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.R

This list is based on the best prices for graphic cards at NewEgg, Amazon and B&H on June 6th 2017.

Summary

Click on any of these links to jump to the section that interests you, or scroll down to see them all, in this order.

The Best graphic cards for gaming:

  1. Under $70: Geforce GT 1030
  2. Under $80: Radeon RX 550
  3. Under $100 : Geforce GTX 1050
  4. Under $130 : Geforce GTX 1050 Ti
  5. Under $180: Radeon RX 570
  6. Under $240: Geforce GTX 1060 6GB
  7. Under $400 : Geforce GTX 1070
  8. Under $500 : Geforce GTX 1080
  9. Under $700: Geforce GTX 1080 Ti
  10. Under $1400: Two Geforce GTX 1080 Ti in SLI

June 2017 update: What’s new?

  • The Geforce GT 1030 replaced the Geforce GT 730
  • Added the Radeon RX 550 recommendation

Best Budget Graphic Cards:

Best Graphic Card For Under $70:

Geforce GT 1030 2GB GDDR5

– Get the ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030 from Amazon
– $69.99 – ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $69.99 – ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030 (Newegg)

The Geforce GT 1030:

The old Geforce GT 730 is finally getting replaced by a modern graphic card, the Nvidia Geforce GT 1030.

Equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory, there’s no need to worry about slower versions with DDR3 memory, there’s none and here’s hoping we never see another graphic card with DDR3.

Note that the Geforce GT 1030 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.

The recommended Zotac Geforce GT 1030 is a half size card and comes with a half-size bracket, if you want to use it in a smaller PC.

Is it for you? Only if:

  • You’re on a very tight budget and cannot afford to spend more than $70.
  • Your case only supports half-height cards.
  • 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 1030 is an entry level graphic card perfectly capable of matching your needs.

What video games can the Geforce GT 1030 2GB 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.

If your case support full size cards and that you can afford to spend $10 more, the Radeon RX 550 offers significantly better performance.

Best Graphic Card For Under $80:

Radeon RX 550 2GB:

– Get the Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 2GB from Amazon
– $79.99 – SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 550 2GB (Newegg)
– $84.99 – ASUS Radeon RX 550 2GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

V.S. the Geforce GT 1030 and Geforce GTX 1050
The Radeon RX 550 offers significantly better performance than the Geforce GT 1030, but the Geforce GTX 1050 offers far better performance than the RX 550.

Note that the Radeon RX 550 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.

If you can afford to spend $20 more, get the far better Geforce GTX 1050. Then again, if you want a FreeSync monitor, the RX 550 (or RX 560) makes more sense.

What video games can the Radeon RX 550 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.

Avoid wasting your money on a 4GB model, it won’t make any difference in performance, you’re better off getting the next recommendation below instead.

Best Graphic Card Under $100:

EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 GAMING 2GB:

– Get the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 GAMING 2GB from Amazon
– $99.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 GAMING 2GB (Newegg)
– $99.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 GAMING 2GB (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

V.S. the Radeon RX 560
The Geforce GTX 1050 2GB and Radeon RX 560 trade blows, with the GTX 1050 offering slightly better overall performance compared to the Radeon RX 560, while consuming less power and costing less, so this is an easy recommendation.

That said, if you’re planning on using a FreeSync monitor (which are definitely less expensive than G-Sync monitors), then the Radeon RX 560 makes more sense.

Note that the Geforce GTX 1050 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.

Why do I recommend the EVGA Geforce GTX 1050?
It’s priced as low as GTX 1050 are available for, while being highly reliable.

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.

Avoid wasting your money on a 4GB model, it won’t make any difference in performance, you’re better off getting the next recommendation below instead.

Best Graphic Card Under $130:

Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB

– Get the EVGA Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB SC from Amazon
– $134.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB SC (Newegg)
– $129.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB SC (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 560 is less expensive but it’s no match for the more powerful GTX 1050 Ti, while the RX 570 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 Mid range Graphic Cards:

For playing video games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080

Best Graphic Card Under $180:

Radeon RX 570 4GB

– Get the XFX RX 570 4GB Dual Fan OC from Amazon
– $199.99 – Gigabyte Radeon RX 570 4GB Dual Fan (Newegg)
– $179.99 – ASUS Radeon RX 570 4GB Dual Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)

The successor of the Radeon RX 470, the Radeon RX 570, is basically an improved version of the RX 470, with slightly higher frequencies and faster memory. This result in the RX 570 offering a roughly 7% higher performance compared to the Radeon RX 470.

Radeon RX 570 4GB V.S. the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB:
Both graphic cards trade blows: their performance is pretty much identical overall. So why did I pick the Radeon RX 570 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 570 4GB offer similar performance, but the RX 570 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 570 4GB to offer superior performance to the GTX 1060 3GB more often than not.

What video games can the Radeon RX 570 4GB run smoothly?

It’s capable of running games smoothly at a resolution up to 1920 x 1080 smoothly with high frame rates.

However, you might have to turn down visual quality down a notch or two in more demanding games to get acceptable frame rates.

Best Graphic Card Under $240:

Ideal for 1080p

Geforce GTX 1060 6GB

– Get the EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan from Amazon
– Get the $240.00 – EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Get the $249.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX SC GAMING 1060 6GB Single Fan (Newegg)

– Get the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB SSC Dual Fan from Amazon
– Get the $259.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB SSC Dual Fan from B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– Get the $259.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1060 SSC 6GB Dual Fan from Newegg

Single fan vs Dual Fan
If you have no intention of overclocking, a single fan model fits in smaller builds 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 and have the space in your case, pick a dual fan model that can handle the additional heat from overclocking.

Why EVGA Geforce GTX 1060 6GB models?
They come with a significant factory overclock, meaning higher frequencies than the default ones, resulting in a free performance boost!

Performance: Geforce GTX 1060 6GB vs AMD RX 580, 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 580 8GB, the GTX 1060 6GB more often than not has the performance edge. At 1080p and 2560 x 1440, it’s on average about 7% faster than the RX 580 8GB.

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. Compared to the AMD’s Radeon RX 580, the Geforce GTX 1060 consumes roughly 60-90W 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
– $379.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 1070 8GB Dual Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $393.99 – 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)
– $393.99 – EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING Black Edition (Newegg)
– $379.99 – 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 $380+ 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 Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1080 8GB Triple Fan from Amazon
– $502.74 – MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Dual Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $504.99 – ZOTAC Geforce GTX 1080 Compact Design (Newegg)
– $499.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 FTW DT Gaming (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 $700 Geforce GTX 1080 Ti offers, at 70% of its cost.

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.

V.S. AMD:
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

Open air cooler, Dual Fan, 1556/1670MHz
– Get the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition 11GB Dual Fan from Amazon
– $719.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition 11GB Dual Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $719.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition 11GB Dual Fan (Newegg)

Open air cooler, Triple fan, 1569/1683MHz
– $779.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB FTW3 Triple Fan (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $779.99 – EVGA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB FTW3 Triple Fan (Newegg)

Founders Edition, closed air cooler, 1480/1582MHz
– Get the Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition from Amazon
– $699.99 – Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $669.99 – MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 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.

Which cooling system works best?
The Geforce GTX 1080 Ti is an high-end card that exhaust quite a lot of heat, due to its high power consumption. So you must consider what kind of cooler is best for your PC.

With a case that has a decent amount of cooling, the open air cooler will be more quiet. The recommended EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC Black Edition and FTW3 also ship with higher frequencies than the Founders Edition closed cooler models, so you get a small performance boost!

As for dual-fan SC Black Edition or triple-fan FTW3 edition, the dual fan card is great for most users, while the triple fan design offers better cooling, as well as many temperature sensors, making it an ideal choice for overclockers.

In a case with less fans or a small case, a closed cooler, such as the Founder Edition model, is a better choice because it exhausts the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler.

V.S. AMD

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

– Get two Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition from Amazon
– $1399.98 – Two Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition (B&H – Worldwide Shipping)
– $1339.98 – Two MSI Geforce GTX 1080 Ti 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.