Your computer's graphics card or GPU is the most important component when it comes to determining gaming performance (followed by the CPU). To help you choose the right graphics card for your rig, we thoroughly review and stress test all the major cards, ranking each platform in our GPU hierarchy. Below, we publish our list of specific make and model recommendations.
AMD fans, or those just looking for some high-end competition for the likes of Nvidia's RTX 2070 Super and above, note that Team Red's CEO, Lisa Su recently stated that higher-end Navi-based cards are "on track," and that the company will "have a rich 7nm portfolio beyond the products that we have currently announced in the upcoming quarters." So it seems likely that we can expect a fairly wide Navi product stack, from mainstream parts to replacing the aging (bordering on ancient) Polaris architecture, to enthusiast cards that are significantly more powerful than the current Radeon RX 5700XT. It looks like Nvidia will soon have more and better competition on the GPU front than it's had in years.
In recent weeks, while things have been somewhat quiet on the GPU hardware front, we've seen the launch of a few high-profile games, like Control and Borderlands 3. If you're wondering how the former performs, we've investigated how Control runs on integrated graphics, as well as several high-end graphics cards.
Quick 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 top-of-the-line to game at 1080p.
- PSU: Make sure that your power supply has enough juice and the right 6 or 8-pin connector. For example, AMD recommends a 750-watt PSU for the Radeon VII.
- Video Memory: We recommend at least a 4GB card for 1920x1080 and 2560x1440 (QHD resolution) play at the highest quality settings and at least 8GB of memory for 3840 x 2160 (4K resolution).
- FreeSync or G-Sync? Either variable refresh rate technology will synchronize your GPU's frame rate with your screen's refresh rate. If your monitor supports AMD's FreeSync anti-tearing tech, you need a Radeon card. G-Sync-capable displays require Nvidia GeForce cards to do their magic, although you can now run G-Sync on some FreeSync monitors.
Best Graphics Cards for Gaming
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Best Overall / 4K (When Price is No Object)
Rating: 4.5 / 5 (Editor's Choice)
GPU: Turing (TU102) | Core Clock: 1,350 MHz | Video RAM: 11GB GDDR5X | TDP: 260 watts
Pros: Smooth performance at 4K, High Settings • Packed with future-looking tech • Great thermal solution supports boost clocks
Cons: Price is out of reach for most users
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the first card we’ve tested 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. That said, Nvidia's recent driver release unlocks ray tracing support on non-RTX cards. So if you have a capable previous-generation Pascal (10-series) card, you can at least try out those snazzy lighting and shadow effects.
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 (£1,100/$1,900 AU)-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. Both the GTX 1080 Ti, and the one-step-down RTX 2080 are capable of smooth UHD gaming, providing you’re willing to switch off a few settings.
Note that we've also tested Nvidia's RTX Titan. It's a more powerful card based around the same silicon as the RTX 2080 Ti, with more memory. But it's not significantly faster than the RTX 2080 Ti, not aimed specifically at gamers, and it's priced at $2,500 (£2,400). The Titan runs games very well, but we don't recommend buying it strictly for gaming purposes.
Read Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
Best for VR Gaming
Rating: 4 / 5
GPU: Turing (TU104) | Core Clock: 1,605 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 215 watts
Pros: Better-than-2070 performance without the Founders Edition tax • A GeForce RTX 2080-sized cooler and trimmed-down TU104 processor translate to higher operating clock rates, slower-spinning fans, and lower operating temperatures • Excellent build quality with no perceptible coil whine
Cons: Not quite fast enough for smooth performance at 4K with details maxed out
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.
Previously, we recommended the GeForce RTX 2070 in this position. But the 2070 Super’s introduction gives you almost 13%-faster average frame rates across our benchmark suite. What’s more, Nvidia’s own implementation of the 2070 Super is no longer saddled by a so-called “Founders Edition tax.” You can now find it for $500. More performance at a lower price? Sign us up.
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. If you’re looking for even more performance future-proofing, consider waiting for the GeForce RTX 2080 Super, which should be available by the end of July for $700—a $100 discount compared to the outgoing GeForce RTX 2080 Founders Edition.
Read Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
AMD Radeon RX 5700
3. AMD Radeon RX 5700 (8GB)
Best for 2K Gaming
Rating: 4 / 5
GPU: RDNA (Navi 10) | Core Clock: 1,465 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 185 watts
Pros: Roughly 11% faster than GeForce RTX 2060, on average, through our benchmark suite • Much better acoustics than past AMD reference cards • Performance per watt metrics are on par with Turing-based competition
Cons: No ray tracing acceleration • Higher power consumption than GeForce RTX 2060 • 1AMD’s fan curve is either deliberately optimized to allow high temperatures or in need of a fix
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 $350 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.
If AMD’s blower-style coolers aren’t your cup of GPU tea, hold tight for an incoming wave of partner boards sporting axial fans. We’re frankly fine with the design the way it is. Exhausting waste heat from your case should be seen as a good thing. Moreover, the reference design is much quieter than AMD’s previous in-house efforts.
Read Review: AMD Radeon RX 5700
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AMD Radeon RX 580
4. AMD Radeon RX 580 (8GB)
Best for 1080p Gaming
GPU: Polaris 10 (GCN 4.0) | Core Clock: 1,411 MHz | Video RAM: 4GB/8GB GDDR5 | TDP: 185 watts
Pros: Smooth frame rates at 1920 x 1080 • Low power consumption with multiple monitors • Available in both 4GB and 8GB capacities
Cons: Higher power consumption than Radeon RX 480
AMD’s Radeon RX 580 is based on the same Polaris 10 GPU as the Radeon RX 480 that preceded it. AMD simply dialed in higher clock rates to improve performance. While we’re always appreciative of higher frame rates, this also had the side-effect of increasing power consumption. Still, Radeon RX 580 generally outperforms the similarly-priced GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, particularly in DirectX 12 games, earning it a spot on our list.
The newer AMD Radeon RX 590 that debuted in late 2018 is yet another refresh of the same Polaris GPU, which bumps up performance compared to the competing Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. But better performance comes at the cost of higher power consumption, necessitating larger coolers that sometimes chew up three expansion slots on your motherboard. Factor in a $279 (£240, $480 AU) MSRP and AMD’s newer card becomes tough to recommend when so many similar-performing RX 580s are still available for significantly less money.
Read Review: AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB
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AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)
5. AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)
Best Budget GPU
Rating: 3.5 / 5
GPU: Ellesmere | Core Clock: 1,206 MHz | Video RAM: 4GB GDDR5 | TDP: 150 watts
Pros: Slightly faster than Radeon RX 470, excellent 1080p performance • AMD maintains competitive pricing • Ample memory (4GB GDDR5) proves valuable in comparisons to GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
Cons: Less-capable thermal solutions than Radeon RX 580 • Little overclocking headroom • Confusion caused by re-branding existing hardware
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.
Read Review: AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB
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All GPUs Ranked
We've tested all the current AMD and Nvidia GPUs and ranked them in order of performance, from best to worst.
|Nvidia Titan RTX||100||TU102||1350/1770 MHz||24GB GDDR6||280W|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti||98.4||TU102||1350/1635 MHz||11GB GDDR6||260W|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080||96.1||TU104||1515/1800 MHz||8GB GDDR6||225W|
|Nvidia Titan Xp||96.0||GP102||1405/1480 MHz||12GB GDDR5X||250W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti||96.0||GP102||1480/1582 MHz||11GB GDDR5X||250W|
|AMD Radeon VII||92.4||Vega 20||1400/1750 MHz||16GB HBM2||300W|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070||87.2||TU106||1410/1710 MHz||8GB GDDR6||185W|
|AMD Radeon RX Vega 64||84.4||Vega 10||1274/1546 MHz||8GB HBM2||180W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080||84.3||GP104||1607/1733 MHz||8GB GDDR5X||295W||
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti||78.5||GP104||1607/1683 MHz||8GB GDDR5||180W|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060||77.5||TU106||1365/1680 MHz||6GB GDDR6||160W|
|AMD Radeon RX Vega 56||76.7||Vega 10||1156/1471 MHz||8GB HBM2||210W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti||71.4||TU116||1365/1680 MHz||6GB GDDR6||120W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070||69.9||GP104||1506/1683 MHz||8GB GDDR5||150W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660||~||TU116||1530/1785 MHz||6GB GDDR5||120W|
|AMD Radeon RX 590 8GB||60.7||Polaris 30||1469/1545 MHz||8GB GDDR5||225W|
|AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB||57.9||Polaris 10||1257/1340 MHz||8GB GDDR5||185W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB||53.2||GP106||1506/1708 MHz||6GB GDDR5||120W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB||49.4||GP106||1506/1708 MHz||3GB GDDR5||120W|
|AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB||48.3||Polaris 10||1168/1244 MHz||4GB GDDR5||150W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||33.1||GP107||1290/1392 MHz||4GB GDDR5||75W|
|AMD Radeon RX 560||28.6||Polaris 11||1175/1275 MHz||4GB GDDR5||80W|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050||28.1||GP107||1354/1455 MHz||2GB GDDR5||75W|
|AMD Radeon RX 550||17.9||Polaris 12||1100/1183 MHz||4GB GDDR5||50W|
|Nvidia GeForce GT 1030||13.0||GP108||1228/1468 MHz||2GB GDDR5||30W|
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