The best graphic cards for gaming?

By that, I mean the graphic cards that offer the best performance in video games at a given price.

I do realize that you may not have the time to read reviews and to understand graphic card specifications.

Why I write this guide for you: To help you save your time and money by doing the research for you.

This list is based on the best prices for graphic cards at NewEgg, Amazon and B&H on March 10th 2017.

March 2017 update: What’s new?

  • New highest performance king: The Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is the new most powerful gaming graphic card!
  • With the drop in price, the Radeon RX 460 is once again recommended
  • New, lower priced, Radeon RX 470 4GB recommendations
  • New, lower priced, Radeon RX 480 4GB recommendations
  • New, lower priced, Geforce GTX 1060 6GB recommendations
  • Price drop: Following the launch of the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, the prices on the Geforce GTX 1070 and 1080 have dropped!

Best Budget Graphic Cards:

Best Graphic Card For $55-70:

Geforce GT 730 1GB 64-bit GDDR5

– Get the PNY GeForce GT 730 from Amazon
– $59.99 – EVGA GeForce GT 730 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $59.99 – PNY GeForce GT 730 (Newegg)

The Geforce GT 730:

The Geforce GT 730, equipped with GDDR5 memory on a 64-bit wide memory bus, is pretty much unmatched performance wise at this price point.

I specifically recommend the PNY and EVGA Geforce GT 730, equipped with 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 64-bit wide memory bus. They offer what you want for the best performance on the Geforce GT 730: A 64-bit bus (models with a 128-bit bus have a significantly lower performance GPU) and GDDR5 (DDR3 significantly lowers performance).

Note that the GT 730 doesn’t need any additional power connector, it gets all the power that it needs from the PCI-Express 16x slot, so it’s a good choice if your PC’s power supply output is limited.

Is it for you? Only if:

  • You’re on a very tight budget and cannot afford to spend $90.
  • You only play older and not very demanding video games.
  • You play at a low resolution, such as a 1366 x 768 (monitor) or 720p (HD TV).

For those cases, the Geforce GT 730 is an entry level graphic card perfectly capable of matching your needs.

Otherwise, get a more powerful graphic card. Most people will need a more powerful graphic card to get a good gaming experience.

What video games can the Geforce GT 730 1GB GDDR5 run smoothly?

This graphic card will do the job if you run your video games at a resolution of 1366 x 768 or 720p (HD, not Full HD), although you might have to lower details in the most demanding games.

Avoid:
1- Models that come with DDR3 and 128-bit wide memory bus. The GPU in those models offers lower performance, so stick to models equipped with GDDR5 and a 64-bit wide memory bus.
2- Wasting your money on 2GB of memory, it won’t make any difference in performance at this level.

Best Graphic Card Under $90:

Radeon RX 460 2GB:

– Get the ASUS Radeon RX 460 2GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– $89.99 – ASUS Radeon RX 460 2GB Dual Fan (Newegg)

The Radeon RX 460 2GB offers a massive step up in performance compared to Geforce GT 730 and is currently $20 less than the next step up in performance, the Geforce GTX 1050, hence why I recommend it again.

Why do I recommend the ASUS Radeon RX 460?
It’s priced as low as Radeon RX 460 are available for and it features higher frequencies than other models, resulting in slightly higher performance for the same price.

What video games can the Radeon RX 460 2GB run smoothly?

This graphic card is capable of handling the vast majority of games if you run them at a resolution of 1600 x 900 or lower. It is not adequate for gaming at 1920 x 1080/1080p.

Best Graphic Card Under $110:

Geforce GTX 1050 2GB:

– Get the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 SC GAMING 2GB from Amazon
– $109.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 SC GAMING 2GB (Newegg)
– $109.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 SC GAMING 2GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

The Geforce GTX 1050 2GB offers a significant step up in performance compared to the previously recommended Radeon RX 460, while consuming less power.

Why do I recommend the MSI Geforce GTX 1050?
It’s priced as low as GTX 1050 are available for and it features higher frequencies than other models, resulting in slightly higher performance for the same price.

What video games can the Geforce GTX 1050 2GB run smoothly?

This graphic card is capable of handling the vast majority of games if you run them at a resolution of 1600 x 900 or lower. Older and less demanding games will run at 1920 x 1080/1080p but you might have to lower visual settings.

Best Graphic Card Under $140:

Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB

– Get the Zotac Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Mini 4GB from Amazon
– $139.99 – MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB (Newegg)
– $139.99 – MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

The Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti is in a class of its own. AMD doesn’t really have any competitive product at this price point, seeing as the RX 460 is less expensive but it’s no match for the more powerful GTX 1050 Ti, while the RX 470 is significantly more expensive.

What video games can the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB run smoothly?

It’s capable of running newer games smoothly at a resolution up to 1600 x 900 smoothly with high frame rates.

It can run games at 1920 x 1080, but you’ll have to turn down visual quality and the game play might not be as smooth, with lower frame rates.

Best Graphic Card Under $170:

Radeon RX 470 4GB

– Get the MSI Radeon RX 470 4GB from Amazon
– $164.99 – MSI Radeon RX 470 4GB (Newegg)
– $164.99 – MSI Radeon RX 470 4GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

The Radeon RX 470 offers roughly 85-90% of the performance of the Radeon RX 480 and can now be found at better prices, making it a worthwhile recommendation for $170 or less, as long as you can’t find a Radeon RX 480 4GB around the same price.

What video games can the Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB run smoothly?

It’s capable of running newer games smoothly at a resolution up to 1600 x 900 smoothly with high frame rates.

It can run games at 1920 x 1080, but you might have to turn down visual quality in more demanding games to get acceptable frame rates.

Best Mid range Graphic Cards:

For playing video games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080

Best Graphic Card Under $180:

Radeon RX 480 4GB

– Get the Gigabyte RX 480 4GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– Get the MSI Radeon RX 480 4GB from Amazon
– Get the ASUS Radeon RX 480 4GB from Amazon
– $187.61 – ASUS Radeon RX 480 4GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $179.99 – Powercolor Radeon RX 480 4GB (Newegg)
– $179.99 – Gigabyte RX 480 4GB Dual Fan (Newegg)
– $189.99 – MSI RX 480 4GB Dual Fan (Newegg)

Radeon RX 480 4GB V.S. the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB:
It’s difficult to choose. Both graphic cards trade blows: their performance is nearly identical. So why did I pick the Radeon RX 480 4GB over the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB?

It has 4GB of VRAM, compared to 3GB for the GTX 1060 3GB. Current games, such as Hitman and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided benefit from more than 3GB and this situation is just going to get worse with new video games.

Games tend to be more optimized for 4GB graphic cards, seeing as there is simply more of those compared to 3GB cards.

In other words, as of now, the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB and RX 480 4GB offer similar performance, but the RX 480 4GB has more VRAM that’s starting to be useful and will be even more so in the future, so in the long run, expect the RX 480 4GB to offer superior performance to the GTX 1060 3GB more often than not.

What video games can the Radeon RX 480 4GB run smoothly?

It’s capable of running newer games smoothly at a resolution up to 1920 x 1080.

It’s not recommended for running newer games at 2560 x 1440. While it is somewhat capable of that, the game play just won’t be as smooth, with lower frame rates.

8GB Alternative: Radeon RX 480 8GB

– Get the MSI Radeon RX 480 8 GB from Amazon
– Get the $219.99 – MSI Radeon RX 480 8 GB – B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Get the $219.99 – MSI Radeon RX 480 8 GB – Newegg

Priced between the $180 Radeon RX 480 4GB and the $250 Geforce GTX 1060 6GB, the $220 Radeon RX 480 8GB offers performance similar to the 4GB model, except in the latest and most demanding games that use more than 4GB of memory, in which case the 4GB RX 480

Best Graphic Card Under $250:

Ideal for 1080p

Geforce GTX 1060 6GB

– Get the EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan from Amazon
– Get the $239.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Get the $244.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan (Newegg)

– Get the PNY Geforce GTX 1060 6GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– Get the $249.89 – MSI Geforce GTX 1060 6GB Dual Fan from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Get the $249.99 – PNY Geforce GTX 1060 6G Dual Fan (Newegg)

Single fan vs Dual Fan
If you have no intention of overclocking, a single fan model costs less and has no problem cooling the card at the frequencies that it ships with. Its only drawback is that it doesn’t have as much overclocking potential, so if you’re an enthusiast that wants more overclocking potential, pick a dual fan model that can handle the additional heat from overclocking.

Performance: Geforce GTX 1060 vs AMD RX 480, GTX 960/980
Compared to the last generation GTX 960, the GTX 1060 is significantly faster, almost as fast as the GTX 980!

Compared to the RX 480 8GB, the GTX 1060 6GB more often than not has the performance edge. At 1080p, it’s on average about 10-15% faster than the RX 480 8GB. At 2560 x 1440, this performance advantage shrinks, but I’d still recommend the GTX 1060 over the RX 480. Also, you could argue that for gaming at 2560 x 1440, you’d be better served by a more powerful graphic card.

Geforce GTX 1060: Not SLI compatible!

Do note that the Geforce GTX 1060 is NOT SLI compatible.

Power consumption:
The Geforce GTX 1060 consumes very little power considering how powerful it is. Under gaming load, it uses 120-135W. This is less than AMD’s Radeon RX 480: The GTX 1060 consumes 5-7W less at idle and roughly 30-45W less at load.

What video games can the Geforce GTX 1060 6GB run smoothly?
This the ideal card if you want a card capable of handling games at 1920 x 1080 (1080p or Full HD), with details at or close to maximum settings in most games. For 2560 x 1440 (1440p), I’d upgrade to the next recommendation below.

Best High End graphic cards:

Best Graphic Card Under $400:

Best for 1080p, Great for 1440p

GeForce GTX 1070 8GB

– Get the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– Get the Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Mini ITX from Amazon
– Get the EVGA Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Gaming SC Black Edition from Amazon
– $389.89 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $394.00 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING Black Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $399.89  – Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Mini ITX (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $349.99 – ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1070 Triple Fan (Newegg)
– $374.99 – ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1070 Dual Fan (Newegg)
– $389.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING Black Edition (Newegg)
– $389.99 – Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Mini ITX (Newegg)

Offering 80% of the performance of the Geforce GTX 1080 at a much lower price!

Compared to the $500+ Geforce GTX 1080, the $350+ Geforce GTX 1070 offers roughly 80% of its performance for significantly less money.

Compared to last generation GTX 970, you get 55-60% more performance at 1440p.

For gaming at 1080p or 1440p with very high framerates, the Geforce GTX 1070 is ideal.

The GTX 1080 is ideal if you want even higher performance at 1440p.

The GTX 1080 Ti is what you want for solid 4K performance.

Single fan vs Dual Fan vs Triple Fans
Dual fans model have less trouble handling the heat of the GTX 1070, will probably offer slightly better performance in long gaming sessions, have good overclocking potential and will fit in most cases. Triple fans models have the best cooling and best overclocking potential, but are especially long, so make sure that they fit in your case. Single fan models will fit in smaller cases, but will run hotter and may offer slightly lower performance in long gaming sessions (they won’t hit frequencies that are as high).

Geforce GTX 1070 vs AMD:

Unfortunately, AMD currently has no product that can compete with the GTX 1070. Simply put, they are one generation behind Nvidia in the high-end market.

AMD is expected to launch their new high-end graphic cards, sometime in the first half of 2017, so before the end of June.

Best Graphic Card Under $500:

Best for 1440p

Geforce GTX 1080 8GB

– Get the MSI Geforce GTX 1080 8GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– Get the ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Turbo from Amazon
– $509.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 1080 8GB Dual Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $529.89 – ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Turbo (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $529.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 1080 8GB Triple Fan (Newegg)
– $499.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Blower fan (Newegg)

70% of GTX 1080 Ti performance for 70% of the price

The Geforce GTX 1080 offers on average 70% of the performance that the $1200 Geforce Titan X offers, while costing 45% less, making it a more valuable proposition than the fastest graphic card.

Compared to the GTX 980? You get roughly 65% more performance at 1440p and 70% more performance at 4K.
Compared to the GTX 1070? You get a 20% performance boost.

That said, the GTX 1080 offers borderline performance if you want to play at a 4K resolution. It’s doable, but you’ll most likely have to lower graphic settings to get decent FPS.

That said, for gaming at 1080p or 1440p, the GTX 1080 has absolutely no problem. Same goes for VR.

Unfortunately, AMD currently has no product that can compete with the GTX 1080. Simply put, they are one generation behind Nvidia in the high-end market.

AMD is expected to launch their new high-end graphic cards, sometime in the first half of 2017, so before the end of June.

Best Graphic Card under $700:

Best for 4K

Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB

– Get the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– Get the PNY GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– Get the ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– $699.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $699.99 – MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $699.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $699.99 – PNY GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $699.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $699.99 – MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $699.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $699.99 – ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $699.99 – Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)

While the GTX 1080 brought decent 4K gaming performance, it still wasn’t powerful enough to run all games at 4K with high/maximum settings at 60+ FPS.

Launched on March 10th 2017 and offering on average 32% higher performance at 4K than the Geforce GTX 1080, 74% higher than the GTX 980 Ti and 154% higher than the GTX 780 Ti (according to AnandTech), the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is the here to fix that.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is the answer to your needs.

Note that seeing as it just launched, demand is high and you might need a bit of time to find one in stock. Currently, all models are Founders Edition models, are all identical and offer identical performance, hence why I listed many different models, just buy whichever one you can find in stock.

Non Founders Edition models, with custom coolers, should be available in a few weeks.

Unfortunately, AMD currently has no product that can compete with the GTX 1080 Ti. Simply put, they are one generation behind Nvidia in the high-end market.

AMD is expected to launch their new high-end graphic cards, sometime in the first half of 2017, so before the end of June.

Best Graphic Cards for $1400:

Two Nvidia Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB in SLI

– Two MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– Two PNY GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– Two ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition from Amazon
– $1,399.98 – Two ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $1,399.98 – Two MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $1,399.98 – Two EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $1,399.98 – Two PNY GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $1,399.98 – Two ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $1,399.98 – Two MSI GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $1,399.98 – Two EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $1,399.98 – Two ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)
– $1,399.98 – Two Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition (Newegg)

Do you want even more performance? Take the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, the current most powerful graphic card and buy a second one!

That’s right, get two Geforce GTX 1080 Ti and put them in SLI.

Do you want more performance than what the fastest GPU can offer and don’t mind messing with SLI profiles, not getting a performance boost in VR and sometimes having to wait a bit for SLI support with newer games?

In that case, get two Geforce GTX 1080 Ti and team them up in SLI for even more performance than a single GTX 1080 Ti in games that support SLI.

Multiple graphic cards drawbacks:
Other than the obvious increase in noise, power consumption and heat from having multiple graphic cards, SLI won’t give you a 100% performance boost. Expect a 30 to 70% performance boost on average, depending on the game, resolution and SLI support. Worse case scenario? You only get the performance of a single card.

Also, on the release date of a new game, SLI profiles may or may not be ready. Usually available in a matter of days, you might have to wait weeks or months for SLI support.

Also, VR games don’t quite support SLI yet. After all, we’re still in VR’s early days.

Which cooling system works best for multiple graphic cards?
You’re better off with models that have a closed cooler, such as the Founder Edition model, because they exhaust the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler. This also helps avoid situations where the hot air from the bottom card warms up the top card too much and might make it overheat, thus possibly reducing performance.

Make sure to use the new Geforce GTX SLI HB bridge to link them in SLI, to get better performance at 4K, according to Nvidia.

Note that I don’t recommend 3 or 4 graphic cards in SLI for the GTX 1070/1080/1080 Ti. Games won’t benefit from more than 2 cards, because Nvidia no longer support 3 or 4 way SLI outside of benchmarks such as 3D Mark Fire Strike.

Closing notes:

I hope that you enjoyed the latest edition of The Best Graphic Cards For Gaming article.

If you have a question or feedback, I invite you to leave a comment below this article.

A few important recommendations and notes regarding graphic cards:

1- Get the latest version of the graphic card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia. This will ensure that you get the latest bug fixes and the best performance possible from your graphic card(s).

2- To confirm whether Crossfire or SLI is working or not, use GPU-Z which will show that information to you in the last field at the bottom of the program.

3- SLI Guide: How to enable SLI, check if SLI is enabled, actually working in your game and what to do if it’s not is a great guide from the Notebook Review forums.

4- When using two or more graphic cards in Crossfire or SLI, you want to connect your monitors into the top graphic card, i.e. the graphic card that is the closest to the CPU.

5- Most graphic cards require one or two PCI-Express 6 or 8 pin power connector(s) to be plugged into them to function properly. Make sure that your power supply comes equipped with enough 6 and/or 8 pin connectors for your graphic cards.