Are you looking for a top-quality graphics card to power your PC gaming? You’re not alone. (Literally — thanks to the card and chip shortages, you’re really not alone.) Unfortunately, the PC graphics card market can be complex,and navigating it is challenging, especially if you’re new to upgrading your PC.
Take the complexity down a few notches by using this guide. Below, you’ll find some of the best graphics cards for PC gaming at a variety of price points.
A Note on the Market
Before jumping into specifics on various graphics cards, you should know that the market is a little strange right now. In general, there’s a shortage of pretty much every top gaming graphics card. Part of it is the overall chip shortage, and part of it is the unbalanced demand due to cryptocurrency mining.
What does this mean for you? Well, some of the graphics cards you see below may be unavailable at the time you’re reading. Others might be selling for $1,000 over MSRP (seriously). So if you’re in the market, be careful, happy hunting, and don’t get scammed.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
The GeForce RTX 3080
is a top-performing graphics card that hits the sweet spot between price and performance. That’s not to say this is a cheap card, with an MSRP of $699. But if you want to power 4K gaming experiences at 60fps or more, this is the way to go. One industry reviewer
called this card a “huge generational leap in performance,” and that’s not an exaggeration.
Compared to the beefier RTX 3090
, the 3080 seems like a bargain. With advanced ray tracing and better support for DLSS (essentially, resolution upscaling), this card is powerful and feature-packed.
However, there are a few things to note. First, if you’re only gaming at 1080p, this is more than you need. Second, make sure your PC has the proper power supply output to power this card (320W).
And last, availability is currently a serious problem for this card. If your only option is paying $1500+ on Amazon, choose something else.
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
AMD’s Radeon line is the other big player in the market, and the best (though not the most powerful) card in the lineup right now is the Radeon RX 6800 XT
. Roughly on the same level as the GeForce RTX 3080, the RX 6800 XT is a comparable choice for powerful 4K gaming.
Just like the RTX 3080, this Radeon RX 6800 XT is a stunning improvement over its predecessor. In fact, the 6800 XT performs 70 to 90% faster than the 5700 XT according to benchmarks
run over at Tom’s Hardware.
Ray tracing isn’t as good, and AMD doesn’t have the kind of native support of DLSS that you get with Nvidia cards. But for games relying on rasterization, this card edges out the GeForce competition.
Again, availability and price gouging are big problems at the moment.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti – Best Midrange Nvidia Card
If you’re reading this thinking, “that’s great and all, but who spends $700 to $1k on a graphics card?!”, you’re not alone. Nvidia knows this as well, and it has a graphics card that fits a budget: the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
. With a retail price of $399, this is a mid range graphics card — but one that packs plenty of punch.
This card features 8GB of GDDR6 video RAM and powers 1440p gaming with DLSS easily. It’s a bit of a stretch for 4K gaming, and 8GB might not be the most future-proof for video RAM.
Still, comparing back a generation: this year’s midrange card significantly outperforms one of the best from the last release, the 2080 Super. (That card occupied the same slot in the last release’s lineup as the #1 pick 3080 does for this year.) That’s a serious jump in performance!
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super – Best Budget Pick
This year’s best budget pick is built on last year’s architecture, but it’s still a powerful card that’s considered mainstream enough for the eSports market. If you’re gaming at 1080p and want to keep prices reasonable (shortages notwithstanding), the GTX 1660 Super
is a great pick.
Despite more modest specs, this card features 6GB of GDDR6 RAM, giving it a great speed boost. You don’t get hardware ray tracing with this model, either.
In short, if you’re looking for capable gaming hardware but don’t need the latest cutting-edge stuff (or 4K support), the GTX 1660 Super is a solid choice. (Again, if you can find one anywhere near the “normal” price.)
Protect Your Gaming PC with Upsie
Getting the gear you want for your gaming PC is tricky right now. But protecting that PC doesn’t have to be. An extended PC warranty
from Upsie keeps your PC safe from defects and component failures alike. Upsie’s warranties cover gaming laptops and pre-built PCs to give you peace of mind. With Upsie, you can rest easy knowing that repairs are covered.
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