This year's GPU war has begun with Nvidia launching the new RTX 4070 Ti GPU, a retooled, renamed RTX 4080 12GB that's a hundred dollars less than its original incarnation, at CES 2023. While AMD's keynote only included its mobile RDNA 3 GPUs, we're sure that Team Red has a few things to in store.
We're hoping it'll be a better year for GPUs since last year was a bit of a hit or miss. And, we'll update this guide accordingly with new product releases and reviews, starting with the RTX 4070 Ti, which we're already in the process of testing.
John Loeffler, Computing Editor
Getting the best graphics card for your specific needs is the only way you can get the best value for your money. It's not just about spending money on the most powerful GPU that will give you blazing fast performance in both gaming and content creation. What makes it the best GPU isn't just its raw performance, after all.
Getting your hands on the best Nvidia GeForce graphics cards and the best AMD graphics cards has gotten easier. However, finding the best GPU for your gaming PC can still be very expensive, especially if you get one of the top models. Yes, prices are starting to come down considerably from their highs of the last couple of years, making now a great time to buy a new graphics card. But, do you really need to spend money on a RTX 4090 when all you do on your PC is play the occasional PC game and stream movies and shows?
This is where we come in. We've tested nearly all of the best GPUs from leading brands like MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus, along with Nvidia and AMD reference cards, so we know exactly the best graphics cards that will let you play the best PC games, work with cutting edge video editing and 3D rendering software with ease, or occasionally edit your family vacation photos.
Pulling together our top picks ranging from the most premium options to the best cheap graphics cards, we'll help you find the best GPU. Whether its one of the best 1440p graphics cards, the best 4K option, or the best 1080p graphics card you need, our list below should help you find the right one for your needs.
The best graphics card 2023
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The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX had a lot to prove when it hit the scene at the end of 2022, but it succeeds brilliantly in being the most powerful gaming GPU on the market for under $1,000 while outperforming Nvidia's RTX 4080 overall, which costs 20% more.
The new 2nd-gen ray accelerators in the RX 7900 XTX makes 4K gaming on ultra settings with ray tracing a reality on an AMD card, something that the last flagship AMD card, the RX 6950 XT, couldn't quite accomplish. It's not without faults, including falling behind the Nvidia RTX 4000-series in terms of ray tracing (while still beating out the RT performance of the Nvidia RTX 3090) and some uneven creative workload performance, but overall, this is the one graphics card we would recommend to just about anybody who are looking to finally upgrade their GPU after years of graphics card shortages.
- Read the full AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX review
Is AMD no longer the king of great value GPUs? The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti threatens that claim with its price to performance ratio. One of the newer arrivals in the RTX 3000 line, this graphics card punches way above its weight class, delivering a performance that could rival the RTX 2080 Super while keeping its price tag incredibly affordable for most people. That’s with impressive ray tracing included. We've never seen 1080p gaming to be this good or this affordable.
In our testing, we even found it could handle gaming in 4k, if just barely. You’ll have to make some compromises on settings and skip the ray tracing. With that said, there’s little else to fault with the 3060 Ti. It stays cool as a cucumber and, for those who like to display their PC’s innards, is quite stylish. This is, indeed, the best graphics card for most people.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti review
The best graphics cards that have come out over the last couple years have had one thing in common: they're really expensive. This has a lot to do with the graphics card shortage we've all been dealing with, but it's also because Nvidia and AMD had been ignoring the budget graphics card world for too long.
Luckily, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 is finally here. While it's way more expensive than 50-series graphics cards from Nvidia have been in the past, this GPU is much more affordable than pretty much anything else in the current generation. We were able to play just about every game out there on high settings with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050. And, esports gamers will love this card, as it is affordable(ish) and can run games like Overwatch and League of Legends without breaking a sweat.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 review
Yes, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 is expensive. It also requires a 16-pin connector or adapter. And, it’s very, very big. But, the first release from Nvidia’s new 4000-series is an absolute powerhouse that can tackle anything you need it to. It is the most powerful GPU out there.
In our testing, we found it to perform significantly better than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 with two to four times the performance in synthetic benchmarks and up to 100% improved framerates with some games. What’s more, the included DLSS 3 might be the next revolution in gaming once it’s fully utilized.
That said, this is more GPU than what most people need. Creatives and those interested in playing 8K will appreciate how powerful this graphics card is. Just make sure to have a robust enough power supply (and big enough case) to run it.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 review
It's hard to beat the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 when it comes to performance. With a whopping 24GB of RAM, no game or, more importantly, heavy graphics project will suffer performance issues. In fact, we were even able to get some 8K performance at 60 fps out of the 3090. It is an incredibly expensive unit, and quite large too, so it will probably be too much GPU for most users.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is, in essence, a replacement for the Titan so it’s meant more for the creative user tackling intensive 3D and video rendering than for the avid gamer. Even so, it comes with a massive reduction in price compared to the Titan, making it a bargain for creative professionals used to shelling out a lot of money for the tools of their trade.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 review
With the release of the Nvidia RTX 4080, the RTX 3080 feels like it's outclassed and the reality is that the RTX 4080 can run circles around the RTX 3080 it replaces, but even at its MSRP, the RTX 3080 is the better overall value by still providing phenomenal performance at a more accessible price point.
And now that the RTX 4080 is on sale, the price of the RTX 3080 is dropping across the board, making it an even better deal for gamers out there who want a playable 4K gaming experience without having to spend a fortune to do so.
This is also an even better deal if you're starting to dabble in some creative content like 3D modeling or video editing and you need a more powerful GPU to handle the workflows, but you don't have a whole lot of money to spend on a professional-grade GPU like the RTX 3090 or RTX 4090.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 review
There’s a new Nvidia champion in town, and it takes power and performance to an even more accessible price point. The long-awaited RTX 3080 Ti delivered the same level of performance as the RTX 3090 during our tests – an impressive feat in its own right – while dropping the price by a few hundred dollars, making all that sheer power more accessible than ever.
It continues what the RTX 3080 has started – to take 4K gaming into the mainstream arena – with its breathtaking 4K at 60fps performance. It also stays cool under pressure. And, like many of the other 3000 series GPUs, it's quite a stunning-looking card to boot. Of course, it’s still among the more expensive of Nvidia’s offerings and requires a good amount of power to function properly. But, this is still the best graphics card on the market right now, especially if you care about ray tracing.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti review
The best graphics card on the market for most people, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 delivers excellent performance. It’s on par with the RTX 2080 Ti even without costing an arm and a leg, bringing 4K gaming to the mainstream market for the first time. Before this card, 4K gaming was out of a lot of people’s budget.
The RTX 3070 does exactly that without forcing you to compromise on settings for most games. Yes, with this reasonably priced card powering your PC, you can play your favorite AAA games in 4K at high settings without its performance suffering. A cheap price tag plus 4K gaming on quality settings equals great value, and that’s why the RTX 3070 tops our list. We also appreciate the fact that it doesn’t have the same massive cooler that the RTX 3080, which allows it to have a smaller form factor.
- Read our full Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 review
AMD has offerings at all price points. When it comes to its mid-range options, the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT is the best. We found it to be an excellent 1440p graphics cards, expertly bringing Team Red’s RDNA 2 architecture to a more approachable level, price-wise. That’s not all. While it’s not the best graphics card for it on the market, it can do ray tracing and give you a taste of it.
It’s an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti rival. However, it is closer to the RTX 3070 in price, which makes it a harder sell for the more budget-conscious. Still, we cannot deny its superb 1440p performance. And, if you’re more of an AMD fan, it’s still an excellent contender. You probably should get comfortable messing with your BIOS though.
- Read our full AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT review
If you think AMD is still stuck in the budget and mid-range markets, think again. The AMD Radeon RX 6800 marks AMD's return to the high-end graphics card market, and it’s a premium ace without the incredibly premium price. This GPU delivers a solid 4K gaming performance and impressive ray tracing at 1440p, while being a better value than its direct rival, the RTX 3070, thanks to its VRAM.
We found its ray tracing to be a wash at 4K due to its lack of features, especially those around upscaling. However, if you’re happy to play games at 1440p with ray tracing on, it can more than handle whatever game you throw at it. Plus, AMD's Smart Access Memory technology will make it even faster. As long as you're comfortable playing around in your BIOS.
- Read our full AMD Radeon RX 6800 review
How to choose the best graphics card for you
How to choose the best graphics card for you
Since the best graphics cards are readily available again, you can be more discerning about your choice. Yu would have more options across different price ranges so you must decide how much you're willing to spend.
Of course, you also need to consider your graphical demands as well. You shouldn't settle for what you can afford right now if it's not powerful enough to handle your daily needs. You're better putting it off for a bit and saving up until you can afford the GPU that's the right fit.
As for which one that is, you need to take a look at the vital specs: GPU memory, GPU size, Thermal Design Power or TDP, and ports and power connectors are all important. As are the number of teraflops (or GFLOPS) it has since that indicates the theoretical performance of that graphics card.
If you want the best ray tracing experience, Nvidia is still the king of the castle. However, we're sure that AMD will be upping its ray tracing game in order to compete. If you're into VR games and experiences, you should also make sure that it supports VR as well.
Where is the best place to buy graphics cards online?
There are several major online retailers selling graphics cards right now, and many of them are offering fantastic deals on many of the best graphics cards on our list. Given how hard it was to find graphics cards at MSRP for the past two years, we're breaking format a bit and bringing you the best graphics card deals we've found on the cards on our list to help you jump on them straight away.
Amazon: Get $150 off the XFX Radeon RX 6900 XT (opens in new tab)
Best Buy: Save $300 on the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti (opens in new tab)
Newegg: Find discounts of up to 31% off RTX 3000-series GPUs (opens in new tab)
Walmart: Get an RTX 3070 GPU for $140 off right now (opens in new tab)
Adorama: The Asus Tuf Gaming RTX 3060 is just $459 right now (opens in new tab)
B&H Photo: The Gigabyte RTX 3070 Vision OC is $190 off right now (opens in new tab)
Micro Center: Savings of up to $260 on RTX 3080 graphics cards (opens in new tab)
Amazon: Save up to £475 off the RTX 3090 Ti (opens in new tab)
Newegg: Get up to 19% off select graphics cards at Newegg (opens in new tab)
Box: Find up to £218 off an RTX 3060 graphics card right now (opens in new tab)
Currys: The PowerColor Radeon RX 6900 XT is £481 off right now (opens in new tab)
Ebuyer: Get an RTX 3080 GPU for as much as £180 off (opens in new tab)
Which graphics card is best for gaming?
Generally speaking, the best graphics card for gaming is going to depend on several factors. Things like what kind of games you like to play, what resolution you play at and whether or not you care about fancy features like ray tracing and DLSS are incredibly important.
For example, if you just want to play all the latest games at 1080p with high settings, you can get by with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 or an AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. But if you want to play everything totally maxed out with ray tracing at 4K, you're probably going to want to go for something like the RTX 3080 Ti instead.
What is the best brand for graphics cards?
The age-old question of whether Nvidia or AMD is the best brand for graphics cards will likely never go away. Right now, both GPU manufacturers are basically on equal ground, and what will ultimately be right for you probably won't be right for someone else.
Generally, if you like ray tracing, Nvidia will probably have the edge for you and in the past AMD was better for people on a budget.
How we test the best graphics cards
When it comes to the best graphics cards, it's incredibly important to make sure we're testing everything on an equal playing field. That's why, whenever a new graphics card comes out, we test it in a suite of around 11-12 games and across several resolutions, all on current drivers.
That means that we re-test all current-generation graphics cards whenever a new one comes out. And we make sure that all of the cards are tested on the same hardware, which means the same processor, with the same memory at the same speed, on the same motherboard, with the same SSD. That way, we can be sure that we're measuring how the graphics card itself is performing, and we can more reliably compare it against its rivals.
We also make sure to log how much power its consuming and the temperatures it reaches under load, to make sure we can recommend it to people that may be concerned about high temperatures in their PCs.
Finally, we take a look at the features that each graphics card offers, though usually these don't really change generation-to-generation. However, the performance while enabling something like ray tracing definitely can change.