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

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Now that the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti have arrived, heralding the Nvidia Turing revolution, we’re faced with a tough choice: do we splurge on these expensive new cards? Or, do we pick up the best graphics card from the Pascal generation in order to save a few bucks. No matter what you choose, you can still use the best graphics cards to play the best PC games from Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey to Forza Horizon 4.

You should keep in mind that there are graphics cards out there for every kind of build, so it might be hard to find what’s best for you. That’s why we decided to compile a guide to the best graphics cards you can buy today, all of which have been tested and reviewed right here at TechRadar. So, before you go out on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and before you pick a side in the AMD vs Nvidia turf war – let’s go over the best graphics cards out there. 

It’s no secret that the best graphics cards are expensive. Luckily, we expect that a lot of Black Friday components deals are going to appear, that’ll make the best gaming PCs affordable for once. So, on top of all the Black Friday gaming deals out there, stay tuned to TechRadar and we’ll help you keep an eye out for the best graphics card deals.

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 

Turing is finally here, and shouldn’t come as a surprise that the RTX 2080 is the best graphics card out there right now. While it is much more expensive than Nvidia’s ‘80’ cards have been in the past, 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 on some titles in 4K if you want a silky smooth 60 fps at all times. 

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 looking for the best graphics card, and you’ve got some cash to burn, you might want to look at the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. It is, without a doubt, the best graphics card for anyone looking to do some 4K gaming at 60 fps – just as long as the price of entry doesn’t scare you away. And, now that the Windows 10 October 2018 Update has released, supporting ray tracing, the RTX 2080 Ti will spearhead the RTX revolution – you don’t have to live any more of your life without ray tracing.

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’re good sticking with QHD, but you want to experiment occasionally with 4K, then you might want to look at the RTX 2070 – at least once the GTX 1080 is out of stock. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 brings the new Turing architecture to the mid-range with performance that completely blows its predecessor out of the water. Not only will you be able to play all your games at 1440p, but you’re going to get insane performance – up to 120fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider. However, keep in mind that the RTX 2070 is significantly more expensive than its predecessor, so that trade-off in price-to-performance might 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