The performance of graphics cards is continuously improving. Nowadays, even an integrated graphics card can satisfy most users, especially for office work, browsing, social networking, and even some light gaming. Because of that, dedicated graphics cards are mostly reserved for more serious gaming, mining and usage of demanding applications such as CAD and the similar.
With that in mind, you should first decide about the type of requirements a card needs to fulfill so that you can purchase the best graphics card for you. You won’t spend more money than you have to and, at the same time, you’ll be satisfied with the performance – it’s the jackpot. It is not that easy to reach this goal, but with a bit of exploration and a little bit of our help, it is achievable.
How to Choose the Best Graphics Card
AMD or Nvidia
Some things never change, and the “war” between AMD and Nvidia graphics cards is one of them. From the moment you buy a graphics card, you will be pulled to one of the sides that claim that their choice is the right one.
It’s a fact is that right now the race is so tight it is impossible to declare the winner. It is important to know what games you need the graphics card for, and what resolution or frame rate you are going to play them at. Since today cards are more optimized for certain games, they perform better at specific frame rates, resolutions, etc. Therefore, do your homework and find out which card best suits your preferred games.
When deciding for the memory size, don’t be fooled with the larger values, keep in mind that GDDR5X memory is two times faster than GDDR5, while GDDR5 is twice as fast as GDDR3, and GDDR3 doubles the speed of DDR3. Also, be aware of the fact that every new generation of memory has a larger bandwidth than its predecessor.
For this reason, 1GB of GDDR5 is always better than 4GB of DDR3. You will get the same speed, but double the size of bandwidth, which will surely show in your overall gaming experience.
Another thing that might confuse you is an AMD’s HBM and HBM2 memory type. While GDDR has high clock speeds that require a lot of power and space, HBM works at lower speeds and asks for less space and power, and allows for higher bandwidth. In theory, HBM is better than the GDDR5, but it has a drawback: it is much more expensive, and therefore less attractive for use. It’s similar with HBM2 when compared to GDDR5X.
An HBM stack and a GDDR5 chip comparison
GPU Clock Speed
If the graphics cards use the same architecture, 3GHz of clock speed will surely show better performance than the 2GHz one. In other cases, the situation may vary. Sometimes 2GHz cards can be superior to 3GHz if they are newer, or use upgraded technology. Benchmark tests can prove to be very significant in this kind of situations, so don’t hesitate to use them.
There are a few more things you should take into a consideration before you make a purchase, and they are related more to your PC configuration then the graphics card itself. Will your graphics card fit into the case? Does your PSU have the proper connectors for the card or the proper wattage? What is the resolution of your monitor or the type of the CPU, does your monitor have the same connectors as your card?
All these things can help you make a proper decision. For instance, if you have an outdated CPU, there is no reason for you to buy the card at all, because its performance will be pour. On the other hand, if you buy a card that cannot be connected to your PSU or monitor, or your PSU power is not enough for the card, you will be forced to buy another PSU or monitor in addition to your new graphics card.
Just like CPU, GPU also needs cooling. In this case, there are both reference and aftermarket coolers. Reference coolers will do the job, and properly cool your GPU, but the aftermarket ones will just do it better. If you are into overclocking, go for the aftermarket cooler. They pull the heat much better and you will have fewer chances that your GPU will overheat.
You should keep in mind that there is one downside of aftermarket coolers – they pull the heat from the card to the case. In other words, you need more than a good fan positioning and an optimized air flow in order for everything to go smoothly.
Price is always an issue. The best graphics cards are expensive, but the increase in price between two cards doesn’t necessarily go head to head with their performance boost. Nvidia Titan XP, for instance, is more expensive than the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti for almost a double, but by different benchmark tests its performance is only 10%- 20% better.
Also, there are cards like Nvidia Quadro that are great but are built for workstations and don’t work that well with the games. Although its price can be compared with the prices of the best graphics cards, the fact is that their gaming performance can’t and is in the range of a couple of times cheaper cards. In other words, the price is not the definite quality proof.
11 Best Graphics Cards to Buy in 2018
A Graphical Card that Delivers Titan X Performance at a Lower Cost
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti has the impressive 11GB of GDDR5X memory that works at 11GHz, GPU with a base clock speed of 1556 MHz, boost clock of 1670 MHz and improved cooling that allows for better dissipation of the heat – the specifications that guarantee for high performance. It has one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector for your PSU and has three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI outputs that allow for a lot of different display options.
If you want the best gaming graphics card, EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is a good choice. Its price is a bit heavy, but you will get an ultimate 4K gaming card. Although this card might look like a slight improvement over the Nvidia GTX 1080, the fact is that thanks to its high-speed memory and large CUDA core count, GTX 1080 Ti is also better than the Titan XP, which is one of the best GPUs in the world. It is still no match for two GTX 1080s in an SLI, but if you prefer a single card that will perform great with a vast number of games, look no further.
- Great cooling
- Gaming performance is close to Titan X cards
- High price
A Graphical Card Destined for QHD Gaming
8GB of GDDR5 memory with 8GHz of speed and GPU boost clock of 1683MHz are not the prime specs but allow for more than a decent experience. ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is primarily made for QHD gaming, where it shines the most. Speaking of its performance, it’s placed between GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, because it outperforms GTX 1070, while GTX 1080 is a bit too expensive for QHD.
GTX 1070 Ti is more similar to GTX 1080 than a GTX 1070. They both have a TDP of 180W, while GTX 1070 has only 150W. Also, they share base clock speed and have a similar number of CUDA cores, while their biggest difference lays in the fact that GTX 1070 Ti uses older GDDR5 memory instead of GDDR5X that is used with the GTX 1080.
It is important to notice that the GTX 1070 Ti shows better test results in some games than the AMD highlight Radeon RX Vega 64 in QHD resolution. In other words, ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is probably the best graphics card for gaming in QHD resolution when price and performance are taken into concern.
- Very close to GTX 1080 performance but for a lower price
- Good 1080p and 1440p game behavior
- Often delivers better test results than the more expensive AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
- It uses the same Pascal architecture as 2016 cards
- Higher power consumption
- It heats up more than the Nvidia GTX 1070
Both a Great Miner and a Full HD Gamer
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is one of the best graphics cards for mining on the market right now and at the same time a great solution for Full HD gaming. Its users won’t be disappointed with either its 1440p experience where it shows great results or its mining capabilities and Full HD gaming are where it demonstrates its full potential.
Because it is so interesting to miners, RX Vega 56 is hard to find and its price is known to reach the skies. Therefore, if you can find it for the recommended retail price or close to it, you will get yourself a good deal since it’s close to RX Vega 64 according to its performance, but with a drastically lower price tag.
This one can also be compared to the Nvidia GTX 1070 by both performance and price, which makes RX Vega 56 even more attractive gaming solution, putting it among the best AMD graphics cards.
RX Vega 56 owes its good performance to its 8GB of HBM2 memory at 800MHz and boost clock of 1471MHz, which proved to be more than a good combination for this Full HD “killer”.
- Great Full HD performance
- Gaming performance is close to Titan X cards
- It gets very hot
- Requires a lot of energy
High-Performance Graphical Card for Not That Much Money
PNY usually makes the cards that are a bit cheaper than the competition, and PNY NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB XLR8 is no exception. That doesn’t mean its performance is worse than the other GTX 1080 8GB derives such as Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming 8G – it just means that the card, for instance, has a bit more robust cooling system, or that it doesn’t have its own additional software – things like that. These are the things that save money, and that is why it can be offered for a lower price, but they do not affect the overall performance of the card.
PNY NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 8GB XLR8 is factory overclocked and offers 6% faster speeds than reference models. Although the cooler is not the quietest on the market, it will handle all the trouble you bring in front of it with an ease. 8GB of GDDR5X memory at 10GHz, a core clock of 1.71GHz and boost clock of 1.85GHz are more than enough for rocking in the games, for a reasonable amount money.
Ultra-high resolution, VR, and multiple monitors, are no trouble for this lad. You can connect it to the gaming motherboard without any problems and fully enjoy all the best gaming features.
- Premium look
- Factory overclocked
- A bit heavy
- Stickers on the fans could be more centered
- Oversized cooler
- Oversized cooler
A High-Performance, Yet Affordable, Graphics Card
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 GAMING X 8G is very similar to the previously mentioned PNY card. It is also factory overclocked and has specs that are very similar to the PNY version, if not the same: 8GB of GDDR5X memory at 10GHz, a base clock of 1709 MHz and a boost clock of 1848 MHz. In the MSI portfolio, it is placed behind the Lightning model that is meant for the enthusiasts, and in front of Armor 8G and Aero 8G cards that are cheaper and simpler.
The fact that it is overclocked gives it the advantage over the regular GTX 1080 cards and puts it a bit higher up on the ladder. Another good thing about it is that it offers much a quieter fans work and MSI’s Afterburner software for additional adjustments of the card. Also, its design is a bit better than the PNY’s, which makes the “fight” between these two cards even more interesting. When the price of these two cards, which is almost the same, is added to the equation, things don’t get any simpler.
The only fact is that whichever card you decide for, you won’t make a mistake. Both of these cards will deliver a great performance at a reasonable price and can be paired with the best gaming CPUs and RAM, offering ultimate Class A experience.
- Great performance at a reasonable price
- Fan speed should be higher
- Too hot
Graphics Card That Offers Real Value the Money
One of the biggest ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1060 Mini advantages is that is one of the cheapest GTX 1060 cards, even bellow recommended price which is rare these days. Its speed is a bit better than GTX 970, while it is 14% faster than RX 470 4GB. On the other hand, RX 480 8GB is 5% faster, and GTX 1060 6GB is 10% faster than the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1060 Mini, but that is mostly because of a higher number of shaders (11% more).
The downside of this card is its cooling – it looks like its engineers haven’t been at their best and have built in a cooler that just isn’t enough, not even for the superpower saving Pascal technology of the GPU. A good thing, though, is that its power consumption is very low, and doesn’t require large PSU.
This card has 3GB of GDDR5 memory at 8GHz, has a base clock of 1506 MHz with a boost clock of 1708 MHz which is very close to the reference model and guarantees for quality performance. When compared to the competition, it is a clear winner against RX 470 4GB, while GTX 1060 6GB or RX 480 8GB are too expensive to even be put in the same line with it. RX 480 4GB, on the other hand, is a real rival and it is questionable which of these two is the best graphics card for the money.
- Good overclocking capability
- Good value for the money
- Fans are noisy
- No SLI support
- High temperature
An Affordable Graphics Card for eSports
Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti Windforce is no super gamer, but it does what it should do with an ease. It has 4GB of GDDR5 memory that works at 7GHz and a boost clock of 1468 MHz. There is also a number of outputs: one DisplayPort, three HDMI, and one DVI, that allow for great versatility.
This is an affordable graphics card – its price goes around $200, and it is destined for eSports. It delivers high frame rates, more than 60fps during Full HD gaming, which is exactly what eSports players need – high frame rates, without the need for beautiful graphical details.
Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti Windforce is an affordable card that allows playing most of the eSports titles. It is a bit more expensive than the GTX 1050, but with the extra power, compared to its “younger brother”, you will get an opportunity of playing even the newer titles without any trouble. Without any doubt, the best graphics card under $300 you can buy right now.
- Decent Full HD performer
- Good overclocking capabilities
- TDP greater than 75W
A Graphics Card Made for Quality Full HD Gaming
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition is a factory overclocked graphics card that is based on RX 580, which is primarily made for a direct race with the Nvidia GTX 1060 card. It’s a fact that RX 580 is just a slightly improved version of RX 480 and that there is not that much of a difference between these two. XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition, on the other hand, offers a nicer design, with better overall performance thanks to its factory overclocking compared to the regular reference card.
When compared to Nvidia GTX 1060 in game testing, especially at Full HD, it offers similar, and often even better results, which makes it a very good pick for 1080p gaming, especially if you can pair it with Ryzen 5 or 7 processors.
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition has 8GB of GDDR5 memory at 8GHz, with a base clock speed of 1,366MHz and boost speed of 1,386MHz. Combined with three DisplayPorts, one HDMI and one DVI output, it delivers a very good alternative for any decent gaming. You won’t get super high speeds and fps, but will get a decent card that will guarantee for quality Full HD gaming.
- Factory overclocked
- Great design
- Heat pipes are composite
- Strange positioning of the power connector
- Limited OC levels
The Best Budget Graphics Card Money Can Buy
Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 characteristics won’t blow anyone’s mind, but if you have limited resources and you are not too demanding and want to play newest titles, this card might be the right choice for you. Though you will play them in medium settings, you will still be able to play them at 60fps or more, which guarantees for a smooth play and pleasure in all the game excitements.
This card is for sure the best graphics card around $150 you can find. Its boost clock of 1518 MHz, 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 7GHz, one DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DL-DVI outputs are not great, but if you can’t spend a lot of money and still want to enjoy the serious gaming, you got yourself a jackpot.
Thanks to its small size, this card is a good idea not only for the gaming PCs, but also for multimedia-entertainment computers, which makes it a good multifunctional, and at the same time inexpensive, solution.
- Small size
- Only 2GB of memory
A Graphics Card Made for Low-cost Gaming
This is a graphics card made for low-cost 1080p gaming. It is factory overclocked and it consumes all of its power from the motherboard, which makes it very suitable for low-power PCs upgrades, home theaters, or small form factor PCs.
It is equipped with an ACX fan, with low power motor and optimized blades that will deliver good cooling of the GPU even with the most demanding games. EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC GAMING has 4GB of GDDR5 memory at 7GHz, and a GPU with a base clock at 1354MHz and a boost clock of 1468 MHz, which is not impressive but it does the work.
This card was made as a counterpart to AMD’s Radeon RX 460 and test results show that it won in that game, and delivered better results in practically any game. The only downfall is that it’s far behind the Radeon RX 470 and GTX 1060 in performance, although they are only one ladder above it and RX 460. But, thanks to AMD and Nvidia price policy, they are not a real competition.
- Low power consumption
- Some games need to be shifted to medium settings
An Entry-Level Graphics Card That Will Satisfy Any Novice
ASUS Radeon RX 560 is an entry-level video card from AMD. It is basically an upgraded version of RX 460, and it is planned to take its position both in price and overall AMD card hierarchy. Although this card shows the best results in 720p, both in regular and eSport games, its benchmark results show that it can deliver a playable performance even at 1080p.
RX 560’s 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 1750MHz and a core clock of 1210MHz are not much, but you can’t expect much more from an entry-level graphics card. Although limited in its specs, it offers a chance for VR, which is more than a welcome bonus to any card, not just entry-level ones.
Compared to GTX 1050, its counterpart from Nvidia, it doesn’t do that well – it is outperformed in most tests. Yes, RX 560 is a bit cheaper, but not that much cheaper. Don’t get us wrong, ASUS Radeon RX 560 is a good budget graphics card and it will deliver more than a decent performance that will satisfy the majority of gaming novices.
- Good build quality
- Great cooling
- Slower than its counterpart GTX 1050
To Sum Up
Even the cheapest graphics cards today will give you more than a decent performance, which wasn’t the case in the past. Whatever your preferred price tag is, and whatever you need them for, we’re sure you’ll be able to find your graphics soulmate on this list. Good luck!