Best Graphics Cards 2018 – Comprehensive GPU Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
Our main focus on this website is 144Hz monitors, although we cover all monitors out there that are interesting to us as well. However, in order to take full advantage of a 144Hz refresh rate, you will need a GPU capable of delivering 144 FPS (Frames Per Second) or above too. If you are playing a very demanding game, it may be difficult to reach the desired 144FPS and you may want to upgrade your graphics card or lower the settings to take advantage of your monitor.
This buying guide will also be suitable for people who are just looking for a new GPU and want the best recommendations, as new and better graphics card keep getting released.
So what is the best graphics card? Looking for NVIDIA graphics cards or perhaps AMD graphics cards? Looking for a new graphics card in 2018? Below are the best graphics cards for every purpose, including everyday use, watching movies, working, movie rendering, and 3D graphics rendering – but mostly gaming. So without further ado, we now present the best graphics cards for PC, VR and everything else.
The 8 Best Graphics Cards For 2018
|Type||Graphics Card||VRAM||Base Core Clock||Memory Clock||Min. Power Supply|
|Entry-level Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030||2 GB GDDR5||1227 MHz||6008 MHz||300W|
|AMD Radeon RX 550||2 GB GDDR5||1183 MHz||7000 MHz||400W|
|Best Budget Graphics Card||AMD Radeon RX 460||4 GB GDDR5||1220 MHz||7000 MHz||400W|
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||4 GB GDDR5||1354 MHz||7008 MHz||300W|
|Mid-Tier Graphics Card||AMD Radeon RX 570||4 GB GDDR5||1245 MHz||7000 MHz||450W|
|AMD Radeon RX 580||8 GB GDDR5||1360 MHz||8000 MHz||450W|
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060-6GB||6 GB GDDR5||1569 MHz||8008 MHz||400W|
|Best Value For Money GPU||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070||8 GB GDDR5||1582 MHz||8008 MHz||500W|
|Best Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080||8 GB GDDR5||1695 MHz||10010 MHz||500W|
|AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64||8 GB GDDR5||1247 MHz||1.89 Gbps||750W|
|4K Gaming Graphics Processing Unit||NVIDIA GeForce 1080 Ti||11 GB GDDR5X||1569 MHz||11004 MHz||600W|
If you still wondering what the best graphics card today is for your budget and expectations, take a look at the table just above. We hope the table above can aid you to pick the best graphics card for your purposes and needs.
A detailed sheet of graphics card specifications and tons of reviews are great without a doubt, but it will surely cost you a lot of time and stress to look through a bunch of graphics cards. We have done the paperwork and collected a list of the best graphics cards, split into several different categories. You simply look at the categories and choose the one that fits your situation best, and then select a GPU accordingly. This is a list of discrete graphics cards for gamers, so if you do not play games, then you are better off using your built-in graphics card or a very cheap card for your everyday usage at home or the office.
In categories where GPU’s that support AMD FreeSync or NVIDIA G-SYNC, we try to include one GPU from each manufacturer that are very much alike and support the respective technology. So if you already have a FreeSync monitor, you choose the AMD card and the NVIDIA card if you have a G-SYNC monitor. Choosing one technology over the other pretty much locks you to that GPU vendor until you purchase a new monitor and it’s not like you are going to replace your monitor every year. On average, a monitor is replaced every 4-5 years.
Entry-level Graphics Card
The best NVIDIA graphic card under 100 USD right now is the NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030. This is the cheapest NVIDIA graphics card that’s based on the Pascal architecture and it’s very good for its price, which is around $70. That’s a very generous amount of money for a 2GB GPU and 1506 MHz core speed in the OC mode which you can effortlessly overclock in the provided software. It comes with the low profile bracket and is only 150mm in length, so you can fit it in mini PCs as well. The recommended minimum power supply wattage is 300W.
If you play low demanding but popular games like League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS: GO, you can easily play those with this card at 1920×1080 resolution. Not on maxed out settings but on mid to high settings at 60 FPS and above.
If you really want an AMD discrete GPU, then our top suggestion is the AMD Radeon RX 550. In comparison to the GT 1030 card, it features a lesser base core clock of 1219 MHz, but a faster memory at 7000 MHz. It also requires a stronger PSU, recommended 400W. Although it’s a bit more expensive, it’s worth the difference – especially if you have or plan to get a FreeSync gaming monitor. FreeSync will further help with the gameplay performance by eliminating screen stutter and tearing. Unlike, G-Sync monitors, FreeSync doesn’t increase the price of the display and is hence ideal for gamers on a budget.
If you’re in the need of a power supply as well, then you might find our pick for the best PC power supply in this specific category.
Best Budget Graphics Card
A GPU is most likely the most expensive hardware in a powerful gaming rig, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get a decent amount of power so that you can play your favorite games at 1080p resolution. We actually have both an AMD gaming graphics card and an NVIDIA graphics card in this category, where the AMD card is a tiny little bit older and the NVIDIA GPU is a newer bestselling graphics card released back in October 2016 that we highly recommend to anyone wanting the best budget graphics card right now.
Our AMD recommendation is the AMD Radeon RX 460, a 4 GB GDDR5 graphics card with a 1220 MHz clock speed, a 256-bit memory bus, support for 4K UHD resolution, and finally AMD FreeSync.
Now comes the real kicker – the TDP of the AMD Radeon RX 460 can be so low that you won’t even need the power connectors! It’s your choice if you want to use power connectors as a performance headroom or have an efficient card without any power connectors. For gaming, we recommend that you use the power connectors as it allows you to unlock the full potential of this best cheap graphics card. The recommended power supply for the AMD Radeon RX 460 is 400W. The AMD Radeon RX 560, the new and upgraded version, is slightly better but considerably more expensive at the moment.
Our top NVIDIA graphics card in this category, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (04G-P4-6253-KR) needs a recommended minimum power supply of only 300W, and it has a good 4 GB GDDR5 memory and support for DX12 (DirectX 12 OSD). Besides offering G-Sync, you can even achieve 144FPS on many popular and competitive games at 1080p though with tuned down settings; So, be sure to pair this GPU up with a proper 144Hz gaming monitor, if you want to get the edge over your opponents in competitive games. The GTX 1050 Ti (Pascal) has a price sitting at around $150 at the moment. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is more efficient per Watt and clearly the best Nvidia budget graphics card.
As it stands right now, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is the overall best choice for consumers on a budget. It offers a better performance than the AMD Radeon RX 460, but the AMD graphics card is also cheaper, so keep that in mind. If you got the extra bucks, we highly recommend the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for sure, since you will get the best budget graphics card with the greatest performance.
In the end, it’s all up to your preferences – which gaming monitor you have and which best deal you can get on either of them. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy the latest AAA titles at 1080p, not necessarily at high settings (depending on the game), but certainly at a satisfactory level of graphics details and FPS rate at this price range.
Mid-Tier Graphics Processing Unit
The AMD Radeon RX 570 is one of the most cost-effective graphics cards for high-quality gaming at 1080p with smooth and steady 60 FPS. The ASUS ROG Strix RX 570 model comes with a plethora of cool features including the Aura Lightning LED lighting, the 0db fans which turn on only when needed while the innovative 40% heat sink surface design ensures superior heat dissipation.
If you can, we suggest saving up an additional $50 and going for the AMD Raden RX 580 instead. The ASUS ROG Strix RX 580 graphics card offers extra boost clock up to 1380MHz as opposed to the 1310MHz of the RX 570. More importantly, it offers stunning 8GB GDDR5 VRAM.
The NVIDIA GTX 1060-6GB has been considered the best mid-tier graphics card for a long time. It is just an incredible card with good performance for a fair price. There is a reason that it is one of the best-selling graphics cards on Amazon. It supports DirectX 12, is VR ready and has a good 6GB GDDR5 memory. We recommend that you have at least a 400W PSU to supply power to this beast. The OC version of the card boasts stunning 1873 MHz boost clock in the OC mode, while you can also get the regular version for about $40 less and still enjoy whopping 1708 MHz in boost mode.
In comparison to the RX 580, the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060-6GB ROG STRIX is equally priced. It offers a bit less VRAM, but it’s a lot faster. Overall, both are exceptionally good GPUs and you can’t make a wrong choice. Some games better run with Nvidia cards while the others perform better with AMD GPUs, so check out what’s the case with your favorite games.
With any of these two cards you enjoy maxed out 1080p gameplay including 2560×1080 ultra-wide while at 1440p and 3440×1440, you’ll have to tune some settings down though you’ll still be able to enjoy the smooth and immersive gameplay. Ideally, you want to pair the GTX 1060-6GB with a G-SYNC gaming monitor and the AMD RX cards with a FreeSync display for the much better results.
Best Value For Money GPU
We’ve found the MSI Gaming GTX 1070 X to be of the best value at its price range. At the moment, it’s around $140 more expensive than the 1060 card and $100 cheaper than the GTX 1080. It’s an excellent graphics card for SLI option, VR, and maxed out gaming at 2560×1440 and 3440×1440. The Nvidia GTX 1070 is also known as the best 1440p graphics card.
It gives you a choice to run the latest games with maxed settings on either steady 60FPS at 1440p or over 144FPS at 1080p. Powered by 8 GB of VRAM and 1797MHz boost clock in the OC mode, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 is the best that you can get at this price range by far. While MSI’s version is the most cost-efficient at the moment, you can check out our best GTX 1070 article, if you wish to compare it with other models.
The long-awaited AMD Vega cards which were supposed to counter Nvidia’s high-end GPUs have been released, however, their performance and price caused mostly negative and disappointing response. If AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 was priced as initially thought (around $400), it would’ve been an amazing GPU for the money even though the GTX 1070 is still a bit faster and requires less power.
Alas, once new custom RX Vega 56 cards appear with hopefully more appealing price tags, they could make a great pair with FreeSync gaming monitors – as it would be a much cheaper deal yet with an almost equally good performance than the 1070/G-SYNC monitor combo.
For instance, the 144Hz 2560×1080 ultra-wide gaming monitors, the LG 34UC89G-B and the LG 34UC79-B, differ in price by a whopping $400 yet the only difference lies in their variable-sync technology. So, if you’re interested in getting both a gaming monitor and a GPU, the LG 34UC79-B and the Vega 56 would be a much more cost-effective choice and arguably equally good.
As a response to the Vega 56, Nvidia will be releasing the GTX 1070 Ti card on October 26th with 2432 CUDA cores as opposed to 1920 of the GTX 1070. It will also offer an extra 100MHz base clock though it will be a bit more power-hungry by consuming 180W. Once released, it should be priced around $400 which is quite appealing and will certainly give the Vega 56 a run for its money.
Best Graphics Card
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card delivers 8GB of VRAM, 10010 MHz memory clock, and striking 1860 MHz boost clock in the OC mode which makes it viable for gaming at 4K with decent settings and FPS rate as well as for immersive fast-paced VR games. Whether you’re looking to professionally compete or enjoy celestial graphics, the GTX 1080 is a first-class investment. If paired with a G-Sync gaming monitor, it’s unstoppable.
The Gigabyte WindForce version is a bit slower with 1797Mhz in the OC mode though due to its $100 cheaper price, it’s definitely worth it and it’s the best GTX 1080 deal at the moment. In this article, you can compare our choice for the best GTX 1080 graphics card at the moment with the rest of the models.
The Gigabyte AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 features lesser boost (1546MHz) and base (1247MHz) clock speeds but an actually higher memory bandwidth due to the HBM2 memory technology . It’s quite power-hungry though, requiring minimum 750W PSU. Overall, the Vega 64 performance is better in some games while it falls short in certain other games. Therefore, research on how compatible the card is for now with your favorite games. If you plan on buying a monitor along with the VEGA 64 as well, by getting a cheaper and equally good FreeSync monitor rather than the G-SYNC one, you could save some extra cash.
4K Gaming Graphics Processing Unit
If you’re looking to achieve the ultimate greatness and reach the pinnacle of PC gaming, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti can offer you perfection. Featuring the impeccable 352-bit 11 GB of VRAM, 11010 MHz memory clock, 1708 boost clock in the OC mode, and 3584 CUDA cores, the GTX 1080 Ti allows you to max out the settings in the latest and most demanding titles, and enjoy smooth gameplay at 4K resolution and fluid 60 FPS.
Although the NVIDIA GTX Titan Xp offers an overall better performance with the colossal 12 GB VRAM, it’s also much more expensive, usually over 1,200 USD while the GTX 1080 Ti is available for a more reasonable price of around 700-800 USD.
In this guide, we showed you the best gaming graphics card to buy for your needs and budget out there right now. If you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments and we will have a look at it. We hope we helped you choose your next gaming GPU! Some of these graphics cards will surely stay relevant in 2018. We will keep the guide up to date and revisit it as soon as the present cryptocurrency mania is over. Once the prices normalize, we will optimize the article to suit the new prices.
Since we’re talking about gaming anyways, be sure to tune in on our guide on the best PC gaming chairs.
July 2017 Update: Guide is now fully up-to-date and in tune with the current GPU shortage and price inflation due to the current cryptocurrency craze. It will be again optimized as soon as the craze is over.
November 2016 Update: Replaced NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti with the completely new DirectX 12 supported (DX12) NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti as the new best budget graphics card for the money. We also revamped the whole guide to include the new AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards. This guide is now fully up-to-date.
October 2016 Update: Major re-vamp of this buyer’s guide in Mid-October. Stay tuned.
NOTE: Next-gen graphics card are right around the corner. We’ll update this guide by July 2016 to account for them, but in the meantime have a look at the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, AMD Radeon RX460, AMD Radeon RX470 and AMD Radeon RX480. The new NVIDIA Pascal and AMD Polaris architecture flagship graphics cards will be taken into account in the July 2016 update. We just wanted to inform you of these GPU’s if you wish to get these new ones.
December 2015 Update: Minor text update