Welcome to our gaming graphics card 2020 buyer guide. Here we present all gaming graphics cards that we have tested in more detail. We have put together extensive background information.
We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best gaming graphics card.
You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy a gaming graphics card.
Important Factors to Consider:
– A gaming graphics card is perfect for playing high frame rates in video games. Large computing power is required especially for 4K and 3D images.
– Depending on the design, a distinction is made between gaming graphics cards and gaming graphics chips. Let a professional advise you to find the most suitable gaming graphics card for you.
– You should definitely consider the type of memory, the chip clock, the hard disk size, the slot and the integrated connections of a gaming graphics card when buying.
Top Gaming graphics cards:
The best 4K Ready Nvidia gaming graphics card
The best VR Ready Nvidia gaming graphics card
The best Nvidia gaming graphics card with 4 GB of memory
The best Nvidia gaming graphics card with 8 GB of memory
The best Nvidia gaming graphics card with 6 GB of memory
Sapphire Radeon 8GB Graphics Card Graphic Cards
ASUS TUF Gaming 3 AMD Radeon RX 5700XT
XFX Radeon RX 580 AMD Graphics Card
Questions to Consider Before Buying a Gaming Graphics Card
What makes a good graphics card?
Graphics cards, especially gaming graphics cards, can be relatively expensive. Therefore, one should check in advance whether the desired device also meets the requirements of the games. To make your search a little easier, we have summarized a few of the most important points.
Value for money
Newer graphics cards are often advertised in horrendous price ranges. But why is that and is it justified? There are only two major providers of gaming graphics cards: AMD and Nvidia. The discussion about which provider would better take care of the players has been raging for what seems like ages.
Actually, the two hardly differ, except that AMD is often a little cheaper and is more of a straggler, while Nvidia brings new technology and performance to the market.
But why are graphics cards so expensive when they are new? Due to the thematic monopoly of the two, the price can be chosen arbitrarily.
Although there are usually only minor improvements, new gaming graphics cards are advertised by all means of art. As they age, prices tend to drop dramatically while performance is still very good.
Therefore, you should always wait a little before buying an overpriced card, which would only cost half in a few months.
Graphics card memory
The higher the VRAM, the better the graphics card.” This is heard and read more and more but is not always the case. Because in addition to storage, bandwidth is also very important. It determines how much work can be done.
A GDDR5 memory is integrated into many gaming graphics cards. However, since 2015 Nvidia has been using the improved version GDDR5X and thus improves the bandwidth from 176 GB / s to 320-448 GB / s.
Graphics card processor (GPU)
AMD and Nvidia use different GPU architectures. Despite a few differences, both are reasonable choices.
It is important for AMD and Nvidia to differentiate themselves from their counterparts in such technological areas. AMD relies on a Polaris architecture for its Radeon 400 series, while Nvidia builds on a Pascal architecture for the GeForce 10 series. You can find more detailed information on both on the respective websites.
Which graphics card do I need for 4K gaming?
To achieve a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, a graphics card has to meet a few requirements. At the beginning, you need a monitor that supports the 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution. But that’s just the beginning. In order to achieve this resolution with a refresh rate of 60 Hz, the correct connection to the graphics card is required.
This means that at least one HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.2 connection must be integrated. So far, only Nvidia relies on HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2. AMD still uses the somewhat older variant of the HDMI connection and can therefore only offer a 4K resolution via DisplayPort.
What do gaming graphics cards cost?
Current good gaming graphics cards are between $150 and $350. As described above, the newer generation is a lot more expensive than the older devices. Older models and generations are often sufficient to perform well in current games.
When should you replace your gaming graphics card?
With new games come new demands. From time to time, older generations cannot keep up.
Many players know it: A new game is released and it has too high demands for its own hardware. Now there are two options:
– Play the games on poor graphics levels and low frames per second.
– Install a new graphics card.
As the current games played with poor performance, or the graphics card overheats due to overload, you can consider upgrading. Of course, it is up to your needs, but as soon as the performance gets too bad, better go for a new device.
What types of gaming graphics cards are there and which is the right one for you?
As with graphics cards for “commercial” use, there are two major manufacturers for gaming that dominate the market:
– Gaming graphics card from Nvidia
– AMD gaming graphics card
In addition, they can be divided into the following subcategories:
– High end
– Middle class
The different manufacturers deliver their graphics cards with additional features and free apps. Which provider you choose is a matter of taste and for some even a question of belief.
Purchase criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate gaming graphics cards
When comparing gaming graphics cards, there is always a lot of different and confusing data. The following paragraph should clarify which are important for you and how you compare them.
In summary, these are:
- Storage type
- Chip clock
- Disk size
- VGA / DVI / HDMI / DisplayPort
- 4K resolution
In the following part you can see how these criteria are to be considered and are optimal for you.
The so-called Graphics Double Data Rate (GDDR) is another name for a DDR memory. These are used as the standard for the main memory in PCs.
The GDDR can be divided into the following types:
GDDR: This type is the first generation and with a clock rate of 166 – 400 MHz it is the weakest memory.
GDDR2: GDDR2 is a little used further development of the GDDR. Due to the high heat development at high frequencies, it has rarely been used.
Nevertheless, a few graphics cards have been implemented, such as the GeForce FX 5800 Ultra. Although a maximum clock frequency of 500 MHz is possible here, most manufacturers tend to use a clock frequency below 400 MHz.
GDDR3: This type can be found not only in Sony’s PlayStation 3, but also in Microsoft’s Xbox 360. The GDDR3 has been optimized to process high memory clocks and can offer a data throughput of 83.2 GB / s with its 700 – 1300 MHz.
GDDR4: By doubling the prefetch, this type can offer a significantly higher frequency. With frequencies above 1 GHz, it clearly outperforms its predecessors at the beginning.
However, although GDDR4 is used in some graphics cards, such as the Radeon HD 3870, it was difficult to assert itself on the market. His predecessor soon reached similar clock frequencies and thus outbid him with cheaper offers.
GDDR5: The currently most popular type is available between 512 Mbit – 8 Gbit.
With clock frequencies up to 4 GHz, a transfer rate of up to 8GT / s can be achieved. In addition to graphics cards such as the ATI Radeon HD 4870, Sony’s PlayStation 4 also uses this memory. Large companies now mass produce these memories.
GDDR5X: The latest model, the GDDR5X with the GeForce GTX 1080, was introduced last year. Planned transfer rates are up to 448 GB / s and would, therefore, offer a much stronger performance than the GDDR5. This model is recommended for an optimal gaming experience.
The chip clock indicates how many repetitions per second are possible. This is relatively important because it automatically improves the line. With a clock of 1000MHz and 1 billion repetitions.
You can often increase the chip clock. This is called overclocking (OC). In games, this can often result in up to 10% improved performance, if not more. Here, particular importance should be attached to good in-game performance!
CAUTION! Because overclocking also increases heat build-up. Be sure beforehand that your PC and the system elements are sufficiently cooled and cannot overheat. This can lead to system errors and crashes that can damage not only the hardware but also the software.
The hard disk size is also alternatively called Video Random Access Memory (VRAM). Although the original VRAM was replaced by improved technologies, the memory of a graphics card is often referred to as VRAM.
The RAM or VRAM can be used to achieve a good classification of a graphics card. With sizes of 16 GB RAM, as can be found in the GeForce Titan X, one can definitely speak of a “high-end” card.
But also the GeForce Dual-GTX1060 from Nvidia, which has a RAM of 6 GB, is still one of the “high-end” products.
Mid-range graphics cards mostly use 2 to 4 GB of RAM. Although there are still a few 4 GB “high-end” cards, the majority can be classified a little lower. Often 2 – 4 GB are sufficient for normal use.
The Asus GeForce GTX660 and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 Ti are two good examples for the middle class.
For a normal PC, a subclass is still fine, although many would advise against it. The Gigabyte GTX 660 is one of these devices. The big advantage here is, of course, the price. At only around $100, the GTX 660 is one of the cheapest cards.
The more current models are recommended for the gaming sector, ie “high-end”. Other models are usually sufficient but could have problems with current games. Subclass graphics cards are rather unsuitable for gaming.
Since models like ISA and AGP are a thing of the past, PCI has also been pushed out of the market. The newer model PCI-Express is available in almost all devices today.
The PCIe managed to dominate the previous PCI standard because this model now offers serial data transmission. However, its predecessor only had parallel data transmission.
PCI-Express 3.0 was launched in 2012. This model is still used as the standard. When making a comparison, it is generally important to pay attention to which version of the PCIe is used and the number of lanes.
To clarify this once: a PCIe with only one lane reaches a speed of 985 MB / s.
With 8 lanes, the data transfer is 7877 MB / s. An extreme example is a PCIe x32, i.e. with 32 lanes. A speed of 31508 MB / s is possible.
Another generation is expected to come onto the market this year. The PCIe 4.0 should enable a data transfer of 1969 MB / s per lane. Until this appears, the PCIe 3.0 should definitely be available.
VGA / DVI / HDMI and DisplayPort
As already described above, these are different connections. These offer certain advantages and disadvantages.
The first standard (VGA) is now very outdated and is no longer used in modern graphics cards. If you still have a VGA connection, a cable length of less than two meters is advisable, otherwise, an excessive loss of quality can occur. The DVI cable can also be up to 10 meters long before it leads to a major loss in quality.
As already listed above, the DVI connection is differentiated into three different standards. Thanks to the better bit stream transmission, it offers a better resolution and can be used up to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 without any problems.
The three standards are DVI-D, DVI-A and DVI-I. DVI-D can only transmit digital signals and can also be converted to HDMI using an adapter.
The DVI-A connection, however, only transmits analog signals and is therefore actually only used as a VGA adapter. DVI-I combines these two and can transmit both analog and digital signals.
DVI connections are usually available in modern graphics cards. In addition to DVI connections, other connections are often also integrated:
The backwards-compatible successor HDMI, like DVI, can actually always be found on a good graphics card. But here again, the warning that there are different types of HDMI connections that have different connectors in addition to different bandwidths.
DisplayPort, also to be defined as the standard, should always be integrated. The ability to transmit resolutions at 2560 x 1600 with a 10-bit color depth sets it apart from its predecessors. The additional channel for external devices such as microphones and cameras is also a great advantage of this connection.
As previously described, some factors are required to achieve 4K resolution.
In addition to the correct monitor, the connection of the graphics card must also allow this resolution. There is HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2. Both are able to display a resolution of 4K (3840 x 2160). But watch out, because AMD does not yet use the HDMI 2.0 connector, or uses it rarely. Nvidia uses both for this and can therefore guarantee a secure 4K resolution.
Facts worth knowing about gaming graphics cards
Gaming graphics cards vs. Gaming graphics chips
More of a graphics card or an integrated graphics chip? Both options are available for notebook users. A fairly reasonable graphics chip is integrated in every modern notebook. This is also completely sufficient for everyday use.
Expensive notebook models usually offer a fairly good generation of Nvidia or AMD chips. These are usually sufficient to enjoy games on the medium or good graphics level. To get a perfect gaming experience, an external graphics card is usually required.