Choosing the best graphics card is the most important component decision when it comes to determining gaming performance. To help you pick the right make and model, we thoroughly review and test all the major GPUs form AMD and Nvidia, measuring everything from 1080p, 2K and 4K frame rates in popular games to heat and power consumption.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
GPU: Turing (TU102) | Core Clock: 1,350 MHz | Video RAM: 11GB GDDR5X | TDP: 260 watts
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the first card we’ve tested that's able to deliver smooth frame rates at 4K with detail settings maxed out, something the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1080 Ti couldn’t quite manage. The GTX 2080 Ti’s halo features aren’t used in many games yet, but as those come online, the Turing architecture is expected to shine even brighter.
Nvidia also did a good job improving the cooler on its Founders Edition version of the 2080 Ti, leading to high sustained clock speeds. That said, the $1,200-plus price means this card is out of reach for the vast majority of gamers. Only those who are truly after a no-compromise 4K gaming experience should consider this card. The one-step-down RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Super are capable of smooth UHD gaming, providing you’re willing to switch off a few settings.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Best for VR Gaming
GPU: Turing (TU104) | Core Clock: 1,605 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 215watts
Enthusiasts with VR headsets need to achieve a certain level of performance to avoid jarring artifacts. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Super is fast enough to keep up with the 90 Hz refresh rates of most modern head-mounted displays (HMDs). Moreover, it includes a VirtualLink port for connecting next-generation headsets with a single cable. That’s not really a useful feature today, but it will likely come in handy the next time you consider upgrading your VR headset.
With more than enough pixel punch to handle smooth VR and prices generally below that of the older GTX 1080, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super is our local choice for VR gaming.
AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB)
Best for 2K Gaming
GPU: RDNA (Navi 10) | Core Clock: 1,465 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 185 watts
This recommendation is bound to be controversial. However, AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 averages 11%-higher average frame rates than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 through our benchmark suite at the same price point.
AMD is notably missing real-time ray tracing acceleration, and that means upcoming blockbusters like Cyberpunk 2077 probably won’t look as good on a Radeon card. But this is also the lowest level at which ray tracing makes sense to enable on Nvidia’s hardware. A GeForce RTX 2060 with the technology turned on isn’t guaranteed to scratch your craving for smooth performance at 2560x1440 anyway. In the meantime, we’ll take higher frame rates in today’s titles from the Radeon RX 5700.
AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
Best for 1080p Gaming
GPU: RDNA (Navi 10) | Core Clock: 1,615 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 | TDP: 150 watts
AMD’s Radeon RX 5600 XT, specifically the Sapphire Pulse OC model we tested, impressed in our performance tests. It easily bested the performance of our previous pick in this spot, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super, and even performed a bit better than Nvidia’s more-costly (even after price drops) reference RTX 2060, while using less power.
AMD positions this card as the ultimate in 1080p performance. And in our testing most games (save a couple of the most-demanding) ran at or above 60 fps at ultra or maximum settings. If you’re willing to dial down some settings, the RX 5600 XT can also serve as a capable card for 1440p gaming, although the RX 5700 will give you extra oomph on that front.
AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)
Best Budget GPU
GPU: Ellesmere | Core Clock: 1,206 MHz | Video RAM: 4GB GDDR5 | TDP: 150 watts
There’s been lots of turmoil in the budget gaming card space over the last couple years, despite a general lack of substantively new hardware. For a long time, the crypto-ming craze kept AMD’s RX 570 card priced high (and often made it hard to find in stock), keeping it out of our budget considerations. But now that’s over and an abundance of AMD cards has pushed the price of the 2017-era RX 570 (itself a re-work of 2016’s RX 470) down to around $130 (£127) and up for 4GB models. That makes AMD’s card easy to recommend over our previous recommendation, the 3GB GTX 1050, which currently sells for about $30 (£20) more.
The Radeon RX 570 appeals specifically to folks gunning for high-detail gaming at 1920x1080 (1080p), who don’t have the budget to step up to an RX 580. That said, with 8GB RX 580s often dipping below the $200 (£154) mark these days, AMD’s stepped-up card is arguably a better buy. That’s particularly true for those looking for long-term gaming performance at 1080p or interested in experimenting with high-resolution texture packs. The additional 4GB of memory will likely become increasingly important in future memory-hungry titles, making the RX 580 a card with more gaming performance longevity.