Most modern games require a dedicated graphics card before players can run the software. Though integrated GPUs also improved over time, they’re simply not enough to provide a smooth gaming experience.
The best graphics card varies from person to person. Depending on your gaming needs, you can decide between getting a top-of-the-line graphics card and future-proofing yourself or settling on a high price-performance GPU.
Two giants of the graphics card market, AMD and NVIDIA, have been battling it out for decades. The competition drives both companies to constantly come up with innovative ideas.
We’ve gathered the best graphics cards currently on the market. Before settling on one of these, you should consider your gaming needs thoroughly.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
When NVIDIA first announced ray tracing back in 2018, most gamers thought it was just a gimmick. The performance that NVIDIA’s 20-series put on when gamers turned on ray tracing in games justified the concerns, and no competitive gamer ever touched the feature.
This could change soon with RTX 3080, however, due to the immense power difference between the RTX 3080 and RTX 2080 TI. Coming in at a significantly lower launch price tag than the 2080 TI, the RTX 3080’s 10GB GDDR6X virtual RAM and base clock speed of 1440 MHz turns ray tracing into a walk in the park.
The difference in power, compared to the last gen, turns this graphics card into a monster for competitive gamers. You can easily achieve 300+ frames per second in most popular titles like League of Legends, VALORANT, CS:GO, and Dota 2, meaning you can safely unlock the full potential of 240+ Hz refresh rate monitors.
While the 3080 will be a solid choice for gamers who are looking to max out their settings in the upcoming triple-A games, we still recommend keeping an eye on RTX 2080 TI prices. NVIDIA is likely to push some aggressive sales due to the value Ampere microarchitecture cards bring to the table.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
NVIDIA’s Ampere microarchitecture cards are here, and it’s hard to explain what they have done to the tuning cards like 2080 and 2070. The past generation of GPUs wasn’t only overthrown from their comfy thrones, the Ampere cards almost started a riot with their jaw-dropping performance improvements and became people’s champions with their price/performance ratios.
The RTX 3090 is currently the most powerful GPU on the planet for gaming purposes. To put it in perspective, the RTX 3080 is at least 24 percent faster than the last generation’s king RTX 2080 TI, and the RTX 3090 is 15 percent faster than the 3080. Its cost makes it slightly harder to justify the purchase, though.
The RTX 2080 TI cost $999 during its launch period, while the RTX 3080 costs almost 30 percent less than the 2080 TI. But the 3090 is priced almost twice as much as a 3080. It’s definitely the GPU to have if you have the budget to snap into a rig, but it’ll be quite difficult to notice that 15-percent performance difference between from an RTX 3080 unless you’re a professional creator who can push any GPU to its limits.
The RTX 3090 comes with a whopping 24GB of GDDR6x virtual RAM and a boosted core clock speed of 1700 MHz.
If we exclude the studio-grade cards, NVIDIA’s RTX 2080 TI is hands down the best graphics card on the market. If you’re looking to max out the settings in every game you play or set up a 4K gaming setup, this is the GPU to pick.
RTX 2080 TI comes with 11 GB of VRAM and a core clock speed of 1350 MHz, which can be boosted up to 1635 MHz.
With NVIDIA’s new GPU architecture Turing, the 2080 TI is about 25 percent faster than the last generation’s top of the line 1080 TI. If you mostly play in 1080p and don’t have any intentions of using ray tracing, however, then this GPU could be a bit of an overkill.
The 2080 Super comes with a core clock speed of 1650 MHz, which is overclockable to 1815 MHz. Combined with its eight GB of VRAM, it should be more than enough to provide a smooth gaming experience even at 4K resolution. Though the 2080 Super performs slightly worse than its bigger brother 2080 TI, it costs almost half less.
Overall, the GPU is quite powerful. It still suffers in terms of performance when it comes to ray tracing. The good news is that there aren’t many games available that use ray tracing to its fullest and it’s rather unclear how things will shape up in the future as long as games go.
NVIDIA’s second-in-command also offers a remarkable performance with its eight GB of VRAM and a core clock speed of 1605 MHz.
Though the RTX 2060 offers ray tracing, the RTX 2070 could be seen as the real entry-level GPU to the ray tracing technology while offering exceptional performance in 1080 and 1440p.
It starts lacking in terms of raw power when it comes to 4K gaming in smooth frame rates. But if you consider 30 to 40 frames per second ideal, then you should be more than fine.
The last generation’s superstar still holds its own and even outperforms some of the first RTX cards that hit the market.
The GPU comes with an 11 GB of VRAM and a base clock speed of 1480 MHz, which can be boosted up to 1582 MHz. Though it performs worse than 2080 TI in 4K, it is still capable of achieving 40-60 fps in recent games.
As NVIDIA released more GPUs within the Turing architecture, the 1080 TI’s price decreased to a point where it is considered a great deal now.
The Radeon RX 5700 XT is considered one of the best offerings from AMD. With its eight GB of RAM and base clock speed of 1605 MHz, it even challenges its bigger brother Radeon VII.
The GPU is quite close to NVIDIA’s 1080 TI in terms of performance and has a cheaper price tag. As it’s the case with all AMD GPUs, it doesn’t support ray tracing but performs surprisingly well in 4K considering its price.
If you’re on a budget and looking for the best bang for your buck, this is a graphics card that you may consider.
NVIDIA’s RTX 2060 Super certainly earns its spot with its specs and performance. But if you’re considering a graphics card around this range, then it starts falling short against its competition price-wise.
The improved version of the RTX 2060 has eight GB of VRAM and a base clock speed of 1410 Hz. The cooler staying in the same size causes higher temps, which shouldn’t be a problem if you have a decent airflow in your rig.
The GPU performs quite well in 1080 and 1440p. Before pulling the trigger on this one, make sure to check out its competitors and the base RTX 2060 model as the difference between them in terms of performance is minimal.
AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 comes with eight GB of VRAM and a base clock speed of 1465 MHz. Just like most of AMD’s GPUs, this is another bang-for-your-buck option.
It costs much less than its rivals while offering the same performance overall. It’s certainly a great option if you’re gaming in 1080p and should give you great frame rates in games like League of Legends and CS:GO.
The only downsides of the GPU are the lack of ray tracing and its overheating problems, which may get out of hand if you don’t have a decent cooling setup.
NVIDIA may have the upper segment dominated for now, but AMD’s still giving it a run for its money around the lower tiers. When it comes to gaming in 1080p with smooth frame rates, a high-end graphics card can end up being overkill.
If you’re eyeing NVIDIA’s 1660 TI or Super, the AMD 5600 XT is definitely a GPU that you need to consider. The 5600 XT packs 6GB of GDDR6 virtual RAM, and the 14 Gbps version of the GPU outperforms GTX 1660 Super and TI when it comes to pure performance. Combined with its affordable price tag, the 5600 XT is the king of the budget cards and is a solid option for most competitive gamers.
The 5600 XT can easily hit above 144 frames per second in most competitive titles with medium-to-low settings, allowing gamers to take advantage of high refresh rate monitors as well. While the gaming experience in triple-A titles is destined to struggle, you can still achieve smooth frames by lowering the settings to their lowest values.
With its six GB of VRAM and base clock speed of 1365 MHz, the GeForce GTX 1660 TI is more than capable of maintaining high frame rates in games like League of Legends, CS:GO and Fortnite.
Overall, this card performs slightly better than the last generation’s GTX 1070 and its only drawback is its price being too in the middle. Potential buyers of this GPU are usually torn between spending the extra $50-70 and upgrading to an RTX 2060.
If you’ve no intention of trying out the ray tracing technology and mostly play competitive games, then you can pull the trigger on this one without any of that buyer’s remorse.
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