What is the best GPU for 1440p gaming in 2020? In this article, we’re going to set out to answer that question to the best of our ability. To do so, we’re going to evaluate many different graphics cards at different budgets and tell you the kinds of settings and framerates you can expect to achieve when playing at 1440p resolution with them.
We’ll also narrow down our picks to only meaningfully different picks — i.e. the difference between a 5600 XT and a 5700 isn’t significant enough for the latter to get its own entry, but the difference between a 2080 Super and 2080 Ti is.
In addition to discussing each of the graphics cards at length, we’ll also be providing a detailed buying guide at the bottom of the article, just in case you need any help making an educated buying decision. We want you to find the best 1440p GPU for your needs — we aren’t going to just tell you to buy a super-expensive GPU!
Best GPU for 1440p Gaming
Based on our extensive research we found these to be the top 1440p graphics cards for gaming.
Architecture: AMD Polaris | Clock Speed: Up to 1565 MHz | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 270 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI-D | Recommended Wattage: 550 Watts
The AMD Radeon RX 580 lives on. That’s what many enthusiasts said when the RX 590, which was a souped-up version of the RX 580, first released a few years ago. In the time since, prices on the RX 580 and RX 590 have plummeted well below the pricing of all other competing cards, to the point that either card costs roughly the same on Amazon at the time of writing. If you’re willing to spend your money on the RX 590, you’re going to get an entry-level gaming graphics card with unbeatable performance-per-dollar under $200.
Despite being an older GPU, this card can hold its own surprisingly well at 1440p, 1800p, and even 4K with the right games and settings. The reason for this can most likely be attributed to its 8 Gigabytes of VRAM, which gives it more than enough graphics memory for pushing high resolutions and high-resolution assets, though since this is still GDDR5 rather than GDDR6 VRAM, it isn’t quite as fast as the other cards on this list.
It being so much older and cheaper means that it consumes more power while providing less overall performance, but for a graphics card that easily meets and sometimes exceeds the Xbox One X’s level of graphical fidelity, we’re hard-pressed to complain. Plus, this card exceeds the minimum graphical spec for all but the most demanding VR games!
If you have a 1440p monitor and don’t mind gaming at lower settings to enjoy the higher resolution, then the AMD Radeon RX 590 is a great pick for you. If you have more money to spend, though, we’d recommend saving up for our next pick…
Verdict: Best Cheap 1440p GPU
Architecture: AMD Navi | Clock Speed: Up to 1750 MHz | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 254 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI | Recommended PSU Wattage: 500W
The AMD RX 5600 XT– at least, the Sapphire Pulse version– is our pick for best mid-range 1440p GPU. For most people, it provides all of the raw performance you really need to enjoy 1440p gaming, especially if you aren’t trying to push 144 Hz at maximum settings in all of the games that you’re playing. This is a card built for balanced settings @ 144 Hz and high-to-max settings @ 60 Hz in modern games, and it shows. With the added VBIOs update from AMD, the 5600 XT slightly exceeds the performance of the more expensive RTX 2060 on average and threatens to cannibalize its own older brother, the RX 5700. In terms of performance-per-dollar for GPUs under $300, this card simply cannot be beat.
The only things that become real downsides are the price and the lack of real-time ray-tracing.
The pricing of this card is quite a big leap up from our previous pick, but only because that’s about as far as you need to jump for a meaningful performance improvement for your money. We aren’t recommending a nearly $300 GPU without taking actual value and experience into mind, but we understand if that’s a jump too high for some of you. If you truly can’t afford this card, then the GTX 1660 Super is definitely the next best option or you.
The real-time ray-tracing would be a bigger concern…if we weren’t talking about what is (at this time) a generally minor but very expensive graphical effect, and the fact that the cards that can do ray-tracing in this price range can’t do it while also pushing 1440p resolution. Since the focus here is on 1440p gaming performance, we felt it was fine to leave that out, but you can let us know in the comments below if you disagree.
Need an alternative? Consider the Mech OC RX 5700 for a bit more performance, if you’re willing to spend more- we don’t recommend other 5600 XT models due to potential VBIOs issues.
Verdict: Best Mid-Range 1440p GPU
Architecture: Nvidia Turing | Clock Speed: Up to 1845 MHz | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 298 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI | Recommended PSU Wattage: 650 Watts
If you want to game at 1440p AND have real-time ray-tracing at that resolution, the cheapest GPU we’re willing to recommend is still the second-most-powerful graphics card at the time of writing: the Nvidia RTX 2080 Super. It offers most of the raw power of the RTX 2080 Ti, but at much lower price point. If you’re still willing to play without ray-tracing enabled, then you’ll see a further improvement to framerate when playing at high settings in modern games at 1440p, enough to pass the 100 FPS mark in most scenarios without turning down anything to medium or low.
Unfortunately, this is not a card for users on a budget or those who are hoping for high-value graphics cards. Ultimately, the 2080 Super only offers a roughly ~50% performance improvement over the RX 5600 XT … while being over twice as expensive. When we say that performance-per-dollar starts to see a huge drop-off when you’re buying high-end graphics cards, we definitely mean it. High-end PC hardware always comes at a higher price than what might seem fair, but it’s the price that you have to pay if you want to enjoy truly premium performance and features like real-time ray-tracing at 1440p resolutions.
All that being said, the RTX 2080 Super is still a stellar card if you can afford it, and our pick for best overall GPU for 1440p. The RTX 2080 Ti isn’t too much better- especially not when compared by its pricing- but this card still pushes premium performance and features at a 1440p resolution, which is what we imagine many of you are looking for in an article rounding up the best 1440p GPUs.
If you have the money to spare and you want yet more power, though…keep reading.
Is this RTX 2080 Super card not available? Try the EVGA model instead, but note that it’s 270 mm.
Verdict: Best GPU For 1440p
Architecture: Nvidia Turing | Clock Speed: Up to 1665 MHz | VRAM: 11GB GDDR6 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 287 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI, 1 USB-C | Recommended PSU Wattage: 650 Watts
Truthfully, there isn’t too much to say about the RTX 2080 Ti.
It’s the most powerful graphics card on the market. It’s made for 1440p 144 Hz or 4K 60 Hz gaming at high-to-max settings. It’s also a killer for 1440p gaming with real-time ray-tracing enabled. If you want a futureproofed graphics card for the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles, this is probably the closest that you’re going to be able to get for quite some time.
The card looks nearly perfect until you compare it to the much less expensive 2080 Super, at which point you realize you’re paying hundreds of dollars more for what is ultimately a sub-15% performance improvement in most gaming scenarios. For many of you, that much extra money for that little of an improvement definitely isn’t worth it, and we aren’t going to argue against that. If you can’t afford this monster of a graphics card, we don’t blame you.
But if you can, and you truly want the best possible experience available to you right now…get the RTX 2080 Ti. Again, there really isn’t too much to say about the graphics card: it’s the most powerful and most expensive gaming graphics card on the market. For those of you who can afford it, that sentence by itself is enough information to make a buying decision. For the rest of you, any of the other graphics cards we’ve listed above should serve you well.
Need an alternative? Consider the ROG Strix model instead
Verdict: Best GPU For 1440p 144 Hz / Best GPU For 1440p Ray-Tracing
FAQ and Selection
In this section, we’re going to walk you through all of the need-to-know information you need to make an informed buying decision. Let’s hop into it.
How much of a difference will 1440p make compared to 1080p?
The best way to describe this is through the usage of PPI, or Pixels Per Inch.
For most people, 1080p looks fairly sharp on a 22-inch or 24-inch monitor. That’s because it achieves a PPI of ~91 at 24 inches, which at a normal PC monitor viewing distance will look fairly nice. 1440p on a 24-inch monitor achieves roughly ~122 PPI at 24 inches, which is really good but definitely a matter of diminishing returns. You may not even notice the difference if you don’t have 20-20 vision.
Where 1440p shines is when you start to opt into larger monitors, most namely 27-inch monitors. With a 27-inch monitor, 1440p offers a PPI of ~108, which means it’s still quite a bit sharper than 24-inch 1080p while still offering a larger viewing space!
Playing at higher resolutions will make the biggest difference in games where fine detail and fine aim are important. For instance, it’ll be easier to hit long-distance headshots if you can actually see their head, not just a bundle of pixels.
What difference does ray-tracing make? Should I be spending extra for this feature?
Real-time ray-tracing is a pretty hot topic in gaming right now, and for good reason. In essence, it offers cinema-quality lighting and reflections with supported GPUs (currently only Nvidia RTX cards, but next-gen AMD cards and the PS5/XSX will also support it). This results in a pretty big increase in fidelity in supported titles, but also a fairly steep drop in performance, at the time of writing. While this technology is guaranteed to see more and more optimization over time, right now it’s a fairly premium feature, and one that requires the highest-end graphics cards in order to be run at 1440p with any acceptable level of performance.
If your goal is 1440p gaming, ray-tracing is currently only viable with high-end Nvidia RTX GPUs. Our first recommendation there would be the 2080 Super, but the 2080 Ti is even better if you can afford it.
For the time being, though, we don’t think most consumers should be overly focused on real-time ray-tracing, since the performance cost is simply too high in most scenarios to justify marginally better visuals.
What difference does 144 Hz make? Should I be spending extra for this feature?
144 Hz refers to high refresh rate monitors, which run at…144 Hz, or sometimes higher.
Refresh rate is similar to frame rate, except it refers to your monitor instead of the software you’re playing. Your maximum refresh rate will determine the maximum frame rate your monitor can display, though. For instance, on a standard 60 Hz monitor, you won’t be able to see any more than 60 FPS, even if you’re running much higher than that. (In fact, you’ll get some screen-tearing!) With a 144 Hz monitor, however, you’ll be able to see up to 144 FPS, so long as your performance can keep up. This can make a big difference, especially when you’re playing competitive shooters.
Don’t believe us? Watch the video embedded below- LinusTechTips did a detailed study on this, and it proves that higher refresh rates do directly benefit gaming performance.
If you don’t believe Linus, hit up your favorite FPS pro. There’s a reason why 144 Hz monitors are standard for competitive FPS play- it’s a competitive advantage!
What settings should I be adjusting, if necessary, for smoother gameplay at 1440p?
(Ray-tracing is an obvious pick, but if you want to keep it on, there are other settings you can adjust.)
If you’re playing at 1440p but having trouble reaching your desired framerate, it’s time to adjust some settings.
The first thing to turn down is going to be anti-aliasing. Since you’re playing at a high resolution, you don’t need AA as much. Light 2x MSAA, FXAA, or TAA should all do the job of reducing jaggies without hurting your overall performance too much. Even disabling AA entirely shouldn’t look bad unless you’re playing on a fairly large screen.
Other settings that tend to be somewhat demanding include things like global illumination, volumetric lights, shadow detail, motion blur, depth of field, and etc. If you want a more detailed rundown of settings to adjust for gameplay purposes, click here to check out our article on the matter.
GPU Compatibility: Width
While 1440p GPUs are great and all, it’s important to make sure they can actually fit inside your system.
GPU width is measured in expansion slots available on your case and motherboard- more specifically, your case. Mini ITX boards only have one PCIe slot, but can still handle 2-3 slot cards if the chassis has enough room for them.
Width shouldn’t be an issue for any standard Mini ITX, Micro ATX, or ATX case. All of those should have more than 2 available slots for your GPU to comfortably occupy, though some super SFF (small form factor) PC cases may be different. All of the cards we’ve listed above are the standard dual-slot, though, so they should work fine! If you’re using a prebuilt or a repurposed office PC, though, you’ll want to double-check your specs before considering any kind of upgrade.
GPU Compatibility: Length
Much more important than GPU width is GPU length, since this is most likely to be a concern for compatibility.
GPU width is measured in millimeters (mm), and as long as you can identify your case model, looking up your GPU capacity should be a breeze. You can also peruse our case articles, where we list those specs for you. If you aren’t sure how much room your case has for a GPU and you can’t find that information online, you may want to consider opening up your PC and doing the measurements for yourself!
In any case, we seriously recommend knowing the maximum GPU length your case can support before buying a graphics card. No one wants to unbox a shiny new graphics card and be forced to return it when it doesn’t fit.
And that’s it!
We hope this article told you everything you need to know in order to buy the best GPU for 1440p, at least for your particular needs. If you have any questions remaining, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible!