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Best Graphics Cards for Gaming in 2019

Gold graphics card on RGB background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

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." Most recently, AMD made its mainstream Navi-based Radeon RX 5500 official, though we still don't know pricing or availability for the desktop version of this GPU. Perhaps AMD is waiting until after the launch of Nvidia's GTX 1650 Super and GTX 1660 Super before putting a price on its replacement for its ageing Polaris parts. But while we wait, recent mentions of Navi 22 and Navi 23 in a recent Linux driver (first spotted by 3DCenter forum veteran Berniyh) may (or may not) be our first glimpse of higher-end AMD GPUs that could compete with Nvidia's RTX 2080 Super and 2080 Ti.

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.

While we await new GPU hardware, 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. We also took a look at how Borderlands 3 works on various graphics cards. Also, we've tested Red Dead Redemption 2 on integrated AMD graphics to high-end Nvidia 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).

Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

Best Overall / 4K (When Price is No Object)

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Best Overall / 4K (When Price is No Object)

GPU: Turing (TU102) | Core Clock: 1,350 MHz | Video RAM: 11GB GDDR5X | TDP: 260 watts

Smooth performance at 4K, High Settings
Packed with future-looking tech
Great thermal solution supports boost clocks
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

MORE: Best Gaming CPUs


MORE: How to Buy the Right CPU

Best for VR Gaming

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Best for VR Gaming

GPU: Turing (TU104) | Core Clock: 1,605 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 215watts

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
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

MORE: Desktop GPU Performance Hierarchy Table


MORE: How to Buy the Right Graphics Card

Best for 2K Gaming

AMD Radeon RX 5700

AMD Radeon RX 5700

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

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
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

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

Best for 1080p Gaming

EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra

(Image credit: EVGA)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

Best for 1080p Gaming

GPU: Turing (TU116) | Core Clock: 1,530 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 | TDP: 125 watts

60-plus FPS at high settings on most games at 1920 x 1080
Relatively quiet
Better value than GTX 1660
EVGA card tested only has three display outputs

 

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super is quite the performer at 1080p, delivering at least 60 FPS with details set to Ultra. In a couple of our test titles, the card was well over 100 fps and could be used with a higher refresh rate 1080p monitor while still keeping all the eye candy enabled. Compared to the GTX 1660, the Super we tested was roughly 15% faster and just a couple of percent behind the Geforce GTX 1660 Ti overall. When including AMD video cards, Vega 56 is the closest SKU performance-wise, outperforming the 1660 Super by a bit over 5% while AMD’s Polaris-based RX 590s are around 15% slower across most titles. The Navi-based RX 5700 cards easily outperform the 1660 Super but also cost a lot more.

When adding price to the equation, the GTX 1660 is found for $225-plus on Newegg while the 1660 Ti is priced at $275 and up. The EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra we reviewed hit the scene at $229 with other partner cards priced higher. AMD’s Vega 56 is priced notably higher starting at $300 and above, with the RX 5700 at $330 plus, with both using more power than the GTX 1660 Super. The RX 590  has seen price drops and can now be found for $200 or more, but again, it is notably slower and more power-hungry. If you’re looking for a 60 fps+ card for 1080p gaming at a reasonable price, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super is the best option currently available, although we’re still waiting on performance details and pricing of AMD’s upcoming Radeon RX 5500

Read Review:  EVGA GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra

MORE: Best Motherboards

MORE: How To Choose A Motherboard

Best Budget GPU

AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)

AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)

AMD Radeon RX 570 (4GB)

Best Budget GPU

GPU: Ellesmere | Core Clock: 1,206 MHz | Video RAM: 4GB GDDR5 | TDP: 150 watts

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
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

MORE: Best CPU Cooling

MORE: How To Choose A CPU Cooler

All GPUs Ranked

We've tested all the current AMD and Nvidia GPUs and ranked them in order of performance, from best to worst.

ScoreGPUBase/BoostMemoryPowerBuy
Nvidia Titan RTX100TU1021350/1770 MHz24GB GDDR6280WTitan RTX
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti98.4TU1021350/1635 MHz11GB GDDR6260WTitan RTX
Nvidia GeForce RTX 208096.1TU1041515/1800 MHz8GB GDDR6225WGeForce RTX 2080
Nvidia Titan Xp96.0GP1021405/1480 MHz12GB GDDR5X250WTitan XP
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti96.0GP1021480/1582 MHz11GB GDDR5X250WMSI GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
AMD Radeon VII92.4Vega 201400/1750 MHz16GB HBM2300WRadeon VII
Nvidia GeForce RTX 207087.2TU1061410/1710 MHz8GB GDDR6185WRTX 2070
AMD Radeon RX Vega 6484.4Vega 101274/1546 MHz8GB HBM2180WGigabyte Radeon RX Vega 64
Nvidia GeForce GTX 108084.3GP1041607/1733 MHz8GB GDDR5X295WEVGA GeForce GTX 1080
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti78.5GP1041607/1683 MHz8GB GDDR5180WGeForce GTX 1070 Ti
Nvidia GeForce RTX 206077.5TU1061365/1680 MHz6GB GDDR6160WNvidia GeForce RTX 2060
AMD Radeon RX Vega 5676.7Vega 101156/1471 MHz8GB HBM2210WRadeon RX Vega 56
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti71.4TU1161365/1680 MHz6GB GDDR6120WGeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 107069.9GP1041506/1683 MHz8GB GDDR5150WMSI GTX 1070
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660~TU1161530/1785 MHz6GB GDDR5120WGeforce GTX 1660
AMD Radeon RX 590 8GB60.7Polaris 301469/1545 MHz8GB GDDR5225WRX 590
AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB57.9Polaris 101257/1340 MHz8GB GDDR5185WMSI Radeon RX 580 8GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB53.2GP1061506/1708 MHz6GB GDDR5120WNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB49.4GP1061506/1708 MHz3GB GDDR5120WGeForce GTX 1060 Gaming ACX 2.0
AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB48.3Polaris 101168/1244 MHz4GB GDDR5150WGigabyte Radeon RX 570
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti33.1GP1071290/1392 MHz4GB GDDR575WStrix GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
AMD Radeon RX 56028.6Polaris 111175/1275 MHz4GB GDDR580WPowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 560
Nvidia GeForce GTX 105028.1GP1071354/1455 MHz2GB GDDR575WGigabyte GeForce GTX 1050
AMD Radeon RX 55017.9Polaris 121100/1183 MHz4GB GDDR550WPowerColor Radeon RX 550
Nvidia GeForce GT 103013.0GP1081228/1468 MHz2GB GDDR530WGeForce GT 1030 2GB

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

MORE: HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which Is Better For Gaming?

  • abryant
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-3750429/graphics-cards-money.html
    Reply
  • markbanang
    Please don't give up on the GPU Performance Hierarchy Table. I see it's now been renamed "Legacy GPU Hierarchy", so I hope that doesn't mean you intend to stop updating it.

    For many years this table has been the single best resource for quickly comparing graphics cards. Detailed reviews are great for comparing cards within a category, but for quickly dismissing a card or prompting further research, there is nothing else on the web which compares to it. It would be a real shame for it to fall into neglect.
    Reply
  • somidiot
    Dang, what happened to the around $100 and under market? Does it all suck right now? Or have GPU's tied into the CPU advanced that much?
    Reply
  • dshumilak
    1070 Simple. Runs Well,, Can Hold A Very Large PUSH.
    Reply
  • dshumilak
    Oh and Remember don't run it on a xxxx CPU.

    <MODERATOR EDIT>

    TOM'S IS A FAMILY FRIENDLY WEBSITE ...
    PROFANITY IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN, AND IS A BANNING OFFENSE !!!

    WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE !
    Reply
  • spdragoo
    21334418 said:
    Please don't give up on the GPU Performance Hierarchy Table. I see it's now been renamed "Legacy GPU Hierarchy", so I hope that doesn't mean you intend to stop updating it.

    For many years this table has been the single best resource for quickly comparing graphics cards. Detailed reviews are great for comparing cards within a category, but for quickly dismissing a card or prompting further research, there is nothing else on the web which compares to it. It would be a real shame for it to fall into neglect.

    I think they're going to keep it...although I do wish they'd kept a 3rd column for Intel's integrated graphics (as well as the Vega-equipped Ryzen/Athlon chips).
    Reply
  • SR TEE
    If you want to do 4K gaming I'd hold off on the GTX 2080TI until AMD releases their RX 680 to see what it can do or save yourself some money and get the GTX 1080TI for $450 to $550 cheaper. $1200 is a total ouch for most people I personally know, but if you want the best at the moment and newest Ray Tracing tech(which there's no 100% guaranty it will catch on) and have the money to burn be my guest.

    Just my opinion and please feel free to disagree.

    Happy gaming all.
    Reply
  • imhassanpiracha
    ZOTAC 1070ti AMP Xtreme should make this list. It is going for around USD $420. Can be overclocked above 2000 MHZ easily. it is one of the most silent cards I have seen with lowest temps at full stress. IMO
    Reply
  • apk24
    21334887 said:
    Dang, what happened to the around $100 and under market? Does it all suck right now? Or have GPU's tied into the CPU advanced that much?

    The under $100 market has always sucked. If you're looking in that price range, look at buying a generation older cards used. A GTX 960 4GB performs in the neighborhood of a 1050/1050 Ti and can be had for around a 100 if you hunt around craigslist or ebay.
    Reply
  • suau
    1) The GTX 1050 3GB didn't earn a spot on this list.
    The RX 580 4GB consistenly beats the GTX1050 by a landslide (~20-50% FPS), costs 10$ less AND it comes with the newest Assassins Creed: Odyssey for free (50-60$ value and two other games).
    (PowerColor RED DRAGON Radeon RX 570 is 159.99$ Newegg link below)

    2) The RX 580 8GB is available for 50$ less than displayed here on the same retailer AND it comes with the newest Assassins Creed: Odyssey for free (and two other games).
    (PowerColor RED DEVIL Radeon RX 580 is 229.99$ Newegg link below)

    P.S. No I don't work for PowerColor, I picked the cheapest card with the free game bundles.

    3) Recommending any Nvidia card for the midrange is just plain wrong simply because of G-sync. The best improvement for any gaming machine is adding FreeSync or G-sync to eliminate tearing or avoiding V-sync, which most probably will drop your framerate to 30fps or even 15fps in newer games on those weaker cards.
    24in-1080p-144Hz-FreeSync monitors are available for less than 200$.
    24in-1080p-144Hz-G-sync monitors start around 350$.
    That's a 150$ difference that has to be considered.

    4) Even the not so midrange GTX 1070 isn't a clear winner, as the Vega 56 is in the same price range and has about the same performance, offers a free game bundle (60$+ value) and still has the FreeSync (150$) advantage. No one in their right mind will drop ~400$ on a graphics card and then play without FreeSync/G-sync.
    My take on this tier:
    Buy AMD Vega 56 if:
    - you want to get "Assassins Creed: Odyssey" anyways.
    - you already own a FreeSync monitor or will upgrade your monitor in the foreseeable future.
    - you don't have a monitor yet.
    - you do have a FreeSync TV or plan to buy one and enjoy playing controller/couch-games like Assassins Creed, retro emulators, Street Fighter, GTA, Batman, Dirt etc.
    Buy Nvidia GTX 1070 if:
    - you are upgrading your PC and your Power supply has less than 650W
    - you already own a G-sync monitor

    @chris_angelini
    Not sure if this was just lazy research or biased advice.

    Links:

    PowerColor RED DRAGON Radeon RX 570
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131717&cm_re=rx_570-_-14-131-717-_-Product

    PowerColor RED DEVIL Radeon RX 580
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131713&cm_re=RX_580-_-14-131-713-_-Product

    GTX 1050 3GB vs RX570 4GB:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7snPy5O48m0
    Reply