10 best graphics cards in the world 2015

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Best Graphics Cards

Are you a PC gamer? Then trust us on this: there is no other component nearly as important as the graphics card.

Yes, your monitor and even your mouse matter. But nothing has more impact on both frame rates and fun than your graphics card. Problem is, at any moment there are scores of cards to choose from and they typically all claim to have pixel-pushing perfection.

The simple solution is to buy the very best. But that also means the most expensive. For most of us, then, it's all about bang-for-buck at a given budget. Just remember to think carefully about how you match your graphics card with the rest of your PC.

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If you have a super-high resolution monitor, for instance, you're going to need a high-end graphics card to make the most of it. But, equally, there's little point unloading on the finest GPU money can buy if its being bottlenecked by an old CPU or feeding a feeble screen.

With all that in mind, here's our guide to not only the fastest, but also the best value PC graphics you can buy.

Best Graphics Cards

1. Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan X

The fastest and the finest single-GPU graphics card on the planet

Price: around £870

What was that we were saying about excessively expensive graphics cards? The Titan X ain't cheap. Not even nearly. But then the best never is. And make no mistake, the Titan X is clearly, undeniably, indisputably the best single-GPU graphics card you can buy. This time around, Nvidia has given us a Titan card that's purely for gaming and it's all the better for it. Yes, there are cards with two GPUs on board that can better it in some tests. But they are also less reliable. Money no object, it's the board we'd buy – except we'd have two of 'em!

Which board to buy:

Unless you go for an exotic custom-cooled effort, Titan X's are all the same, so you may as well grab something like Overclockers UK own-brand effort, which is about a cheap as they come, if you can call £870 cheap.


2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti

Almost as fast as the Titan X but less expensive

Price: around £550

The newest card in this list is the GeForce GTX 980 Ti and we think it's probably your best option if you want the best performance but you don't quite want to spend every penny you have. Despite having some nominal spec cut-backs, the 980 Ti offers pretty much all of the performance of the Titan X above but comes in at around one third cheaper. Of course, that still makes it crazy expensive and nowhere near as good value as the GTX 970 below, but if you've got the cash - why not?

Which board to buy?

This is a brand new card - we'll come back soon with some specific recommendations.

Best Graphics Cards

2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 970

All the graphics grunt you'll ever actually need

Price: Around £255

Diminishing returns are an occupational hazard for every PC gamer when it comes to buying a graphics card. And the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 is the point beyond which things go south. This is a stupendously powerful graphics card based on what we think is the best 3D tech currently available – Nvidia Maxwell architecture. There are faster cards. But especially if you are playing games at 1080p or even 1440p, most of the time, you won't notice the difference. And if you've heard about the whole 3.5GB versus 4GB fracas with the 970, don't let it bother you. It was inelegant of Nvidia, but it doesn't change what we think about the 970.

Which board to buy:

The 970 isn't exactly cheap. But it's still something of a value proposition. So we like the look of the aggressively priced Gainward model on Amazon.

Best Graphics Cards

3. AMD Radeon R9 290

A proper high-end GPU at a price you can (possibly) afford

Price: around £220

if you want a simple rule for buying graphics cards, it's this. Grab a slightly cut-down version of a flagship GPU a year or so after it goes on sale. That way you get all the high end features for both less than the price of the very top model and after the original launch price has inevitably cooled off. Enter, therefore the AMD Radeon R9 290. It's one rung down in AMD graphics hierarchy after the mighty 290X. But it's still a proper high-end bruiser, complete with a monster 512-bit memory bus and 4GB of graphics memory – all the better for running at high resolutions providing a bit of future proofing.

Which board to buy:

The reference cooler that AMD cooked up for the 290 was a bad joke. So go with something like Sapphire's Tri-X and its super-silent fans and factory overclock.

Best Graphics Cards

4. AMD Radeon R9 280

It's an oldie, but for 1080p gaming it's still a goodie

Price: around £150

Sticking with the cut-down flagship theme, our next candidate comes from what is effectively AMD's previous generation of graphics cards. What was once the Radeon HD 7970 has been, in effect, rebranded R9 280. But here's the thing. AMD hasn't changed its graphics tech for a few years. So in terms of features, you miss out on little to nothing. What you do get is no fewer than 1,792 stream processors, a 384-bit memory bus that even Nvidia's GTX 980 can't match and a decent 3GB lump of graphics memory. And all for an eminently reasonable £150. A great choice for slick 1080p gaming. It's not a bad choice for 1440p gaming on the cheap, too.

Which board to buy:

Luckily, pretty much all 280s now come with fancy custom coolers. That includes MSI's Radeon R9 280 Gaming, which just squeaks in under the £150 barrier.

Best Graphics Cards

5. Nvidia GeForce GTX 770

Grab a graphics bargain while you still can

Price: around £220

If you like the look of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 770, and we can understand why you would, get your skates on. It won't be available for much longer. Like AMD's 280 chipset, the GTX 770 falls into that cut-down, previous-gen flagship slot that usually serves up such good value. At launch a couple of years ago, the 770 was priced well above £300 and was very nearly as quick as PC graphics got. Today, it remains a seriously speedy card, but it's yours for not much more than £200. On the downside, it lacks Nvidia's awesome new Maxwell architecture. But it still offers great performance at standard clockspeeds and usually overclocks like a monster, too.

Which board to buy:

It makes sense to keep the 770 as cheap as possible, so Asus's Direct CU for £220 makes a lot of sense. Just be aware that the 2GB frame buffer isn't ideal for really high resolutions.

Best Graphics Card

6. Nvidia GeForce GTX 960

So nearly a gaming great, shame about that pesky memory bus

Price: around £150

From hear on in, our recommendations come with an increasing number of qualifiers. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 is one of those cards we desperately wanted to like. After all, it's a more affordable version of its killer Maxwell graphics architecture, but still absolutely aimed at full-featured gaming, right down to its 1,024 CUDA cores. There is, however, a snag. Nvidia has seen fit to bequeath the 960 with a stingy 128-bit memory bus. That makes it a very hard sell for high resolution gaming including anything beyond 1080p. We also worry about how well the 960 will hold up when even more bandwidth-hungry games are inevitably launched in future.

Which card to buy:

A factory overclocked 960 card for just under £155? What's not to like about the Gainward GTX 960 2GB?

Best Graphics Cards

7. AMD Radeon R9 270

Budget pricing, console-crushing graphics performance.

Price: around £115

Like it or loathe it, the latest games consoles from Sony and Microsoft set the minimum standard for most games developers. But the good news is that you can have a graphics based on exactly the same AMD technology as seen in both of the latest gaming boxes for not a great deal more than £100. Except this AMD board packs 1,280 of those all-important shaders, to the Sony PS4's 1,152 and the Xbox One's measly 768 cores. Nice. What's more, the 270 gets one over on Nvidia's GTX 960, too, thanks to its pukka 256-bit memory bus. All round, it's a very nice little package for the price. Our only real worry is whether 2GB of graphics memory is truly good enough these days.

Which board to buy:

While we'd like to recommend a 270 with more memory, they're much more pricey, too. So a Powercolor TurboDUO 2GB it is.


8. Nvidia GeForce GTX 980

A seriously sweet card, assuming you can afford it.

Price: around £430

Nvidia's Maxwell graphics technology is almost too good for our liking. Take the GTX 980 board. It's one hell of a graphics card, beaten only by Nvidia's own Titan X beast, a card that costs almost twice as much. And yet, at its heart, the 980 is really a mid-range graphics chip. It's just so darned good, Nvidia can get away with charging well over £400. Most of the time, that probably doesn't matter. If the 980 is quick, who cares how that is achieved. However, the telltale that gives away the 980 arguable mid-range status is a relatively stingy 256-bit memory bus, a feature AMD matches on its lowly R9 270 board for a quarter the price. Ouch.

Which board to buy:

Most 980 boards rock in around £430 or more. But the custom-cooled Palit GTX 980 Jetstream can currently be had for £400.

Best Graphics Cards

9. AMD Radeon R9 295 X2

A bonkers dual-GPU board that might just make sense

Price: around £500

Normally, any suggestion that a £500 graphics card is a bit of a bargain would seem a bit bonkers. But try this for size. The AMD Radeon R9 295 X2 is over £300 cheaper than Nvidia's mighty new Titan X board. But it beats it in most benchmarks. The explanation, of course, is that the 295 X2 is a dual-GPU card and uses AMD's CrossfireX technology to get them working together to produce mega frame rates. The problem, which isn't unique to AMD but is also shared by Nvidia's similar SLI tech, is that running multiple GPUs doesn't always work. And when that happens, you suddenly have a £500 card that's giving your about £250's worth of performance.

Which board to buy:

The 295 X2 comes water cooled as standard, so you may as well buy the cheapest, one of which is Sapphire's sub-£500 effort.

Best Graphics Cards

10. Nvidia GeForce GTX 750Ti

The little card that started a big revolution in graphics

Price: around £100

This, arguably, is where proper PC gaming starts. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 750Ti is no big-bandwidth beast with a memory bus a mile wide. But it was the very first card to appear with Nvidia's incredible Maxwell graphics tech. And that means it definitely punches above its weight. For a card with just 640 CUDA cores (remember, the new Titan X has over 3,000), it does one hell of a job. Definitely don't try gaming beyond 1080p and definitely don't expect to play with every eye-candy option cranked up. But if you keep your expectations realistic, you might just be surprised at the amount of gaming grunt on offer for just £100.

Which board to buy:

We're suckers for a fancy looking cooler and some factory overclocking. So why not grab the EVGA GTX 750TI SC for a mere £110.