Building a PC of your dream always presupposes hard work. It’s a time-consuming process which consists of several stages and requires a profound knowledge of specific notions, and graphics card is definitely one of them.
That is why we’ve prepared some basic information you should take into account when choosing the graphics card for your computer. Besides, here you will also find the list of the best graphics cards, which includes models suitable for both common users and zealous gamers.
What to consider when choosing a graphics card?
1. What do you need a graphics card for?
Model, size, price – all this comes later. Your first step is to make a final decision concerning the aim of your purchase. What do you need a new graphics card for? If you are planning to play games round-the-clock then make sure your card is fast and has enough RAM.
But if you are planning to work with 3D animation or video production, for example, then you have to pay more attention to the image quality than speed. In this case, you may choose either high-grade cards or even workstation-class graphics cards. Besides, if you are going to use your PC as a media center then check whether the output connector matches the device you want to connect the system to.
Still, if you do not have such serious plans concerning your PC and all you will need it for involves net surfing and some casual games then you may choose a midrange graphics card or a hybrid system.
2. Budget issues
In fact, budget issue is often a starting point of any further research. Your needs, requirements and dreams won’t play any role if your budget doesn’t coincide with them. The general principle here is simple – the more powerful a card is the higher price it has. Thus, if you belong to the category of gaming fans get ready to spend a pretty penny on your new graphics card.
3. GPU: AMD or NVIDIA?
Graphics Processing Unit (i.e. GPU) is a basis of any graphics card and determines its capabilities. If you want to get a high-end piece then pay attention to the part number because the higher it is the better performance a card can offer.
There are two providers of graphics cards you will have to choose between – AMD and NVIDIA. Which one is better? Well, it’s up to you to decide which graphics card will be the most suitable for your PC. The point is that both brands have pluses and minuses. Your task is just to take them into account and select the best card namely for you.
The most wide-spread fact about the difference between AMD and NVIDIA is their price. It is considered that AMD is cheaper than NVIDIA. In fact, we do have doubts concerning this idea. Prices are mostly of the same level and if you compare, for example, NVIDIA GeForce 980Ti and AMD R9 Fury X models you will be even surprised to find out that AMD product is a bit more expensive.
Nowadays AMD is working hard to reach NVIDIA status and to join its high-end niche. Still, NVIDIA shows better performance. It has effective memory speed and a host of exclusive technologies. As to AMD, it offers more autonomy for its users – for instance, you can download its drivers anytime you want directly from AMD official website.
In a nutshell, AMD and NVIDIA seem to be participants of everlasting races, which motivate them to improve their products. And that’s their main benefit.
Whatever brand you will choose, NVIDIA or AMD, you will have to check the basic options their cards offer. One of them is memory. Obviously, more memory in the graphics card guarantees better speed and improves its general performance.
Note that different types of graphics cards offer different RAM. This may be DDR3, GDDR3 or GDDR5. All of them differ in speed and, consequently, price. The best option here is GDDR5.
By the by, always pay your attention to such feature of the graphics card as bandwidth. Poor bandwidth can turn to be a real pitfall for a PC user. That is why don’t forget to check this characteristic in order to get a graphics card with excellent performance. On the whole, modern types of RAM have much better bandwidth than their forerunners.
One more thing you need to know is that the amount of memory affects the resolution a graphics card can be compatible with. For example, a PC with a display higher than 1680×1050 is compatible with 1GB of RAM. Monitors with lower resolution require just 512 MB of RAM. So, if you need a PC for gaming and you’re planning to use several monitors then you will have to get at least 3GB of RAM. You can read more about the best RAM for gaming here.
5. GPU cooling system
Cooling is another aspect which affects the card’s productivity greatly. The general principle is simple – if a graphic’s card has more ventilators then it is able to show better performance.
First of all, you should know that there are reference and non-reference coolers. The point is that AMD and NVIDIA providers sell their cards not only directly to customers but also other companies that add some changes to the cards and sell their own versions of graphics cards which are already modified. Thus, cards which are sold directly to consumers get the reference title while those with modifications – non-reference.
Consequently, original cards have somewhat different cooling systems. Reference graphics cards have got a single fan offset to one side that sends hot air out of your PC case. As to non-reference cooling systems, they often have two fans which blow hot air away from the card but not from the computer case. As a result, this can lead to overheating. Though, they do have their own benefits – non-reference coolers are quieter.
Before choosing between these two types of cooling systems, you have to know the average temperature of your CPU during your usual activities. If it gets higher than 55° C then it’s better to get a reference one as it will blow hot air out of your PC case. Still, if a cooling system of your PC is powerful enough then you can choose the other one.
6. Graphics Card Compatibility
Whatever card you will choose you must be sure that it will be compatible with the other elements of your PC. Usually, weak points are the size of a graphics card, PSU and PCI.
Your first step is to check whether a selected card can be connected to the system. Your PC can have an old type of connection called PCI (peripheral component interconnect) slot, its improved version – AGP (accelerated graphics port technology), or the newest PCIe slots (PCI Express), which are faster and more flexible.
Therefore, before your purchase, you have to know what cards will be compatible with the expansion slots of your computer. Besides, if you’re building a serious gaming machine then probably your PC case can support from two to four cards. In this case, note that both slots and cards should be the same. These technologies have got the following names – SLI in NVIDIA cards and CrossFire in AMD cards.
As to the size issue, top-notch graphics cards are longer. Still, the best option here is to measure the card and space inside your PC case in order to be sure that the card will fit it. What is more, pay attention at the slots at the back of the computer case – they must be big enough to match the output. Of course, you can use adapters for card outputs but it’s always better to have the card which is originally compatible with your PC.
Almost all budget cards get power directly from the PCIe slot. However, graphics cards of higher quality may require connection to PSU. It is usually done by means of 6-pin or 8-pin connectors, though sometimes they may be used both. Thus, if you have such high-end gaming card you will need to check whether your PSU is good enough for this purpose.
11 Best Graphics Cards in 2020
EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming
One of the Best EVGA Graphics Cards Money Can Buy
If you are in pursuit of premium products that will raise your gaming experience to the highest possible level, EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming card is the product for you. It is very expensive, but if you want a great image quality, improved thermal solution and overall an exceptional performance, things can’t get much better than this.
This card offers a variety of advanced technologies and features such as Ray Tracing should create a real revolution in image quality and bring further realism to it that once it’s fully adopted by game producers. Also, there are triple HDB fans for silent and highly efficient cooling at the same time, 11GB of GDDR6 memory, the amazing 4352 CUDA Cores, numerous connectivity options (three DP, one HDMI, and one USB Type-C), a nice boost clock of 1755 MHz and a lot more.
When compared to the RTX 2080 cards, this EVGA card offers a 31% performance boost and compared to RTX 2070, it rises to 61%. It is similar with AMD Vega64 that it is two times faster from.
In other words, if the best possible gaming adventure is the primary goal and money is not an issue, EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming is the ultimate solution.
- RTX technology
- Great temperatures
- Exceptional performance
- No Windows 7 support
- High fan noise during gaming
EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra Hybrid Gaming
A High-Quality Card for a Fair Price
EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra Hybrid Gaming is a high-quality graphics card with numerous improvements over the previous card generations. These upgrades include, among others, the enhancement in VR applications performance (VRWorks Audio, Variable Rate Shading and Multi-View Rendering), more quiet performance and the introduction of Ray Tracing.
The card itself is equipped with 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM, it has a boost clock of 1860 MHz, a few different connectors (three DP, one HDMI and one USB Type-C), 2944 Pixel Pipelines and a total power draw of 215W, which is very good for this card class.
Its Hybrid Cooling AIO is another aspect this VGA card is showing its qualities in. 120mm fan, combined with the radiator and the closed liquid cooling, delivers very quiet work, even at high RPMs and, more importantly, very low temperatures, from 45°C when fans are not spinning to 75°C under maximum load.
EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 FTW3 Ultra Hybrid Gaming also comes with adjustable RGB LEDs and overall presents a very good option for gaming rigs. Unfortunately, if you want to upgrade your GTX 1080Ti, the improvements aren’t that noticeable. Therefore, you’d better choose some of the RTX 2080Ti cards or leave the upgrade for some other occasion.
In every other situation, this card is a great choice.
- Nice temps
- Ray tracing
- LED light controlling over the EVGA or Nvidia software is problematic
- Hard overclocking
- Not much better than the 1080Ti
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER
A High-Quality Card that Guarantees Great Performance
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER is a premium-quality graphics card that positions itself on the sheer top of the RTX 2070 SUPER card offerings thanks to its overall performance and list of features. Yes, that means that its price is higher than the nearest competition, but so is the performance.
This card offers a base clock of 1605MHz and an excellent 1935MHz, when in OC Mode, which is a giant leap if you consider the Founders Edition’s 1770MHz, also in OC Mode. Moreover, this card provides 2560 CUDA Cores; it has overclocked 8GB of GDDR6 memory and equally important, offers a power limit increase, from the RTX 2070 Super’s default 215W to 255W, without compromising its power efficiency.
ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER comes fitted with two DisplayPorts 1.4 and two HDMI2.0 ports and supports a maximal resolution of 7680 by 4320 pixels. Also, it comes along with the addressable RGB header that allows for full ASUS Aura Sync compatibility, as well as numerous pieces of software that incorporate GPU Tweak II monitoring software, Game Booster, Quantum Cloud, WTFast, etc.
When talking about the card’s performance, you will have no problems playing games such as RAGE 2, Metro Exodus, or Devil May Cry 5, even at the 4K resolution, but more importantly, you will get the graphics card that is the neck and neck with the RTX 2080, according to its performance, which is certainly something that will be appreciated by gamers worldwide.
To conclude, if you are after the best-performing graphics card in the sub $800 price range, ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER is certainly the thing for you.
- Low temperatures
- Great performance
- Dual BIOS
- Good power efficiency
- Support for Raytracing
- A bit pricey
- Memory isn’t overclocked
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super
A Perfect Mainstream Gaming Tool
If you are seeking a great-performing graphics card in the full HD and QHD resolution that will also provide a whole arsenal of appropriate features, ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super is the card for you.
As mentioned, this card best belongs in the mainstream segment, where it shows the best results, due to its boost clock of 1830MHz, 2176 CUDA cores, and 8GB of GDDR6 memory. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in 4K gaming, for instance. However, be prepared for lower frame rates; therefore, it won’t be that impressive gaming experience.
Keep in mind that ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super also provides ASUS Aura Sync RGB compatibility, two DisplayPorts 1.4 and two HDMI2.0 ports and that it comes with a great software package (GPU Tweak II, Game Booster, XSplit Gamecaster, Quantum Cloud, etc.) that aren’t a decisive factor for anyone; nevertheless, they certainly add to the cards overall value.
Other cool features of this card include silent performance, 175 Watt TDP, as well as low-temperature values that never exceed 65° Celsius, even when playing heavy games in a silent mode.
To make a long story short, if you are looking for the best graphics card in the mainstream segment, ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 Super should pretty much be your leading horse.
- Dual BIOS
- Great performance
- Aura Sync RGB lighting
- Very good temperatures
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super
A Graphics Card Built for 4K Gaming
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super is a high-performing, yet very power-efficient graphics card that finds its place right between better performing, but too expensive RTX 2080 Ti and the more affordable, but less performance-capable RTX 2080. In other words, if you are a fan of 4K gaming, this Turing TU104 chip-based card is probably the optimal solution, because it will give you the best value/performance ratio and be a bit gentler to your wallet than the RTX 2080 Ti model.
With it, you will get a boost clock of 1845MHz that, can easily be increased to around 2000MHz with the help of a little bit of tweaking, as well as 3072 CUDA cores and 48 RT cores, which is the guarantee for premium performance.
Simply, everything on this card is top-notch, from Mystic Light RGB lighting that gives the card attractive, but not over-the-top looks, up to the excellent cooling that will keep your GPU temps bellow 66°, even during fast-paced games.
MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2080 Super is fitted with three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port; it comes along with the very useful FrameVIew software and it offers SLI support. Moreover, it is very silent and in general, it presents a great deal, of course, if you are capable of paying its rather high price.
- Excellent 4K performance
- Useful FrameView software
- Nice looking Mystic Light
- SLI support
- Excellent power efficiency
- Memory isn’t overclocked
ASUS ROG Strix AMD Radeon RX 5700XT
The Best RX5700XT There Is
If you are a fan of the AMD’s red corner but are worried because of the high noise and temperature levels of its reference models, ASUS ROG Strix AMD Radeon RX 5700XT might be the gift from heaven for you, simply because this kind of problems is non-existent for this card. Its temperature, even in the high demanding, fast-pasted games, never passes the 70° mark, while the noise levels are around 36 dBA, which is a drastic reduction when compared to the reference models 43 dBA.
In the case of ASUS ROG Strix AMD Radeon RX 5700XT, the overall performance of the card is simply raised to another, a much higher level than the one that’s is offered through the AMDs reference models, which ultimately positions this card well above the competition and justifies its higher price at the same time.
The point being, this card offers so much for its price, such as 2560 Stream Processors, fairly solid TDP of 235 Watts, very good QHD gaming performance, and on top of that, easier overclocking process over the reference models. Moreover, although it is fitted with three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port, it supports up to six displays; it is equipped with Dual BIOS and altogether delivers performance somewhere in between RTX 2060 and 2070, and very similar to the RTX 2060 SUPER.
All in all, if you are after the best AMD graphics card out there, ASUS ROG Strix AMD Radeon RX 5700XT simply has to be yours.
- A solid cooling performance
- Dual BIOS
- Very good 1080p and 1440p performance
- No Raytracing
- Memory isn’t overclocked
XFX RX 5700 Xt Thicc III Ultra
A Significant Upgrade of an Already Great Card
People at XFX have obviously done their homework and realized that AMD’s reference RX 5700 and RX 5600 models offer very good gaming performance; however, they show weaknesses in the cooling and noise performance. They tried to fix that by releasing their XFX RX 5700 Xt Thicc II Ultra model and have, in large part, succeeded in that. Nevertheless, there were still some issues that prevented this card from becoming the best graphics card there is and finally, with the arrival of its upgraded Thicc III Ultra version, everything has changed.
To begin with, this card offers 50-percent improved noise performance compared to the reference model (Thicc II Ultra had a 35% increase); it offers lower power consumption than its predecessor and the most importantly, its two 90mm and one 100mm fan are doing the magnificent job of cooling this GPU, keeping the maximum temperatures during gaming, at around 70° C mark, which is a significant improvement over the reference models.
When talking about sheer performance, XFX RX 5700 Xt Thicc III Ultra has a boost clock of 1,935MHz in the Performance mode, which helps its gameplay being smooth in both 1080p and 1440p resolution, or in other words, this is where it shows its best results.
XFX RX 5700 Xt Thicc III Ultra comes fitted with three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port; it is equipped with Dual BIOS and overall delivers very attractive looks. Simply, with this card, you are getting the whole package: great performance, good cooling, and noise performance and on top of that, a design that will keep you smiling whenever you look at it.
- Very good cooling performance
- Dual BIOS
- Attractive looking
- Great performance
- High power consumption
- A bit large
- No Raytracing
XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO
An HD Gamer’s Dream
If you are a more budget-oriented gamer that is seeking a solid, but not too expensive graphics card that will deliver excellent 1080p gaming performance and a fairly solid 1440p one, XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO card is the choice for you.
Have in mind that this is the best 5600XT graphics card available, along with Sapphire Pulse and that, is neck and neck with the NVidias RTX 2060 when it comes to performance. In other words, you will be able to play games in a 1080p resolution at framerates that are close to three-figure numbers, while in the 1440p department, you will have framerates at around 60fps that guarantee a decent level of details and solid game flow.
When talking about temperature and noise performance, XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO shows more than satisfying results and delivers very quiet operations, as well as solid temperature values that don’t exceed 74°C even during heavy gaming sessions. Moreover, this graphics card provides 2304 stream processors, 144 TMUs and it has a boost clock speed of up to 1620MHz, which is another guarantee of its solid performance.
All in all, if you are after the best graphics card in the sub $300 area, XFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO should certainly be among your three top picks.
- Sleek looking
- Dual BIOS
- Excellent Full HD gaming
- Very good power efficiency
- No Raytracing
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
A Great-Value-for-Money Card for Full HD Gaming Fans
There are not that many cards that position themselves as well as an MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, which offers quality performance, good overclocking capability and an affordable price. It is no wonder that this card (at the time of writing) has a five-star review rate at Amazon because gives the most of all the VGAs in this category for this amount of money.
The boost clock of 1750 MHz can be easily overclocked to 1900MHz or higher, and that way offer frame rates very close to the ones of RTX 2060, but for a drastically lower price. The card itself comes with 6GB of GDDR5X VRAM, one HDMI and three DP outputs, latest architecture (without Raytracing and AI features) and an exceptionally attractive appearance.
This card’s great characteristics also include very low, almost dead silent, noise levels, and great temperature values of around 65°C.
According to performance, MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is ideal for Full HD playing, while 1440p action might be affected by frame rate deterioration (from 60fps to around 40fps) from time to time, but still presents a good solution in both departments.
Generally speaking, with its set of features, this card is a good option for upgrades from GTX 960/GTX 970 or as a quality solution for mid-budget gamers looking for a decent graphics card.
- Great overclocking capability
- No RT cores
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super
An Affordable Gaming Power Tool
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super is an attractive-looking graphics card that is mainly designed for full HD gaming and users that have a limited budget but want to have a decent gaming experience.
However, its gaming performance and overall capabilities drastically surpass its market and price position and allow not only excellent quality 1080p gaming, but 1440p gaming, with a framerate of around 60fps, and even more impressively, 4K gaming at a useable 30fps framerate as well, which is a jackpot for this price range.
Moreover, ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super offers good overclocking capabilities and delivers very good temperature values that never pass 65° C. On the other hand, its noise levels aren’t that good and with 37 dBA, this card is pretty audible, which is something you can live with; nevertheless, it is something ZOTAC could have handled, even in this price range.
When talking about sheer specifications, ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super offers a very nice boost clock speed of 1845MHz (reference model has a boost clock of 1785MHz); it has 1708 stream cores, 88 TMUs and 48 ROPs, and is fitted with three DisplayPorts and one HDMI port, which altogether makes a very good package – of course, if the best graphics card in the mainstream field is what you have been looking for.
- Very good value for the money
- Good overclocking capabilities
- Energy efficient
- Low temperature
- Attractive looks
- Not that silent during work
- Memory isn’t overclocked
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super
A Solid, High-Performing Mainstream Card
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super is a very well built graphics card, intended for the mainstream gaming market and preferably 1080p and 1440p market, where it shows its best performance.
Translated into numbers, this means that it delivers over 60fps in 1080p resolution under ultra-settings and the same framerate in the 1440p resolution in medium settings. Of course, due to its 1,920 CUDA cores, 1680 MHz boost clock and 8GB of GDDR6 this card is also capable of playing 4K games. However, this won’t be it unless you are willing to run them at low settings, and if you want to have a proper gaming experience, 1440p is the limit for this card.
When compared to other card models, EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super positions itself neck and neck with the RTX 2070 reference model’s performance and very close to the RX 5700 XT that has just a slight advantage.
Still, EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 Super’s qualities, such as quiet performance, three-year warranty, 175W TDP, and good connectivity that includes one DVI, one HDMI and two DisplayPorts, firmly place it among the best graphics cards available and definitely one of the better RTX 2060 SUPER cards available on the market.
- RTX Raytracing and DLSS
- Low-temperature values
- Quiet performance
- Very good overall performance
- Very good price for the RTX 2060 graphics card
- Memory isn’t overclocked
- Not much room for overclocking
There is no doubt that powerful PC needs a hefty motherboard. But the quality of graphics card you choose for your computer also plays a crucial part. Therefore, if you really want to get the best of the lot you should be aware of all pitfalls you may face when selecting the best graphics card for your PC.