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The best graphic cards for gaming?

By that, I mean the graphic cards that offer the best performance in video games.

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.

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. Best Entry-level Graphic Cards
  2. Best Mid-range Graphic Cards
  3. Best High-end Graphic Cards
  4. Best Enthusiast Graphic Cards

Best Budget Graphic Cards:

For playing video games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080

Radeon RX 570 4GB
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $129.99 on Newegg

The Radeon RX 570 4GB is in a class of its own at their current prices. Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti can’t deliver the performance to compete with it and the Geforce GTX 1060 3GB is significantly more expensive for similar performance with only 3GB of memory instead of 4GB.

Note that the Sapphire RX 570 recommended at Amazon only has a single DVI-D output. No HDMI, no Displayport. Then again, it is a lot less expensive than the next least expensive option available at Newegg.

What video games can the Radeon RX 570 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 will run games at 1920 x 1080, but you may have to turn down visual quality and the game play might not be as smooth, with lower frame rates, depending on how demanding the game is.

What about the Radeon RX 580 or RX 590?
The RX 580 offers a small performance bump over the RX 570 and the RX 590 offers a small performance bump offer the RX 580. Considering the price of the RX 580 and RX 590, I find them to be poor value, offering only a small performance increase for a much bigger price increase. I recommend either getting the RX 570 or simply skipping the RX 580/590 and moving up to the next Tier of performance recommended below.

Best Mid range Graphic Cards:

For playing video games at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with higher frame rates and higher visual quality

GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $279.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $279.99 at Newegg

Don’t be fooled by the name:
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is based on the same Turing architecture as the GeForce RTX 2060, 2070, 2080 and 2080 Ti.
– It’s the successor to the GeForce GTX 1060 6GB, which are becoming increasingly rare.
– Performance wise, it offers on average 36% more performance than the GeForce GTX 1060 GB, according to AnandTech.

Then why is it called GTX 1660 Ti and not say, RTX 1660 Ti, or RTX 2050 Ti?
Because to reduce die size and thus costs, Nvidia removed the ray tracing functionality, which mind you, is only currently found in a few games. So if you only care about video game performance and want high performance at a lower price, in other words, great value, the GTX 1660 Ti is what you want.

GeForce GTX 1660 Ti V.S. Vega 56 V.S. RX 590 V.S. GTX 1060 6GB:
Which one should you pick?
The Radeon RX 590 sells for about the same price as the GTX 1660 Ti.
The GTX 1660 Ti cleanly beats it in performance and power efficiency, delivering 25% better performance for a bit over half the power consumption, according to AnandTech.

As for the GTX 1060, it also sells around the same price and it offers lower performance than the RX 590 and GTX 1660.

Then there’s the RX Vega 56. On average, it’s about 5% faster than the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti. The problem? It’s usually quite more expensive, difficult to find in stock and it consumes much more power. There’s supposedly a sale (not a price drop) on them, but looking on Amazon, B&H and Newegg, there’s isn’t any interesting offer that I can find.

Basically, the GTX 1660 Ti is the mainstream mid-range graphic card to get at the moment.

What video games can the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB run smoothly?

It is capable of running games smoothly at a resolution up to 1920 x 1080 smoothly with high/max details with high frame rates.

Gaming at 2560 x 1440 is also possible. However, you might have to turn down visual quality down a notch or two in more demanding games to get acceptable frame rates.

Best High End graphic cards:

Great for 1080p/1440p

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB
– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $349.99 at B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $369.99 on Newegg

The Nvidia Geforce RTX 2060, GTX 1070, 1070 Ti and AMD RX Vega 56/64 all trade blows when it comes to performance.

The RTX 2060 (6GB) is
– 59% faster than a GTX 1060 6GB
– 14-15% faster than the GTX 1070
– 2-3% faster than the GTX 1070 Ti
– 8-11% faster than the RX Vega 56
– 5% slower than the $450+ RX Vega 64

Considering performance, current prices and availability, I’d say go with the newer GeForce RTX 2060.

Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 8GB

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $489.99 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $489.99 on Newegg

While the GTX 1070/Ti/RTX 2060 bring great 1080p/1440p gaming performance, they aren’t powerful enough to run all games at 4K with high/maximum settings at 60+ FPS.

Launched in October 2018 and offering on average 36% higher performance at a 4K resolution than the Geforce GTX 1070. Ultimately, its performance lands between the old GTX 1080 and 1080 Ti (according to AnandTech). You get this performance at a lower price, making the Geforce RTX 2070 a fairly good value.

Compared to the RTX 2080, it offers about 82% of the performance at roughly 72% of the price.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details with decent frame rates, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 is a good choice. If you want even more performance, look into the RTX 2080 or 2080 Ti below.

Which cooling system works best?
With a case that has a decent amount of cooling, the open air cooler will be more quiet. In a case with less fans or a small case, a closed cooler, is a better choice because it exhausts the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler.

Geforce RTX 2070: Not SLI compatible!

Do note that the Geforce RTX 2070 is NOT SLI compatible.

V.S. AMD

Unfortunately, AMD currently has no product that can compete with the RTX 2070, around the same price. Their best graphic card, the Radeon VII, competes with the Geforce RTX 2080 and their second best card, the Vega RX 64, is no match for RTX 2070.

Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 8GB

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $729.99 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $729.99 on Newegg

The second highest performance graphic card of the new RTX 20xx series from Nvidia, the Geforce RTX 2080 8GB offers on average 8-9% better performance than the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti or 18% more than the RTX 2070.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, the Nvidia Geforce GTX 2080 is a good choice. Need the best? See the RTX 2080 Ti below.

Which cooling system works best?
With a case that has a decent amount of cooling, the open air cooler will be more quiet. In a case with less fans or a small case, a closed cooler is a better choice because it exhausts the heat outside of your case, keeping your other components cooler.

V.S. AMD

AMD launched the AMD Radeon VII on February 7th. While it a good effort from AMD, it ultimately fell short, offering performance on average 5% behind the GeForce RTX 2080. While its MSRP is the same as the RTX 2080, in reality, it costs more, if you can find one in stock that is. Considering its lower performance, higher power draw and lack of availability, I see hardly any reason for a gamer to get one over the RTX 2080.

Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB

– Click here to see the price on Amazon
– $1329.99 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
– $1399.99 on Newegg

While the GTX 1080 Ti brought good 4K gaming performance, it still wasn’t offering very high frame rates at 4K.

Offering on average 32-37% higher performance at 4K than the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, according to AnandTech, the Geforce RTX 2080 Ti takes performance to the next level.

If you’re looking for a graphic card that can keep up with 4K and high graphic details, with higher frame rates, the Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Ti is the fastest single-GPU graphic card currently available.

Note that seeing as it just launched, demand is high and you might need a bit of time to find one in stock.

Which cooling system works best?
With a case that has a decent amount of cooling, the open air cooler will be more quiet. In a case with less fans or a small case, a closed cooler 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. Their best graphic card, the Radeon RX Vega 64, only competes with the Geforce GTX 1080 (Non Ti).

Two Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080 Ti 11GB in SLI

Buy two: – Click here to see the price on Amazon
For two: – $2499.98 on B&H (Worldwide Shipping)
For two: N/A on Newegg

Do you want even more performance? Take the Geforce RTX 2080 Ti, the current most powerful graphic card and buy a second one!

That’s right, get two Geforce RTX 2080 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 RTX 2080 Ti and team them up in SLI for even more performance than a single RTX 2080 Ti in games that support SLI.

Remember that you’ll need a NVLink bridge to connect the two card together. Pick the correctly spaced one, depending on your spacing between the cards on your motherboard.

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.

Which cooling system works best for multiple graphic cards?
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 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.

Note that I don’t recommend 3 or 4 graphic cards in SLI for the GTX 10xx or 20xx series. 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.