As games become more detailed and more lifelike, graphics cards are getting faster and faster in this never ending arms race. That means you will need to upgrade sometime to get the best possible and most complete experience. There are many great graphics cards for all budgets provided by AMD, Nvidia and their third party providers. Our current favorite is the AMD RX 5700, which offers the best value for money.
However, note that new AMD and Nvidia GPUs are expected to appear in the second half of 2020. Although the "Ampere" chips from Nvidia are currently aimed at servers and workstations, the current cards of the RTX 3000 series for gamers should be released before the end of the year. AMD's Big Navi GPUs, based on the RDNA2 architecture, are likely to arrive in the same period. The Xe add-on cards from Intel should finally also be available.
However, if you want to upgrade earlier, these are the best cards to choose from.
The best graphics cards
AMD RX 5700
The best graphics card
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Why should you buy that?: It's a great 1440p gaming card that fully supports AMD's new fidelity features.
Who is it for?: FreeSync gamers and AMD fans who want the best for their money near the high end.
Why we chose the AMD RX 5700:
It may be just $ 50 less than the more powerful 5700 XT, but the 5700 is much better value for money. In most cases, it can keep up with its bigger brother and falls back only a few frames, especially on its 1440p sweet spot. It's loud and warm, but if you're ready to put a few washers on it, you can significantly improve this factor. Third-party options also offer significantly improved cooling.
This card is based on AMD's new RDNA architecture and offers significantly better performance per watt than older Vega and Polaris graphics cards. At the same time, it offers a performance that is comparable to the new mid-range cards from Nvidia such as the RTX 2060 and 2060 Super. There is no ray tracing or DLSS, but AMD's new sharpening and Radeon Boost for higher frame rates and better graphics in the game.
If you like overclocking, you can unlock at least 10% additional headroom with a little power modding. This can make this card fairly close to the performance of a 5700 XT if you do it right.
Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
The most powerful graphics card
Why should you buy that?: You want to play the latest games with the highest frame rate and resolution.
Who is it for?: 4K monitor owners and PC gaming enthusiasts.
Why we chose the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti::
The massive GTX 2080 Ti is not budget-friendly. In addition to the Nvidia RTX Titan, which is even more absurd and not much faster, the RTX 2080 Ti is the most powerful gamer graphics card in the world.
Other cards in its range, such as the 2080 Super, the Radeon VII, the RX 5700 XT or the 1080 Ti, remain useful cards for providing 4K resolution. However, the 2080 Ti offers much greater performance potential, whether you're just playing 4K or want to take advantage of some of the Turing generation's additional visual features like DLSS and ray tracing. Considering how hardware intensive the latter of these two features is, the 2080 Ti offers the best frame rates and the best overall experience if you want to use all modern games like Battlefield V.
We have found that the RTX 2080 Ti can deliver more than 12,000 points in 3DMark Time Spy. It also reached more than 100 FPS in Battlefield 1 at 4K with all settings at Ultra and even reached almost 50 FPS at 4K in the always exhausting Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
If you can find a 1080 Ti at a reasonable price, it's still a viable alternative, and the 2080 Super comes closest to overall performance. The 2080 Ti is currently outstanding in terms of performance and graphics.
Nvidia RTX 2060 Super
Best graphics card under $ 400
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends
Why should you buy that?: Nvidia's RTX 2060 Super offers great performance at a reasonable price with entry-level ray tracing and DLSS.
Who is it for?: Players who want serious performance without breaking the bank.
Why we chose the Nvidia RTX 2060 Super:
The super update of Nvidia's RTX range may have been enforced by AMD's new navigation cards and could probably have been implemented much earlier if Nvidia had requested it, but it's here now and the results are impressive.
The 2060 Super is far more powerful than the standard RTX 2060 and is fully equipped with 8 GB GDDR6 and more CUDA cores. It's relatively powerful like the standard RTX 2070. That's a huge leap in performance and the price is still fairly shy of $ 400 too.
It hits the AMD RX 5700 and is even often competitive with the 5700 XT, with a better cooler and higher energy efficiency. It offers an improved price-performance ratio compared to the standard RTX 2060 for just $ 50 more. You may find a little more value and durability in the 2070 Super, but this card costs at least $ 500, so the RTX 2060 Super remains a much cheaper and more accessible GPU for the average player.
This card often changes places with the RX 5700 as our favorite GPU, but at just under $ 400, it's just a little too expensive to offer the value of the 5700. However, the 2060 Super is a bit faster, so if you have a budget of $ 400, you can get this card instead if you want a little more power.
Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
The best graphics card under $ 300
Why should you buy that?: The 1660 Ti is fast enough without the RTX performance and the cost.
Who is it for?: Players who are not interested in ray tracing.
Why we chose the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti:
Nvidia's entry-level graphics cards haven't received as much attention as the ray tracing RTX GPUs, but the Turing generation GTX cards aren't a problem. The 1660 Ti is a solid replacement for the outstanding GTX 1060 6 GB from Nvidia. It offers a 20 to 30% increase in performance and beats strong AMD competitors such as the RX 590.
The GTX 1660 Ti lacks the RTX functions such as ray tracing and DLSS, which have characterized this generation of graphics cards from the green team, but that is exactly what helps to keep the price so attractive. Just make sure you buy the cheapest one you can find, as the more expensive ones, even with modest overwatches, won't match the performance of the RTX 2060 while being way too close to the price.
If you're looking for an AMD alternative at this price, the RX Vega 56 is a great option. It needs to be tweaked a little to get the most out of it (see the instructions below), and it's not easy to find, but if you can get one at a good price, it will outdo everything up to the RTX 2070.
AMD Radeon RX 590
The best graphics card under $ 200
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Why should you buy that?: It gives you a fantastic 1080p performance without breaking the bank.
Who is it for?: Players on a budget who still want high frame rates.
Why we chose the AMD Radeon RX 590:
The RX 590 was the latest update in a long line of updated maps and should never stand out. A slightly overclocked RX 580 in the heart that offers surprisingly powerful performance given its pedigree. At just under $ 200, it surpasses its predecessor and can keep up with the more expensive GTX 1660 and the newer RX 5500 from AMD.
It's a pretty hot card, and we don't recommend buying the more expensive, overclocked versions as their price gets a little too high for what you get. At a base price of $ 200, the RX 590 is an absolute killer card for 1080p and 1440p.
There are many different options with improved cooling and higher clocks, but even the budget offerings with just a few fans are a good buy. They often come with extra money, and many now come with a free Xbox Game Pass for three months and a free game.
If you're on an even stricter budget, you can buy an RX 570 for a lot less, and that's still a great option for budget games. There's also the option of the RX 580 and the new RX 5500 from AMD, but none of them can keep up with the 590.
RTX 2070 Max-Q
The best mobile graphics
Dan Baker / Digital Trends
Why should you buy this: It offers excellent performance without adding excessive bulk to modern laptops.
Who is it for: Power gamers on the move.
Why we chose the Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q:
Nvidia's RTX 2070 Max-Q is the latest version of its leaner mobile gaming solutions. However, this does not mean that it lacks performance. It offers a larger number of CUDA cores than its Max-Q counterparts in the 10 series and ultimately results in a significant performance improvement over the previous generation.
While the RTX 2070 Max-Q lags behind its full-fledged desktop and mobile counterparts, its real strength is that it doesn't give off anywhere near the heat generated by large GPUs. That means you can still find the RTX 2070 Max-Q in laptops that are slim and thin and don't weigh too much. The Razer Blade that we used in our tests weighs only 4.5 pounds and offers a performance that was only found in chunky slot machines in previous years that were almost twice as heavy.
There are some solid alternatives in this area as both AMD and Nvidia offer mobile options with more and less performance depending on your needs. For our money, however, the RTX 2070 Max-Q offers the best mix of performance and compatibility with thin and light laptops that have dominated the gaming and general-purpose notebook scene in recent years.
How we test
When testing graphics cards, we usually focus on three main factors: functionality, performance and price.
The range of functions is often determined by the brand and platform, which we always take into account when checking a card. It's not just about whether it can handle a virtual reality headset or how many monitors it supports. We check support for graphical standards and APIs as well as special functions such as Ansel from Nvidia or Image Sharpening from AMD.
However, performance is the most important thing. We conduct review units through a range of synthetic and real benchmarks, including those that we report. We keep detailed records of frame rate trends, frame times, and abnormal metrics such as noise, heat, or artifacts.
Ultimately, it all comes down to cash. With so many GPUs, board partners, and differences in clock speed and memory, there's no shortage of options and it's too easy to pay too much. We check the price of each card and even help determine availability at launch.