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.
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 (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
Nvidia RTX 2070
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
Best for VR Gaming
Rating: 3.5 / 5
GPU: Turing (TU106) | Core Clock: 1,410 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 | TDP: 185 watts
Pros: Faster than GTX 1080 • Quiet under load • Good cooling
Enthusiasts with VR headsets need to achieve a certain level of performance to avoid jarring artifacts. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 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.
While stock remained high for the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1080, keeping prices low, it was easy to recommend that card over newer RTX options. But now that’s no longer the case, and pricing for the RTX 2070 has occasionally slipped below the starting MSRP of $499 (£450, $800 AUD).
With more than enough pixel punch to handle smooth VR and prices generally below that of the older GTX 1080, the GeForce RTX 2070 is our new pick for VR. Those who want more performance future-proofing may also consider the GeForce RTX 2080, but with pricing for that card starting around $700 (£642, $1,120 AUD), the 2070 is easily a better value for a couple hundred dollars less.
Read Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
3. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB)
Best for 2K Gaming
Rating:4.5 / 5 (Editor's Choice)
GPU: Turing (TU116) | Core Clock: 1,500 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 | TDP: 120 watts
Pros: Great performance at 1920 x 1080 • Acceptable frame rates at 2560 x 1440 • Retains Turing's video encode/decode acceleration features • 120W board power compares favorably to AMD competition
Cons: No RT/Tensor cores mean you won't be able to try ray tracing or DLSS
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is the card to beat for high-refresh gaming at 1920 x 1080 and solid performance at 2560 x 1440 (1440p), delivering frame rates similar to the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1070.
Stepping up to the GeForce RTX 2060 will get you higher frame rates at 1440p, while also bringing the company’s Tensor/RT cores to the table. But with a tiny number of current games supporting those features, the 2060 doesn’t look as good in our performance-per-dollar charts, making the 1660 Ti a better value for most 1080p-plus gamers.
That said, if you have a high-refresh 2K screen and / or are particularly excited about what DLSS and ray tracing will bring to more games in the coming months and years, the RTX 2060 is worth paying the extra $70 (£50) or so for.
Read Review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB)
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
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
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||:button:|
|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||:button:|
|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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