For the pros unsatisfied by the latest MacBook Pro’s lack of discrete graphics, we have some exciting news – you can now use an Nvidia graphics card with macOS High Sierra by means of an external GPU enclosure. This is a feat you’ve been able to achieve for quite some time on a PC, mind you, but nevertheless it’s impressive for Apple. However, regardless of whether you’re on a PC or Mac, where do you look to find only the best graphics cards for your use case?
Well, being that you’re here and all, we would suggest reading on into TechRadar’s coverage of the best graphics cards. We’ve tested not only the top GPU options from Nvidia, but AMD as well. So the fact that Vega 64 beats out the GTX 1080 Ti in Forza 7 has inescapably helped shape our opinion, as has the fact that RX Vega is limited to just two cards in multi-GPU. In effect, our rankings are unswayed by the influences of the companies at-hand.
- Without the best monitor, having the best graphics card means nothing
Thanks to the competitive-again graphics card market, the best GPUs aren’t necessarily the most expensive anyway. Instead, they all span a wide range of budgets at reasonable prices depending on what you want to do. That being the case, whether you’re repping Team Red (AMD) or Team Green (Nvidia), we’ve narrowed our list down to the seven top graphics cards for both first-time and veteran PC builders.
Best graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
The best GPU to start PC gaming
Stream Processors: 1,280 | Core Clock: 1,506MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 8Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Per our previous explanation, the best graphics card is all about offering the most bang for your buck. As such, it’s our consensus that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 is unparalleled when it comes to sheer value. For a modest sum of cash, this graphics card affords players full HD 1080p and – perhaps with a bit of overclocking – 1440p and even 4K gaming. At the same time, however, the GTX 1060 doesn’t bear support for SLI, so you’re limited to just one card.
Best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Titan X performance without the Titan X cost
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,480MHz | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 11GHz | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin; 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
The Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti comes closest to dethroning the Titan Xp as the world’s most powerful GPU. It’s wildly more capable than the GTX 1080 proper, thanks to its 11GB of GDDR5X VRAM and dramatically higher CUDA core count. It’s still no match for two GTX 1080s in SLI, but this single card is cheaper and supports a larger pool of games. If you’re looking for a single part to run your games at 4K, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti is the best graphics card to do it.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Best QHD graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
The all-around graphics card champion
Stream Processors: 2,560 | Core Clock: 1,607MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 10Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
The Nvidia GTX 1080 is the best all-rounder graphics card for gaming we’ve ever tested. While it can make 4K gaming viable, albeit with a bit of tweaking in triple-A blockbuster titles, that’s not exactly where the GTX 1080 shines the most. Instead, that’s in its ability to run at their highest settings with the resolution cranked up to 1440p. Thanks to a recent price drop from Nvidia, too, it’s also more affordable than ever, making it that much more enticing.
Best Full HD graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
Punchy graphics performance above its weight
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,156MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 800MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is one of the best value-packed graphics card on the market right now. Benchmarks prove it runs faster than the Nvidia GTX 1070 and, thanks to the Bitcoin mining craze, it’s also cheaper to boot. The Vega 56 is arguably a little bit overkill for Full HD gaming, but that’ll come in handy for 144-to-240hz monitors and future-proofing. Users can also expect a great 1440p experience with this graphics card.
Best VR graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD’s return to high-end graphics cards
Stream Processors: 4,096 | Core Clock: 1,247MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 945MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
AMD’s flagship graphics card may not have won titles for best for gaming on our list, but it is nevertheless a return to form for the Red Team. After all, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 has proved itself every bit as capable as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and for a lower price. Sporting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, this card has the brute computing power for physics-heavy VR gaming now and into the future. If nothing else, this is the AMD card to rule them all.
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Stream processors: 3,584 | Core clock: 1,506 | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory clock: 10Gbps | Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x DL-DVI-D
When you’re building a microATX – or, especially a mini-ITX – computer, you want to aim for the smallest parts you can find without compromising much on performance. Though it’s a given that you might have to sacrifice a few frames-per-second in favor of a more compact form factor, with Zotac’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini – the smallest of its kind at 211 x 125 x 41mm (8.31 x 4.92 x 1.61 inches) – there’s very little in the way of prodigious 4K gaming.
Best budget graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
The little GPU that could
Stream Processors: 640 | Core Clock: 1,354MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
The Nvidia GTX 1050 might not look like much on paper, what with only 2GB of video memory onboard, but this affordable GPU plays games better than you would think. If you’re willing to drop settings to medium, you can play Overwatch, CS:GO and other popular competitive shooters well above the silky smooth 60fps mark. Thanks to its compact size, it’s also perfect for small builds and entertainment center-bound streaming PCs.
Best eSports graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Competitive for both eSports and in price
Stream Processors: 768 | Core Clock: 1,290MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
eSports games often demand high frame rates over beautifully rendered graphical details, and this is where the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti comes into its own. It’s an affordable but potent graphics card that can play most eSports games well above 60fps. It’s a tad more expensive than its lower-end Nvidia GTX 1050 brethren, but you’ll appreciate the extra legs on this card to play future eSports titles as well as the odd AAA game.
- These are the best gaming monitors to go with your shiny new GPU