Discover the best graphics cards for gaming and creating.
Giving your computer one of the best graphics cards will give it the power to run resource-hungry software smoothly without interfering with your workflow, allowing you to bring your ideas to life. One of these powerful graphics cards will allow you to immerse yourself in stunning 4K environments without experiencing lag.
There are two kinds of graphics cards available. Consumer graphics cards are primarily designed for gamers. These can range in price from budget GPUs to top-of-the-line cards with correspondingly high prices. Professional graphics cards, on the other hand, are extremely powerful GPUs aimed at professionals and can be quite expensive.
Professional graphics cards were once the only viable option for 3D artists and other professional creatives. Consumer graphics cards, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of providing performance comparable to professional options at a comparatively low price.
Because there are so many graphics cards available, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the best consumer and professional graphics options for a variety of budgets. If your setup necessitates the use of an external GPU, our guide to eGPUs can assist.
The best graphics cards available now
01. MSI GeForce RTX 3070
This high-end MSI card equipped with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 is one of the best graphics cards on the market right now. It has a cost, but it is less expensive than many professional alternatives and can handle equally demanding workloads. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is an excellent choice for creatives looking for exceptional performance at a more affordable price, or gamers looking for smooth visuals at 4K resolutions.
02. MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio
The GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio boosts the performance of the existing RTX 3090 card, making it ideal for those in need of high-performance graphics. Although it is still an RTX 3090, it has enough cooling power to handle this GPU at its default settings as well as enough drive to make it even more powerful. It’s the icing on the cake for game developers, coming on top of a GPU that can handle 4K PC games with ease.
As if that wasn’t enough, instead of the unusual 12-pin power connector used in Nvidia’s RTX 30-series Founders Edition cards, this beast has three standard 8-pin power connectors, which should allow for even more performance from this GPU.
03. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
Since its initial release, Nvidia’s RTX GPU family has continued to impress. The top-of-the-line 3090 may provide exceptional performance, but it exceeds most budgets. The 3080 and 3080 TI cards are significantly less expensive options that still pack a serious punch in terms of power.
The 3080 TI has all of the characteristics of a high-end GPU, including raytracing, and it is capable of handling complex tasks such as rendering intricate 3D scenes. It has 10240 cuda cores and up to 12GB GDDRX video ram for high-resolution textures, as well as 8K video editing and color grading capabilities.
04. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
The Geforce GTX 1660 Ti is a much less expensive Nvidia graphics card than the RTX series. This is due to the fact that it is based on the RTX cards’ newer 12nm Turning architecture, but lacks the ray tracing hardware.
The GTX 1660 Ti has 6GB of GDDR6 memory and 1,536 cuda cores, but it can still deliver excellent gaming performance at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. It’s also powerful enough to speed up plugins and filters in creative software. All of this makes it one of the best graphics cards for the money. Some manufacturers, such as PNY, even offer it in a super-short design that fits into smaller PCs.
05. AMD Radeon RX 6800
AMD is vying for Nvidia’s crown as the king of high-end graphics card performance, and their ongoing battle means that both are now releasing powerful graphics cards at increasingly competitive prices.
The AMD Radeon RX graphics processor is more than capable of powering both gameplay and creative workflows. Furthermore, it supports ray-tracing, a relatively new feature for AMD graphics cards. In short, you get performance comparable to the RTX 3070 at a fraction of the cost.
06. AMD Radeon RX 5700
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 demonstrates that AMD can do much more than create incredibly powerful graphics cards; they can also provide excellent value for money. The RX 5700 is a mid-range card that can easily handle the latest games at 1080p or 1440p resolution and at their highest settings. It also means that stunning visuals in your game library are more accessible than ever before.
If you’re not a gamer and want a GPU for your creative endeavors, the RX 5700 is still a fantastic choice, thanks to its excellent price/performance ratio.
07. Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000
If gaming isn’t your thing, Nvidia’s Quadro cards might be a better option for running creative software than the GeForce lineup. While the 8GB Quadro RTX 4000 is the less expensive option, the 16GB Quadro RTX 5000 packs a lot more punch, making it the better choice for demanding users willing to pay for serious performance.
The Quadro RTX 5000 has significantly more rendering power than the previous Pascal generation, propelling Cuda and OpenCL applications to new heights and rendering other graphics cards obsolete.
08. Gigabyte Aorus GeForce RTX 3080
The Gigabyte AORUS GeForce RTX 3080 Xtreme Graphics Card includes Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080, which is currently one of the best graphics cards available. The RTX 3080 incorporates all of Nvidia’s latest Ampere architecture advancements, including next-generation ray-tracing capabilities and 10GB of fast GDDR6X memory, allowing it to easily handle 4K gaming.
It’s also an excellent choice for creative professionals, with ray tracing and AI support to help you get things done faster. This card can handle everything from rendering ultra-high-definition video to creating complex and realistic 3D models. The best part is that it outperforms the previous generation by up to 80%. Because the RTX 3080 is so popular, it can be difficult to find in stock, but the Gigabyte AORUS might be your best bet.
09. Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000
The Nvidia Quadro RTX 4000 is an excellent choice for a workstation-class graphics card at a reasonable price. This graphics card performs well in design applications and has a slim single-slot design that allows it to fit into small cases. It also consumes less power than larger GeForce cards.
The RTX 4000 will make a significant difference when working with creative software, plug-ins, and filters, resulting in excellent performance when rendering images, 3D, and video.
The best graphics cards: What to consider?
GPUs, or graphics processing units, play two roles in computers. They accelerate 3D visuals in games by utilizing their hardware power to determine the appropriate frame rate and resolution for the increasingly impressive on-screen action.
Graphics cards can significantly improve rendering times for digital creativity such as animation, graphic design, illustration, and 3D modeling. Certain creative tools can benefit greatly from a good graphics card. Some effects are even beyond the capabilities of a CPU.
It’s also worth noting that each graphics card has a generic reference model that isn’t usually for sale. Each manufacturer (MSI, Asus, Gigabyte, and so on) will sell their own versions of each card, which will all be slightly different in appearance.
The best graphics cards: How to pick the right one for you ?
When shopping for a new graphics card, there are several factors to consider. To begin, the higher the resolution you’re creating or gaming at, the more memory you’ll need. If you require 4K resolution, you will need a graphics card with more memory – 8GB or more is now standard on higher-end cards.
The faster your graphics card performs, the more detail and effects you can expect from high-resolution gaming. The ideal frame rate for fluid performance is 60fps, but if you’ve invested in a 144Hz display, your graphics card will have to work even harder to keep up.
The number of cores determines a card’s rendering power. These range dramatically in price and performance, from entry-level £100 cards to £1000+ behemoths. The graphics card’s clock speed is given as a starting point. When a graphics card is under heavy load, it will run at a higher clock speed for better performance until it reaches its maximum to avoid overheating, similar to the Turbo mode on Intel CPUs.
Don’t forget to consider your display and graphics card output. Modern graphics cards all use HDMI or DisplayPort. All graphics cards now support at least the DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 standards, which provide the bandwidth required for 60hZ refresh rates on 4K or 5K displays.
Finally, the hardware generation of the series is the single most important factor in determining graphics card performance. Every two years or so, Nvidia and AMD release a new series of graphics cards. When a new generation is released, it increases the number of cores, memory, bandwidth, and features. Limit your search to the most recent cards for the best performance and future-proofing your graphics.
The best graphics cards: Jargon buster
The best graphics card reviews are typically filled with jargon that explains the type of performance you can expect. Memory (capacity, bandwidth, and speed), the number of cores (basically the hardware’s guts), and the card’s clock speed are the most frequently mentioned specifications (in MHz).
These specifications differ between GPU generations and tiers, and the cores in Nvidia and AMD cards are not the same. Nvidia refers to Cuda cores, whereas AMD refers to GCN cores. As a result, AMD and Nvidia cards cannot be compared in this regard.
Quadro vs GeForce and Radeon vs Radeon Pro
Nvidia and AMD are the two most well-known names in consumer graphics cards; each company produces two types of cards, which are primarily intended for gaming or creative projects. Nvidia’s gaming brand is GeForce, while its Quadro cards are better suited to a variety of creative tasks. AMD, on the other hand, offers Radeons for gamers and Radeon Pro for designers.
The more expensive Quadros and Radeon Pros share the same underlying design, architecture, and specifications, but with some key differences. Certified drivers are available for Quadro and Radeon graphics cards. That is, they have been tested for compatibility with specific software, providing better performance with design software in certain circumstances, and are (in theory) less likely to encounter issues.
Quadros and Radeon Pros also have ECC memory for increased precision, and they can run at lower clock speeds, which means they have lower power and thermal requirements. If your livelihood is dependent on your creative output and you require dependability, you should consider a Radeon Pro or Nvidia Quadro.
Another significant distinction is how the two types of graphics cards are manufactured. Nvidia and AMD produce and sell reference designs for gaming cards, but many other manufacturers, such as Asus, MSI, Zotac, EVGA, and Sapphire, sell variations on the reference specification with different cooling systems and faster clock speeds. However, for Quadro cards, Nvidia collaborates with a single manufacturer – PNY – to produce all of its hardware.