The Best Video Cards For Gaming: Back to School 2015

| August 14, 2015 | (3)
The new Geforce GTX 980 Ti, offering 97% of the gaming performance of the Geforce Titan X, at only 65% of the cost, making it a bargain for such high-end performance!

Geforce GTX 980 Ti: 97% of the performance of the Geforce Titan X for 65% of the cost!

The best video cards for gaming?

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

Why would you want that, you ask?

Because you want the best bang for the buck, because you want the best graphic card for your hard-earned money and because you want the best gaming experience possible!

However, I do realize that not everyone has the time to read detailed video card reviews and to make sense of video card specifications.

This is why I write this guide for you: To help you save your time and money by doing the research for you and letting you know what are the best video cards for your money.

Please note that:

1- This list is based on the best U.S. and the best International(when available) prices for new video cards from NewEgg, Amazon and/or B&H that I’ve seen as of August 14th 2015.
2- Each video card performance will vary based on the games that you play; some games run better on Nvidia cards and some run better on AMD cards.
3- These video card recommendations are based on video game performance. These video cards are way overkill if you don’t play videos games and may not suit your needs for a Workstation.

Best entry level video cards:

Best video card for $65:

Geforce GT 730 64-bit GDDR5

- $64.43 – PNY GeForce GT 730 1GB 64-bit GDDR5 (Amazon)
$64.99 – PNY GeForce GT 730 1GB 64-bit GDDR5 (Newegg)- $10 Mail-in Rebate Available
$65.99 – EVGA GeForce GT 730 1GB GDDR5 64bit (Amazon)
$65.99 – EVGA GeForce GT 730 1GB GDDR5 64bit (Newegg)
$69.99 – EVGA GeForce GT 730 1GB GDDR5 64bit at B&H (International Shipping)

Radeon R7 240 vs Geforce GT 730:

The Geforce GT 730, equipped with GDDR5 memory on a 64-bit wide memory bus, offers a significant step-up in performance compared to the Radeon R7 240. This is why it replaced the previously recommended Radeon R7 240 1GB GDDR5 at the $70 price point.

Note the Zotac and PNY models are currently less expensive than the EVGA one. They are all just as good, so pick whichever one is the least expensive when you’re buying it.

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 more than $70.
  • 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) or lower.

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

Otherwise, get a more powerful video card.

Avoid:
1- Models that come with DDR3 and 128-bit wide memory bus. Their performance is nothing like 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.

Most people will need a more powerful video card to get a good gaming experience.

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

This video card will do the job if you run your video games at a resolution of 1366 x 768 or 1440 x 900, although you might have to lower details in some games.

Best video card for $90-100:

Radeon R7 250X 1GB

- $89.99 – MSI Radeon R7 250X 1GB (Newegg) – $10 Mail-in Rebate Available
- $99.99 – Powercolor Radeon R7 250X 1GB (Amazon)
- $99.99 – ASUS Radeon R7 250X 1GB (Newegg) - $10 Mail-in Rebate Available
- $99.99 – Sapphire Radeon R7 250X 1GB (Newegg) - $10 Mail-in Rebate Available
$99.95 – Gigabyte Radeon R7 250X 2GB GDDR5 at B&H (International Shipping)

The Radeon R7 250X offers way higher performance than the Geforce GT 730.

Sure value for $90-100, even more so if you take advantage of the available mail-in rebates.

What video games can the Radeon R7 250X 1GB GDDR5 run smoothly?

This video card will do the job if you run your video games at a resolution of 1440 x 900 or 1600 x 900, although you might have to lower details in some games.

Best video card for $110-130:

Radeon R7 260X 2GB

- $109.99 – Sapphire RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (Newegg)- $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
- $109.99 – Powercolor RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (Newegg)- $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
- $109.99 – Gigabyte RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (Newegg)
- $119.99 – Sapphire RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (Amazon)- $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
- $119.99 – Gigabyte RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (Amazon)
- $125.99 – XFX RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (B&H – International Shipping)
- $129.99 – Gigabyte RADEON R7 260X OC 2GB (B&H – International Shipping)

The R7 260X 2GB used to sell for $100, but it’s now $110. It remains the best video card at that price.

The overall prices on the R7 260X 2GB video cards have been slowly but surely going up, with stocks being more and more limited. Prices might keep going up, so if you want one, now is most likely the best time to get it.

The R7 260X is similar to the older Radeon HD 7790, with the same number of stream processors, but with higher frequencies.

Radeon R7 260X vs Geforce 750

I’m recommending the R7 260X over the Geforce GTX 750 because it offers on average 10% higher performance, according to AnandTech’s review of the Geforce GTX 750 and GTX 750 Ti.

R7 250X vs R7 260 vs R7 260X:

– The R7 250X: 640 shader processors, 40 texture units. Frequencies of 1000MHz/4500MHz for the core and memory respectively. 1GB VRAM
– The R7 260: 768 shader processors, 48 texture units. Frequencies of 1000MHz/6000MHz for the core and memory respectively. 1GB VRAM
– The R7 260X: 896 shader processors, 56 texture units. Frequencies of 1100MHz/6500MHz for the core and memory respectively. 2GB VRAM

Avoid Radeon R7 260X models with only 1GB of memory
The R7 260X is powerful enough to take advantage of 2GB of memory. Considering the small price difference between 1GB and 2GB models, you’re making a better choice by going with the 2GB model.

Avoid Radeon R7 360:
Part of AMD’s new 300 series of video cards, the R7 360 is available for $110. That said, its GPU only has 768 stream processors, compared to 896 for the R7 260X. The R7 360 is pretty much a rebadged R7 260, with slightly higher frequencies on the core and memory.

The R7 360 is a good card, just not at this price when competing with the older, but faster R7 260X.

What video games can the Radeon R7 260X 2GB run smoothly?

The R7 260X is capable of handling the vast majority of games if you run them at a resolution of 1600 x 900 or 1920 x 1080, although you might have to lower details for the most demanding games, especially at 1080p.

Best mid range video cards:

Best Video Card for $150-170:

Radeon R9 270 2GB

- $149.00 – Club 3D Radeon R9 270 2GB (Amazon)
$159.99 – Sapphire Radeon R9 270 2GB Dual Fans (Newegg) - $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
$159.99 – Gigabyte Radeon R9 270 2GB Dual Fans (Newegg) - $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
$169.50 – XFX R9 270 2GB Dual Fans from B&H (International Shipping)

Replacing the previously recommended R7 265 is the R9 270.

Stocks of the R9 270 are drying up, with prices going up as well, as it gets replaced by the newer, but lower performance, R7 370 at this price point.

The R9 270 is definitely worth the additional $10 over the R7 265 (~$140) and it’s more powerful than the R7 370, hence why I recommend it at the $150 price point.

– The R7 265 comes with 1024 shader processors, 64 texture units and 32 ROPs. Frequencies of 925MHz/5600MHz for the core and memory respectively.
– The R9 270 comes with 1280 shader processors, 80 texture units and 32 ROPs. Frequencies of 925MHz/5600MHz for the core and memory respectively.
– The R7 370 comes with 1024 shader processors, 64 texture units and 32 ROPs. Frequencies of 975MHz/5600MHz for the core and memory respectively.

VS the competition:
Nvidia offers the GTX 750 Ti, but that card is optimized for low power consumption, not so much performance. The GTX 750 Ti is the most powerful video card that that doesn’t require an additional power connector, but it’s no match for the R9 270 performance wise.

Want the most powerful video card that doesn’t require an additional power connector?
Do you have an older PC with a power supply that’s not powerful enough to handle more power-hungry video cards such as the R9 270? Do you want the most powerful video card that that doesn’t require an additional power connector, pulling all the power that it needs from the PCI-Express 16x slot?

The the EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti SuperClocked 2GB is what you want. It’s available for $129.99 at Amazon or $139.99 at B&H (International Shipping).

Avoid Radeon R7 370:
Part of AMD’s new 300 series of video cards, the R7 370 is available for $150. That said, its GPU only has 1024 stream processors, compared to 1280 for the R9 270. The R7 370 is pretty much a rebadged R7 265, with higher frequencies on the core.

The R7 370 is a good card, just not at this price when competing with the older, but faster R9 270.

What video games can the Radeon R7 270 2GB run smoothly?

The Radeon R9 270 is capable of handling your video games if you run them at a resolution of 1600 x 900 with details at high, as well as most games at 1920 x 1080, although you will have to lower details in more recent and more demanding games.

Best Video Card for $200-240:

Radeon R9 280X 3GB:

- PowerColor Radeon R9 280X OC 3GB Dual fans – $199.99 (Newegg) - $20 Mail-in Rebate Available
- PowerColor Radeon R9 280X OC 3GB Dual fans – $229.99 (Amazon)
- PowerColor Radeon R9 280X OC 3GB Dual fans – $244.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
- Sapphire Radeon R9 280X OC 3GB Dual fans – $239.99 (Amazon)- $20 Mail-in Rebate Available

Why am I recommending the Radeon R9 280X 3GB?

On average, it offers better gaming performance compared to its competitors at this price point range, namely the Geforce GTX 960, Radeon R7 285 and Radeon R9 380.

Note that the stocks of the R9 280X are running low, so if you want a R9 280X at this price, act fast!

Geforce GTX 960 vs AMD R9 280X:

Performance:

Overall the Radeon R9 280X 3GB does has a slight edge in performance, according to TechReport’s review of the Geforce GTX 960.

The GTX 960 has slightly better 99th percentile performance, but the R9 280X has a significant lead when it comes to FPS average, allowing you to get higher FPS at the same settings, or to set higher quality settings.

Why you should avoid the R9 380:
– The R9 280X comes with 2048 shader processors, 128 texture units and 32 ROPs. Frequencies of 1000MHz/6000MHz for the core and memory respectively.
– The R9 380 comes with 1792 shader processors, 112 texture units and 32 ROPs. Frequencies of 970MHz/5500MHz for the core and memory respectively.

The Radeon R9 280X may be older, but it’s more powerful than the R9 380.

You may argue that the R9 380 comes with 4GB, but at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (1080p/Full HD), there’s no advantage in having 4GB over 3GB. At higher resolutions, neither the R9 280X nor the R9 380 is powerful enough to run games with playable frame rates.

Power consumption and requirements:
The Radeon R9 280X does consume more power than the Geforce GTX 960: It consumes 4W more at idle and roughly 70W more at load, again according to TechReport.

What video games can the Radeon R9 280X 3GB run smoothly?
The Radeon R9 280X 3GB is 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.

Lower power alternative:

If you want a relatively powerful video card, that offers performance close to the R9 280X, but a lower power consumption (about 70W less at load), to use it in a small case, the Geforce GTX 960 is an excellent alternative.

Here are the models that I recommend:

- EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ 2GB 1279/1342MHz – $194.99 (Amazon)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ 2GB 1279/1342MHz – $199.99 (Newegg)
EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SuperSC ACX 2.0+ 2GB 1279/1342MHz – $214.99 (B&H – International Shipping)

Alternatives:

1. EVGA SC GTX 960 2GB 1216/1279MHz Ideal for Mini ITX – $199.99 (Amazon)
2. EVGA SC GTX 960 2GB 1216/1279MHz Ideal for Mini ITX – $194.99 (Newegg)
3. Gigabyte GTX 960 2GB 1165/1228MHz Ideal for Mini ITX – $189.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
4. ASUS Geforce GTX 960 2GB 1291/1317MHz – $200.99 (Amazon)
5. ASUS Geforce GTX 960 2GB 1291/1317MHz – $206.99 (Newegg)
6. ASUS Geforce GTX 960 2GB 1291/1317MHz – $200.99 (B&H – International Shipping)
7. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB White/Black 1178/1241MHz – $184.99 (Amazon)
8. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB White/Black 1178/1241MHz – $184.99 (Newegg)
9. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB Gaming 2G Red/Black 1216/1279Mhz – $209.99 (Amazon)
10. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB Gaming 2G Red/Black 1216/1279Mhz – $189.99 (Newegg)
11. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB Gaming 2G Red/Black 1216/1279Mhz – $209.99 (B&H – International Shipping
12. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB GAMING 100 Million Edition Green/Black 1216/1279MHz – $222.46 (Amazon)
13. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB GAMING 100 Million Edition Green/Black 1216/1279MHz – $199.99 (Newegg)
14. MSI Geforce GTX 960 2GB GAMING 100 Million Edition Green/Black 1216/1279MHz – $241.95 (B&H – International Shipping)

Best High End video cards:

Best Video Card For $320-350:

Tie: Geforce GTX 970 4GB and Radeon R9 390 8GB:

- EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan ACX 2.0 Superclocked – $319.99 at Amazon
- EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan ACX 2.0 Superclocked – $319.99 at Newegg
- EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan ACX 2.0 Superclocked – $339.99 at B&H (International Shipping)

Geforce GTX 970 vs Radeon R9 390:

  1. Slightly lower performance at a slightly lower price
  2. Half the memory (4GB vs 8GB), but unless you run games at a 4K resolution, this makes no difference.
  3. Consumes less power: You don’t need as powerful of a power supply, especially with multiple video cards (SLI/Crossfire).
  4. Runs less hot: Will have no problem running in smaller cases with limited airflow.
  5. More quiet: Always a pro in my book.

Why do I recommend the EVGA Geforce GTX 970 ACX2.0 Superclocked?

1- EVGA reliability and customer support are the best in the industry. If you happen to have any problem with your card, you can rely on them to get useful answers in a timely manner.
2- This particular card runs at higher frequencies than the reference Geforce GTX 970, resulting in higher performance.
3- Double bearing fans, meaning it has a longer lifespan and is less likely to fail early like cheaper sleeve fans.
4- If the GPU runs at 60C or less, the fans will shut down and your video card is silent. Of course, if the GPU runs above 60C, the fans will start again automatically. This is not exclusive to EVGA video cards but it’s a nice feature to have.
5- EVGA makes some of the most reliable video cards in the industry.

Alternative models

- From Amazon:
- $341.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 970 Dual-fan White & Black OC
$329.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan ACX 2.0
$343.95 – EVGA GTX 970 SC Blower
$340.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan OC
$369.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW Dual-fan ACX 2.0
$354.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 970 DC Mini Ideal for Mini-ITX
$324.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Turbo

- From Newegg:
- $339.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 970 Dual-fan White & Black OC
$324.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan ACX 2.0
$344.99 – EVGA GTX 970 SC Blower
$339.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan OC
$349.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan SSC ACX 2.0
$324.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Turbo

- From B&H (International Shipping):
- $309.99 – Zotac Geforce GTX 970 Dual-Fan
$329.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 970 Dual-fan OC
$329.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Blower
$329.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Dual-fan ACX 2.0
$346.99 – MSI GTX 970 GAMING 4G Dual-Fan OC
$350.73 – EVGA GeForce GTX 970 FTW Dual-fan ACX 2.0
$354.99 – ASUS GeForce GTX 970 DC Mini Ideal for Mini-ITX
$329.00 – ASUS GeForce GTX 970 Turbo

Radeon R9 390 8GB:

- XFX R9 390 8GB Dual fans – $329.99 (Amazon)
- MSI R9 390 GAMING 8GB Dual Fans – $339.99 (Amazon)
- MSI Radeon R9 390 GAMING 8GB Dual Fans – $329.99 (Newegg)
- MSI Radeon R9 390 GAMING 8GB Dual Fans – $329.99 (BH – International Shipping)
- ASUS R9 390 8GB Triple fans – $349.99 (Amazon)
- Sapphire Radeon R9 390 8GB Triple fans – $349.99 (Amazon)
- SAPPHIRE Radeon R9 390 8GB Triple fans – $339.99 (Newegg)
- XFX BLACK Edition Radeon R9 390 8GB Dual fans – $329.99 (Newegg)
- ASUS Radeon R9 390 STRIX 8GB Triple fans – $339.99 (Newegg)
- ASUS Radeon R9 390 STRIX 8GB Triple fans – $349.99 (BH – International Shipping)

Radeon R9 390 vs Geforce GTX 970:

The Radeon R9 390 offers slightly better performance at a slightly higher price. It offers twice the memory (4GB vs 8GB), but unless you run games at a 4K resolution, this makes no difference. It also consumes quite a lot more power, meaning that you need a more powerful power supply, that the R9 390 tends to run hotter and to be slightly noisier than the Geforce GTX 970.

Ultimately, if you care more about performance, go with the R9 390 8GB. If you care about performance but also lower power consumption, less heat and less noise, go with the GTX 970.

What video games can the Geforce GTX 970 4GB and Radeon R9 390 8GB run smoothly?

They will run any game at 1920 x 1200 (or 1080 for 1080p) maxed out, as well as games at 2560 x 1600 without any problem. Gaming with a 4K resolution or on multiple monitors is also possible, although you might have to turn settings down, depending on the game.

Best Video Card for $430-450:

Radeon R9 390X 8GB

- Sapphire Radeon R9 390X 8GB Triple Fans – $429.99 (Amazon)
- Sapphire Radeon R9 390X 8GB Triple Fans – $429.99 (Newegg)
- MSI Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Amazon)
- MSI Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Newegg)
- MSI Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (BH – International Shipping)
- GIGABYTE Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Amazon)
- GIGABYTE Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Newegg)
- XFX Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Amazon)
- XFX Radeon R9 390X 8GB Dual Fans – $429.99 (Newegg)
- ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 390X 8GB Triple Fans – $439.99 (Newegg)
ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 390X 8GB Triple Fans – $449.99 (BH – International Shipping)

Radeon R9 390X vs Geforce GTX 980:

  1. Slightly lower performance for $50-$70 less.
  2. Twice the memory (8GB vs 4GB), but unless you run games on multiple monitors or at a 4K resolution, this makes no difference.
  3. Consumes more power: You need a more powerful power supply.
  4. Runs more hot: May be problematic/more noisy in smaller cases with limited airflow.
  5. Less quiet: With more heat to dissipate, the fans have to spin faster, resulting in more noise.

Best Video Card for $500:

Geforce GTX 980 4GB

- $499.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Dual-fan (Amazon)
$499.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Dual-fan (Newegg)
$519.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Dual-fan (B&H – International Shipping)

Geforce GTX 980 vs Radeon R9 Fury:
The R9 Fury is more expensive than the Geforce GTX 980, offers lower performance (according to Tech Report) while consuming a lot more power, running more hot and being more noisy. There’s no good reason to get a R9 Fury over the Geforce GTX 980 with the current prices.

Why do I recommend the EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC?

1- EVGA customer support is the best in the industry. If you have any problem with your card, you can rely on them to get useful answers in a timely manner.
2- This particular card runs at higher frequencies than the reference Geforce GTX 980, resulting in higher performance.
3- Double bearing fans, meaning it has a longer lifespan and is less likely to fail early like cheaper sleeve fans.
4- If the GPU runs at 60C or less, the fans will shut down and your video card is silent. Of course, if the GPU runs above 60C, the fans will start again automatically. This is not exclusive to EVGA video cards but it’s a nice feature to have.
5- EVGA makes some of the most reliable video cards in the industry.

Alternative models

- From Amazon:
- $514.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Dual-Fan 4GB STRIX
$529.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 GAMING 4G Dual-Fan
$519.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Blower
$529.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB FTW ACX 2.0
$570.00 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower

- From Newegg:
- $519.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Dual-Fan 4GB STRIX
$509.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 GAMING 4G Dual-Fan
$519.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Blower
$579.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower

- From B&H (International Shipping):
- $514.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Dual-Fan 4GB STRIX
$519.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 GAMING 4G Dual-Fan
$579.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower

What video games can the Geforce GTX 980 4GB run smoothly?

1080p and 2560 x 1600 is handled by this card without any problem. 4K and multiple monitors can also be handled, although you should consider a multiple video card setup to get the best experience possible.

Best Video Cards For $680:

Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB

- $678.95 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC+ 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan (Amazon)
$679.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC+ 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan (Newegg)
$678.95 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC+ 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan (B&H – International Shipping)

97% of Titan X performance for 65% of the price

The Geforce GTX 980 Ti offers on average 97% of the performance that the Geforce Titan X offers (according to AnandTech), while costing 35% less, making it a bargain for such high performance.

Why do I recommend the EVGA GTX 980 Ti SC+?

1- EVGA customer support is the best in the industry. If you have any problem with your card, you can rely on them to get useful answers in a timely manner.
2- This particular card runs at higher frequencies than the reference Geforce GTX 980 Ti, resulting in higher performance.
3- Double bearing fans, meaning it has a longer lifespan and is less likely to fail early like cheaper sleeve fans.
4- If the GPU runs at 60C or less, the fans will shut down and your video card is silent. Of course, if the GPU runs above 60C, the fans will start again automatically. This is not exclusive to EVGA video cards but it’s a nice feature to have.
5- EVGA makes some of the most reliable video cards in the industry.

Alternative models
- From Amazon:
- $649.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$649.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$669.00 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower
$669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB SC ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$659.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$679.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$679.99 – PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower

- From Newegg:
- $669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$649.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower
$669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB SC ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$749.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Hybrid (Air + All-in One Water Cooling)
$689.99 – Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Triple-fan
$659.99 – ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$669.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$659.99 – PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower

- From B&H (International Shipping):
- $669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
$649.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$689.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower
$669.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB SC ACX 2.0 Dual-fan
$779.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Hybrid (Air + All-in One Water Cooling)
$659.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower

For multiple video cards: Which cooling system works best?
Note that if you intend on getting more than one video card, you’re better off with models that have a closed cooler, because they exhaust the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler. This avoid situations where the hot air from the bottom card warms up the top card and makes it overheat, thus reducing performance.

Avoid: Radeon R9 Fury X
More expensive than the Geforce GTX 980 Ti, offers lower performance (according to Tech Report) while consuming a lot more power, running more hot and being more noisy, there’s no good reason to get a R9 Fury X over the Geforce GTX 980 Ti with the current prices.

Avoid: Two Radeon R9 390/390X in Crossfire
Two Radeon R9 390/390X in Crossfire would consume a whole lot more power, emit a lot more heat, will be far noisier and you will need a case with sufficient airflow to get rid of all that additional heat. They risk running into overheating, where the cards will have to reduce their frequencies to avoid damage and this will reduce performance. Most people will be better off with a Geforce GTX 980 Ti instead.

Best Video Card for $1000:

Two Geforce GTX 980 4GB in SLI

- $1039.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1039.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Blower in SLI (Newegg)
– $1141.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1159.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Newegg)
– $1159.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 SC 4GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance than what the GTX 980 Ti can offer?

Time to team up two Geforce GTX 980 in SLI.

For multiple video cards: Which cooling system works best?
You’re better off with models that have a closed cooler, because they exhaust the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler. This avoid situations where the hot air from the bottom card warms up the top card and makes it overheat, thus reducing performance.

This is why that for SLI setups, I only recommend video cards with a closed cooler.

Best Video Card for $1300:

Two Geforce GTX 980 Ti in SLI

- $1299.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1299.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Newegg)
– $1299.98 – Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance than what the fastest GPU can offer? Get two and team them up in SLI for more performance!

Simply put, this card features the fastest GPU on the market, even faster than the Radeon R9 290X and the Geforce GTX 980.

The Geforce GTX 980 Ti uses the same GPU as the more expensive Geforce Titan X video card, only with a small portion of it disabled.

The Geforce GTX 980 Ti offers on average 97% of the performance that the Geforce Titan X offers (according to AnandTech), while costing 35% less, making it a bargain for such high performance.

Alternative models
- From Amazon:
– $1338.00: Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1299.98: Two Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1319.98: Two ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1359.98: Two MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1359.98: Two PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI

- From Newegg:
– $1339.98: Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1299.98: Two Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1319.98: Two ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1339.98: Two MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1319.98: Two PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI

- From B&H (International Shipping):
– $1339.98: Two EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1299.98: Two Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI
– $1359.98: Two MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI

For multiple video cards: Which cooling system works best?
You’re better off with models that have a closed cooler, because they exhaust the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler. This avoid situations where the hot air from the bottom card warms up the top card and makes it overheat, thus reducing performance.

This is why that for SLI setups, I only recommend video cards with a closed cooler.

Best Video Card for $1950:

Three Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a 3-Way SLI

- $1949.97 – Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $1949.97 – Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Newegg)
– $1949.97 – Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance? Time to step up to three Geforce GTX 980 Ti in Three-Way SLI.

Remember to plug the Nvidia Three-Way SLI bridge on the three cards to be able to enable Three-Way SLI. It’s included with the motherboard.

Make sure to get the latest version of the drivers straight from Nvidia, avoid those on the included DVD as those are outdated. There are updates on a regular basis, especially when new games are launched. New drivers fix bugs, increase performance and support newer games.

Alternative models
- From Amazon:
- $2007.00: Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1949.97: Three Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1979.97: Three ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $2039.97: Three MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $2039.97: Three PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI

- From Newegg:
– $2009.97: Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1949.97: Three Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1979.97: Three ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $2009.97: Three MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1979.97: Three PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
in a 3-Way SLI

- From B&H (International Shipping):
– $2009.97: Three EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $1949.97: Three Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI
– $2039.97: Three MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 3-Way SLI

For multiple video cards: Which cooling system works best?
I recommend models that have a closed cooler, 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 and possibly makes it overheat, thus reducing performance and reducing the lifespan of your video cards.

Best Video Cards for $2600:

Four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a 4-Way SLI

- $2599.96 – Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Amazon)
– $2599.96 – Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (Newegg)
– $2599.96 – Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in SLI (B&H – International Shipping)

Want more performance? Time to step up to four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in Four-Way SLI.

Make sure to get the latest version of the drivers straight from Nvidia, avoid those on the included DVD as those are outdated. There are updates on a regular basis, especially when new games are launched. New drivers fix bugs, increase performance and support newer games.

Alternative models
- From Amazon:
- $2676.00: Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2599.96: Four Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2639.96: Four ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2719.96: Four MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2719.96: Four PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI

- From Newegg:
– $2679.96: Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2599.96: Four Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2639.96: Four ASUS Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2679.96: Four MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2639.96: Four PNY Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower
in a 4-Way SLI

- From B&H (International Shipping):
– $2679.96: Four EVGA Geforce GTX 980 Ti SC 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2599.96: Four Gigabyte Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI
– $2719.96: Four MSI Geforce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Nvidia Blower in a 4-Way SLI

What settings can this setup handle?

Four Geforce GTX 980 Ti in a Four-Way SLI will have no problem running the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 2560 x 1440/1600, 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) or on a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP)

For a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup (11.1/12.3 Megapixels) or two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP), this is the second best setup possible, only second to four GTX Titan X.

Note that for Three-Way SLI, I recommend the blower style cooling system, which exhausts the hot air outside of the case, which is preferable for a multiple video card setup.

Best Video Card for $4000:

Four Geforce GTX Titan X in a Four-Way SLI

Four EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12 GB (Amazon) in a Four-Way SLI – $3999.96 at Amazon
Four EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12 GB (Newegg) in a Four-Way SLI – $3999.96 at Newegg
Four EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12 GB at B&H (International Shipping) in a Four-Way SLI – $4119.96 at BH (International Shipping)

You don’t mind paying more to get as much performance as possible or feel that you need more than 6GB of VRAM per video card?

Four Geforce GTX Titan X in a Four-Way SLI is the ultimate setup.

Make sure that your case, motherboard and power supply can handle such a powerful setup.

Note that for Four-Way SLI, I recommend the blower style cooling system, which exhausts the hot air outside of the case, which is preferable for a multiple video card setup.

What settings can this setup handle?
Four Geforce Titan X in a Four-Way SLI will have no problem running the latest games maxed out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 2560 x 1440/1600, 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD/4K) or on a triple 1080p monitor setup (6.2MP)

For a triple 2560 x 1440/1600 monitor setup (11.1/12.3 Megapixels) or two 3840 x 2160 monitor setup (16.6MP), this is the best setup possible.

Closing notes:

I hope that you enjoyed the latest edition of The Best Video 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 video cards:

1- Get the latest version of the video card drivers directly from AMD or Nvidia. This will ensure that you get the latest bug fixes and the best performance possible from your video 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 video cards in Crossfire or SLI, you want to connect your monitors into the top video card, i.e. the video card that is the closest to the CPU.

5- Most video 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 video cards.

Category: The Best Computer Parts For Your Money

About Mathieu Bourgie: HR Founder - Computer expert with over 14 years of experience in building, fixing and modifying PCs. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for PC hardware and now I enjoy helping others build their own PCs! In April 2008, I launched Hardware Revolution and ... Read more at my about page .

  • Eragon SharpKiller

    Nice info! thanks for the Hard Work!

  • ghasl1

    Thanks this has been informative, I bought the R9 280x Gigabyte over the GTX 960 I’m not sure if I made the right move. For my next build I would like to go with the GTX 980ti but its so expensive I don’t know when they will drop the prices down.

    • M4ENY

      The prices wont drop til the next generation cards are released and even then it really wont be a good deal considering the new cards most likely perform just as well while sipping less power.

      Just my $0.02 :)