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Best GPU For Gaming 2021 – Top Gaming Graphics Cards

Trying to find the best GPU for gaming? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ve collected a roundup of not just one gaming GPU, but the best gaming GPU for pretty much every price range. We’ve also provided a few alternative picks, and are linking to articles with even more alternatives for a particular card where we’re able to.

Best GPU For Gaming

Ranging from the bottom of the barrel to the highest end of the highest end, we’ve picked eight different GPUs for you to choose from, and if you want to see them, just skip ahead to our picks section!

Best GPU For Gaming: Our Picks

If you’re new to GPUs or aren’t sure what all of the specs and jargon we’re throwing around actually mean, feel free to skip to the buying guide section at the bottom of the article. We don’t just want to point you at whatever graphics card we find: we want to make sure that you have the knowledge needed in order to make an informed buying decision that suits your budget and needs best.

With all of that out of the way … let’s dive into it!

#1. AMD RX 570 4GB (XFX Model)

Architecture: AMD Polaris | Clock Speed: Up to 1284 MHz | VRAM: 4GB GDDR5 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 244 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI-D | Recommended PSU Wattage: 500W

  • Good value, especially for an entry-level GPU
  • Should do well at 1080p in most modern games
  • 4GB VRAM limits texture detail in recent games and higher resolution gaming

XFX RX 570 4GB GDDR5 RS XXX Edition

The AMD RX 570 is our pick for best cheap gaming GPU. If you want the cheapest possible graphics card that still provides a decent value for your dollar, then the RX 570 is an obvious choice.

The RX 570 isn’t as strong as either the RX 580 or RX 590 (especially with it’s relatively-limited VRAM pool, which makes it unsuitable for gaming above 1080p), but it’s still pretty decently powerful on its own. This is a graphics card with which you can easily play modern games at 1080p and 60 frames per second, sometimes even with high settings. More cutting-edge games will require reductions in settings though, especially to things like texture detail, thanks to the limited VRAM.

While we don’t recommend this card for 1440p+ resolutions or 100+ framerates, it should serve you perfectly well as an entry-level 1080p graphics card for the foreseeable future. For more lightweight games like Fortnite or CS:GO, you already have more than enough raw graphical horsepower to push those games to their limits, as long as your CPU can keep up.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see HW Unboxed’s 27 Game Bench with this GPU!

Verdict: Best Cheap Gaming GPU

#2. AMD RX 590 8GB (XFX Fatboy)

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 PSU Wattage: 500W

  • The best value in a gaming graphics card under $200
  • Great for modern games at 1080p and medium/high settings, and 1440p at low/medium settings
  • Certain games- especially next-gen titles- may push this card too hard, even at 1080p

XFX Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy Core Edition 8GB OC

The AMD RX 590 is a souped-up version of the ever-persistent RX 580. Despite the 580 being several years old and the 590 being a bit long in the tooth itself, both cards persist on Amazon with a level of performance that undercuts AMD’s own new releases and competing cards from Intel! Since the 590 is generally about the same price or cheaper than the 580, we’ve chosen it here, even though it’s pretty much just a minor bump over the original card.

Regardless, the RX 580 dominated the sub-$200 GPU range for quite a while, and the RX 590 is no different. That’s because it offers stellar performance per-dollar- the best in its price range- and that keeps consumers buying it, year after year. This is one of the best cards you can get for 1080p gaming today, and it’s easily capable of 100+ FPS at 1080p in the right games, including Doom Eternal, if you make the right adjustments.

While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend this card for next-gen gaming, you shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever pushing modern games to 1080p and 60 FPS at high settings with this graphics card. Worst case, you’ll have to lower a few settings to medium- but beyond that, we highly doubt that you’ll encounter any issues.

Additionally, you’ve passed the raw power barrier required for VR gaming! If you want a cheap VR gaming GPU, this should serve you well.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the GamersNexus benchmark run of this GPU!

Verdict: Best Gaming GPU Under $200

#3. Nvidia GTX 1660 Super (Gigabyte Windforce)

Architecture: Nvidia Turing | Clock Speed: Up to 1830 MHz | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 226 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI | Recommended PSU Wattage: 450W

  • The best value in a gaming GPU under $250- undercuts the more expensive 1660 Ti in most games
  • Stellar 1080p performance across-the-board, and should be capable of 1440p at medium settings
  • Beaten in value by the 5600 XT if you’re willing to pay a little bit more

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 Super OC 6G Graphics Card, 2X Windforce Fans

The GTX 1660 Super is our current pick for best gaming GPU under $250. While that may sound like a bit of a hyper-specific spot (and it is), it’s still worth a hearty recommendation. The 1660 Super undercuts Nvidia’s own 1660 Ti at a much lower price, and retails for about the same price as the non-Super card while still providing a nice ~15% performance bump.

For 1080p gaming with modern games, this card might actually be a little overkill until the next generation hits. For 1440p, expect to play games at low or medium settings and 60 FPS. VR gaming should be fairly easy for this card, too, with only the most demanding games/high-resolution headsets being likely to cause any issues. (We highly recommend using SteamVR resolution scaling if you need to in those scenarios!)

While this doesn’t have quite the raw performance-per-dollar as our sub-$200 picks or our just-under-$300 pick, it’s still a great card, and the best you can get for under $250.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

Want other GTX 1660 Super options, or the current option not available? See if this 243 mm 1660 Super is available, or check out this article!

Verdict: Best Gaming GPU Under $250

#4. AMD RX 5600 XT (Sapphire Pulse)

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

  • Superb 1440p 60+ FPS and 1080p 120+ FPS performance
  • Outperforms the similarly-priced RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super in raw gaming performance
  • No real-time ray-tracing


Sapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 14GBPS 6GB GDDR6

The RX 5600 XT is our pick for best GPU under $300, and is pretty much the best that your price-to-performance ratio is going to get for a high-end graphics card. Past here, returns on performance will become diminishing, especially if you aren’t trying to aim for 1440p 144 Hz or 4K 60 Hz performance in modern games at high/max settings.

Performance-wise, you’re still looking at a powerhouse here. This card is built to chew through 1440p and 1080p gaming alike, and if you’re willing to adjust settings downward, pushing 120+ FPS at 1440p should actually be quite feasible with this card in most games. In terms of raw gaming performance without ray-tracing enabled, this card also beats both the RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super in terms of raw performance, despite the fact that both cards retail for more money than the 5600 XT.

For most of today’s gamers, this is the practical recommendation we would make for today’s gaming experiences. However, since this card doesn’t have real-time ray-tracing…gamers who want all visual features enabled, regardless of cost, may want to consider one of the Nvidia RTX cards coming up.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

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 GPU Under $300

#5. Nvidia RTX 2060 Super (EVGA Super SC Ultra)

Architecture: Nvidia Turing | Clock Speed: Up to 1680 MHz | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Width: 2-Slot | Length: 270 mm | Ports: 2 DP, 1 HDMI, 1 DVI | Recommended PSU Wattage: 550 Watts

  • Great 1440p 100+ FPS and 1080p 120+ FPS performance- even 4K, with the right settings!
  • Offers real-time ray-tracing, DLSS, and other special features
  • Outperformed by the 5600 XT despite being more expensive in non-RT gaming

EVGA 08G-P4-3067-KR GeForce RTX 2060 Super SC Ultra Gaming, 8GB GDDR6, Dual HDB Fans, Metal Backplate

The Nvidia RTX 2060 Super is our pick for best budget ray-tracing GPU. While it technically isn’t the cheapest one, we assume that you still want to game at 1080p when you enable real-time ray-tracing, so we’re recommending this over the non-Super version of the card. Don’t let that “2060” fool you, by the way- the RTX 2060 Super is much closer to the original RTX 2070 in terms of performance than its non-Super version, which makes it a 1440p powerhouse! (When ray-tracing is disabled, anyway- don’t expect to game above 1080p with ray-tracing enabled.)

We’ll discuss real-time ray-tracing and the benefits it has to offer in more detail below, but another feature exclusive to RTX cards that you may want to consider is DLSS, or Deep Learning Super-Sampling. This essentially allows you to play at higher resolutions for a lower performance cost, but it’s limited to specific games, and uses the onboard Tensor AI cores to achieve its results. Regardless, if your favorite games support DLSS, that may make this card an ideal choice for you.

If you have no interest in ray-tracing or DLSS, though, we recommend getting the 5600 XT instead. You’ll get more raw frames and save some money in doing so.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

Need an alternative? Consider the Gigabyte Windforce model instead

Verdict: Best Budget Ray-Tracing GPU

#6. AMD RX 5700 XT (Sapphire Pulse)

Architecture: AMD Navi | Clock Speed: Up to 1815 MHz | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Width: 3-Slot (2.3 slot) | Length: 254 mm | Ports: 3 DP, 1 HDMI | Recommended PSU Wattage: 650 Watts

  • Superb 1440p 100+ FPS and 1080p 200+ FPS performance- expect some decent 4K FPS if you’re willing to turn some settings down
  • Offers most of the performance of the RTX 2070 Super at a MUCH lower price
  • No real-time ray-tracing, despite higher pricing

Sapphire 11293-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5700 Xt 8GB GDDR6

The RX 5700 XT is our main high-end GPU pick for those who want to maximize in-game FPS without breaking the bank or spending extra on features like real-time ray-tracing. In terms of raw FPS, this card comes within spitting range of the RTX 2070 Super while retailing for ~$150 dollars less, making it a compelling value to those who want to maximize performance in today’s gaming.

For 1080p and VR, this card is massive, massive overkill. For 1440p and 4K, however, this card shines as a genuine powerhouse. You will need to make settings adjustments for 4K gaming (due to the sheer pixel density, you may also want to consider resolution scaling for performance improvement with less of a visual impact), but that’s an expected price to pay in exchange for the hundreds more you would spend on something like a 2080 Super or, God forbid, a 2080 Ti.

If your lust for raw gaming power exceeds even this card’s capabilities, though, and your wallet can keep up…keep going.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

Need an alternative? Consider the PowerColor Red Devil model instead

Verdict: Best Gaming GPU Under $450

#7. Nvidia RTX 2080 Super (ZOTAC AMP)

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

  • Built for 1080p 240+ FPS and 1440p ~144 FPS performance, as well as 4K 60 FPS gaming
  • Offers most of the 2080 Ti’s performance at a much better performance-per-dollar rating
  • Real-time ray-tracing, DLSS, and other features really shine in this price range
  • Expensive

ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER AMP 8GB GDDR6 256-bit 15.5Gbps Gaming Graphics Card

The RTX 2080 Super is pretty much the last card that we recommend for practical people who want to spend practical amounts of money on a gaming graphics card. Even then, the RTX 2080 Super strains that a little bit by pushing into the $700-$800 pricing territory, at least at the time of writing. For your money, you get a card with genuinely stellar performance in just about any scenario you can think of, and one truly capable of utilizing real-time ray-tracing at 1080p and 1440p.

The only real downside we have for this card is that it’s expensive, but that’s probably what you expect for one of the highest-end graphics cards available on the market. Unfortunately for those who don’t care about the extra features, AMD doesn’t really have competition in this bracket yet- but hopefully that will change in the coming year.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

Need an alternative? Consider the Gigabyte Windforce model instead

Verdict: Best High-End Ray-Tracing GPU

#8. Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti (Gigabyte Windforce)

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

  • The strongest graphics card on the market, bar none, at the time of writing- your best bet for 4K and 1440p gaming
  • Superb real-time ray-tracing performance and the best gaming performance
  • Despite much higher price, not THAT much stronger than the 2080 Super
  • Very expensive

GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Gaming OC 11GB Graphic Cards GV-N208TGAMING OC-11GC

Last but certainly not least is the RTX 2080 Ti. On paper, it offers a roughly 15-20% performance boost over the RTX 2080 Super, and that makes it objectively the most powerful gaming graphics card on the market. If you can afford the most powerful gaming GPU and that’s what you want in a product, don’t let us stop you- just go ahead and get it and enjoy your bragging rights.

For those who want a bit more of a balanced consideration, though, we have to warn you: value-wise, this card is somewhat poor. High-end GPUs tend to be poor in terms of performance-per-dollar, but the 2080 Super offers so much of the same performance at such a lower price that it makes it hard for us to recommend this card to anyone who even remotely values the idea of performance-per-dollar. If you want to stay high-end without completely breaking the bank, consider the 2080 Super or 5700 XT instead- they will both serve you quite well.

Otherwise, that’s it! If you want the best gaming graphics card and you’ve read all of our reviews up to now, you’ve found it. Whether that means all the raw power you can get with a 2080 Ti or all the value of an RX 590 is up to you.

Want some detailed benchmarks? Click here to see the TechSpot benchmark run of this GPU!

Need an alternative? Consider the ROG Strix model instead

Verdict: Best High-End Gaming GPU

All You Need To Know To Choose The Best Gaming GPU For You

In this section, we’re going to walk you through all the tech-talk and jargon that you may not be familiar with, in hopes that you’re able to make an informed buying decision today or in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we are able to. For now, let’s break it all down!

Differences between resolutions when gaming

Now a big thing you may be concerned about is resolution, and you should be.

There are four main resolutions to be concerned about when you’re talking about PC gaming. These are:

  • 720p – Common for low-end and older machines, especially older laptops. The first resolution called HD, with a resolution of 1280 x 720.
  • 1080p – Common for most PC monitors and laptops, as well as the majority of HDTVs manufactured prior to 2018. This resolution is called FHD (Full HD) or True HD, and comes in at 1920 x 1080. This is over twice the number of pixels as 720p.
  • 1440p – A resolution pretty much exclusive to PC gaming monitors, though some modern 4K TVs also support it. Many consoles claiming to play in 4K will also target a resolution like this one to upscale to 4K. This resolution comes in at 2560 x 1440, and is sometimes mistakenly called 2K, though it’s actually Quad HD, since it’s four times the pixels of 720p.
  • 4K – A resolution used for high-end TVs and high-end PC monitors. This is a resolution of 3840 x 2160, which is four times the pixels of 1080p. The gold standard for tomorrow’s gaming experiences.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, each iteration is about a 2x boost in terms of raw pixel count, which is…certainly nice to have.

However, it would be disingenuous to discuss resolution by itself without also mentioning screen size and PPI.

You see, resolution alone isn’t enough to determine your actual perceived clarity. Other factors also needs to be taken into consideration, but most importantly here is your PPI, or pixels per inch. You can find pixels per inch by combining your resolution and your screen size.

For most people, an image on a PC monitor at average viewing distance will look clear at right around 90 PPI. This means your ideal minimum should be roughly 90 Pixels Per Inch, or higher, if you want a clear image. For a 24 inch monitor, this requires a 1080p resolution. For a 27-inch monitor, this requires a 1440p resolution. 4K can maintain this PPI at much higher sizes, but past 32 inches you’re starting to flirt with TV territory, and you’ll need to sit further back in order to actually have your full screen in view at all times.

Difference between 60 Hz and 144 Hz refresh rates, and all about framerates

When you’re gaming, frames per second (FPS, or framerate) and refresh rate (measured in Hz) can have a pretty massive impact on your gaming experience. In-game framerate and monitor refresh rate are tied fairly closely together, but are technically two different things. However, the monitor refresh rate will always serve as a hard limit on the maximum FPS that you will actually see, since extra frames will either be discarded (with some software V-Sync solutions) or create screen tears (where different parts of the screen are displaying different frames).

This means that for your typical 60 Hz monitor, you won’t see a difference when your FPS exceeds 60. At least, you won’t get a consistent or clear difference- without V-Sync or an FPS limiter in place, you’ll experience the aforementioned screen tearing, which can be very distracting for any gaming experience.

In order for you to actually enjoy the benefits of high frame rates, like 100, 120, 200, 240, or even 300 FPS, you need a high refresh rate monitor to match!

And for you to get those high framerates to begin with, you’ll need to either opt for a higher-end graphics card (like one of the ones we’ve listed) or make a lot of optimizations to your in-game settings.

Here are some common FPS/refresh rate targets, and the experience to expect with each.

  • 30 FPS – Considered by most to the bare minimum, and even then, unacceptable to many players. This is the first point at which motion will look believable, if not particularly smooth. This is about half of what a standard 60 Hz display is capable of displaying.
  • 60 FPS / 60 Hz – Most displays run at 60 Hz, and many console games/ports are locked to 60 FPS. (Others target lower framerates). This is the “smooth” that most gamers are used to, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
  • 100 FPS / 120 Hz or 144 Hz – Once you have a high refresh rate monitor, this is a nice number to aim for if you don’t have the raw power needed to push 120 or 144 FPS without making compromises to visuals you don’t want to make. This is where many people will see the most difference moving up from 60 FPS.
  • 120 FPS / 120 Hz or 144 Hz – Ultra-smooth to the eyes of most gamers.
  • 144 FPS / 144 Hz or 240 Hz – Same as above- real-world difference should be marginal at best, though.
  • 165 FPS / 165 Hz or 240 Hz – Same as above.
  • 200 FPS / 240 Hz or higher – For gamers with particularly insane reflexes, 200+ FPS begins to show even more improvements. Most people are unlikely to see it, but for the most hardcore competitors, this is the best choice.
  • 240 FPS / 240 Hz or higher – Same as above.
  • 300 FPS / 300 Hz or higher – Same as above.

To learn more about FPS, refresh rate, and how they may impact your gaming experience, we highly recommend this informative video from LinusTechTips:

For more about refresh rates, PPI, and other gaming monitor-and-GPU related topics, click here to check out our Best Gaming Monitors article!

About VR gaming

If you want to play virtual reality games, you’re in luck- from the RX 590 onward, all of the graphics cards in this roundup are VR-capable! But if you want the best idea of what you need in a Virtual Reality graphics card, click here to check out our article on the matter.

To ray-trace or not to ray-trace? That is the question

Real-time ray-tracing is the big tech buzzword of this generation, and at the time of writing, its support is somewhat limited and it comes at a performance cost many would consider too steep for the improved visuals.

So what is this feature that new graphics cards and the next-gen consoles are being advertised around, and how important will it be for your gaming experience, today and in the future?

Real-time ray-tracing refers to technology that allows for highly realistic calculation of lighting, shadows, and reflections to be done in real-time. Historically, ray-tracing has been such a computationally-intensive process that it has only been used for big-budget CGI productions that can use giant render farms to get the work done. Make no mistake: the lighting, reflections, and shadows offered by real-time ray-tracing technology are far beyond anything we can do with rasterization, which is the usual rendering method for consumer graphics.

That being said…the games we’re playing are still going to be using a blend of both technologies, and for the next-gen consoles especially, the implementations of real-time ray-tracing features are going to be limited by the power of the hardware.

If you don’t mind bumping down resolution or sacrificing a great deal of FPS, then real-time ray-tracing is a feature you may want to use, and one you should factor into your buying decision today. If slightly better reflections and much better lighting/shading don’t sound like such a big deal to you, though, you’re welcome to pass on the technology and save some money doing so.

We’ve embedded two videos below, showing the differences between ray-tracing on and off for Control and Metro Exodus, the two games on the market that currently make the most use of the feature.

Should you overclock your GPU?

As long as you can achieve a stable overclock, yes! As long as you don’t flash a different BIOS or exceed onboard voltage limits, you’re allowed to overclock your GPU to squeeze as much extra performance out of it as you want without voiding your warranty.

However, the process of overclocking your graphics card is a little bit out of the scope of this passing section in the article. Our advice to overclockers is to test against applications like FurMark, which are guaranteed to bring an unstable overclock to its knees, and to be patient! It’ll take a lot of tweaking and testing to find a stable overclock, but as long as you do your due diligence, it should only take a few hours to find a stable OC and enjoy an even faster GPU than what you paid for.

(If you’re going to overclock, though, we recommend opting for a high-quality gaming PSU with plenty of wattage to spare!)

GPU Compatibility: Width and Length

Last but not least, we should talk about GPU compatibility!

Specifically, the GPU’s ability to physically fit inside of your system.

The first of our physical compatibility specs, width, is unlikely to be an issue unless you’re in a severely space-constrained Mini ITX or HTPC PC build. These cards are 2 and sometimes 3-slot GPUs, and every standard ATX, Micro ATX, and Mini ITX case should be able to fit those just fine. (Though we wouldn’t recommend a 3-slot with a Mini ITX case, as it may not have much room to breathe.) You only really need to worry about GPU width if you’re using other PCI Express expansion cards, but for most users, this isn’t really a concern. Features like sound and networking and wireless functionality can now be relegated to USB or are even built into the corresponding Intel or AMD Motherboard.

The second and more pressing of our physical compatibility specs is GPU length. This is the one that’s most likely to cause a compatibility issue, especially for a smaller chassis (Mini ITX or some Micro ATX cases) where you’re trying to pack as much raw GPU power as possible. The standard measurement for GPU length is millimeters, and fortunately for you, your case specs should also list the maximum GPU/VGA length that it supports. Before buying a graphics card, be sure to look up your case specs to make sure that it will fit! If you want to simplify the process, we’ve included these specs in both this article and our corresponding case articles, allowing you to find a compatible GPU/case combo without doing any extra legwork.

Parting Words

And that’s it!

We hope that this article helped you choose the best gaming GPU for your needs. If you have any lingering questions not answered by the article, feel free to leave a comment below and let us know! We’d love to help you.

Otherwise, happy gaming!

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