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Best Graphics Cards for Gaming in 2022

The Best Graphics Cards: GeForce RTX 3080 FE
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The best graphics cards are the beating heart of any gaming PC, and everything else comes second. Without a powerful GPU pushing pixels, even the fastest CPU won't manage much. While no one graphics card will be right for everyone, we'll provide options for every budget and mindset below. Whether you're after the fastest graphics card, the best value, or the best card at a given price, we've got you covered.

Where our GPU benchmarks hierarchy ranks all of the cards based purely on performance, our list of the best graphics cards looks at the whole package. Price, availability, performance, features, and efficiency are all important, though the weighting becomes more subjective.

The best news right now is that the long, dark night of GPU shortages and horrible prices is coming to an end. Cryptocurrency mining profitability took a nosedive, and graphics card prices dropped another 6% on average last month. All of the major GPUs are now in stock at online stores, and most can be found at or below the official MSRPs.

We now have the Radeon RX 6950 XT, RX 6750 XT, RX 6650 XT and RX 6400 in our charts, along with Nvidia's RTX 3090 Ti and GTX 1630 — but no Arc A380 yet. Unfortunately, MSRPs on four of those (not the 6400) are higher than pre-existing cards, making them a somewhat questionable value, though retail prices are correcting pretty quickly now. We're also still waiting for Intel Arc Alchemist to arrive on desktops (in places besides China), which likely won't happen until September, while the latest Nvidia Ada rumors suggest a late Q3 launch — September or even October seems likely.

Graphics CardPerformanceDXR PerformanceValue — Online (MSRP)
GeForce RTX 3090 Ti (opens in new tab)2 — 167.41 — 96.312 — $1,610 ($2,000)
Radeon RX 6950 XT (opens in new tab)1 — 169.33 — 64.210 — $1,100 ($1,100)
GeForce RTX 3080 (opens in new tab)4 — 148.62 — 75.86 — $760 ($700)
Radeon RX 6800 XT (opens in new tab)3 — 153.74 — 53.18 — $690 ($650)
Radeon RX 6800 (opens in new tab)5 — 140.56 — 45.07 — $600 ($580)
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab)7 — 116.45 — 49.42 — $480 ($400)
Radeon RX 6700 XT (opens in new tab)6 — 121.98 — 34.65 — $450 ($480)
GeForce RTX 3060 (opens in new tab)9 — 90.27 — 36.74 — $385 ($330)
Radeon RX 6600 XT (opens in new tab)8 — 99.99 — 26.93 — $340 ($380)
Radeon RX 6600 (opens in new tab)10 — 85.311 — 22.41 — $255 ($330)
GeForce RTX 3050 (opens in new tab)11 — 66.410 — 25.89 — $320 ($250)
Radeon RX 6500 XT (opens in new tab)12 — 41.312 — 6.611 — $175 ($200)

Note: Prices on some of the graphics cards are still above MSRP, but prices have begun to drop rapidly. We previously used average prices from eBay, since that was about the only place you could buy many GPUs. We're now able to find every GPU at an online retailer (Amazon, Newegg, etc.), so we're showing those prices, along with the official launch MSRPs.

Our list now consists entirely of current generation cards. That's because prices have changed enough that they're the best deals available, unless you want to deal with buying used cards off eBay. We sorted the above list in order of performance, considering both regular and DXR performance, which is why the RTX 3080 ranks ahead of the RX 6800 XT. Our subjective rankings below also factor in price, power, and features adjusted by our own opinions. Others may offer a slightly different take, but any of the cards on this list are worth considering.

Best Graphics Cards for Gaming 2022

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. GeForce RTX 3080

Best Graphics Card Overall, for 4K and More

Specifications

GPU: Ampere (GA102)
GPU Cores: 8704
Boost Clock: 1,710 MHz
Video RAM: 10GB GDDR6X 19 Gbps
TBP: 320 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent performance
+
Good bang for the buck
+
Can do 4K ultra at 60 fps or more

Reasons to avoid

-
Prices remain above MSRP
-
Requires 320W or more power
-
Overkill for 1080p displays

Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 sports Nvidia's latest Ampere architecture. It's over 30% faster than the previous gen 2080 Ti, and supposedly costs $500 less. When we tested the new RTX 3080 Ti, it didn't manage to supplant the incumbent, thanks to its significantly higher pricing. However, do keep an eye out for the RTX 3080 12GB cards, which at present seems to carry about a $50 price premium — a premium well worth paying in our book.

If you're serious about maxing out all the graphics settings and you want to play at 4K or 1440p, this is the card to get. It's mostly overkill for 1080p gaming, unless you're running the latest ray tracing games, in which case DLSS support should also help performance. If you skipped the first round of RTX GPUs, the RTX 30-series might finally get you you on board the ray tracing train. With potentially double the ray tracing performance of Turing, the RTX 3080 is your best bet at playing games in all their ray traced glory without nuking the piggy bank.

Ampere also brings improved tensor cores for DLSS, a technology that continues to proliferate among recent game releases. Nvidia's RT and DLSS performance are also quite a bit faster than what you get from AMD's new RX 6000 cards, which is a good thing as Nvidia sometimes falls behind in traditional rasterization performance. AMD offers the universal FSR 2.0 as an alternative to DLSS, but so far it's only in a handful of games.

Prices on the RTX 3080 have been extremely inflated for most of the past two years, but things are getting down to reasonable levels now. We typically can find cards for around $800, sometimes including the 12GB variant. It's not necessarily the best value, but this remains our best pick for a fast GPU right now.

Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Review (opens in new tab)

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Radeon RX 6800 XT

Best AMD GPU, Forget About DLSS

Specifications

GPU: Navi 21 XT
GPU Cores: 4608
Boost Clock: 2,250 MHz
Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 16 Gbps
TBP: 300 watts

Reasons to buy

+
RDNA2 architecture provides excellent performance
+
Easily handles 4K and 1440p
+
Lots of VRAM for the future

Reasons to avoid

-
FSR 2.0 needs wider adoption
-
Weaker ray tracing performance
-
Still overpriced

AMD's Radeon RX 6800 XT is the best card for Team Red. The RX 6800 XT provides a massive boost in performance and features relative to the previous generation RX 5700 XT, as well as adding ray tracing support (via DirectX Raytracing or VulkanRT). In our testing, the RX Radeon 6900 XT is technically about 5-7 percent faster, but it theoretically costs 54 percent more. That's not a great deal, especially since you don't get more VRAM or any other extras. Do pay attention to the current online prices, however, as the 6900 only costs about $100 extra and might be worth the spend right now.

The Navi 21 GPU was affectionately dubbed 'Big Navi' prior to launch by the enthusiast community, and we got exactly what we wanted. It's over twice the size of the previous generation Navi 10, with twice the shader cores and twice the RAM. Clock speeds are also boosted into the 2.1-2.4 GHz range (depending on the card model), and AMD did all this without substantially increasing power requirements: The RX 6800 XT has a 300W TBP, slightly lower than the RTX 3080's 320W TBP.

A big part of AMD's performance comes thanks to the massive 128MB Infinity Cache. It improves the effective bandwidth by 119%, according to AMD. We're confident that few if any games in the coming years are going to need more than 16GB, so the 6800 XT is in a great position in that area.

What's not to like? The ray tracing performance is mediocre. Maybe it's because DXR games are more likely to be optimized for Nvidia's RTX GPUs, but overall the 6800 XT comes in slightly behind the RTX 3070 in ray tracing performance, and there are several games where it falls behind by up to 25%. And that's without turning on DLSS, which even in Quality mode can improve performance of RTX cards by 20-40% (sometimes more). AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution can help, but it's not as widely used and doesn't match the quality of DLSS. FSR 2.0 helps to change that, but only three games using the tech are currently out.

Price and availability aren't great, but at least the RX 6800 XT can now be found online for under $800. That only about $30 less than the RTX 3080, which we prefer thanks to its improved feature set.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT Review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Fastest Graphics Card, Great for Creators

Specifications

GPU: Ampere (GA102)
GPU Cores: 10752
Boost Clock: 1,860 MHz
Video RAM: 24GB GDDR6X 21 Gbps
TBP: 450 watts

Reasons to buy

+
The fastest GPU, period
+
4K and maybe even 8K gaming
+
24GB is great for content creation workloads
+
DLSS continues to see good adoption rates

Reasons to avoid

-
Over twice the cost of the 3080 for 20–30% more performance
-
Extreme power requirements
-
Titan price without Titan enhancements
-
Nvidia's Ada architecture is coming

For some, the best graphics card is the fastest card, pricing be damned! Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3090 Ti caters to this category of user. At more than double the official starting price of the RTX 3080, performance is only moderately better (20-30%) in most workloads. It's also only 5–10% faster than the previous RTX 3090, with an even higher MSRP. But looking at online prices, the 3090 Ti may only cost a couple hundred more than a 3090, and who are we kidding: Anyone seriously considering either of these probably doesn't need to worry about a few Benjamins.

The RTX 3090 Ti will reign as Nvidia's top GPU until the next generation Nvidia Ada Lovelace GPUs arrive. It sports a complete GA102 chip with 84 SMs, so there's no room or time for a new Titan card. Nvidia has said as much as well, that the 3090 Ti brings Titan-class performance and features (specifically the 24GB VRAM) into the GeForce brand. If you simply must have the fastest graphics card available, the RTX 3090 Ti isn't likely to be surpassed until this fall.

It's not just about gaming, of course. The RTX 3090 Ti has NVLink support, which is arguably more useful for professional apps and GPU compute than SLI. The 24GB of GDDR6X memory is also helpful in a variety of content creation applications. Blender for example frequently showed 35% higher performance compared to the 3080, and over twice the performance of the Titan RTX. Just watch out for lower than expected performance in some of the SPECviewperf apps, where the Titan RTX has additional features turned on in its drivers that aren't enabled for GeForce cards. (You'll need the even more expensive Nvidia RTX A6000 for the full professional driver suite.)

AMD's RX 6950 XT challenges the RTX 3090 Ti in traditional rasterization performance and wins in a few SPECviewperf tests. But if you want the absolute fastest graphics card right now, Nvidia wins, especially if you run games with ray tracing and DLSS enabled. Just don't be surprised when Nvidia's next-generation extreme GPUs arrive and make the 3090 Ti look like lukewarm gravy.

Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti Review

Asus Radeon RX 6700 XT ROG Strix (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Radeon RX 6700 XT

Excellent Performance at a Reasonable Price

Specifications

GPU: Navi 22
GPU Cores: 2560
Boost Clock: 2581 MHz
Video RAM: 12GB GDDR6 16 Gbps
TBP: 230 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Great 1080p and 1440p performance
+
Plenty of VRAM
+
Excelling price to performance ratio

Reasons to avoid

-
Weaker RT performance
-
FSR can't defeat DLSS
-
Incoming RDNA2 refresh

Start with the Navi 21 GPU and then cut down the various functional units to create a smaller die that can sell at lower prices and you have AMD's Navi 22 and the RX 6700 XT. The RX 6750 XT is basically the same GPU, with a slight boost to clock speeds, memory speeds, and power consumption — about 5% faster overall, but with a 10% price hike. The 6700 XT has the same number of GPU cores as the previous generation RX 5700 XT, but significantly higher clock speeds and more cache give it about a 25% boost to performance (at higher settings and resolutions, at least).

When we tested AMD's RX 6700 XT, it hit clock speeds in excess of 2.5GHz during gaming sessions — and that's at stock, on the reference card. With some tuning and overclocking, we were able to hit speeds of 2.7-2.8GHz, still without cooking the GPU. That's very impressive, and factory overclocked cards can push even higher clocks, though they also cost more.

In our performance testing, the RX 6700 XT traded blows with the RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti. It's a bit faster than the latter, and a bit slower than the former, so the going price of around $480 is reasonable. Still, if we include pretty much any games with DLSS or ray tracing, the 6700 XT comes in behind the 3060 Ti and almost looks like a 3060 competitor.

This card has moved up in our overall rankings thanks to its excellent online prices. It's currently available at prices starting just below the official MSRP, and it costs about $50 less than the cheapest RTX 3060 Ti while delivering comparable performance. Keep an eye on the newer RX 6750 XT as well, as it could end up being a better option if prices continue to drop.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review (opens in new tab)
AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT review (opens in new tab)

Best Graphics Cards: EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC

EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 XC (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. GeForce RTX 3060

Great Bang for the Buck Without Breaking the Bank

Specifications

GPU: Ampere (GA106)
GPU Cores: 3840
Boost Clock: 1,777 MHz
Video RAM: 12GB GDDR6 15 Gbps
TBP: 170 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Good 1080p/1440p performance
+
Plenty of VRAM for the future
+
Great value now

Reasons to avoid

-
Tied with the old RTX 2070
-
12GB of limited benefit
-
Only 192-bit bus

As we approach the lowest end of the price and performance ladder with Nvidia's desktop Ampere lineup, the cuts to processing power may have gone too far. This is the first GA106 card, with a 192-bit memory interface and 12GB VRAM, which is quite a bit better than the RTX 3050 but still a big step down from GA104. With 26% fewer GPU cores compared to the 3060 Ti, and less memory bandwidth, overall performance is only on the level of the RTX 2070.

So, two and a half years later, you can now match a $500 graphics card with a $330 alternative. Unfortunately, demand still surpasses supply, and the cheapest RTX 3060 cards typically go for around $400. Still, given the performance we saw in our testing, the RTX 3060 delivers a great overall value, factoring in ray tracing and DLSS performance.

VRAM capacity isn't a problem, and there are a few instances where the 3060 starts to close the gap with the 3060 Ti. It never quite gets there, however, and the 3060 Ti may be the better choice if you can find one at a reasonable price. At present, it's a $125 jump to the 3060 Ti, making this or one of AMD's offerings a much better value.

On the other hand, discounting ray tracing and DLSS, in our testing the RTX 3060 ends up being roughly the same performance as AMD's RX 5700 XT, 18 months later. Not exactly something to set the world on fire, but then that's typical of mainstream parts. With DXR and DLSS, however, the 3060 can even trade blows with AMD's RX 6800.

Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Review (opens in new tab)

Best Graphics Cards: AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT

ASRock Radeon RX 6600 XT Phantom Gaming OC (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Good Mainstream Performance, Weak RT

Specifications

GPU: Navi 23
GPU Cores: 2048
Boost Clock: 2,589MHz
Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 16 Gbps
TBP: 160 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Faster than 3060 and RX 5700 XT
+
Power efficient design
+
Good 1080p performance
+
Actually available at MSRP

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 8GB VRAM on a 128-bit bus
-
Poor ray tracing performance
-
Expensive for 1080p

AMD's answer to the RTX 3060, sort of, comes via the Navi 23 architecture. Normally, we'd expect a 32 CU variant of Navi 22, dubbed the RX 6700 non-XT, but AMD trimmed CU counts, memory interface width, and Infinity Cache sizes to get a smaller and less expensive chip that still performs well. (Note that the Radeon RX 6700 now apparently exists, with 10GB of VRAM.)

Performance ends up slightly above the previous gen RX 5700 XT, which is impressive considering the memory bus has been cut in half to just 128 bits. There's understandable concern with the 8GB of VRAM, however, and there are certainly cases where the RTX 3060 ends up as the better choice. Still, it's surprising how much even a 32MB Infinity Cache seems to boost performance, when you look at the memory bandwidth. This is basically a chip that's smaller than Navi 10, built on the same TSMC N7 node, and it delivers 10–15% better framerates at 1080p.

There are instances where it struggles, however, ray tracing being a big one. Several games that we tested with DXR (DirectX Raytracing) support couldn't even do 20 fps at 1080p. Nvidia's RTX 3060 was about twice as fast, without using DLSS, and typically over 50% faster with DLSS Quality mode. FSR doesn't really fix that, either, since it provides a similar boost in performance to both AMD and Nvidia — and even Intel — GPUs. After delivering impressive amounts of VRAM on the other Big Navi chips, the RX 6600 XT feels like a letdown.

The $379 starting point for a GPU that's ostensibly a replacement to the previous generation RX 5600 XT ($279 launch price) doesn't garner any goodwill. However, in these days of overpriced graphics cards, you can now find the Radeon RX 6600 XT starting at $350! The new Radeon RX 6650 XT only provides a small 5% bump in performance coupled to a 14% bump in price, so we'd give that a pass for now.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT Review

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

7. GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Good for 1440p Gaming

Specifications

GPU: Ampere (GA104)
GPU Cores: 4864
Boost Clock: 1,665 MHz
Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps
TBP: 200 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Beats the 2080 Super for $300 less
+
Good overall value (fps/$)
+
Great for RT at 1440p with DLSS

Reasons to avoid

-
Still overpriced at present
-
4K is a a stretch even with DLSS
-
8GB might not be enough VRAM long term

When we tested the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, we felt it might be the best of the bunch for Nvidia's Ampere GPUs. It has all the same features as the other 30-series GPUs, with a starting price of just $399. In theory, of course, as it naturally sold out just as quickly as all the other new graphics cards. Thing have improved, however, and the lowest price we can find right now is down to around $525 — which is still $125 more than MSRP. <Sigh>

The 3060 Ti beat the previous gen 2080 Super in our testing, winning in every game we ran. It's also only about 9 percent slower than the RTX 3070 but costs 20 percent less. If you're still sitting on an older GTX 1070 or RX Vega 56, the 3060 Ti is up to twice as fast — sometimes even more, in the latest games.

The only real concern is the lack of VRAM. 8GB is mostly enough, for now, but some games are starting to push beyond that threshold. Of course you can drop the texture quality a notch, and you might not even notice the difference, but deep down inside you'll feel regret. (Not really — high settings often look indistinguishable from ultra settings.)

AMD's RX 6600 and RX 6600 XT give the 3060 Ti some stiff competition, however. Nvidia's part is still faster, particularly in ray tracing games, but the RX 6600 XT currently sells for about $175 less than the 3060 Ti, and the RX 6600 drops prices below the $300 barrier.

Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Best Overall Value

Specifications

GPU: Navi 23
GPU Cores: 1792
Boost Clock: 2,491 MHz
Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps
TBP: 132 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Power efficient
+
Runs 1080p max settings and 60fps
+
Typically costs less than MSRP

Reasons to avoid

-
Not good for ray tracing
-
Can't match the RTX 3060
-
Only 8GB VRAM

The Radeon RX 6600 takes everything good about the 6600 XT and then scales it back slightly. It's about 15% slower overall, just a bit behind the RTX 3060 as well, but in our testing it was still 30% faster than the RTX 3050. We're also seeing the cards in stock and on sale, starting at $290 for this Sapphire RX 6600 Pulse (opens in new tab) (after $20 rebate).

That's quite a bit less than AMD's official $329 MSRP, which felt somewhat high at launch — not that we ever saw those prices in meaningful quantities until recently. But with cards shipping at or below MSRP, this represents the market's best overall bang for the buck.

Budget to midrange graphics cards are a competitive arena, and the RX 6600 has to compete against both the new RTX 30-series as well as the previous generation RTX 20-series. It ended up delivering near-RTX 2070 performance, at least in non-ray tracing scenarios. With ray tracing enabled, however, it struggled badly, barely averaging 30 fps in our DXR test suite at 1080p medium.

If you're not worried about ray tracing, the RX 6600 definitely warrants a look. AMD's Infinity Cache does wonders for what otherwise looks like a somewhat underpowered GPU, and the card only needs about 130W, far less than competing GPUs.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6600 Review

Sapphire Radeon RX 6950 XT Nitro+ Pure (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
AMD's Fastest GPU, Still Expensive

Specifications

GPU: Navi 21 XTX
GPU Cores: 5120
Boost Clock: 2310 MHz
Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 18 Gbps
TBP: 335 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent overall performance
+
Lots of VRAM and Infinity Cache
+
Fastest in non-RT workloads
+
Good SPECviewperf results

Reasons to avoid

-
High starting MSRP
-
Slower than Nvidia in RT performance
-
RDNA 3 coming later this year

The RX 6950 XT currently represents the ultimate performance from the RDNA2 architecture, surpassing the old RX 6900 XT by about 9% on average. AMD set the MSRP at a rather high $1,099 at launch, but we're already seeing cards selling below that mark. The RX 6950 and 6900 XT are basically the same GPU, but with faster 18Gbps GDDR6 on the 6950 along with a higher power limit and slightly higher GPU clocks.

The RX 6950 XT boasts slightly more GPU cores than the RX 6800 XT, and combined with the difference in clock speeds the 6950 XT is about 15% faster overall. However, the 6950 XT costs about 40% more, while the 6900 XT goes for about $200 less, so opting for AMD's penultimate GPU over the top card isn't a terrible idea.

In terms of standard gaming performance, the RX 6950 XT ranks as the fastest GPU around at 1080p and 1440p, but falls behind at 4K. The usual caveats about lower ray tracing performance and the lack of DLSS support apply as well, and while FSR 2.0 looks good, it's not widely supported by games yet whereas over 200 games and applications have already adopted DLSS. If you want the best DXR/RT experience right now, Nvidia still wins — not that you need ray tracing to enjoy games.

Those who just want the fastest AMD GPU will find plenty to like with the 6950 XT. It's not a revolution compared to the existing RX 6900 XT, but we didn't expect it to be. The bigger concern is the upcoming RDNA 3 GPU launch, which should happen before the end of 2022. Early rumors might be fantasy land, but in general we'd expect a 40–50% improvement in performance compared to the existing GPUs. Waiting another six months (or less) to see how things turn out makes a lot more sense than upgrading to the 6950 XT at this late stage in the RDNA 2 life cycle.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT review (opens in new tab)
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

10. Radeon RX 6800

Great 1440p Graphics Card, Okay Ray Tracing

Specifications

GPU: Navi 21 XL
GPU Cores: 3840
Boost Clock: 2105 MHz
Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 16 Gbps
TBP: 250 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent overall performance
+
Lots of VRAM and Infinity Cache
+
Easily beats the 3070 in non-RT

Reasons to avoid

-
Middling RT performance
-
FSR 2.0 support lags behind DLSS
-
Not much cheaper than 6800 XT

Take everything great about the Navi 21 GPU that powers the 6800 XT, then trim it by about 10–15% and you get the vanilla RX 6800. You still get the full 16GB GDDR6 and 128MB Infinity Cache, but only 96 ROPs, fewer GPU cores, and lower clock speeds. It's a reasonable compromise, but we think the 6800 XT is the better option overall.

Right now the RX 6800 starts at $655 online, about $120 less than the 6800 XT and a bit more than the RTX 3070 Ti. The RX 6800 puts up a good showing against Nvidia's RTX 3070 Ti, winning the non-ray tracing benchmark suite in our testing. However, the Nvidia GPU was 35% faster in our ray tracing benchmarks, not even accounting for the additional 20–50% DLSS Quality mode can prove.

AMD's FSR 2.0 as a DLSS alternative could help long-term, but the current FSR 1.0 is more about improving performance than image quality. Running at a lower resolution, or using Nvidia Image Scaling or AMD RIS will give you similar performance gains and quality. While FSR 1.0 has been used in over 50 games, FSR 2.0 is still in its infancy.

We'd grab an RX 6800 more for the rasterization prowess and not worry so much about ray tracing. But really, we'd wait for prices to get down to reasonable levels, like $600 or less for this particular card. Hopefully that will happen in the next month or two, but the future RDNA 3 and Ada architectures are slated to arrive not long after.

Read: AMD Radeon RX 6800 review (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Nvidia)
Good 1080p Graphics With DXR and DLSS

Specifications

GPU: Turing (TU116)
GPU Cores: 2560
Boost Clock: 1,777 MHz
Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps
TBP: 130 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Available at decent prices
+
Nearly "Budget" RT and DLSS
+
Still provides 8GB VRAM

Reasons to avoid

-
Slower than the RTX 2060
-
Not much cheaper than RX 6600
-
20% or more markup right now

Nvidia tried to create a "budget" RTX 30-series card with its GeForce RTX 3050, though the $250 recommended price still puts it firmly in the mainstream category. It's also selling at $300 or more right now, which is better than the launch prices but not as low as we'd like to see, considering it ended up being 7% slower than the previous generation RTX 2060 in our testing. Still, we'd rather pay for an RTX card than plunk down a similar amount of cash for a GeForce GTX 1660 Super (opens in new tab) or RX 5500 XT 8GB (opens in new tab) (note that you can find better prices for those on eBay if you're willing to buy a used GPU).

We've done the testing (see below) and the RTX 3050 was about 15% faster than a GTX 1660 Super, plus it can legitimately run ray tracing games and it also supports DLSS. That's more than we can say for AMD's RX 6500 XT, which probably should have skipped RT support in exchange for more VRAM and bandwidth. On the other hand, AMD's RX 6600 (above) was 30% faster in standard games and only 13% slower in DXR games, while costing $25 less than the cheapest 3050 we can find right now.

The biggest problem is that $300 or more is still a lot to pay for mainstream levels of performance, and we wouldn't be surprised to see prices drop another 20% or more by the end of the summer (assuming the improving supply doesn't get derailed). AMD offers a better option for those that don't care about ray tracing and DLSS, so this is strictly for people that prefer to stick with Nvidia, even if the performance on tap isn't that compelling.

Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Budget Gaming for Under $200

Specifications

GPU: Navi 24
GPU Cores: 1024
Boost Clock: 2,815 MHz
Video RAM: 4GB GDDR6 18 Gbps
TBP: 107 watts

Reasons to buy

+
Handles 1080p medium
+
Actually affordable
+
Current generation architecture

Reasons to avoid

-
4GB VRAM is limiting
-
Only two video ports
-
x4 PCIe link
-
Still needs a 6-pin power connector
-
Terrible RT performance
-
Outdated video codec hardware

The budget realm of GPUs often ends up going to older hardware, but the Radeon RX 6500 XT at least uses AMD's RDNA 2 GPU. Except, the Navi 24 chips really got cut down on the chopping block, with only a 64-bit memory interface, 16MB Infinity Cache, an x4 PCIe link, older video codec support, and only two display outputs. That's a lot of potentially interesting features that got hacked off.

Still, if price is your driving concern, the RX 6500 XT starts at $175, which makes it less expensive than most other options. We'd encourage most gamers to try saving up for the RTX 3050 or RX 6600, as they're both substantially better, and performance on the 6500 XT can't quite match the GTX 1650 Super. But right now, the only place to buy a 1650 Super without overpaying is on eBay.

With supplies on previous generation GPUs seemingly not improving, the RX 6500 XT mostly wins our budget recommendation by default. We'd much rather have a GTX 1660 series card, or even an RX 5500 XT 8GB, but we'd also prefer buying new hardware — buying a used graphics card represents a risk, with many miners likely offloading cards that have been used hard for the past two years.

Read: AMD Radeon RTX 6500 XT Review

How We Test the Best Graphics Cards

Tom's Hardware 2022 GPU Testbed

Determining pure graphics card performance is best done by eliminating all other bottlenecks — as much as possible, at least. Our 2022 graphics card testbed consists of a Core i9-12900K CPU, MSI Z690 DDR4 motherboard, 32GB Corsair DDR4-3600 CL16 memory, and Crucial P5 Plus 2TB SSD, with a Cooler Master PSU, case, and CPU cooler.

We test across the three most common gaming resolutions, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, using 'medium' and 'ultra' settings. Where possible, we use 'reference' cards for all of these tests, like Nvidia's Founders Edition models and AMD's reference designs. Most midrange and lower GPUs do not have reference models, however, and in some cases we only have factory overclocked cards for testing. We do our best to select cards that are close to the reference specs in such cases.

For each graphics card, we follow the same testing procedure. We run one pass of each benchmark to "warm up" the GPU after launching the game, then run at least two passes at each setting/resolution combination. If the two runs are basically identical (within 0.5% or less difference), we use the faster of the two runs. If there's more than a small difference, we run the test at least twice more to determine what "normal" performance is supposed to be.

We also look at all the data and check for anomalies, so for example RTX 3070 Ti, RTX 3070, and RTX 3060 Ti all generally going to perform within a narrow range — 3070 Ti is about 5% faster than 3070, which is about 5% faster than 3060 Ti. If we see games where there are clear outliers (i.e. performance is more than 10% higher for the cards just mentioned), we'll go back and retest whatever cards are showing the anomaly and figure out what the "correct" result would be.

Due to the length of time required for testing each GPU, updated drivers and game patches inevitably come out that can impact performance. We periodically retest a few sample cards to verify our results are still valid, and if not, we go through and retest the affected game(s) and GPU(s). We may also add games to our test suite over the coming year, if one comes out that is popular and conducive to testing — see our what makes a good game benchmark for our selection criteria.

Choosing Among the Best Graphics Cards

We've provided a dozen options for the best graphics cards, recognizing that there's plenty of potential overlap. The latest generation GPUs consist of Nvidia's Ampere architecture cards and AMD's RDNA2 architecture offerings, and the Intel Arc Alchemist GPUs should arrive in the next couple of months. Conveniently, Arc Alchemist, RDNA2, and Ampere all support the same general features (DirectX 12 Ultimate and ray tracing), though Arc and RTX cards also have additional tensor core hardware.

We've listed the best graphics cards that are available right now, along with their current online prices, which we track in our GPU prices guide. With many cards now only costing 25% more than MSRP, plenty of people seem ready to upgrade, and supply also looks to be improving. Whether that will continue until the next-gen GPUs arrive remains to be seen.

Our advice: Don't pay more today for yesterday's hardware. If you want an RTX 30-series or RX 6000-series graphics card, be patient and you'll eventually be able to buy one at close to the official MSRP. At this point, you might just give Ampere and RDNA2 a pass and wait for Ada and RDNA3.

If your main goal is gaming, you can't forget about the CPU. Getting the best possible gaming GPU won't help you much if your CPU is underpowered and/or out of date. So be sure to check out the Best CPUs for Gaming page, as well as our CPU Benchmark hierarchy to make sure you have the right CPU for the level of gaming you're looking to achieve.

Our current recommendations reflect the changing GPU market, factoring in all of the above details. The GPUs are ordered using subjective rankings, taking into account performance, price, features, and efficiency, so slightly slower cards may end up higher on our list.

Additional Shopping Tips

When buying a graphics card, consider the following:

• Resolution: The more pixels you're pushing, the more performance you need. You don't need a top-of-the-line GPU to game at 1080p.
• PSU: Make sure that your power supply has enough juice and the right 6- and/or 8-pin connector(s). For example, Nvidia recommends a 550-watt PSU for the RTX 3060, and you'll need at least an 8-pin connector and possibly a 6-pin PEG connector as well.
• Video Memory: A 4GB card is the minimum right now, 6GB models are better, and 8GB or more is strongly recommended. A few games can now use 12GB of VRAM, though they're the exception rather than the rule.
• FreeSync or G-Sync? Either variable refresh rate technology will synchronize your GPU's frame rate with your screen's refresh rate. Nvidia supports G-Sync and G-Sync Compatible displays (for recommendations, see our Best Gaming Monitors list), while AMD's FreeSync tech works with Radeon cards.
• Ray Tracing, DLSS, and FSR: The latest graphics cards support ray tracing, which can be used to enhance the visuals. DLSS provides intelligent upscaling and anti-aliasing to boost performance with similar image quality, but it's only on Nvidia RTX cards. AMD's FSR works on virtually any GPU and also provides upscaling and enhancement, but on a different subset of games.

Graphics Cards Performance Results

Our current test suite of games consists of eight titles. The data in the following charts is from testing conducted during the past several months. Only the fastest cards are tested at 1440p and 4K, but we do our best to test everything at 1080p medium and ultra.

AMD's FSR has now been out for about a year now, with FSR 2.0 having just launched. Nvidia's DLSS in contrast has been around for a few years and has decent uptake. None of the games in our core suite of benchmarks support FSR, so we're running at native resolution for all of these tests. We have a separate article looking at FSR and DLSS, and the bottom line is that DLSS improves performance with less compromise to image quality, but FSR works on any GPU. The newer FSR 2.0 does a lot to bridge the gap, but DLSS has a big lead in game support.

The charts below contain all the current generation RTX 30-series and RX 6000-series, plus previous generation GPUs where applicable (meaning, non-RT cards can't run our DXR benchmarks). Our GPU benchmarks hierarchy contains additional results for those who are interested, along with performance testing from our 2020-2021 suite running on a Core i9-9900K. The charts are color coded with AMD in red/grey and Nvidia in blue/black to make it easier to see what's going on.

The following charts are up to date as of August 1, 2022. All current generation and previous generation GPUs are included.

Best Graphics Cards — 1080p Medium

Best Graphics Cards — 1080p Ultra

Best Graphics Cards — 1440p Ultra

Best Graphics Cards — 4K Ultra

Best Graphics Cards — Power Consumption

Besides performance, we also test graphics card power consumption, clock speeds, fan speeds, and temperatures. We tested all current GPUs using Powenetics equipment and software, and while Nvidia generally had an efficiency lead on previous generation parts, AMD's RDNA2 GPUs now rate as the most efficient options in most cases. Here are the charts from our testing.

Finding Discounts on the Best Graphics Cards

With all the GPU shortages these days, you're unlikely to see huge sales on a graphics card, but you may find some savings by checking out the latest Newegg promo codes, Best Buy promo codes and Micro Center coupon codes.

Want to comment on our best graphics picks for gaming? Let us know what you think in the Tom's Hardware Forums.

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Jarred Walton
Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.