Best graphics cards 2018: the best GPUs for gaming

Best Graphics Cards

Lately we’ve found that the realm of graphics cards is experiencing quite the conundrum. The good news is that Nvidia’s sales are up, which means graphics cards are in high demand. The bad news is that no one can buy a graphics card (GPU) at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) right now because of cryptocurrency miners. For those unfamiliar, a bunch of people are trying to make a quick buck buying up all the GPUs that they can with the intention of using them to mine Ethereum and Dogecoin. 

In other words, gamers are faced with a dilemma. We can wait until the next generation of graphics cards to strike down like lightning (or Volta), or we can buy the best GPU for gaming right now at a premium. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be able to sell it to a crypto miner for a profit in the coming months. In the meantime, however, you can use the graphics card of your choosing to run the latest, most demanding games, such as Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Metal Gear Survive, in addition to games that are actually good like Final Fantasy XV.

Keep in mind, though, that the market for the best graphics cards is dense and packed with a wide variety of different cards. As such, we wanted to create this list of the best graphics cards so you’ll know precisely what you’re looking for. In creating this list, we combed through all the graphics cards we’ve used over the last year or so and picked only the ones that towered above the rest. So, whichever side you ally yourself with in the constant war of Nvidia vs AMD, we’ve found the best GPU for gaming, and then some, that you can buy today. 

Maximum PC for a year – special offer

The bible for PC builders everywhere is now at an extraordinary price for one day only.View Deal

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

Brilliant 1080p performance
Great overclocker
 No SLI compatibility 

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.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

best graphics cards

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

Titan X-like gaming performance
Improved cooling
A pricey investment for most

While the Nvidia GTX 1060 might give you the most performance per dollar, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti the ultimate one punch upgrade to 4K gaming. While it might seem like only a slightly tuned up Nvidia GTX 1080, this graphics card almost dethrones the Titan Xp as the world’s most powerful GPU, thanks to high-speed video memory and a 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 1070 Ti

The all-around 1440p champion

Stream processors: 2,432 | Core clock: 1,607 | Memory: 8GB GDDR5 | Memory clock: 8Gbps | Power connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI

Masters 1440p gaming
Vastly improved overall performance
Significantly higher energy draw
Gets hotter than the Nvidia GTX 1070

Going down a few rungs in the graphics card hierarchy, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is the best graphics card for QHD gaming. This card finds the happy medium between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. Whereas the 1080 is too expensive for 1440p gaming and the 1070 isn’t quite there, the GTX 1070 Ti perfectly drives a QHD experience. In our own testing, this piece of kit handles Forza Motosport 7 at upwards of 93 frames per second at 2,560 x 1,440. Likewise, it can manage Shadow of War at over 60 with the same ambitious resolution.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti 

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 on the market right now. Our benchmarks prove it runs faster than the Nvidia GTX 1070. However, due to the Bitcoin mining craze, it’s going to be significantly more expensive. At least for now.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 against increasingly demanding games. 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

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

Moving on beyond traditional PC gaming, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 has all the brute computing power to handle physics-heavy VR gaming now and into the future. Sporting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, it's every bit as capable as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and for a lower price no less. If nothing else, this 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’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

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

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.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti