Table of Contents
- 1 Best Graphics Cards for Gaming 2020
- 2 How We Test Graphics Cards
- 3 1080p Medium
- 4 1080p Ultra
- 5 1440p Ultra
- 6 4K Ultra
- 7 All GPUs Ranked
The best graphics card can mean a lot of different things: the fastest graphics card, or the best value, or even the best card for a given price. Whatever your definition, for PC gaming, no other component impacts your experience as much as the graphics card. We test and review all the major GPUs, and we’ve ranked every graphics card in our GPU hierarchy based on performance. Here we pull everything together to come up with the best graphics cards you can currently buy.
We’ve provided 10 options for the best graphics cards, recognizing that there’s a lot of potential overlap, especially when it comes to choosing between AMD and Nvidia GPUs. For instance, is the RX 5700 XT better than the RTX 2060 Super? We think so, but individual preference definitely plays a role and we’ve included both as options in this list. Nvidia continues to rule the top of the performance charts, but you pay more for the privilege. The various RTX 20-series GPUs occupy the top four positions on our charts, but AMD makes some strong showings in the sub-$400 markets.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced cancellations of major events, including GDC and GTC, and potentially Computex. We expected Nvidia to reveal its Ampere GPU architecture at GTC, but that didn’t happen. Still, here’s everything we know about the RTX 3080 and Ampere, along with plenty of speculation, and we’ve given AMD’s Big Navi the same treatment. If you haven’t jumped on the RTX 20-series bandwagon already, waiting for the next GPU architectures to come out is a good plan.
The most recent GPU releases are AMD’s RX 5600 XT, and the RX 5500 XT in both 4GB and 8GB variants. Nvidia and its partners have responded with a price cut on certain RTX 2060 models, along with new GTX 1660 Super and GTX 1650 Super cards that swap out the GDDR5 memory for GDDR6 memory. Supplies of GDDR5 are apparently getting scarce, which has led to Nvidia’s partners also releasing GTX 1650 GDDR6 models, which have 896 cores compared to the 1280 on the 1650 Super. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend but want something more efficient than the RX 570, any of those are worth considering, particularly if you’re playing at 1080p and don’t want to spend a lot of money.
When buying a graphics card, consider the following:
- Resolution: The more pixels you’re pushing, the more performance you need. You don’t need top-of-the-line to game at 1080p.
- PSU: Make sure that your power supply has enough juice and the right 6- and/or 8-pin connector(s). For example, Nvidia recommends a 650-watt PSU for the RTX 2070 Super, and you’ll need 6-pin and 8-pin PEG connectors.
- Video Memory: A 4GB card is the minimum we recommend right now, 6GB models are preferable, and 8GB or more is strongly recommended.
- FreeSync or G-Sync? Either variable refresh rate technology will synchronize your GPU’s frame rate with your screen’s refresh rate. If your monitor supports G-Sync tech (for recommendations, see our Best Gaming Monitors list), you’ll need a GeForce GPU. AMD’s FreeSync tech works with Radeon cards, and Nvidia has certified some FreeSync displays as being G-Sync Compatible.
Best graphics cards at a glance:
1. RTX 2080 Ti
2. RTX 2080 Super
3. RTX 2070 Super
4. RX 5700 XT
5. RTX 2060 Super
6. RX 5700
7. RTX 2060
8. RX 5600 XT
9. GTX 1660 Super
10. RX 570 4GB
Best Graphics Cards for Gaming 2020
1. RTX 2080 Ti
Best Graphics Card Overall / 4K (When Price Is No Object)
GPU: Turing (TU102) | GPU Cores: 4352 | Boost Clock: 1,545 MHz | Video RAM: 11GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 250 watts
The fastest non-Titan graphics card
Can legitimately do 4K high/ultra at 60 fps or more
Factory overclocked models are readily available
For most of us, price is an object
Card is 18 months old now, so you might as well wait for Ampere
Generally overkill for 1080p displays
If you’re looking for the no-holds-barred champion of graphics cards, right now it’s the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. If you’re serious about maxing out all the graphics settings and you want to play at 4K or 1440p, this is the card to get — it’s mostly overkill for 1080p gaming, though enabling all ray tracing effects in games that support the feature makes 1080p still reasonable. Just look at Minecraft RTX performance to see how increased levels of ray tracing can bring even the 2080 Ti to its knees.
Nvidia’s Turing architecture is at the heart of the RTX 2080 Ti, boosting performance even if you don’t enable ray tracing or DLSS. Concurrent floating-point and integer execution means that even with only moderately higher theoretical performance compared to the previous generation Pascal (GTX 10-series) GPUs like the GTX 1080 Ti, in practice the 2080 Ti is 35-40 percent faster at higher resolutions and settings.
There are three main reasons to not buy the 2080 Ti. First is of course the price — with cards starting at $1,050 and many selling for $1,200 or more, just the graphics card costs more than an entire mid-range gaming PC. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if money is really no object, there’s still the Titan RTX: Double the price for a meager 3-5% increase in performance! Yeah, no thanks. Perhaps most importantly, the RTX 2080 Ti is nearing its two year mark. If you didn’t buy one in 2019 or 2018, buying now doesn’t make much sense, what with Nvidia’s Ampere expected to launch later this year.
Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Review
2. RTX 2080 Super
Best High-End Graphics Card (at a Much Better Price)
GPU: Turing (TU104) | GPU Cores: 3072 | Boost Clock: 1,815 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 15 Gbps | TDP: 250 watts
The second fastest consumer graphics card
Better price to performance ratio than the 2080 Ti
Fastest GDDR6 in a graphics card
Expensive for a minor bump in performance over 2070 Super
Can’t do 4K ultra in many games at 60 fps
You should wait for Nvidia’s Ampere 7nm GPUs
If your bank account is thinking about going on strike for eyeing the 2080 Ti, stepping down to the RTX 2080 Super might help. You’re still getting the second fastest graphics card, saving about 35% on the price, and getting 85-90% of the performance. What’s more, 1440p and 4K gaming are totally possible on the RTX 2080 Super, just not necessarily at maximum quality (especially 4K). The good news is that the difference between ultra and high quality in many games is difficult to see, while the jump in performance can be significant.
There’s still the question of what will happen with ray tracing adoption in the future, of course. The first round of DirectX Raytracing (DXR) games has often seen performance drop by 30-40% when the feature is enabled. DLSS can often make up for that drop, but the implementations of both DXR and DLSS vary by game. But if you take a game like Control, which features ray traced reflections, contact shadows and diffuse lighting — the most complete implementation of ray tracing in a game to date (not counting Quake II RTX, which is old and still rather ugly) — performance dropped by half. If games in the near future start using more ray tracing effects, even the 2080 Super may not keep up.
We’d still argue it’s still better than alternative of not even having ray tracing as an option. Buying an RTX 2080 Super gets you a graphics card that will handle any current game, and out of 12 games we tested (see below), it stayed above 60 fps at 1440p ultra in every case. Just be careful about potential buyer’s remorse once Ampere shows up.
Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super Review
3. RTX 2070 Super
Best Graphics Card for 1440p
GPU: Turing (TU104) | GPU Cores: 2560 | Boost Clock: 1,770 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 215 watts
Nearly RTX 2080 performance at a significantly lower price
No more Founders Edition price premium
All the ray tracing and deep learning features of the Turing architecture
Nothing new compared to the non-Super RTX cards
Ampere is coming, possibly sooner than later
The law of diminishing returns is in full effect as you move up to the top of the GPU hierarchy, which means you’ll pay more for proportionately less performance every additional step. The best way to avoid that is to drop back a few notches, which is where you’ll find the RTX 2070 Super. 4K gaming is probably a stretch, unless you drop down to medium quality, but 1440p ultra is still viable. Only one game (Assassin’s Creed Odyssey) in our test suite dropped below 60 fps at 1440p, and just barely.
Just as the RTX 2080 Super is a sensible step down from the 2080 Ti, the 2070 Super is only about 10% slower than the 2080 Super but costs almost 30% less. It’s also only a few percent slower than the now discontinued vanilla RTX 2080, and you still get 8GB of GDDR6, ray tracing and DLSS, and a card that beats the previous generation GTX 1080 Ti — along with every current AMD GPU. This is all at the same price as the slightly older and slightly slower RTX 2070, and there’s no Founders Edition tax this round.
Whether it’s the latest shooter at maxed out settings, ray tracing games like Control or Deliver Us the Moon, or getting lost in VR with Valve’s upcoming Half-Life: Alyx, the RTX 2070 Super should be able to keep you happily gaming for several years.
Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super Review
4. RX 5700 XT
Best AMD GPU Right Now (at a Great Price)
GPU: Navi 10 | GPU Cores: 2560 | Boost Clock: 1,755 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 225 watts
New RDNA architecture provides for better performance and efficiency
The 5700 XT is as fast as the Radeon VII for half the price
Great for 1440p gaming, and can do 4K high in a pinch
AMD’s fastest GPU still can’t touch Nvidia’s top models
No support for ray tracing, via hardware or software
AMD at 7nm only matches Nvidia efficiency at 12nm
Fourth on our list in terms of performance, AMD’s RX 5700 XT has other benefits. It’s nearly as fast as the RTX 2070 Super, trailing by just 5-8% overall, and pricing starts at just $360 for the least expensive models. We’ve tested several custom 5700 XT cards, and performance typically falls in a narrow range, with aesthetics, cooler size and price being the main differences. AMD doesn’t support hardware or software ray tracing, which is certainly a factor, but in traditional rasterization techniques AMD’s RDNA architecture is very competitive.
AMD’s GPUs also tend to do better in games that use either DirectX 12 or the Vulkan API, though DX11 games favor Nvidia. Overall, across our test suite, the 5700 XT beats the RTX 2060 Super by about 9% in performance, and typically costs $30 less. There have been some concerns with AMD’s drivers since Navi launched, but the latest updates appear to have addressed some of the biggest problems.
Compared to AMD’s own previous generation products, the RX 5700 XT also puts up an impressive performance. It basically matches the Radeon VII at 1080p and 1440p, all while using 75W less power. That’s partly the benefit of the 7nm FinFET manufacturing process, something Nvidia will utilize in Ampere, but the foundational RDNA architecture definitely improved resource utilization over the previous GCN architecture cards. Our biggest concern is that AMD’s RDNA 2 will add ray tracing later this year, and apparently 50% higher performance per watt. That’s probably worth the wait at this point.
Read: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT Review
5. RTX 2060 Super
Best High-End Card for 1080p Ultra and 1440p High
GPU: Turing (TU106) | GPU Cores: 2176 | Boost Clock: 1,650 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 175 watts
It’s basically a cheaper take on the RTX 2070
Plenty fast for 1440p gaming
Nothing new to see here, just RTX 2070 redux
Big step up in price relative to RTX 2060
Again: Ampere is coming
Out of all the Nvidia RTX cards, the RTX 2060 Super is the hardest to recommend. It’s not that it’s a bad card — it’s plenty fast and has the same features as the other RTX models — but performance and pricing end up being eclipsed by AMD’s 5700 XT, or you can save even more money and only give up a bit of performance with the RX 5700. It’s technically a hair faster than the 5700 overall, but costs nearly $100 more. In a direct face off between the RX 5700 XT and the RTX 2060 Super, we gave AMD the edge, though it’s by no means an insurmountable lead. Both are great cards that handle 1080p and 1440p gaming without difficulty; AMD’s card just costs less.
The good news is that competition from AMD means better pricing for everyone, whether you go with team red or team green. The RTX 2060 Super is nearly the same performance as the earlier RTX 2070 that we’ve recommended in the past (it’s 4% slower), and it costs $100-$200 less. And like the other RTX Super cards, there’s no Founders Edition ‘tax’ this time.
If you want an 8GB card that can do ray tracing, for the lowest price possible, the RTX 2060 Super fills that niche. The extra memory does actually have an impact on ray tracing performance as well, so there are reasons to spring for the upgrade over the vanilla RTX 2060. Just don’t be surprised if an RTX 3060 shows up that performs better and costs less later this year.
Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super Review
6. RX 5700
Best AMD Bang for the Buck
GPU: Navi 10 | GPU Cores: 2304 | Boost Clock: 1,625 MHz | Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 180 watts
Excellent price to performance ratio
Everything good about RDNA and Navi
Arguably the best overall value in GPUs right now
Everything bad about RDNA and Navi as well (eg, no ray tracing or DLSS)
RDNA 2 and Navi 2x are coming this year
Taking a step down from the fastest AMD GPU often gives you a tremendous amount of performance for less money, and the Radeon RX 5700 is no exception. Like the Vega 56 vs. Vega 64, or R9 390 vs. R9 390X, the RX 5700 gives you about 90% of the performance of the RX 5700 XT, for about 80% of the price. Nominally a $350 graphics card, we’re routinely seeing sales and rebates that drop the RX 5700 to $300 or less — at which point it’s also a no-brainer pick over the newer RX 5600 XT, considering you’re guaranteed 14 Gpbs memory, with 2GB more VRAM as well.
Everything good and bad about the RX 5700 XT also applies here. Efficiency and performance are much better than AMD’s previous generation GCN architecture, but you still don’t get ray tracing support. We do wonder if AMD will, like Nvidia, enable DXR support in its drivers once Navi 2x launches later this year, or if Navi 1x will forever remain in the rasterization zone.
The RX 5700 is also frequently available for basically the same price as the now-discounted RTX 2060. Across our test suite, it ends up 11% faster at 1080p and 1440p compared to Nvidia’s GPU. Plus, let’s be honest: Ray tracing performance certainly isn’t going to be the top priority of anyone trying to decide between the 2060 and the 5700. Middling performance in ray tracing versus faster performance everywhere else? The RX 5700 is a great option.
Read: AMD Radeon RX 5700 Review
7. RTX 2060
Best Entry Level Ray Tracing and Potent 1080p
GPU: Turing (TU106) | GPU Cores: 1920 | Boost Clock: 1,680 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 160 watts
Plenty fast with a price cut on some models making it far more palatable
Includes all the latest hardware ray tracing features
Faster than previous generation GTX 1070 Ti
Enabling ray tracing usually requires DLSS (ie, rendering at 1280×720 and upscaling)
Many models still cost $350 or more
6GB VRAM could prove limiting in future games
Nvidia’s RTX 2060 was a decent card when it launched in January 2019, and dropping the price on the Founders Edition one year later keeps it in the running. In a direct head-to-head between ‘reference’ RTX 2060 and RX 5600 XT models, Nvidia ekes out a win. Of course, there are a lot of non-reference RX 5600 XT cards available that turn the tables — and then non-reference RTX 2060 cards like the EVGA RTX 2060 KO Ultra swap things back.
For many people, $300 is about as much as they’re willing to spend on a graphics card, making this an important part. Sure, the RTX 2080 Ti is almost twice as fast at 4K ultra, but it also costs nearly four times as much. The RTX 2060 is also great for 1080p gaming, averaging nearly 90 fps in our test suite at ultra settings, with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey being the only game that dipped below 60 fps (and only barely: 59.1 fps).
It’s also good to put things in perspective. The RTX 2060 at $300 is 60% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB, and over 80% faster than the GTX 970. At the same time, today’s RTX 2060 cards are functionally the same as last year’s RTX 2060 cards. We can think of better things to do than waiting a year to save $50. But if you’re in the market for a new graphics card today and you don’t want to wait around to see what Ampere and Navi 2x have to offer in the fall, this is a great 1080p gaming solution — and it will even handle ray tracing okay, if you enable DLSS.
Read: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Review
8. RX 5600 XT
Best Affordable 1080p Performer (but Get the 14 Gbps Variant)
GPU: Navi 10 | GPU Cores: 2304 | Boost Clock: 1,375 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 12/14 Gbps | TDP: 150 watts
Easily beats Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Super and 1660 Ti in performance
AMD’s Navi / RDNA architecture is a welcome improvement over GCN
No support for ray tracing technology
It’s a trimmed down RX 5700, for nearly the same street price
Confusion caused by last-minute BIOS update (avoid the 12 Gbps GDDR6 models)
The Radeon RX 5600 XT launch is the perfect showcase for how competitive the mid-range graphics card market has become. Initially intended to compete with the GTX 1660 Ti at the $280 price point, it would have easily won that matchup — it’s about 15% faster. Then Nvidia preemptively dropped the price on the RTX 2060 Founders Edition to $299, and worked with EVGA to launch a special RTX 2060 KO for $300 as well, and things got interesting. AMD responded with a last-minute BIOS update that increased clock speeds on the RX 5600 XT, and allowed partners the option to run the memory at 14 Gbps instead of the ‘reference’ 12 Gbps. Needless to say, a 17% increase in memory bandwidth and GPU clocks helps quite a bit.
Now that the dust has settled, you can find the ‘good’ RX 5600 XT cards with 14 Gbps memory starting at $290, though more often they’re priced at $300-$330. Given the nearly identical performance that you get with a factory overclocked RTX 2060, plus Nvidia’s slightly lower power use and features like ray tracing and DLSS, and Nvidia ends up with a slight edge. But this is a win by judge’s decision and not a knockout, never mind EVGA’s KO branding, and some people will be happier supporting AMD.
Our advice for the RX 5600 XT is to pick up one of the models that has 14 Gbps memory, which are readily available. Across our test suite, it makes at least a 5% difference compared to 12 Gbps memory, and 10-15% compared to the ‘reference’ specs listed above. What’s more, depending on the model it might not even cost more. Sapphire’s RX 5600 XT Pulse remains one of the least expensive RX 5600 XT cards, it will fit in most PC cases, including small form factor builds, and it works well. It’s a bit louder than some of the larger models, but hardly what we would classify as loud.
Read: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT Review
9. GTX 1660 Super
Best Mainstream Esports/1080p High Graphics Card
GPU: Turing (TU116) | GPU Cores: 1408 | Boost Clock: 1,785 MHz | Video RAM: 6GB GDDR6 14 Gbps | TDP: 125 watts
Nearly as fast as the GTX 1660 Ti, for less money
GDDR6 gives it a healthy performance boost over the vanilla 1660
Turing is very power efficient, even at 12nm
Street pricing is often much higher than the starting $230
No hardware ray tracing support
Dipping down closer to $200, we’re given the choice between the GTX 1660 Super at $230, the vanilla GTX 1660 for $210 or the RX 5500 XT 8GB at $200. They’re all viable candidates, but we’ve done the testing (see below) and the GTX 1660 Super is 15% faster than the regular 1660, and nearly 20% faster than the RX 5500 XT 8GB. We’ve looked at the GTX 1660 vs. RX 5500 XT and declared the Nvidia card the winner, but we also think the GTX 1660 Super is better than the GTX 1660.
Nvidia’s Turing GPUs are still manufactured on TSMC 12nm FinFET, which makes them use slightly more power than AMD’s Navi 14 chips that are made using TSMC 7nm FinFET. Still, it’s only about a 10W difference, and the fact that Nvidia is faster and nearly the same power while on the older manufacturing node says a lot. For $230, the GTX 1660 Super basically gets you the same level of performance as the older GTX 1070 in a more efficient design.
The main drawback to the GTX 1660 Super is that the RX 5600 XT and RTX 2060 aren’t that much more expensive, especially considering the performance increase. Both are around 20% faster, for $60-$70 more money. When looking at the cost of the rest of a PC, for gaming purposes we prefer to put additional funds into the graphics card.
Read: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super Review
10. RX 570 4GB
Best Budget Gaming Card (Even if It’s Old and Not Efficient)
GPU: Polaris 20 | GPU Cores: 2048 | Boost Clock: 1,244 MHz | Video RAM: 4GB GDDR5 7 Gbps | TDP: 150 watts
The low street prices make other budget options meaningless
Still runs every game at decent fps
Polaris 20 is three years old, and is a rebrand of Polaris 10 from 2016
Efficiency isn’t great compared to the latest GPUs
4GB VRAM limits the settings you can use
Last but not least, AMD’s RX 570 4GB continues to reign among budget graphics cards. You can often find new RX 570 4GB cards for $120, where getting prices that low usually means much lower performance (eg, the GTX 1050) or buying used hardware off eBay. We’ve been waiting for the RX 570 4GB to fade away for over a year now, but AMD’s Polaris 20 cards are still readily available.
There’s no getting around the need to compromise with a $120 graphics card, though. The RX 570 is now three years old, and power requirements are often higher than other options. Nominally a 150W part, factory overclocked models often draw as much power as an RX 5700 or RTX 2060 Super.
Nvidia’s closest alternative to the RX 570 is the GTX 1650, with prices starting at around $150, though if you’re willing to deal with mail-in rebates you can find deals like this EVGA GTX 1650 SC Ultra for as little as $120. The 1650 tends to be a bit slower than the RX 570 overall, and we’d look to the GTX 1650 Super or RX 580 8GB as better upgraded picks, but that sort of logic quickly gets us back to the above GTX 1660 Super.
Read: AMD Radeon RX 570 Review
How We Test Graphics Cards
Determining pure graphics card performance is best done by eliminating all other bottlenecks — as much as possible, at least. Our current graphics card testbed consists of a Core i9-9900K CPU, MSI MEG Z390 Ace motherboard, 32GB Corsair DDR4-3200 memory, and an XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB SSD. We test across the three most common gaming resolutions, 1080p, 1440p, and 4K, at medium and ultra settings. Our current test suite of games consists of 12 titles, though we’re currently in the process of changing up our games and retesting. The data in the following charts is from testing conducted in February 2020.
All GPUs Ranked
Our full GPU hierarchy ranks all current in previous generation GPUs by performance, using aggregate data from the gaming test suite. Below is the abbreviated hierarchy with all the cards you can still buy ranked in order of performance, from best to worst (not including Nvidia’s Titan cards).
Want to comment on our best graphics picks for gaming? Let us know what you think in the Tom’s Hardware Forums.
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