The Best Graphics Cards For Gaming (2021 Reviews)

premium pick

ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3080

ASUS TUF Gaming NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • Superb performance in 1440p and 4K
  • Quiet and efficient cooling
  • MSRP pricing
best value

ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 OC Edition

ASUS TUF Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 OC Edition
  • Great for 1440p and even 4K gaming
  • Quiet and efficient cooling
  • Very good value for the money
budget pick

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Super Windforce OC

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Super Windforce OC
  • Good 1080p performance
  • Highly affordable

The graphics card is the most important element of a gaming PC, period. It does all the heavy lifting when it comes to rendering in-game graphics, so it’s obvious as to why it’s so important to choose the right one.

But luckily, it’s not as difficult as some may think!

As long as you know what your performance goals and your budget are, you’re already an inch away from finding the perfect graphics card for your needs.

In this buying guide, you will find the very best GPUs for gaming in 2020, as well as some pointers as to what you should keep an eye out for.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the first graphics card in the list.

Table of ContentsShow

Best Budget Graphics Cards

In the first category, we have a couple of budget graphics cards that are bound to catch the attention of those who can’t afford to spend too much on a new GPU.

They don’t cost much and are well-suited for gaming in 1080p, so one of them just might be the right pick for you.

The Pros:

  • Solid 1080p performance
  • Affordable
  • DVI port for those with older monitors
  • Neutral and effective design

The Cons:

  • Relatively low memory
  • Not very future-proof

First up, we have what is easily one of the best budget cards currently available – the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 Super Windforce OC. Gigabyte is known for its all-around balanced and relatively affordable solutions, and that’s precisely what they offer with this card.

The GTX 1650 Super in itself is a very competent GPU that can more than handle the latest AAA titles in 1080p, making it the ideal pick for those who aren’t really ready to make the leap to 1440p or 4K quite yet.

Base Clock Speed1530 MHz
Boost Clock1755 MHz
MemoryGDDR6
Memory Capacity4 GB
Memory Bus128-bit
Connectors1x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
1x DL-DVI-D
Recommended PSU350W

As far as this particular model is concerned, it is cooled by dual Windforce fans that allow the card to perform slightly better than the reference model. When it comes to the design, Gigabyte stuck with a simple, neutral black shroud with gray highlights, something that allows the card to fit in with most builds without sticking out, and it comes complete with a backplate.

Moreover, the card also comes with a DVI port, which is great news for those who still have older monitors that use this port. Overall, as mentioned above, this is a well-balanced card that will definitely appeal to those who are pinching pennies or just don’t want to spend more on a graphics card.

However, the main downside of the GTX 1650 Super lies in its memory. While it does come equipped with GDDR6, 4 gigabytes of video memory with a 128-bit memory bus isn’t exactly great for gaming in higher resolutions in 2020, and it won’t get any better as years go by.

That said, while we can wholeheartedly recommend this card to those who are on a tight budget or who don’t plan on upgrading from a 1080p screen anytime soon, this is something to keep in mind if you plan on investing in a higher-resolution monitor further down the line.

The Pros:

  • Great for 1080p and decent for 1440p
  • Appealing design
  • RGB lighting

The Cons:

  • A bit on the pricey side

Next up, we have another highly popular budget graphics card – the GTX 1660 Super – and it’s a particularly appealing model coming from MSI, the MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Gaming X. And what makes it so appealing? Well, mainly the fact that it brings performance and design together in one modestly-priced package.

The GTX 1660 Super is a GPU that marked Nvidia’s return to form when it comes to more affordable graphics solutions, as AMD had been offering superior alternatives in the lower price ranges for years. However, the GTX 1660 Super completely outclassed both the older Polaris-based AMD models and the rather disappointing RX 5500 XT.

Base Clock Speed1530 MHz
Boost Clock1830 MHz
MemoryGDDR6
Memory Capacity6 GB
Memory Bus192-bit
Connectors3x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
Recommended PSU450W

That said, the GTX 1660 Super is primarily geared towards 1080p gaming, although it fares quite a bit better than the 1650 Super, as the extra memory allows it to offer competent performance even in 1440p. So, it’s also a great GPU if you’re going for 1440p on a budget.

When it comes to MSI’s take on the GTX 1660 Super, there’s a lot to love. It performs markedly better than the reference model thanks to the dual Torx 3.0 fans, and they nailed the design, too. As before, the gray shroud is neutral and allows the card to fit in aesthetically with most builds, all the while the angular design and RGB lighting give it some of that gaming flair.

Now, while it is definitely a great card, this MSI GTX 1660 Super is a bit on the pricey side, as it’s essentially skirting the edge between budget and mid-range models.

As such, it offers somewhat dubious value compared to some slightly more expensive but more powerful cards such as the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT, which we’ll take a look at below.

Best Mid-Range Graphics Cards

Moving on, we get to the mid-range graphics cards that are more expensive but also more powerful and more future-proof, as they offer good 1440p performance and some can even take on 4K.

Overall, they are a good middle ground for those who want to find a good balance between performance and pricing.

The Pros:

  • Great 1080p and 1440 performance
  • Good value for the money

The Cons:

  • No ray tracing
  • Underwhelming design

Up first, we have the MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming MX, a good take on AMD’s excellent RDNA-based mid-range GPU. While it may not look as great as some other models that you can find today, if you place performance first and want to get good value for your money, then this might be the card for you.

When the RX 5600 XT came out, AMD was finally able to offer good competition for Nvidia in the mid-range, mastering 1080p gaming and offering solid 1440p performance at very approachable prices, so it’s easy to see why it would make such a good pick even today.

Base Clock Speed1280 MHz
Boost Clock1620 MHz
MemoryGDDR6
Memory Capacity6 GB
Memory Bus192-bit
Connectors3x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
Recommended PSU500W

With that in mind, the RX 5600 XT would make a very good choice for either a 1440p monitor or a 1080p monitor with a high refresh rate, as it would be able to hit higher framerates easier than some of the cheaper cards, especially in some of the more demanding games.

Now, we’ve already mentioned that this particular model places performance first, and while this makes it relatively affordable, it also means that it comes with a somewhat unimpressive design. There is no RGB and the shroud leaves some things to be desired, so if you prefer more aesthetically appealing cards that you could admire in a translucent case, then there are definitely better alternatives.

Moreover, one of the downsides of the RDNA architecture is that it doesn’t support ray tracing, so that feature is missing from the RX 5600 XT. This isn’t a big downside if you don’t care about ray tracing anyway, but if you do, it might be a good idea to wait a few more months for the more affordable RX 6000 and RTX 3000 GPUs to roll out.

All in all, we’d say that the MSI RX 5600 XT Gaming MX is a great graphics card for those who are looking for performance and value first and foremost, but as we’ve mentioned above, you might want to look for something different if you also care about aesthetics.

The Pros:

  • Excellent performance in 1440p
  • Serviceable in 4K
  • Sleek exterior design

The Cons:

  • No ray tracing
  • High power consumption

Now, if the RX 5600 XT doesn’t meet your performance requirements, you may want to take a look at its bigger, meaner cousin – the RX 5700 XT – and XFX’s Thicc III Ultra model is one of the best models that you can get today.

Meme-inspired naming aside, the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is an excellent card that will not only offer great performance in 1440p but can even take on 4K, too, plus it’s not bad from a design standpoint either!

Base Clock Speed1810 MHz
Boost Clock2025 MHz
MemoryGDDR6
Memory Capacity8 GB
Memory Bus256-bit
Connectors3x DisplayPort 1.4
1x HDMI 2.0b
Recommended PSU600W

With its triple-fan cooler, this XFX RX 5700 XT can reach impressive clock speeds, and it can do so without excessive noise generation. Moreover, as you can tell from the picture, it’s not bad to look at either. Granted, the design isn’t as aggressive as with some other graphics cards, but it’s sleek and powerful without being too ostentatious.

As far as the downsides are concerned, the most notable one would probably have to be the card’s high power consumption, but as with the RX 5600 XT, some are also sure to mind the lack of hardware-accelerated ray tracing.

Regardless, the RX 5700 XT is currently the best option for those who want good performance in 1440p or those who want to make the jump to 4K and are willing to settle for less-than-ideal but serviceable performance in that resolution.

As mentioned above, though, one of the new RX 6000 or RTX 3000 models will probably be much more appealing when they come out and they will likely dethrone the RX 5700 XT, but it remains a very viable pick until then.

Best High-End Graphics Cards

And now, for the final category, we get to some high-end solutions that offer unmatched performance at all resolutions – GPUs that can offer exceptional 1440p performance and maintain stable refresh rates in 4K, albeit at notably higher prices.

The Pros:

  • Excellent card for 1440p and 4K gaming
  • Efficient cooling with low noise generation
  • Great value for the money

The Cons:

  • Basic design
  • Limited overclocking performance
  • Power-hungry

First up, we have the RTX 3070, and it is easily one of the best GPUs that Nvidia has released so far, especially when value is concerned. The particular model that we’ll be taking a look at here is the Asus TUF RTX 3070 OC Edition, and this is a series that has always prioritized performance, reliability, and affordability over aesthetics.

That said, while this card might not offer as much eye candy as some other models that you’ll encounter today, the performance that it offers at its current price point is bound to catch the attention of many a gamer.

Base Clock Speed1500 MHz
Boost Clock1845 MHz
MemoryGDDR6
Memory Capacity8 GB
Memory Bus256-bit
Connectors2x HDMI 2.1 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Recommended PSU750W

To put it simply, the RTX 3070 offers all the performance that the average gamer who is looking to make the jump to 1440p, or even 4K, will need. Granted, it can’t compete with some of the pricier models if you’re looking to push a stable triple-digit framerate in the more demanding games, but at $500, it’s quite amazing, especially since it outperforms even the overly expensive RTX 2080 Ti.

This particular card, while it may not look as great as some of Asus’ ROG models, still boasts an effective design. As mentioned above, the main strength of TUF cards lies in their good pricing, solid performance, and high build quality, and this RTX 3070 definitely delivers in that respect.

On the downside, the GPU is remarkably power-hungry, plus the overclocking performance isn’t exactly great due to the power limit. Regardless, this is still an amazing card for those who don’t care about the finer details and are just looking for a good card to hook up to a high-resolution monitor.

All in all, while it is by no means perfect, the Asus TUF RTX 3070 is a great pick for those who are looking to get good value for their money, as they’ll not be disappointed by any stretch of the word. Sure, it may not be the best-looking card on the market nor is it a good fit for avid overclockers, but for the average gamer who has their wallet’s wellbeing in mind, it’s an excellent choice.

The Pros:

  • Top-notch performance in 1440p and 4K
  • Quiet and efficient cooling
  • MSRP pricing

The Cons:

  • High power consumption
  • On the expensive side
  • Design won’t agree with everyone

Here, we get to the good stuff! The new RTX 3080 is an amazing GPU that outperforms even the extremely pricey RTX 2080 Ti by a significant margin without being anywhere near as expensive, and it is currently the undisputed king of the high-end.

The model that we picked here is the Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080, a card that doesn’t add to the already high $700 MSRP and offers great overall performance, although not everyone will be a big fan of the design.

Base Clock Speed1440 MHz
Boost Clock1815 MHz
MemoryGDDR6X
Memory Capacity10 GB
Memory Bus320-bit
Connectors3x DisplayPort 1.4a
2x HDMI 2.1
Recommended PSU750W

As you might guess from the specs, the RTX 3080 is a GPU ideal for gaming in higher resolutions, but it also offers very dubious value for those who still don’t plan on upgrading from 1080p. With 10 gigabytes of GDDR6X memory, it’s obviously well-suited for gaming in 4K or when paired with a high refresh rate 1440p monitor.

As mentioned above, Asus’ cooler squeezes good performance out of the GPU, offering noticeably better cooling without increasing the price or the noise generation, although it doesn’t exactly showcase the most eye-catching of the company’s designs.

However, the TUF series has always put performance and value first, and it definitely manages to do so in this case. Besides, while the simple gray shroud and limited implementation of RGB might make the card seem like a more affordable mid-range solution, it is still a very effective design.

For those who are more concerned with the practical side of things, the bad news is that the RTX 3080 is insanely power-hungry, even more so than the RTX 2080 Ti, so if you get it, be prepared to also get a pricier, high-quality PSU.  

In any case, if you’re after a high-end GPU that can master 1440p and offer excellent performance in 4K, then there is currently no better choice than the RTX 3080, but we’ll see what happens when AMD’s RX 6000 models are released.

The Pros:

  • Unmatched performance
  • High memory capacity
  • Beautiful design

The Cons:

  • Extremely expensive
  • High power consumption
  • Very poor value for gaming

And last but definitely not least, we have the MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio, a graphics card that is more than powerful enough to run the latest games – literally!

However, with its massive supply of video memory and hefty price tag, the RTX 3090 is a GPU more geared towards workstations than towards gaming PCs.

Base Clock Speed1400 MHz
Boost Clock1785 MHz
MemoryGDDR6X
Memory Capacity24 GB
Memory Bus384-bit
Connectors3x DisplayPort 1.4a
1x HDMI 2.1
Recommended PSU750W

So, the RTX 3090 is, quite literally, the most powerful consumer GPU on the market, and MSI did a great job with this particular model, setting it up with superb cooling and stunning RGB.

However, more raw performance doesn’t necessarily translate into good value, and much like the RTX 2080 Ti, the RTX 3090 is a perfect example of this. Compared to the RTX 3080, the RTX 3090 does offer slightly better performance in games, but it costs more than twice as much, which makes it a very dubious investment for gamers.

As mentioned in the introduction, the RTX 3090 is a better pick for workstations than for gaming PCs, as the main advantage that it has over the RTX 3080 – its ample memory capacity – can be very useful for memory-hungry professional applications, but it really isn’t all that relevant for gaming in 2020, as games don’t need anywhere near as much memory yet.

That said, unless you intend on using applications that could take full advantage of the card’s 24 gigabytes of GDDR6X memory or unless you simply have cash to burn, the RTX 3090 really isn’t a card worth considering due to its prohibitively high price and relatively low in-game performance increase relative to the much more approachable RTX 3080.

How To Pick The Best Graphics Card For Your Needs

Now that we have gone over some of the best graphics cards currently available, here are some things to keep in mind if you want to find the best GPU that would fit both your needs and your budget!

Hardware Compatibility

Being able to fully customize your PC is one of the main appeals behind getting one, but having to worry about compatibility is probably the main reason why many shy away from it. And sure enough, all the different numbers and designations can be quite confusing to navigate if you’re new to the whole thing, but you’d be surprised as to how simple it actually is!

So, here are the main things to keep in mind when it comes to GPU compatibility.

The Motherboard

Best Gaming Motherboard

The motherboard is probably the easiest component to pick when building a PC, as it is through it that other components interface and communicate.

The things to keep in mind when picking the motherboard are the format, the CPU socket, the chipset, the number of RAM and PCIe slots, along with the number of other connectors such as USB, SATA, M.2, and others.

On top of that, there are also some additional features to consider, such as overclocking support, but if you want to know more about motherboards, it would be best to view this buying guide.

As far as GPU and motherboard compatibility is concerned, the motherboard needs to have an appropriate PCIe slot, as that’s how the GPU will be interfacing with the motherboard. But since pretty much every mainstream motherboard has at least one, if not multiple, it’s a fairly simple matter.

However, two things you should keep in mind are the version of the PCI Express slot and the size of the graphics card.

Related:Motherboards: ATX vs Micro ATX vs Mini ITX – Which Should I Choose?

For a long time, PCIe 3.0 has been the standard, and PCIe 4.0 has only just started rolling out to mainstream motherboards and GPUs. However, while it has more immediate benefits when it comes to SSDs, it’ll be some time yet before it actually matters for GPUs.

Currently, since PCIe 4.0 is backward compatible with PCIe 3.0 and since it doesn’t offer any palpable performance increase even when it comes to the most powerful GPUs that support it, there really isn’t any need to worry about this at the moment.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the size of the graphics card, thickness and length are the most important to consider. Thicker cards will occupy more vertical slots inside the case, thus potentially obstructing some of the other PCIe slots and preventing you from installing any extra PCIe cards in those slots.

As for length, it doesn’t really affect the motherboard as much as it affects the case, as a longer GPU might not fit inside more compact cases. This is mainly an issue with Mini Tower and small form factor cases, as Mid Tower cases and larger shouldn’t have any trouble fitting even the bulkiest of cards. Still, it’s always a good idea to check the graphics card and case measurements just to be sure.

The CPU

CPU GPU Bottleneck

There isn’t much to worry about on the GPU-CPU compatibility front, as every modern CPU will work with every modern GPU. However, the question that you should be asking is how well the two can work together.

When picking a CPU to go with the GPU, you need to make sure that the CPU isn’t bottlenecking the GPU, or vice versa. And what is a bottleneck?

Related:The Best CPUs For Gaming (2021 Reviews)

Basically, if you pair up a powerful GPU with a significantly weaker CPU, the GPU won’t be utilized to its full capacity because the CPU would be unable to issue new instructions fast enough.

We have a full article on how to avoid bottlenecks here, but essentially, the quickest way to see if a CPU and a GPU are a good fit is with the help of a bottleneck calculator. Keep in mind, though, that these aren’t 100% accurate but can only give you a rough estimate.

The Power Supply

PSU Tier List

The power supply, as the name implies, is in charge of supplying all the components with adequate power that they need in order to function properly. The GPU is the most power-hungry component inside a gaming PC, so it’s always important to pick a PSU that would be a good match for whatever graphics card you have your eye on.

As you can tell from this article, modern GPUs require PSUs that range anywhere from 350W to 750W, though most stick to the 500-600W range. Fortunately, finding a PSU that’s powerful enough isn’t an issue. Frankly, finding a power supply that’s weaker than 500W would be the real challenge in 2020.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need to keep all the components and not just the GPU in mind when you’re shopping for an adequate power supply. Moreover, if you plan on doing some heavy overclocking, it goes without saying that getting a more powerful, higher-quality PSU should be high on your priority list.

Again, you can check out the complete article on this subject here, as there’s more to picking a PSU than just the wattage. And on top of that, you might want to take a look at our PSU hierarchy, too.

The Display

Best 1440p Monitors

What use is a good graphics card if you don’t have a monitor that can do it justice?

There’s no point in pairing up a $700 GPU with a $100 monitor that can only do 60 Hz at 1080p! Just the same, there’s no point in investing extra in a high-resolution display with a high refresh rate if you’re only getting a budget GPU that would struggle to maintain playable framerates when hooked up to it.

So, when it comes to finding the best monitor to go with your graphics card, here are the two most important things to keep in mind!

First up is the resolution. Generally speaking, you get to pick between three main resolutions when it comes to gaming monitors in 2020:

  1. Full HD i.e. 1080p, good for those who prioritize performance over visuals or those on a tight budget
  2. Quad HD i.e. 1440p, a great middle-ground between visuals and performance, probably the best resolution for gaming in 2020.
  3. 4K/Ultra HD i.e. 2160p, offers unmatched visuals but requires a high-end GPU if you want to maintain playable framerates in the latest and upcoming AAA games

Related:What Is The Best Resolution For Gaming?

The benefits of gaming in a higher resolution is that you’d be getting much better, crisper visuals and the kind of detail that you’d never be able to get with a lower-resolution display. However, running games in higher resolutions is also much more demanding on the hardware, meaning that you’d need to invest in a beefier GPU in order to get stable, playable framerates.

Again, if we were to generalize, budget GPUs are best suited for 1080p gaming, mid-range ones are good for 1440p, and high-end ones are good for 4K. But of course, the exact performance will vary based on both the GPU and the game in question, as not every game is as demanding or as well optimized as another.

Related:The Best 1440p Monitors (2021 Reviews)

Now, in 2020, the resolution isn’t everything, and refresh rates are often just as important, if not more important, to some gamers.

So, what is a refresh rate? Essentially, a monitor’s refresh rate determines how many times the display can refresh the displayed image each second (expressed in Hertz), and this directly correlates to the number of frames the monitor can display each second.

So, if you have a standard 60 Hz monitor, it can display a maximum of 60 FPS, while a 144 Hz monitor can display 144 FPS. Today, 60 Hz, 144 Hz, and 240 Hz are the most common refresh rates for gaming monitors, though you’ll also likely encounter those with 75 Hz, 100 Hz, 120 Hz, and other refresh rates, too.

Related:144Hz vs 240Hz – Which Should I Choose?

Now, what a higher refresh rate gets you is a more responsive and fluid gaming experience with less motion blur, so it’s easy to understand just why some gamers – especially those who are into competitive multiplayer where very second counts – would gladly settle for a lower-resolution monitor if it meant getting a higher refresh rate.

Ultimately, though, what resolution and refresh rate you opt for is up to personal preference and budget constraints, as both will factor into a monitor’s price. However, though the resolution and the refresh rate may be the most important factors to consider when it comes to choosing a monitor, there are other things to keep in mind, too: the panel technology, the pixel response time, the aspect ratio, and more.

If you’d like to read more on how to pick the ideal gaming monitor for your needs, it would be a good idea to check out this article.

Nvidia vs. AMD

NVIDIA vs AMD GPUs

First, it was Nvidia vs ATI, and after AMD acquired ATI in 2006, it quickly became “Nvidia vs AMD”. This is a question with no clear answer, and in recent years, it has been more difficult to answer than ever before.

For a long time, Nvidia dominated the upper mid-range and the high-end while AMD could only ever manage to offer good competition in the lower price ranges. The situation is changing now, though, so how do Team Green and Team Red fare in 2020?

Well, AMD made a big comeback in the GPU scene with the release of their RX 5000 GPUs, as the RX 5600 XT and the RX 5700 XT both offered great performance and excellent value for the money, all the while Nvidia took the lead when it came to budget solutions with the likes of the GTX 1650 Super.

Related:NVIDIA vs AMD – Which GPU Brand Is Best Right Now?

The question of what the high-end will look like will be answered in the coming months, as AMD will be launching its “Big Navi” RX 6000 GPUs in late November and early December this year, so it will be interesting to see how they fare when going toe to toe with the latest RTX 3000 models.

Needless to say, we’ll be updating this guide as soon as the new GPUs are released, and since the market has been wobbling back and forth for a while now, it might be a good idea to hold off getting a new GPU until we see how the new RX 6000 cards will fare in practice. 

Conclusion – The Best Graphics Card For 2020

Best Gaming Graphics Cards

And now that we have gone over all the best GPUs currently available, it’s time to answer the titular question: which one of them is the best one?

Well, since preferences and budget constraints differ from person to person, it’s impossible to highlight a single graphics card as the best one, which is why we picked several.

For those who are on a tight budget, we’d say that the GTX 1650 Super is hands-down the best GPU at the moment, as it is affordable and offers very good performance for the money. However, as we’ve already mentioned, while it’s good for 1080p gaming in 2020, it’s not very future-proof and won’t fare all that well in 1440p.

On the other hand, if you want top-notch performance and can afford it, then the RTX 3080 is the obvious premium pick. It offers unmatched performance and is an excellent choice for both 1440p and 4K gaming.

Finally, if you’re looking to get good value for your money, then the RTX 3070 is probably the best choice at the moment. While it’s not quite as powerful as the RTX 3080, it’s more than capable of running the latest games in 1440p or 4K, all the while being some $200 cheaper – a price difference that would be by no means negligible for many.

And so, that would be it for this article! If you don’t end up getting your new graphics card immediately, be sure to check back in around a month or so, as we’ll be updating our selection to include the new RX 6000 and RTX 3000 models that will be launching in the near future.

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Samuel Stewart
Samuel Stewart

Samuel is GamingScan's editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a hardcore gamer & programmer and he enjoys getting more people into gaming and answering people's questions. He closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep you all up-to-date with the latest news.

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