The best 4K graphics cards are those models which fully deliver on the promise of high-resolution PC gaming without compromise. What’s most exciting about GPUs touting 2160p target resolutions in 2023 is that high refresh rates, such as 120Hz, are finally possible from even the more modestly priced offerings from AMD and Nvidia making now an ideal time to invest in a futureproofed setup.
Whether you’re in the market for something more cost-effective at delivering 4K60 or looking to go all out on the absolute best 4K graphics card, our picks have been thoroughly tested and hand-selected considering all budgets. It’s worth stating that video cards pushing the boundaries of Ultra HD gaming don’t have to break the bank, as we’ve considered both the latest and previous-generation offerings which are still capable in 2023.
For a more general overview, we’re also bringing you our selections for the best graphics card which look at more mainstream options targeting lower resolutions. Generally speaking, you’re going to spend a little more to get the most out of 4K gaming than you would from the likes of the more humble best 1440p graphics cards. For PC gamers looking to benefit from the best 4K gaming monitors, here’s all you need to know below.
The best 4K graphics card in 2023
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We’ve crunched the numbers in a rigorous process of both synthetic and real-world benchmarks to bring you our definitive ranking of the highest-end GPUs around. The comparisons have been made on a price-to-performance basis as well as raw power output.
The best 4K graphics card overall
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The RTX 4090 is not only the best 4K graphics card that money can buy, but also the most powerful consumer-grade option on the market now. Boasting leading performance across the board for both gaming and hardware-accelerated intensive rendering, the Ada Lovelace flagship leaves its competition in the dust.
In our testing, we found that the RTX 4090 was easily able to play some of the most demanding PC games in native 4K at framerates upwards of 120fps. If you’re after the bleeding edge then this is the 4K graphics card for you. However, uncompromised 2160p performance doesn’t come cheap, as the Ada flagship will currently cost you $1,599 / £1,359 / AU$2,300 for Nvidia’s Founders Edition model. Partner cards are generally more expensive depending on the make and model, especially those which come with water blocks and bespoke coolers.
While the RTX 4090 is a true behemoth for gaming, it also charges ahead of the pack when it comes to productivity software. The likes of Blender and PugetBench for Adobe Premiere Pro are no match for the new TSMC 4nm process, not to mention the bump up to a staggering 16,384 CUDA cores. This means that the manufacturer’s enthusiast-level card absolutely crushes the previous leader, the RTX 3090 Ti, and comes in a full $400 / £540 / AU$200 cheaper. Simply put, for leading price and performance, there’s nothing better.
Read the full Nvidia RTX 4090 review
The best 4K GPU for creatives on a budget
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
While the top-end Ampere graphics card is now getting on for three years old, there’s no faulting the level of performance that you’re getting for your money. That’s because the RTX 3090 is rocking a mammoth 24GB GDDR6X memory on a 384-bit memory bus, the same as the current-gen leader, with the exception of the price point. That’s because you can now pick up this gaming and productivity powerhouse for as cheap as $899.99 / £999.99 / AU$1,045 from certain online retailers and on the secondary markets.
The availability of the Ampere series since the launch of Ada in September 2022 has meant that the likes of the RTX 3090 have become more difficult to come by. However, as retailers are continuing to clear out stock, discounts and bundles do occur meaning you can score one of the best 4K graphics cards for an incredibly competitive price. Our testing found that the original BFGPU makes quick work of intense Blender 3D rendering as well as lightning-fast figures in the likes of Autodesk Maya and Adobe Premiere Pro encoding times, too.
Naturally, gaming on the RTX 3090 is just as strong as it was back in September 2020. While you aren’t benefitting from the new and improved DLSS 3’s Frame Generation, that doesn’t matter much as the high-speed and high-capacity VRAM ensures that you’ll be able to play games in native 4K (and pushing high framerates through DLSS 2) for many years to come. 4K60 is more-than-achievable here, with figures pushing upwards of 100fps in more optimized titles.
Read the full Nvidia RTX 3090 review
The best value previous-gen 4K graphics card
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
If you’re in the market for an upper mid-range 4K graphics card then the Nvidia RTX 3080 is hard value to beat. The middle child of the Ampere lineup was released back in 2020 with a price tag of $699 / £649 bringing next-generation ray tracing performance and effective 4K performance at an aggressive rate.
Now, a good way through 2023, it’s entirely possible to find RTX 3080 stock hovering around the $550 / £525 / AU$1,034 mark depending on the retailer. As with other Ampere cards in our guide, availability has become more difficult in the wake of Ada’s release, but offers are out there. For the money, you’re getting a 4K graphics card utilizing 12GB GDDR6X VRAM which makes quick work of some of the biggest PC games available. Even three years after release, modern games still aren’t coming close to consuming this amount of memory, which is something that can’t be said for the 8GB memory in more mainstream offerings.
The goal of the RTX 3080 was to bring 4K60 at more affordable prices, which was only ever possible previously through top-end models. It was better value than the high-end Turing offerings when it debuted, and now, this Ampere card significantly undercuts the RTX 4080 by a full nearly 50% in the US, the UK, and Australia. Whether you’ve got less space in your PC case or your wallet’s a little slimmer, this model remains a valid option for 4K productivity and gaming this year.
Read the full Nvidia RTX 3080 review
The best 4K graphics card for gaming
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
At a time when Nvidia was going all in with bigger GPUs and larger price tags, AMD made the decision to keep rates comparable with its previous generation models in size and price. The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX boasts a staggering 24GB GDDR6 memory in a slender 2.5 slot package and benefits from a traditional 2x 8-pin PCIe power connector so it was a straightforward replacement for an older model.
Just as competitive as the form factor and the power consumption is the price of the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX as AMD’s flagship retails for $999 / £999 / AU$1,549, significantly undercutting the two most powerful offers from Nvidia in the process. In our testing, we found that Team Red’s RDNA 3 flagship performed as competently as the RTX 4080 in gaming in most instances. Where this model falters is in its ray tracing, as the tech doesn’t quite live up to what Team Green has been perfecting since 2018, however, it’s hard to fault the native performance in 4K which is the most important factor here.
We said in our review that: “The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX buries any real reason for gamers to buy an Nvidia RTX 4080” and it’s something we stand by in the many months since. If you’re purely interested in gaming in 4K on a current-generation graphics card for less than $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,500, then the Navi 31 is a hard value to beat.
Read the full AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX review
The best value current-gen 4K graphics card
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
Nvidia’s RTX 4070 Ti, originally the now un-launched RTX 4080 12GB, is our pick for the best value proposition of the current Ada graphics card generation. Priced at $799 / £799 / AU$1,109, this mid-range model takes full advantage of DLSS 3’s Frame Generation which takes an otherwise capable 1440p GPU and turns it into a surprisingly powerful 4K graphics card.
From our experience, we believe that the RTX 4070 Ti is the Ada Lovelace graphics card to go for if you’re unable to commit financially to the top of the pile. The numbers do not lie, we have been continuously impressed by the figures in industry-standard synthetic benchmarks like 3DMark Speedway Port Royal, and TimeSpy Extreme, outperforming the similarly priced AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT. It’s a similar story with real-world rendering capabilities too, as Blender and PugetBench in Adobe Photoshop and Premiere Pro are closer to the pricier RTX 4080.
That’s to say nothing of the excellent 4K gaming performance that the RTX 4070 Ti is capable of, with many of the most demanding titles on the market right now achieving 4K60 with ray tracing enabled thanks to DLSS 3, and framerates of over 100fps without it. Factoring in the 12GB GDDR6X VRAM here, you’re looking at a capable card that’s going to be able to keep up with the demands of current-generation PC games for many years to come.
Read the full Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti review
How we tested the best 4K graphics cards
We’ve made our choices for the best 4K graphics cards by putting through the latest and greatest models from Nvidia and AMD through industry-standard tests, synthetic benchmarks, and real-world gaming performance. We are thorough with our test suite of games, utilizing some of the more demanding titles available in a range of genres and optimizations so you can be sure to make an informed decision.
To keep everything fair and consistent, we ensure that any 4K graphics card that passes our desk is put through the same rigorous process in a testing bench that uses the same CPU, SSD, and PSU. We’ll look at more than just the performance, though, as the power consumption, price, and thermals all play a pivotal role in whether we recommend a GPU or not. That’s because considering a new 4K graphics is an investment, so we work hard to make sure you’re getting the full honest perspective.
Best 4K graphics cards - FAQs
We've employed our knowledge and experience with some of the best 4K graphics cards in order to answer some of your most burning questions.
What GPU do you need for 4K 120fps?
If you’re after high refresh rate gaming in 4K then the Nvidia RTX 4090 is absolutely the graphics card you should consider. It’s powerful enough to run the majority of PC games natively in 2160p without compromise and is made even faster by the addition of Nvidia’s DLSS 3 with its Frame Generation technology.
What is the best graphics card for 4K gaming?
From a pure gaming perspective, the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX provides a fast and fluid gaming experience in 4K matching or beating that of the more expensive Nvidia RTX 4080. You can expect high framerates of over 100fps in most PC games, and a solid 4K60 even with ray tracing enabled.
Is it worth playing PC games in 4K?
If you want the best image quality possible for your PC gaming setup then 4K will deliver in ways you just won’t see from lower resolutions like 1080p and 1440p. As 2160p continues to be adopted, we’re seeing more high-profile 4K120 gaming monitors hit the mainstream, meaning you no longer have to choose between a high refresh rate or a high resolution.
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Aleksha McLoughlin is the Hardware Editor for TechRadar Gaming and oversees all hardware coverage for the site. She looks after buying guides, writes hardware reviews, news, and features as well as manages the hardware team. Before joining TRG she was the Hardware Editor for sister publication GamesRadar+ and she has also been PC Guide's Hardware Specialist. She has also contributed hardware content to the likes of Trusted Reviews, The Metro, Expert Reviews, and Android Central. When she isn't working, you'll often find her in mosh pits at metal gigs and festivals or listening to whatever new black and death metal has debuted that week.