The best graphics cards 2018: all the top GPUs for gaming

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The RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 are finally here and the Nvidia Turing revolution has begun in earnest. So, do you splurge on an expensive flagship graphics card? Or, do you go back in time a bit, pick up a Pascal card and save a couple bucks? No matter what you do, you’ll be able to use the best graphics cards to play the best PC games from Hitman 2 to Battlefield 5.

Keep in mind that the top graphics cards vary wildly depending on what kind of build you’re going for, so it may be hard to find the best graphics card for your needs. That’s why we decided to compile a guide of the top graphics cards you can buy today, all of which have been tested and reviewed here at TechRadar. So, before you go out to pick out the best graphics cards, we’ll list out the top graphics cards you can buy in 2018.

Best graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

The king of mainstream gaming

Stream Processors: 2,944 | Core Clock: 1,515MHz (1,800MHz boost) | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x USB-C

Solid 4K performance 
Easy to overclock 
More expensive than past xx80 cards 

Nvidia Turing is out and full force, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 is the new best graphics card out there. While it’s more expensive than past xx80 releases, it’s also much more powerful – showing up even the four-figure price Titan Xp. With the RTX 2080, there should be nothing stopping you from achieving high resolution gaming, though you’ll have to turn down some settings if you’re trying to play at 4K, 60 fps.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 

Best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Power overwhelming

Stream Processors: 4,352 | Core Clock: 1,350MHz (1,635MHz boost) | Memory: 11GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14Gbps | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x USB-C

 High fps 4K gaming 
 Spearheading ray tracing revolution 
 Extremely expensive 

If you’re on the market for one of the best graphics cards, and you’ve got some cash to burn, you might want to consider the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. Without a doubt, it’s the most powerful graphics cards on the market, as long as the price doesn’t scare you away. And, the first actual game with Ray Tracing is finally available, Battlefield V. While you can turn RTX On, just keep in mind that it’ll hamper performance a bit.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti 

Best QHD graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070

Turing, meet 1440p

Stream processors: 2,304 | Core clock: 1,410 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory clock: 14Gbps | Power connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 2 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x DVI, 1 x USB-C

Handles both 1440p and 4K gaming
Lower power consumption
Too expensive

If you want to stick to QHD, with some brief forays into 4K, you might want to check out the RTX 2070. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 brings the new Turing architecture to the mid range with performance that dwarfs the GTX 1070 that came before. Not only will you be able to play everything at 1440p, but you’re going to get insane performance – up to 120fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. However, you should consider that the RTX 2070 is significantly more expensive than its predecessor, so that trade off in price-to-performance may not be worth it – especially if you’re coming from a Pascal card.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070

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

 Maxed out 1080p performance
High energy consumption
Runs a tad hot

The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is the best graphics card for Full HD gaming you can buy today – your benchmarks put it above the GTX 1070. And, now that it’s fallen in price to  what we would call an ‘acceptable’ level, there’s never been a better time to pick one up. While it’s arguably a bit overkill for Full HD gaming, the RX Vega 56 will come in handy for 144 to 240hz monitors and future-proofing against increasingly demanding games. You can also expect a fantastic 1440p experience with this 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

Impressive benchmark results
GPU tuning control
Higher energy draw than Nvidia Pascal

Especially now that it’s fallen in price from the heyday of cryptocurrency miners, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 is the best graphics card for VR gaming. Boasting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, it’s every bit as competent as the Nvidia GTX 1080 – at a lower price. This truly is the AMD card to rule them all. 

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

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

World’s smallest 1080 Ti
SLI support
Inferior performance
Runs hot and loud

When you build a microATX or even a mini ITX gaming PC, you don’t have to settle for anything other than the best graphics cards – you can find mini GPUs like the Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini. You’ll sacrifice some performance over its full-sized counterpart, but when it measures in at 211 x 125 x 41mm, the performance loss will seem practically non-existent when you’re staring at your beautiful mini PC. 

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

Affordably priced
Small form factor for tiny cases
Maximum 2GB of video memory

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

Solid 1080p performer
Good overclocking potential
Greater than 75W TDP

Any eSports player will tell you that high frame rates are far more important than beautifully rendered graphical details – and that’s where the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti shines. In a time where graphics cards cost as much as rent, it’s an affordable, but potent GPU that can play most eSports games well above 60fps. It’s a bit pricier than the lower-end Nvidia GTX 1050, but you’ll appreciate the extra power behind this card to play future eSports titles, as well as the odd AAA title. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti