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Buying a graphics card is one of the most important aspects of building or upgrading your personal computer. This is also the most common component of the PC that consumers regularly upgrade and spend their money on. Picking the right graphics card for playing games can be a challenging task for many people, as there are many different models on the market and most of them share similar characteristics. Even for those who have a clear understanding of technology, staying in touch with the latest trends in GPU industry can be an exhausting job, as new models of cards are being released each year.
Lucky for you, we’ve written this guide to help you decide which GPU will best suit your needs. You see, getting the right graphics card can turn your computer into a powerful gaming machine and entertainment center that no modern gaming console will be able to match. Although most users buy GPUs to achieve better gaming experience, they can also be used for other purposes, such as computer-aided designing (CAD), 3D modelling, and photo and video editing.
Choosing the right graphics card for your PC largely depends on your gaming preferences and budget. If you plan to game on 4K or QHD resolutions, then you should get an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 Series GPU. If, however, gaming at 1080p resolution is all that interests you, then certain budget models, such as GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER or Radeon RX 5500 XT, will suffice. There is also the question whether you want to play your games with ray-tracing features enabled or not? If so, then you should get the latest NVIDIA RTX Series GPU, or AMD Radeon RX 6000 Series GPU.
To achieve the best gaming experience possible, you’ll also need a FreeSync or G-Sync compatible monitor. Unique thing about these types of monitors is that they allow you to experience extremely smooth gameplay, without experiencing any image stuttering, tearing, or low input lag. Most adaptive sync monitors feature screen refresh rates of up to 144 Hz, so getting a card that is capable of delivering the same amount of FPS is mandatory. Here is a list of the best graphics cards you can get in 2021:
Best for Professionals:
Best for 4K Gaming:
Best for 1440p Gaming:
Best Overall: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
Stream Processors: 4,864 | Boost clock: 1,665 MHz | TFLOPs: 16.20 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 550 W
- Beats RTX 2080 SUPER in most games
- Amazing price-to-performance ratio
- Runs cool & quiet
- Great ray-tracing performance
- Only 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM
Featuring 4864 shading units, 38 ray-tracing cores, 8GB of ultra-fast GDDR6 memory, and same ray-tracing performance as GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER, for an MSRP of only $399, the new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is without a doubt the best next-gen graphics card currently available on the market.
The new GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is able to deliver outstanding gaming performance at both 1440p and 4K resolutions. On average, it is about 32% faster than the previous-gen RTX 2060, and about 60% than the Pascal-based GTX 1060 GPU. This card can run latest PC titles, such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, at more than 80 FPS on average at 1080p with ray-tracing enabled, and can run competitive online shooters, such as Call of Duty: Warzone, at 120 FPS on average at 1440p resolution. Overall, this is the best budget 4K and 1440p graphics card to date, and as such it’s no wonder this is the best GPU for gaming in 2021.
Best for Professionals: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
Stream Processors: 10,496 | Boost clock: 1,695 MHz | TFLOPs: 35.68 | Memory: 24GB GDDR6X | Memory bandwidth: 936 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 750 W
- Godlike GPU performance
- Suitable for 8K gaming
- Plenty of VRAM
- Great for content creation
- Extremely high power requirements
- Very expensive
When it comes to ultimate performance, nothing can beat the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090. This monster of a graphics card features 28,300 million transistors, and 10,496 stream processors. It also has a whooping 24 GB of ultra-fast GDDR6X memory that communicates with the CPU via 384-bit memory bus. This GPU is so powerful that it can even deliver stable 60 FPS at 8K resolution is some PC games. However, the RTX 3090 wasn’t originally designed to be used for gaming, but for content creation and productivity. Being a spiritual successor to the NVIDIA RTX Titan, the RTX 3090 is a perfect workstation GPU that can easily tackle tasks such as 3D modelling and video rendering. Last but not least, this card also supports NVLink interface, which means it can run in SLI mode – something which none of the RTX 30 Series GPUs can.
Best for 4K Gaming: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
Stream Processors: 8,704 | Boost clock: 1,710 MHz | TFLOPs: 29.77 | Memory: 10GB GDDR6X | Memory bandwidth: 760 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 700 W
- Best gaming graphics card
- Incredible performance in 4K
- Great thermal design
- Improved ray-tracing performance
- Requires a high-quality PSU
- Limited production
Although it’s currently extremely difficult to find a brand new GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card due to supply shortages, this is most certainly the best graphics card we’ve seen in the last decade. The new RTX 3080 represents an extraordinary performance leap over the previous generation of GPUs, and is able to deliver outstanding ray-tracing performance for an incredibly low amount of money (compared to RTX 20 Series GPUs).
The GeForce RTX 3080 is a beast of graphics card. It features 10 GB of GDDR6X VRAM, has plenty of stream processors and ray-tracing cores, and its 4K gaming performance is truly amazing. The card is 45% faster than the previous-gen GeForce RTX 2080, and 60% faster than the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT. Featuring support for updated DLSS tech, great thermal output, and major architectural improvements that are able to deliver outstanding gaming performance, the new RTX 3080 is the best gaming card around, provided that you are actually able to buy one.
Best for 1440p Gaming: AMD Radeon RX 6800
Stream Processors: 3,840 | Boost clock: 2,105 MHz | TFLOPs: 16.17 | Memory: 16GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 512 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 600 W
- Excellent 1440p and 4K performance
- Features 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM
- Supports ray-tracing
- Very energy efficient
- Ray-tracing performance slightly behind competition
- Not very good for overclocking
Despite the fact that NVIDIA historically always offered better solutions for high-end gaming, this time AMD succeeded in delivering a great high-end GPU, and thus made the competition between the two old rivals more fiercer than ever. The new Radeon RX 6800 represents the latest addition to the next-gen AMD RX 6000 Series of GPUs. The card can boast with a whooping 16 GB of VRAM, extremely high core clocks, improved power consumption, and support for ray-tracing.
Although this card is quite capable for 4K gaming, where it really shines is 1440p gaming. In most cases, the Radeon RX 6800 is either on par, or slightly better than the new GeForce RTX 3070, and is able to deliver very good ray-tracing performance that is on par with the GeForce RTX 2080. These are some impressive results, given the fact that the RX 6800 belongs to the first generation of AMD GPUs that feature full ray-tracing support. Overall, this is a fine GPU, especially for 1440p gaming, and with further driver updates we expect it to perform even better in the future.
Best for 1080p Gaming: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
Stream Processors: 2,304 | Boost clock: 1,560 MHz | TFLOPs: 7.18 | Memory: 6GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 288 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 450 W
- Superb 1080p gaming performance
- Low power consumption
- Supports PCIe 4.0 interface
- Beats GeForce RTX 2060
- Doesn’t support ray-tracing
- 6GB of VRAM is not ideal for gaming at 1440p
Although quite often being overlooked, the Radeon RX 5600 XT is a fantastic graphics card for 1080p gaming. With a TDP of only 150 W, this Navi 10 GPU is able to deliver very good gaming performance, and it features full support for PCIe 4.0 interface that enables it to fully unleash its potential. In almost all games, the Radeon RX 5600 XT easily beats the GeForce RTX 2060 and GeForce RTX 1070 Ti, and is able to sometimes outpace even the GeForce RTX 2060 SUPER and GeForce GTX 1080.
Despite its affordable price and great performance, the Radeon RX 5600 XT unfortunately doesn’t support ray-traced rendering, which some users might find disappointing. Also, its 6GB of VRAM may be enough for gaming at 1080p, but at 1440p it may prove lacking. However, for playing games in Full HD on ultra settings, this is an awesome card, and is a far better choice than the GeForce GTX 1660 or Radeon RX 5500 XT.
Best Budget GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER
Stream Processors: 1,408 | Boost clock: 1,785 MHz | TFLOPs: 5.02 | Memory: 6GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 336 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 300 W
- Great 1080p performance
- Low power consumption
- Affordable price
- Doesn’t support ray-tracing
- Weak performance at 1440p
The Geforce GTX 1660 SUPER was primarily designed to be a replacement for a Pascal-based GTX 1060 6GB, and is considered to be a performance-oriented graphics card for 1080p gaming on ultra settings. In terms of real-world performance, this card is capable of running the latest PC games on ultra settings at more than 60 FPS on average, which is quite impressive given its price tag.
Great thing about GTX 1660 SUPER is that it performs roughly the same as Radeon RX Vega 56 or GeForce GTX 1070, but costs significantly less. It is also a very energy efficient GPU, as it features a TDP of only 125 watts. Thanks to its low power consumption, compact PCB dimensions, and great 1080p gaming performance, this is most certainly the best budget gaming graphics card you can get right now.
Best for VR: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
Stream Processors: 2,560 | Boost clock: 1,905 MHz | TFLOPs: 9.75 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 225 W
- Splendid 1440p gaming performance
- Works perfectly with all VR headsets
- Good overclocking potential
- Supports PCIe 4.0 interface
- Increased power consumption
- Difficult to overclock
Since there are practically no virtual reality (VR) games that support ray-tracing, buying an expensive GPU that supports this kind of technology seems useless if you plan to play VR games. Considering that, the Radeon RX 5700 XT seems like a perfect GPU for building a VR-ready PC build. This powerful graphics card is capable of delivering great performance at 1440p and 4K resolutions, and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
The Radeon RX 5700 XT is equipped with 8 GB of GDDR6 VRAM, and is fully compatible with all display monitors that support adaptive sync technology, such as AMD FreeSync, or VESA adaptive-sync. The Radeon RX 5700 XT also works perfectly with all VR headsets such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or Valve Index, and it fully supports PCIe 4.0 interface, which is great if you plan to pair it with an AMD Ryzen CPU. Overall, it is a great GPU for users who are looking for to get the best raw performance possible.
Best Mini GPU: ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER Mini
Stream Processors: 2,560 | Boost clock: 1,770 MHz | TFLOPs: 9.06 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory bandwidth: 448 GB/s | Suggested PSU: 650 W
- Good gaming performance
- Very good heat dissipation
- Cheap price
- Can’t be overclocked
- Doesn’t support hyper-threading
- Disabled integrated graphics
Building a mini-ITX gaming PC can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Unfortunately, finding a powerful, yet compact graphics card for such a PC build can be a difficult task. The ZOTAC GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER Mini is probably the best, if not the only GPU that is able to fulfill these requirements. With length of only 210 mm, this card is able to fit into 99% of systems, and deliver unprecedented performance in such a small form factor.
Overall, the GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER is a pretty awesome GPU. Performance-wise, it is on par with the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and is only 5% slower than the GeForce RTX 2080. Featuring full ray-tracing support, and 8 GB of GDDR6 memory, the RTX 2070 SUPER is a capable 4K gaming graphics card, and great 1440p graphics card. Provided that you need a small and compact GPU for your PC build, the ZOTAC Gaming Mini is without a doubt the best variant of RTX 2070 SUPER for a such purpose.
Choosing the right graphics card for your next or existing PC build will largely depend on your preferences, budget, and games you would like to play. There are many different custom variants of the same GPU that come with some unique features, so this is also something worth considering before making a final purchase. Overall, here a few things to bear in mind:
- Budget – if you are on a budget, and you are unable to buy new tech often, you should focus on getting the best value GPU, instead of going for the cheapest one you can find. If budget isn’t an issue, then we recommend going for the latest generation of GPUs, as they feature the most advanced tech, and are more future-proof.
- Resolution – the higher the resolution you will game on, the more powerful GPU you’ll need. Right now, most gamers tend to play games at 1440p and 1080p resolutions, while 4K gaming is still reserved for enthusiasts.
- Video Memory – cards with 4 GB of VRAM are the bare minimum right now. Models with 6 GB are better, while cards with 8 GB or more are strongly recommended.
- Refresh Rate – most conventional monitors feature 60 Hz refresh rates, while gaming monitors support refresh rates of up to 240 Hz. Having a high refresh rate monitor will enable you to avoid input lag and screen tearing, so we recommend getting a capable graphics card in order to deliver required FPS to match the refresh rate of a such monitor.
- Cooling and Noise – more expensive graphics cards feature better cooling solutions that also ensure quiet working operation. If you plan to overclock your graphics card, then having a GPU with good heatsink and fast-spinning fans is a must.
- Ray-tracing – most of the latest graphics cards feature support for ray-tracing tech which enables you to enhance the visuals. Some cards still don’t offer support for this kind of technology, but cost significantly less.