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The best graphics cards 2021: all the top GPUs for gaming

best graphics cards
Dig into our list and let us guide you to the best graphics cards for your needs. (Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best graphics card are something you're going to want in your PC, whether you're playing the best PC games or putting videos together in Adobe Premiere. These days, graphics cards will boost performance pretty much no matter what you're doing on your computer, so it's never been more important to make sure you pick up a powerful GPU. 

Don't take that to mean you have to fork over for something extreme like an AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT or an RTX 3090, unless you really want to go all-out. We're in the midst of something of a graphics card renaissance: both AMD and Nvidia have released their best graphics products in years, so no matter your budget you should be able to find something that will cater to your needs.

However, if you haven't noticed, the best graphics cards are incredibly hard to find right now. Whether you're looking for an RTX 3080 or an AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, they sell out within minutes of restocks, which means you have to keep a close eye on retailers to even get a chance to get your hands on one. We've come up with some guides on where to buy the RTX 3080, RTX 3070 and RTX 3060 Ti, but really it comes down to luck at this point. We just beg you not to buy from a scalper – it's really not worth the inflated price. 

Best graphics cards at a glance

  1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
  3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
  4. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
  6. AMD Radeon RX 5700
  7. AMD Radeon RX 6800
  8. MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio
  9. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
  10. PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

(Image credit: Nvidia)

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Best graphics card

Specifications
Stream Processors: 4,864
Core Clock: 1.41 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)
Memory: 8 GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 14Gbps
Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 1080p performance+Ray tracing performance is solid
Reasons to avoid
-Only entry-level 4K performance

Is AMD no longer the king of great value GPUs? The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti certainly threatens that claim with its price to performance ratio. The newest arrival in the RTX 3000 line, this graphics card punches way above its weight class, delivering a performance that could rival that of the RTX 2080 Super while keeping its price tag incredibly affordable for most people. And, that’s with impressive ray tracing included. 1080p gaming has never been this good and this affordable.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

(Image credit: Nvidia)

2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card, hands-down

Specifications
Stream Processors: 8,704
Core Clock: 1.44 GHz (1,71 GHz boost)
Memory: 10 GB GDDR6X
Memory Clock: 19Gbps
Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin
Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K gaming performance+Low temperatures
Reasons to avoid
-Still kind of expensive

With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 4K gaming just became a lot more accessible. Before, you had to shell out more than $1,000/£1,000 to get playable framerates with the RTX 2080 Ti. However, with the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards, the price of 4K gaming has been cut nearly in half, thanks to the RTX 3080. It boasts one of the largest generational leaps in GPU history, delivering a 50-80% performance boost over the RTX 2080 and a 20-30% boost over the RTX 2080 Ti, all while keeping the same price point as the RTX 2080. This is both an absolute powerhouse of a graphics card and a great value, if you have a bit of extra cash lying around. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

(Image credit: Nvidia)

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

Best graphics card for creatives

Specifications
Stream Processors: 10,496
Core Clock: 1.40 GHz (1,70 GHz boost)
Memory: 24 GB GDDR6X
Memory Clock: 19.5Gbps
Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin
Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Reasons to buy
+GPU performance to beat+Up to 8k performance
Reasons to avoid
-Extremely expensive-Very large

You can’t 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, you can even 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, even if it’s still out of most people’s budget.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

(Image credit: AMD)

4. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Nvidia better watch out

Specifications
Stream processors: 3,584
Core clock: 1,506
Memory: 11GB GDDR5X
Memory clock: 10Gbps
Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin
Outputs: 1.4 with DSC DisplayPort, HDMI with 4K60 Support
Reasons to buy
+Generation-defining performance+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-No ray tracing-Only 6GB of VRAM

If you’re looking for the best graphics card out there for 1080p gaming, you might want to look into what the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT has to offer. This AMD card beats the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with its more affordable price tag, delivering high frame rates and plenty of software features while requiring less power. Sure, it doesn’t have the competition’s ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS), but for raw performance and value, AMD’s contender comes out the winner.

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Nvidia)

5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

One of the best graphics cards of all time

Specifications
Stream Processors: 5,888
Core Clock: 1.50 GHz (1.73 GHz boost)
Memory: 8 GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 14Gbps
Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)
Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
Reasons to buy
+Amazing performance+Best value graphics card today+Awesome ray tracing performance
Reasons to avoid
-Same inflated prices as Turing-Required 12-pin power connector

The best graphics card on the market for most people, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 delivers excellent performance – on par with the RTX 2080 Ti even – without costing an arm and a leg. Before this card, 4K gaming was out of a lot of people’s budget. The RTX 3070, therefore, brings it to the mainstream for the first time, and that’s without you having to compromise on settings for most games. And did we mention the fact that this GPU is incredibly cheap? A cheap price tag plus 4K gaming on quality settings equals great value, and that’s why the RTX 3070 tops our list.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

AMD Radeon RX 5700

(Image credit: AMD)

6. AMD Radeon RX 5700

The best graphics card for most people

Specifications
Stream Processors: 2,304
Core Clock: 1,465 MHz (1,725 MHz boost)
Memory: 8GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 14Gbps
Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin and 1 x 6-pin
Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, 1 x HDMI with 4K60 Support
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-No ray tracing

This absolute behemoth of a graphics card is still basically brand new, and it’s already topping our list of the best graphics cards, booting former reigning champion and its direct rival, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, off the top spot. At $349, this powerful mid-range card brings 1440p gaming at Ultra or Max settings to the masses, making it affordable and accessible to everyone. At that price point, it doesn’t need to be perfect – those looking for ray tracing will have to wait. But, for what it offers and how much it costs, it’s well-deserving of its title as the best graphics card of 2021 for most people.

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 5700

AMD Radeon RX 6800

(Image credit: AMD)

7. AMD Radeon RX 6800

AMD's return to the high-end graphics card market

Specifications
Stream Processors: 3,840
Core Clock: 1.82 GHz (2.10 GHz boost)
Memory: 16GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 16Gbps
Power Connectors: 2 x 8 pin
Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, HDMI 2.1 VRR and FRL
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Finally, AMD ray tracing
Reasons to avoid
-Divisive design

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. Plus, AMD's Smart Access Memory technology will make it even faster. 

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 6800

MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

(Image credit: MSI)

8. MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

For when you need the very best

Specifications
Stream processors: 2,176
Core clock: 1,650
Memory: 24GB GDDR6X
Memory clock: 19.5Gbps
Power connectors: 3 x 8-pin
Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4a x3, HDMI 2.1
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly powerful+Stylish RGB
Reasons to avoid
- So expensive

If you're after the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, you're going to want one with a cooler that's more than powerful enough to handle the full brunt of the power on offer. The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio has the cooling power not only to handle this GPU at its stock settings, but has enough oomph to overclock it to make it even more powerful. For a GPU that already laughs in the face of all PC games at 4K, this extra power is just icing on the cake. 

Read the full review: MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

(Image credit: Gigabyte)

9. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

The best Budget graphics card:

Specifications
Stream Processors: 1,408
Core Clock: 1,530MHz
Memory: 6GB GDDR5
Memory Speed: 8Gbps
Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin
Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
Reasons to buy
+Extremely affordable+Great entry-level performance 
Reasons to avoid
-GDDR5 memory

With all those fancy (read: expensive) graphics cards cornering the market, the budget-friendlier ones sometimes fly under the radar. That’s unfortunate, particularly since cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 deserve a spot in the limelight for delivering excellent 1080p performance at a very affordable price. With the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G, you’re also getting a healthy factory overclock and all the outputs you’ll ever need, so you can play all your favorite games with several monitors attached. We’d call that a bargain, maybe even the best we’ve ever had, and it certainly warrants a spot in our best graphics cards list.

Read the full review: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

(Image credit: PNY)

10. PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

The best eSports graphics card

Specifications
Stream Processors: 1,536
Core Clock: 1,500MHz
Memory: 6GB GDDR6
Memory Speed: 12Gbps
Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin
Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DVI
Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Excellent 1080p performance
Reasons to avoid
-Limited memory bandwidth

When Nvidia first revealed its Turing lineup, it was hard to find a model that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Nonetheless, with the launch of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – especially the PNY XLR8 Gaming OC model – next-generation performance became accessible to everyone. You won’t have access to 4K 60 fps gaming with this card, but it’s one of the best graphics cards for anyone still using a 1080p display, and it can handle most esports games well above 60fps. At that resolution, you’ll have trouble running into any title that it can’t handle.

Read the full review: PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

Michelle Rae Uy has also contributed to this article.