp 12GB Review, though, the new flagship only averages about 8% faster than its predecessor across our benchmark suite at 2560x1440 and 9.5% at 3840x2160.
Given GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s position between Titan X and Titan Xp, along with its much more palatable price, that card retains its recommendation. Titan Xp leads the Pascal-based portfolio in spirit, but doesn’t do enough to earn our approval.
Separately (and without fanfare of any sort), Nvidia also introduced the GeForce GT 1030. It’s based on a GP108 processor and armed with 384 CUDA cores, 24 texture units, eight ROPs, and a 64-bit memory bus. Naturally, board vendors specify a range of frequencies, but the official GPU Boost rating is 1468 MHz. Two gigabytes of 6 GT/s GDDR5 appears standard.
We don’t yet know how GeForce GT 1030 sizes up against Radeon RX 550 - Nvidia isn’t keen on sending out samples. However, the company does pin a 30W power target on its entry-level offering. That’s quite a bit lower than AMD’s 50W ceiling. Nvidia also takes the lead on pricing: GT 1030 currently sells for ~$70, whereas RX 550s start at $80 and quickly reach $85 and $90.
Fortunately for AMD, there are still Radeon RX 460 cards starting at $80 and $90. At that price, we’d rather spend a little extra on the 896-shader board and have the opportunity to turn up detail settings a little. These probably won’t last much longer, so we’ll eventually have to choose between AMD’s and Nvidia’s modern entry-level options. But until then, the Radeon RX 460 retains our base-level recommendation for e-sports and HD gaming.
So long as you’re willing to dial down the details a bit at 1920x1080, there’s still room in our line-up for Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti, one step up from the Radeon RX 460. This recommendation does not change. For the folks wondering why 1050 Ti looks good to us now, when it wasn’t a hit in our launch coverage, remember that RX 460 was selling for ~$110 back then. Today’s less expensive RX 460 gives the Radeon a win against 1050, while 1050 Ti’s slightly higher performance and 4GB of GDDR5 memory make it a better choice for gamers looking to push 1920x1080.
Availability of Radeon RX 570 and 580 cards has all but dried up, disturbingly enough. There’s nothing on Newegg, and the prices on Amazon are unrealistically high. Consequently, at least for this month, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 6GB reclaims its recommendation for great 1080p and good 1440p frame rates. You’ll find plenty of them selling for $245 and up. Of course, we’ll revisit this critical performance point next month in hope of renewed competition (and word of the still-elusive Radeon RX Vega).
Best @ 720p & eSports
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Good @ 1080p
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Best @ 1080p | Good @ 1440p
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Best @ 1440p & SLI | Good @ VR
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Good @ 4K | Best @ VR
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Best @ 4K