“What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck?”
That simple question cuts to the core of what people hunting for a new graphics card look for: The most oomph they can afford. Sure, the technological leaps behind each new GPU can be interesting on their own, but most everyone just wants to crank the detail settings on Far Cry and get right to playing.
Answering the question can be a bit trickier than it seems. Raw performance is a big part of it, but factors like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software all play a role in determining which graphics card to buy, too. Making matters more confusing is the sudden flood of graphics cards built using AMD and Nvidia’s cutting-edge new processors, which represent a two-generation technological leap forward. Their arrival has thrown pricing for last-gen graphics cards into disarray.
Let us make it easy for you. We’ve tested damned near every major GPU that has hit the streets over the past couple of years, from $100 budget cards to $1,200 luxury models. Our knowledge has been distilled down into this article—a buying guide with recommendations on which graphics card to buy, no matter what sort of experience you’re looking for.
Note: There are customized versions of every graphics card from a slew of vendors. For example, you can buy different Radeon RX 470 models from Sapphire, XFX, Asus, MSI, and PowerColor.
We’ve linked to our formal review for each recommendation, but the buying links lead to models that stick closely to each graphics card’s MSRP. Spending extra can get you hefty out-of-the-box overclocks, beefier cooling systems, and more. Check out our “What to look for in a custom card” section below for tips on how to choose a customized card that’s right for you.