The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming in 2021

Getting the best graphics card for your exact needs can be a proper pain. There are more than a dozen different models out there, each with a bunch of variations from different manufacturers. Surfing through the graphics card market without letting the wave devouring you is a valuable skill.

Today, we’ll try to simplify the process. We picked the best graphics cards for gaming. You’ll get the best card for each resolution, lots of value choices, and a couple of unorthodox recommendations such as the best graphics card for Ultrawide 1440p gaming.

No matter your resolution, frame rate preferences, or budget, you should find something just for you. If you’re looking for recommendations for other components, you can check out lists featuring CPUs and the best motherboards for gaming. Let’s begin.

evga geforce rtx 3080 ftw3 ultra gaming
  • 10GB of memory
  • Triple fan design
  • 1800MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1xHDMI 2.1
  • 320W TDP (450W OC TDP)
CHECK PRICES

Technically speaking, the RTX 3090 is the best 4K gaming card but its price’s through the roof. For most users, the RTX 3080 is the best 4K card since it has about 90 percent of the RTX 3090 gaming performance for less than half the price.

With the RTX 3080, you can expect 60fps gameplay in AAA games at 4K with many popular titles being able to run at three-digit frame rates. Esports games and multiplayer titles will perform at frames much higher than 100-120, no matter the resolution.

The RTX FTW3 Ultra Gaming from EVGA is one of the best RTX 3080 models on the market thanks to its phenomenal cooling system, solid OC potential, and a massive RGB LED array. When it comes to overclocking, the card comes with a monstrous 450W OC power limit but real-world results aren’t as impressive as we would hope for.

Load temperatures stay below 75 degrees Celsius during gaming (they reach 68 Celsius when using OC BIOS) and the cooling system is among the quietest we’ve seen on an RTX 3080 card. The only major downside of the card is only 10GB of memory, which could prove too little in future AAA titles running at 4K. But that’s the inherent flaw of Nvidia’s design and has nothing to do with this particular model from EVGA.

Pros:
  • Dual BIOS
  • Best Card For 4K Gaming
  • Great Cooling
  • Lots Of RGB (Subjective)
Cons:
  • Limited Overclocking Potential

EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Ftw3 Hybrid

The Best for Ultrawide 1440p Gaming

evga geforce rtx 2080 super ftw3 hybrid
  • Hybrid cooling solution
  • 8GB of memory
  • 1845MHz boost clock
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1xHDMI, 1xUSB C
  • 250W TDP
CHECK PRICES

If you have a 1440p ultrawide monitor you’ll need a beast for fluid, 60fps or higher experience. The RTX 2070 Super and RX 5700 XT are great for regular 1440p gaming but for UW 1440 you’ll need a bit more oomph. Thus, comes the RTX 2080 Super.

The RTX 2080 Super is also the best graphics card for VR, if you’re into it. Finally, this is also the perfect choice for a high refresh rate 1440 gaming. It’s noticeably more expensive than both RTX 2070 Super and RX 5700 XT but offers performance that’s about 15 percent behind RTX 2080 Ti on average for a fraction of its price.

The EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Ftw3 Hybrid is a solid RTX 2080 Super model that comes with a hybrid cooling solution. The single fan is assisted by a liquid cooling AIO solution providing excellent thermal results. The card doesn’t go over 55 degrees Celsius under heavy load, which is a superb result.

Overclock potential, on the other hand, is unimpressive. Max stable clock is only 90 MHz over the reference, which allows for less than 5 percent performance gain.

Other downsides are the price, which is quite steep compared to regular RTX 2080 Super models. Next, we have a noisy pump, which can be a dealbreaker for some people. Finally, this card is huge. It’s much taller than other models and requires a free 120mm cooler slot in your case for its AIO radiator.

Pros:
  • Excellent thermals
  • Great cooling system
  • Excellent Ultrawide 1440p performance
Cons:
  • Price
  • Massive Size
  • Noisy pump
  • Disappointing overclock potential

Gigabyte Radeon RX 5700 XT

Excellent Bang For The Buck GPU From AMD

gigabyte radeon rx 5700 xt
  • 8GB of memory
  • Dual fan design
  • 1905MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1xHDMI
  • 225W TDP
CHECK PRICES

The RX 5700 XT is still a pretty solid bang for the buck GPU due to the wild pricing of the new generation of cards from Nvidia and AMD. While it’s not a zero compromise 1440p card anymore, it can offer a 60fps experience in all AAA games and over 100fps in esports titles in 1440p resolution.

At 1080p, this is a perfect high refresh rate card since it can run any current title at or near 100fps and above. When it comes to the Gigabyte RX 5700 XT Gaming OC, this is one of the best AIB RX 5700 XT models on the market. The card has a very quiet cooling system that keeps it below 70 degrees Celsius even when under extreme loads, which is an excellent result for an RX 5700 XT card.

Overall, this is a cool and quiet RX 5700 XT AIB card with performance in line with other RX 5700 XT models. It looks nice, is light on RGB, and has a solid price. The only noticeable negative is the fact that the card’s overclocking potential is quite low.

Pros:
  • Cool And Quiet
  • Subtle RGB Implementation (Subjective)
  • Solid 1440p Performance
Cons:
  • Weak OC Potential

ZOTAC GAMING GeForce RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC

The Best Nvidia Graphics Card For 1440p Gaming

asus rog strix nvidia geforce rtx 3070
  • 8GB of memory
  • Dual fan design
  • 1755MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1xHDMI 2.1
  • 220W TDP (240W OC TDP)
CHECK PRICES

The RTX 3070 is the best 1440p gaming card from Nvidia. It can be used at 4K, just don’t expect a 60fps experience with all settings maxed. But at 1440p this card can net you at least 60fps with all settings maxed in the most demanding games of today (Cyberpunk 2077, AC Valhalla) and over 100fps in almost every other game.

The ZOTAC GeForce RTX 3070 Twin Edge OC is one of the most affordable RTX 3070 models, coming with a cut-down PCB and only a two-fan cooling system. This makes the card a bit warmer than most other RTX 3070 AIB models but still, at only 69 degrees Celsius when under load, this card’s great for most cases sans sandwich-design ITX enclosures.

A shorter PCB means this card can fit into most ITX cases, making it a great pick for an SFF build. But again, if you have an ITX case with a sandwiched design or one with poor airflow, it’s best to avoid this card since it can get much hotter when inside a poorly ventilated case. Overall, this is a pretty good RTX 3070 card with its only negative being the aforementioned poor thermal performance inside small ITX cases.

Pros:
  • Compact Design
  • Solid Thermals For A Dual Fan Card
  • Great For 1440p High Refresh Rate Gaming
Cons:
  • Not Suitable For Ultra-Compact SFF Builds

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 SC GAMING

The Best Entry-level RTX Graphics Card

evga geforce rtx 2060 sc gaming
  • 6 GB of memory
  • 1710 MHz Boost Clock
  • Small form factor design
  • 1x Display port, 1x HDMI, 1x DVI-D
  • 160W TDP
CHECK PRICES

If you wanted the cheapest ticket to the world of RTX, the EVGA RTX 2060 KO was the best choice in the last couple of months. Sadly, that card got a huge price bump in recent weeks, probably thanks to the whole human malware situation. Without the sweet price of the KO model, you could go with the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 SC GAMING.

The card features small form factor, but only regarding its length. The GPU cooler uses a 3-slot design, which is strange considering this should be an ITX-friendly card. Well, you won’t fit this easily in ITX cases when the card is this fat.

Anyway, the thick cooler at least provides solid thermals. The card shouldn’t reach 70 degrees Celsius even under heavy load. The card ships with 30MHz factory OC and you should squeeze another 100MHz from it, which converts into 5-7 more performance.

This is an excellent card for entry 1440p gaming and one of the best choices for no-compromises 1080p gaming. At 1440p expect 60 fps in many games but also be ready to lower some settings to achieve buttery smooth 60fps in demanding titles. On the other hand, 1080p will work great. Many titles (especially esports) will work well above 100fps.

Downsides include 3-slot design even though the card is supposedly a small form factor product. Next, 6 gigabytes of memory is an inherent negative at this price point because recent titles, such as Doom Eternal, showed that max textures won’t work with 6GB cards, even at 1080p. And if you pay $350 for your graphics card you would expect to play games with max textures.

Pros:
  • Great thermals
  • Solid OC potential
Cons:
  • 6 GB of memory is not enough for this price
  • 3-slot design isn’t ITX friendly

Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT

Best Choice for 1080p Gaming Without Compromises

sapphire pulse radeon rx 5600 xt
  • 6 GB of memory
  • 1755 MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort
  • 1x HDMI
  • 180W TDP
CHECK PRICES

AMD recently launched RX 5600 XT video card and managed to offer a 2060-like performance for 20 percent lower price. The launch wasn’t smooth though. There was confusion regarding which cards support last-minute BIOS update that increased clocks and power consumption.

The situation ended with some RX 5600 XT models being left without BIOS update, making them 10 percent slower than those that got updated. Well, the Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 5600 XT isn’t one of those cards. With the new BIOS, which can be downloaded from the official site, the card unlocks its full 14Gbps memory potential.

The card is the best choice for 1080p gaming. You’ll get well over 60fps in every single game with max settings. Esports titles with run well above 100fps. Even at 1440p, this card should offer respectable performance that should offer 60fps or higher performance with most settings maxed out.

Thermals are solid. With the new power unlocking, BIOS temps can go a bit over 70 degrees Celsius, which is pretty good. OC potential is pretty low. Since the card is already overclocked by installing the new BIOS, additional overclock pushes performance by an additional 3 percent. It’s not worth it.

Pros:
  • Solid thermals
  • 2060 performance for 25 percent lower price
Cons:
  • BIOS has to be manually updated to unlock the full performance
  • Only 6 GB of memory is not enough for the asking price
  • No RTX support

EVGA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti FTW Ultra Gaming

Excellent Bang For The Buck 1440p Graphics Card

evga geforce rtx 3060 ti ftw ultra gaming
  • 8GB of memory
  • Triple fan design
  • 1800MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1xHDMI 2.1
  • 200W TDP (260W OC TDP)
CHECK PRICES

The RTX 3060 Ti from Nvidia comes in at just about 10 percent weaker performance than the RTX 3070 while selling for 25 percent lower MSRP. This makes the RTX 3060 Ti the best bang for the buck choice for 1440p gaming, or at least it will be once the prices settle.

This card can run any AAA game in 60fps with all settings cranked to the max with many games being capable to run at 100fps or higher. We wouldn’t recommend this card for 1080p gaming but if you have a 240Hz panel and want to utilize it to its fullest, feel free and get one.

The RTX 3060 Ti FTW Ultra from EVGA is one of the best aftermarket 3060 Ti models you can get right now. While it has limited OC potential (due to the OC power limit being only 20W higher than the default one), the card’s very quiet and runs at a max temperature of 70 degrees Celsius. Overall, this is an excellent RTX 3060 Ti model and a great bang for the buck 1440p gaming choice.

Pros:
  • Cool And Quiet
  • Great Bang For The Buck 1440p Choice
Cons:
  • Limited OC Potential

Asus GeForce GTX 1660 Super Phoenix Fan Edition

The Best Low Profile Graphics Card for Those on a Budget

asus geforce gtx 1660 super phoenix fan edition
  • 6 GB of memory
  • 1800 MHz boost clock
  • 1x Display port, 1x HDMI, 1x DVI-D
  • 125WTDP
CHECK PRICES

The GTX 1660 Super is by far the best graphics card for the money in the mainstream segment. Priced about 15 percent over $200, this card has almost the same price as the GTX 1660 but features performance in the ballpark of the GTX 1660 Ti which costs 20 percent more.

One of the most affordable members of the GTX 1660 Super family is the Asus GeForce GTX 1660 Super Phoenix Fan. This small form factor GPU offers the same performance as every other normal-sized GTX 1660. In other words, at 1080p expect at least 60 fps in AAA titles with max details and over 100fps in esports titles.

Working temps of the card are not great. It can go over 85 degrees Celsius with the fan being quite loud. Because of that, we don’t recommend overclocking this one. On the other hand, this is a great card for M-ITX builds despite its cooling issues. It’s very short at 174mm and costs less than most GTX 1660 cards.

Pros:
  • Cheaper than most GTX 1660 cards
  • Great for m-ITX builds
  • Performance in line with other GTX 1660 Super cards
Cons:
  • Runs pretty hot
  • The fan is quite loud
  • Low OC potential

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super

Best Budget Graphics Card From Nvidia

zotac gaming geforce gtx 1660 super
  • 6 GB of memory
  • 1845 MHz Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort
  • 1x HDMI
  • 125W TDP
CHECK PRICES

For just a few bucks more than the ASUS GTX 1660 Super Phoenix, you can get the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super. This is the best Nvidia graphics card in the mainstream segment.

Performance-wise everything we said about the ASUS GTX 1660 Super Phoenix works here. Great 1080p performance with power almost equal to the GTX 1660 Ti for the price of GTX 1660.

This card is the best choice for those who have regular builds. Thermals are much better, with temps reaching just north of 65 degrees Celsius under load. OC potential is average. You can get about 5 percent more performance tops.

Overall, this is the best budget graphics card you can get right now. It’s quiet and cool, provides more than 60fps with max details at 1080p and won’t break the bank.

Pros:
  • Best bang for the buck you can get
  • Very quiet
  • Very energy efficient
Cons:
  • Fans could be quieter when under load
  • Low OC potential

XFX AMD Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy Core

The Best Graphics Card for Under $200 from AMD

xfx amd radeon rx 590 fatboy core
  • 8 GB of memory
  • 1545 Boost Clock
  • 3x DisplayPort
  • 1x HDMI
  • 175W TDP
CHECK PRICES

First, there was the RX 480. Then we got the first Polaris refresh in the form of RX 580. Finally, AMD offered the second Polaris refresh and named it RX 590.

The XFX AMD Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy Core is one of the best RX 590 cards and it shows that Polaris still has some kick left, especially in the sub $200 range. You can get similar performance with the GTX 1650 Super for less money, but there’s a catch. The GTX 1650 Super comes with a mere 4 GB of memory while the RX 590 features 8 GB memory buffer.

In the world of modern games where many titles look amazing even at medium details, having 8 gigs of memory instead of just 4 means being able to ramp up textures to the max. This is huge because in modern games texture quality is the most visible graphical change in almost every game.

With this card, you can up textures to the max while keeping other settings at medium or high at 1080p and get much better image quality than with the GTX 1650 Super. The price tradeoff is worth it, despite the RX 590 being a power hog that runs very hot.

As we said, this card is one of the best RX 590 models. Thermals are solid for a power hog that is RX 590. Around 78 degrees Celsius. OC potential is pretty low since the card is already pushing its limits. You’ll get maybe 5 percent more performance, which isn’t worth the hassle and higher working temperatures.

Pros:
  • 8 GB of memory for less than $200
  • Best graphics card under $200
Cons:
  • The card is a power hog
  • It also runs very hot
  • Low OC potential
  • Architecture is dated

How To Choose a Graphics Card

rtx graphics card

Picking the best graphics card for your needs doesn’t have to be super complicated. Just follow these simple steps and you’ll find one that you need in no time.

Set Your Budget

Setting up your budget is the first thing you should do. Just don’t let your upper price point be set in stone because a great deal can often be just 10-15 percent over your budget. And it’s better to wait a bit and save up more money than to get an inferior product.

Set A List Of Desired Specs And Features

Come up with a set of features your next card has to fulfill. You might want to game at 60fps in AAA titles with max details while running esports titles over 120fps. Or you’re fine with running AAA games with 30-40 fps at your desired resolution.

Maybe you need USB C port for your VR headset. Or three DisplayPort connectors if you’re running a multimonitor setup. If you have an AIO water cooling system you can look for a card with a pre-built liquid cooling block.

Check The Length Of The Card Before Buying It

Firstly, measure how much space you have in your case. Next, double-check it. Then, check the listed length of the card. Finally, check the length from multiple sources since sometimes, these measures can be wrong.

Check Video Ports Available

While most cards come with the usual suite of 3 DisplayPort and one HDMI port, make sure the card has enough video connectors you need. Some low-profile cards (such as the EVGA RTX 2060 SC featured in this article) and many budget cards come with one DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DVI.

Do You Want A Futureproof Card Or Just Something That Will Work Great Right Now?

If you’re planning on getting a new monitor with a higher resolution in the foreseeable future put that into the equation. Get a card that can push games at your new monitor resolution.

Next, take into account future games you want to get. Maybe a GTX 1660 Super is great right now but it probably won’t be enough to run Cyberpunk 2077 in max details. Remember that.

Read User Reviews And Check About Potential Issues

Always read user reviews before getting a new card. They can be really helpful and point issues not found in official reviews. Also, always check on Google to see whether your next card has driver issues or such. RX 5700 and 5700 XT are great cards but a plethora of driver issues (which are now fixed) caused headaches to many owners.

Make Sure Your CPU Won’t Bottleneck The New Card

Don’t go overboard when getting a new graphics card. Get one that won’t make your CPU a bottleneck. For instance, if you run a Core i5 6600K everything above RTX 2060 or RX 5600 XT will make the CPU bottleneck the video card. So, do a simple Google search for the most powerful card to go with your CPU before making any purchase.

Make Sure Your PSU Can Deliver Enough Power To The New Card

A new graphics card usually means more power needed for the system. Before getting a new GPU check how many watts of power it requires and whether your PSU can deliver that.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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