The best graphics cards available today will turn your PC into a true gaming machine. Sure, you can run a PC with nothing but integrated graphics, but for real performance — the kind that nets you smooth frame rates in popular, modern games — you need one of these great graphics cards from either NVIDIA or AMD. Both manufacturers have plenty to offer, with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 coming out on top in terms of performance-to-price value. AMD isn't far behind with its Radeon RX 6800 XT, which can also deliver a premier gaming experience.
The graphics card (GPU) plays an integral role in your gaming PC. The better the graphics card you buy, the higher resolution and higher in-game settings you'll be able to enjoy. And there are a whole lot of other benefits associated with the best graphics cards, like ray tracing, image upscaling, and more. If you're wondering exactly where to start with either a fresh build or an upgrade project, we've collected a number of the best graphics cards available now for several different performance thresholds and budget ranges.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 10GB / 12GB GDDR6X | Memory speed: 19Gbps | Memory bus: 320-bit / 384-bit | Boost clock: 1.7GHz | CUDA cores: 8,704 / 8,960 | Process: 8nm | Power: 320W / 350W
There's no one true pick for everyone when it comes to the best graphics card, but if we're choosing what should suit most people based on performance and price, we have to go with NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3080. While AMD has undoubtedly cut into NVIDIA's claim to the GPU throne with its Radeon RX 6000 cards, a few of which are included in this roundup, the top-tier option still belongs to Team Green.
In our NVIDIA RTX 3080 review, Windows Central GPU master Harish Jonnalagadda makes it clear that this is the card upgrade you've been waiting for. Not only does the RTX 3080 outperform last-generation GPUs, but it also delivers the extra benefits that make RTX cards so sought after. Ray tracing is becoming more prevalent in modern games, and NVIDIA's GPUs with dedicated ray-tracing cores are up to the task.
DLSS is perhaps the more impressive feature that comes standard with this GPU. It employs dedicated Tensor cores to run AI rendering in real-time, effectively boosting frame rates while also making frames come out at a much higher resolution. Because ray tracing can be detrimental to performance, DLSS is the perfect pairing. AMD's new RX 6000 cards feature ray tracing, but so far the hit to performance is far more severe compared to NVIDIA RTX. Grabbing one of the best CPUs for the RTX 3080 will really push things over the edge.
The RTX 3080 has some beefy specs, and it's the right card if you're looking to enjoy smooth 4K gaming at 60 FPS without having to turn down in-game settings. If you want the best PSU for the RTX 3080, NVIDIA recommends at least going with a 750W option. This card is compatible with G-Sync monitors, which have the adaptive sync technology to reduce screen tearing. It will also work with any FreeSync monitors that are "G-Sync compatible." Whether you're looking to game at 4K or 1440p, the RTX 3080 is the new best graphics card for many people.
The RTX 3080 is slowly returning to virtual store shelves, though prices are still generally far above where they should be. The best thing to do is to check back often for availability updates, and be sure to visit our guide on where to buy the NVIDIA RTX 3080 for more information on restock notifications. Also have a look at more GPU options in our best NVIDIA RTX 3080 graphics cards roundup.
Bottom line: Thanks to powerful Ampere performance and a competitive price, the RTX 3080 is an excellent pick for most people. It affords you the ability to choose FHD, QHD, or UHD resolutions at a high frame rate, and it delivers extra NVIDIA features like RTX ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). It's much faster than the RTX 2080 and even beats out the RTX 2080 Ti in raw performance.
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: Up to 512Gbps | Memory bus: 256-bit | Base clock: 2,015MHz | Boost clock: 2,250MHz | Stream processors: 4,608 | Process: 7nm | Power: 300W
AMD's "Big Navi" Radeon RX 6000 GPUs based on RDNA 2 technology bring a ton of power that puts them among the top options out there. In particular, the RX 6800 XT will generally perform as well as the RTX 3080 in 1440p and 4K games, with each card moving up and down based on other factors. The RX 6800 XT is more power efficient, sitting somewhere between the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080.
It has some impressive raw specs, including a whopping 16GB of VRAM that will set it up nicely for the future. If you're buying a new GPU today and want it to last for the next five years, 8GB of RAM doesn't look so impressive. One big advancement with these GPUs is the addition of ray tracing, previously something only NVIDIA could offer. Your games are going to look prettier, but you're going to see a more significant hit to performance on the AMD cards. Chalk it up to having more time to develop on NVIDIA's part. This still generally holds true today, though AMD is making strides to catch up.
AMD has something called Smart Access Memory (SAM) that can boost performance in some games. The gains aren't huge, but they are noticeable in plenty of titles. We benchmarked Smart Access Memory to see how much of a difference it really makes. NVIDIA has since opened up Resizable BAR Support for its own GPUs, essentially making this point null.
Want to overclock and not void your warranty? AMD's Rage Mode is another nice addition that will get the job done without harming your hardware. And finally, AMD has now introduced FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) and Radeon Super Resolution to its GPUs new and old.
These technologies are a rebuttal to NVIDIA's DLSS, DSR, and DLDSR, and for the most part they work quite well when it comes to boosting performance in most games available today. Take a look at our AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution vs. NVIDIA DLSS comparison for more information.
If you're on Team Red and want a GPU that can handle 1440p and 4K gaming, the RX 6800 XT is undeniably a great option that should cost less than the RTX 3080 once stock and prices settle. If this is the card you're aiming at, check out our collection of best motherboards for AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT and of best PSUs for AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT to get your rig ready.
Bottom line: AMD's "Big Navi" RX 6800 XT is a bit more affordable than the RTX 3080, yet it trades performance blows and doesn't suck up as much power. Its 16GB of VRAM are great for futureproofing, and it has a number of included features gamers will love. Just remember that its ray-tracing abilities aren't as developed.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 448Gbps | Memory bus: 256-bit | Base clock: 1,410MHz | Boost clock: 1,670MHz | CUDA cores: 4,864 | Process: 8nm | Power: 200W
In our NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti review, Senior Editor Rich Edmonds states that this might be the most impressive GPU from NVIDIA thanks to its performance that bests the RTX 2080 Super when it comes to 1080p and 1440p gaming. He definitively says it is the card to buy for gaming at these resolutions when you consider price and feature set. The RTX 3060 Ti is supposed to cost less than $400 under normal circumstances, and hopefully we'll see that again soon.
That's mighty impressive, and it's likely going to be extremely popular for anyone who's not too interested in 4K gaming. It also compares well to the more expensive RX 6700 XT. Our comparison of the NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti vs. AMD RX 6700 XT has more information. Despite it launching later than the other RTX 30-series cards, you're still getting capable ray tracing and DLSS technology. All this at a 200W TDP that should be ideal for those who don't want to upgrade the PSU in an older PC.
This card isn't going to be as future proof as the heavy hitters in this list, but if you can find one and want to keep your wallet from catching fire, it should make a great choice. It's also a top pick for best mining GPU thanks to a strong hashrate and bargain price.
Bottom line: The RTX 3060 Ti includes all the benefits of RTX cards, and it costs the least money out of all the Ampere cards. It bests the RTX 2080 Super, making it capable of crushing 1440p and handling some 4K gaming. This is the best value in gaming today, if you can find one.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory bus: 256-bit | Base clock: 1.50GHz | Boost clock: 1.73GHz | CUDA cores: 5,888 | Process: 8nm | Power: 220W
When GPU expert Harish Jonnalagadda reviewed the NVIDIA RTX 3070, he made it clear that the GPU hits the sweet spot for gaming. It performs nearly on par with the RTX 2080 Ti, except this time the card costs around $500 when prices aren't out of whack. That's a huge achievement, and anyone who aims for the mid-range PC market should be happy. A year ago, before NVIDIA's other 30-series GPUs and AMD's RX 6000 cards, the RTX 3070 would have broken the internet. Have a look at our picks for best NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 GPUs for a bunch of great buying options.
There are 5,888 CUDA cores packed into the RTX 3070, more than double that of the RTX 2070 Super. It also benefits from RTX enhancements like ray tracing and DLSS AI, boosting frame rates significantly in compatible games. It is, however, still using 8GB of VRAM. If that's an issue for you, check out AMD's Radeon RX 6800 with 16GB of VRAM and a similar cost. We've even compared the two in a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 vs. AMD Radeon RX 6800 showdown.
In any case, if you can get your hands on this card, your 1440p gaming experience will take off. The RTX 3070 can handle 4K, but you'll see much better results with a QHD monitor. And be sure to pair the new hardware up with one of the best motherboards for NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3070. Grabbing one of the best CPUs for the RTX 3070 won't hurt either.
Bottom line: The NVIDIA RTX 3070 is the best mid-range GPU you can buy right now thanks to stellar performance and feature set. It rivals the RTX 2080 Ti in terms of power, yet it should cost far, far less money.
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: Up to 512Gbps | Memory bus: 256-bit | Base clock: 1,815MHz | Boost clock: 2,105MHz | Stream processors: 3,840 | Process: 7nm | Power: 250W
The Radeon RX 6800 (minus the XT) is another of AMD's flagship RDNA 2 GPUs. It has many of the same features as the beefier RX 6800 XT — including ray tracing, FSR, RSR, and Smart Access Memory — but it costs less and is more power efficient (250W compared to the RX 6800 XT's 300W). It's still going to handle 4K and 1440p gaming, and its 16GB of VRAM sets up better for the future than the comparable RTX 3070. There are plenty of third-party versions available, but the best AMD Radeon RX 6800 graphics cards will deliver a similar experience.
In my AMD Radeon RX 6800 review, I discovered that you can expect better overall performance from the RX 6800, though at a higher power draw than the RTX 3070. It also cost a bit more money in a world without crazy inflated prices and nonexistent stock. Ray tracing is available with the RX 6800, though it's not going to compare to what NVIDIA's RTX cards can do. And, of course, NVIDIA offers DLSS tech that is clearly becoming a huge boon. AMD now has an answer with FidelityFX Super Resolution and Radeon Super Resolution, but it still has a way to go to catch up with NVIDIA.
If you want to go with more raw performance at 1440p and 4K and don't mind paying a bit more compared to the RTX 3070, the RX 6800 should make a fine choice for your gaming PC. And for those who do decide on the RX 6800 as their next GPU, get the right supporting components with our best PSU for AMD Radeon RX 6800 and best motherboard for AMD Radeon RX 6800 roundup.
Bottom line: The RX 6800 is a direct competitor to the RTX 3070, and in fact it will perform better with 4K and 1440p gaming. It costs a bit more and doesn't offer as-developed ray-tracing or upscaling abilities, but the price-to-performance ratio is excellent.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 24GB GDDR6X | Memory speed: 19.5Gbps | Memory bus: 384-bit | Boost clock: 1,785MHz | CUDA cores: 10,496 | Process: 8nm | Power: 370W
NVIDIA's RTX 3090 is a huge card both physically and on paper. It has a whopping 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM and 10,496 CUDA cores, but don't assume that translates to raw gaming power. If you're interested in 4K gaming, you'll likely see only about a 10% increase in performance over the RTX 3080. Our comparison of the NVIDIA RTX 3080 vs. RTX 3090 has more information on that front. And don't even think about buying this GPU for 1440p or 1080p; it's just not worth the money.
Considering it's more than double the price of most RTX 3080 cards, this is going to be a piece of hardware reserved for professionals and those with big budgets. Yes, this is the card to kill the expensive RTX Titan, and developers and designers will be very interested.
If you are going all-out for one of these cards, be sure it fits into your case and be sure you have a big enough PSU to handle power demands. We've put together a collection with options for the best PSU for RTX 3090 to help you get started. And for further information, check out our guide on how to prepare your PC for NVIDIA RTX 30-series system requirements.
Bottom line: The RTX 3090 is a physically large GPU, stacking 24GB of GDDR6X VRAM to help handle design and development work. It'll deliver about 10% better performance than the RTX 3080 for 4K gaming, but it also costs more than double the price. This is a card best cut out for professionals or those with money to burn.
AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 12GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 384Gbps | Memory bus: 192-bit | Base clock: 2,321MHz | Boost clock: 2,581MHz | Stream processors: 2,560 | Process: 7nm | Power: 230W
The AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT slots in somewhere between the NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti and NVIDIA RTX 3070 in terms of raw performance. It also costs about $80 more than the list price of the 3060 Ti, so you have to be sure you're looking for better power and not a better feature set. If you want to push high frame rates at 1440p and even want to dabble a bit at 4K, the RX 6700 XT will do a great job.
While the RX 6700 XT offers ray tracing, its support isn't as good as NVIDIA's, and you will likely see a harder hit to performance. This is true even though AMD's cards now have FSR and RSR, alternatives to DLSS. Our NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti vs. AMD RX 6700 XT comparison has more information.
The 12GB of VRAM sets the RX 6700 XT up nicely for the future, and FidelityFX Super Resolution is beginning to cut into NVIDIA's DLSS technology. If you can find an RX 6700 XT close to retail price, it should make a great card for QHD gaming.
Bottom line: AMD's Radeon RX 6700 XT is a price performer with a regular listing of about $480. It costs more than the RTX 3060 Ti, but it also delivers better raw power. This is especially important for those who want to push QHD frame rates and don't care as much about ray tracing or image upscaling.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Memory: 6GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 336Gbps | Memory bus: 192-bit | Boost clock: 1,830MHz | CUDA cores: 1,408 | Process: 12nm | Power: 125W
Not everyone sees a need to game at a higher resolution than 1080p. Displays are more affordable, and fewer pixels generally allows for a much higher frame rate. If you're not looking to overspend on a GPU, NVIDIA's GTX 1660 Super should make a great pick. It's not an RTX card, so it doesn't offer dedicated ray-tracing cores, though a driver update does allow it to technically be compatible. DLSS 2.0 is not officially supported, though users have been able to get it working with a bit of tweaking. It's still based on Turing architecture that makes it relatively power efficient. This GPU also sits atop our list of best cheap graphics cards.
It has 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM (the base GTX 1660 uses GDDR5) and rather high memory bandwidth at 336GB/s, allowing it to edge out even the 8GB version of the AMD RX 5500 XT in terms of raw performance. You're going to see elevated, smooth frame rates at 1080p with pretty much any game, even at high settings.
Bottom line: Any custom PC builders looking to create something budget-friendly should love the NVIDIA GTX 1660 Super. It delivers a smooth 1080p performance and doesn't have an unreasonable price.
What about all the other graphics cards?
Why you can trust Windows Central
There are a ton of other best graphics cards on the market, ranging from deep budget sub-$100 options, best graphics cards for VR, best graphics cards for 4K, and on up to professional-grade cards intended for specialized design and development work. But as far as GPUs cut out for gaming go, these are the cards that make the most sense in terms of performance-to-price ratio.
Graphics cards are generally available from several different manufacturers; performance and specs are generally the same with just slight differences, though the price, cooling, and overall design will differ. No matter your preferred resolution, preferred games, or preferred manufacturers, you're going to find a GPU in this guide that will suit your next fresh PC build or upgrade.
AMD's budget 1080p pick, the Radeon RX 6600 XT is absent from the list, we think for good reason. It costs somewhere around $20 less than the RTX 3060 Ti, which is a superior card when it comes to raw performance. Once we get into ray tracing and DLSS, the gap opens up even more. And if you're planning on making the jump to 1440p, the 3060 Ti should continue to fare better.
Stock shortages have made a mess of the GPU market, so you might find a good deal on an RTX 3060 or an RX 6600 XT. If that's the case, know that both GPUs will still deliver a quality gaming experience at 1080p.
Similarly, the Ti versions of the RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 aren't on the list due to the price-to-performance ratio. If all you can find is a Ti version it will make a great card, but if you can find the non-Ti versions you'll be just as happy with a bit more money in your pocket. Have a look at our ASUS TUF Gaming RTX 3070 Ti review for more information.
What is the best graphics card for most people?
The beauty of building your own PC is that there are plenty of graphics card options available to you based on budget and desired performance. You can mix and match hardware as you please and still end up with a powerful rig. For most people, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is going to hit a high-end performance tier and not cost an excessive amount of money like the more powerful overkill options, at least when scalping and stock shortages aren't an issue. Cue the NVIDIA RTX 3090, the Ampere generation's answer to the RTX Titan, ideal for design and development work but demanding a very high price. The same goes for AMD's Radeon RX 6900 XT, a high-end card that's overkill for most people.
If you're looking to experience 4K PC gaming or just want to absolutely destroy 1440p, the NVIDIA RTX 3080 or AMD RX 6800 XT will work extremely well, delivering only about 10% less performance than the RTX 3090 for a whole lot less money. If you want to just dabble in 4K gaming but primarily focus on a high-end 1440p experience, the NVIDIA RTX 3070 will do good for those on Team Green while the AMD Radeon RX 6800 will be attractive for those on Team Red. Want the graphics card that delivers the absolute best value? The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is an ideal choice for a lot of people who don't want to overspend but still want a GPU that can easily handle modern games.
The best graphics cards aren't limited to these options; there are more to discuss whether it comes to gaming, 4K power, or to fit a smaller budget. And don't forget to keep an eye out for where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series GPUs and where to buy AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPUs, which haven't been easy to come by so far.
How to buy the right graphics card
Want to turn your plain PC into a powerful gaming PC? You'll want to look at investing in one of our picks for the best graphics card. It's responsible for rendering everything you see on-screen and taking workloads off the CPU when powering through calculations. The last thing you want to do when purchasing a new GPU is to waste your money on an older model or one that's not powerful enough to do what you need. You also don't want to overspend.
There are several questions you need to ask yourself. What kind of games are you playing? Love low-impact indie titles or well-optimized esports games? Or do you wish to take full advantage of current-gen AAA gaming and want to enjoy the best graphics at a 4K resolution? If the answer is the former, you'll want to think about more affordable graphics cards that don't require advanced components to get the most out of the GPU.
As for more demanding games, it's generally down to your budget and what your current PC has in terms of a processor (CPU), RAM, and more. If your PC build is rocking anything less than a recent Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, it's probably not worth forking out on top-of-the-line GPU options. You'll most likely experience what is known as a bottleneck, where a separate piece of hardware isn't capable of keeping up with the GPU's ability. Our roundup of the best processors for your custom PC can help you get the right CPU.
For which resolution and frame rate are you shooting? Entry-level budget GPUs are ideal for 1080p (FHD) gaming, mid-range is best for 1440p (QHD) gaming, and the top-tier options are cut out for 4K (UHD). Of course, you can always drop down to a lower resolution with a top-tier GPU just to get better frame rates, or if you don't want to shell out the cash for a 4K gaming monitor.
How long would you like the GPU to last? Going with a budget option now will save you money, but it won't be relevant as long as a mid- or upper-range GPU. If you don't want to replace the GPU any time soon, you will want to spend a bit more now to ensure you can continue playing games as they're released in the next few years.
With all these questions considered, those who need a graphics card now should consider the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. It's our pick for the best graphics card because it hits a sweet spot in terms of performance and price. If it's not quite what you're looking for, either in terms of price or performance, there are plenty of other great GPU options available.