One of the most important things that you can get while upgrading or building your gaming station is getting a proper graphics card to bring the visuals to life. That’s where the majority of your budget is going to be allocated, as well as the majority of your thinking. After all, finding the best GPU for gaming is a lot more challenging than it sounds.
One way to make the choice easy on your head and your pocket is actually watching the big three manufacturers: AMD, Nvidia, and Intel. As soon as they drop their latest releases for the year, you can expect big price drops for the previous generation. And that might present the perfect opportunity for some people to get their hands on the gadgets they need.
Another thing you want to take note of is the accompanying hardware. You need a great CPU to get the most out of the best GPU for gaming. Your brand new, all-powerful GPU may limp its way through operations if it is not paired with the right CPU, and you don’t want that.
So instead of going with some of what you may have read like multi-card SLI or crossfire (very games benefit anything significant from those), turn some of that cost towards ensuring you have the right accompanying hardware to boost performance.
To help you in your search for the right gaming GPU, we compiled a list of the best graphics cards available in 2021. The entries in this list pack a lot of power, but you would not have to break the bank to get all of them. A lot of them are actually mid-range products, as far as graphics cards go. Although, generally speaking, the more money you shell out on a graphics card, the more performance you can expect from it.
Best GPU for Gaming 2021
|Product||Key Features||Our Rating|
|RTX 2080 Ti||• The highest of tiers of graphics cards|
• 11 GB of GDDR6
|RTX 2080 Super||• Performs at 90% of the RTX 2080 Ti for 35%|
• Can easily play 4K games
|AMD Radeon VII||• 16 GB RAM|
• Triple fan cooling
|AMD Radeon RX 5700||• Deemed as the best AMD GPU at the moment|
• Suitable for average graphically-demanding games
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super||• 8 GB GDDR6|
• Adjustable RGB
|AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT||• 6 GB GDDR6|
• Supports 8K resolution
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super||• Paired with GDDR6 memory|
• Suitable for lower end builds
|Red Dragon Radeon RX 5700 XT||• Best value for money GPU on this list|
• Can easily play games with very high FPS
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super||• 4 GB GDDR6|
• Dual fan cooling system
|Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mine||• Best mini GPU|
• Only 211 x 125 x 41mm in size
RTX 2080 Ti
The RTX 2080 Ti is a premium graphics card from industry giants Nvidia, that lies out of the budget range of most of the gaming community. However, it is rightly lauded by many in the community as probably the best graphics card money can buy in 2021.
For many, this is the outright best graphics card available on the market today and it is not hard to see why. If you intend to go all out to play 4K or 1440p, the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the card you get. Using this card for 1080p gaming would be like killing a fly with a machine gun.
At the same time, your 1080p gaming would only benefit from top features like rat tracing.
At the heart of the RTX 2080 Ti lies Nvidia’s Turing architecture which boosts performance even in systems that don’t enable ray tracing or DLSS, and offers a 35%-40% increase in performance stats at higher resolutions and settings.
The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti t does cost more than some gaming PCs in their entirety. You could probably settle all your GPU needs by going for this card right now if money is not an object. Or you could wait for the next generation to be announced so that you could get your hands on this at a much lower price.
RTX 2080 Super
If the price of the GeForce 2080 Ti made you feel like having a heart attack, you would be better served by going for the RTX 2080 Super. This graphics card is the second fastest on the market, boasting 90% of the performance of the RTX 2080 Ti, and can be gotten at 35% of the price.
You can easily play your games at 4K and 1440p resolution, even though you may have to tone down some of the quality sometimes for best fit.
But you need not worry too much about having to tone down some of your game’s quality: the difference between ultra-high quality and high quality is difficult to perceive, much more so than the improvement in performance you will experience when you make the adjustment.
Now the 2080 Super is currently able to handle the ray tracing effects of any current game, but with the current trajectory of tech and trends, how long this will continue to hold true is debatable.
When more games start leveraging ray tracing hardware to its fullest, the 2080 Super, as stellar as it is, may finally start struggling to keep up. So while it makes perfect sense to go for this graphics card today, because of its impressive power and reasonable price, you want to keep an eye on the market to make sure you don’t get left behind and start suffering buyer’s remorse
AMD Radeon VII
Unlike most other GPUs created by industry giant, AMD, the Radeon VII is not a mid-range graphics card. This is a flagship product that is priced at a premium, and it is just as well that it goes on to deliver comparably over the top value.
Indeed, while this third entry does not offer ray tracing technology like the previous two graphics cards we’ve seen, or any AI capabilities, the manufacturers AMD make up for any lack by laying emphasis on raw power and video memory (VRAM).
The result is enough performance to rival any other graphics card in this price bracket.
This graphics card offers a whopping 16GB of video memory and a high boost clock rate of 1800Mhz. By any standards, this is insanely powerful stuff that is significant enough to cause fans to overlook any shortcomings when the features of the Radeon VII are compared to those of other GPUs.
The sheer power and quality of the AMD Radeon VII is no coincidence, given the competition at the top for dominance of the graphics card industry. Ever since the introduction of the AMD Vega 64 in 2017, AMD had been relegated to playing catch up to Nvidia and its Turing architecture.
That status quo has effectively turned around, thanks to the attention to detail that went into the creation of the Radeon VII. AMD gets a lot of things right with its flagship GPU.
It’s 16GB of HBM2 memory makes it capable of holding its own in terms of performance against other more expensive competitors and small agile ones. And that’s just one of the reasons that make this a strong contender for the title of best GPU for gaming this year.
The AMD Radeon VII not only does well with 4K gaming which many graphics cards struggle with, but it also works well in creating content. You have zero reasons to hesitate if you happen to have the budget to go for this GPU.
AMD Radeon RX 5700
Even though this gaming GPU only just got its debut, it is being praised by many as the outright best AMD graphics card at the moment. In the eyes of many, it has taken the position that was previously held by the AMD Radeon RX 590.
You can get this graphics card for much less than what you would have to pay for premium flagships like the Radeon VII as well as other cards from other manufacturers, and this just goes to show you that you really don’t need to break the bank.
With the AMD Radeon RX 5700, you can play games at 1440p resolution at Max or Ultra settings—which is something you will not see in so many other more expensive cards by other manufacturers.
For example, a card like the RTX 2080 Super costs more and offers a lot of quality performance, but it still won’t perform well at Ultra or Max settings when gaming under 1440p resolution.
You have no such problems with the mid-range priced AMD Radeon RX 5700, so you never have to compromise on your gaming experience while playing the titles you love—even the modern, heavier ones.
You also get 2GB more video memory with the AMD Radeon RX 5700 than you get in the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 even though they cost the same; another reason to believe that you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy enough benefits for money down.
That said, this GPU does not offer ray tracing, so if you happen to be a fan of that technology and its benefits then you stand to be disappointed.
All in all, this is one of the best gaming GPUs you can invest in this year.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
The RTX 2070 Super is fourth in line in Nvidia’s current Turing stable and comes incredibly packed with features any gamer would want under their gaming PC system. There is hardly a better card out there for you if you are building a 4K gaming rig, for example.
For reference to show how good the RTX 2070 Super is, you can see it as a better version of the GTX 1080 Ti of the last generation, only it also costs less and is more suited for the future.
There is also very little that separates this GPU from the iconic RTX 2080. This is mainly because of the fact that they are both built around the same Turing TU104 GPU. This particular feature makes it that much more than the standard RTX 2070. You could consider the RTX 2070 Super as RTX 2080 Lite somewhat.
Because of the closeness in performance, but not price, between the RTX 280 and the RTX 270 Super, one can only seriously consider looking at this gaming graphics card first before taking a look at the RTX 280 and the RTX 280 Super.
Because, despite all their exquisite performance, the price advantage which the RTX 270 Super holds over the RTX 280 and the RTX 280 Super is simply too great to ignore.
Even at 4K, some people might not qualify the improvements over the RTX 270 Super as enough of an upgrade to justify the price.
AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
The AMD team woke up one morning, rolled up their sleeves, and decided to create what they considered to be the perfect 1080p gaming graphics card, and ended up with the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT.
On the whole, they largely succeeded in their task: no other graphics card quite handles 1080p gaming the way the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT can. However, the release was not without its problems and hitches.
Nvidia chose the window of release for the 5600 XT to drop the price of their OG RTX 2600 down to a few notches. In order to counteract the fallouts of such a juicy offer, AMD was forced to pivot at the last minute; offering firmware updates that bumped up the memory performance and the clock speed of their RX 5600 XT graphics cards.
Now to be clear, this upgrade went to most, not all the cards. So you still have upgrades there that are void of these upgrades, so you want to make sure about what you are getting by checking the downloads section of any 5600 XT card in hand and making sure you are getting an upgraded unit.
Given the sheer performance of this gaming graphics card and the surprisingly low price it goes for, there is no way the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT was not going to make our list.
While there are other GPUs like the GTX 1660 Super from Nvidia that offer similar value (but still comparably inferior) for1080p gaming, the price difference is enough to put the 5600 XT on top and out of reach.
Whether you are on a restricted budget or looking for real value for money for your 1080p gaming the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is the card you want to go for.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
There’s a story behind the Nvidia GeForce GTx 1660 Super that shows how much of a superior performer it is: this card was Nvidia’s preemptive solution to AMD’s RX 5500 XT. It left the RX 5500 XT dead and belly up in the water and AMD scratching their heads about what happened.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super is only one among a stable of four graphics cards that use the same TU116 GPU, and it also uses the same chip used in the original GTX 1660. But the clincher which sets the GTX 1660 Super apart is the fact that it is paired with a GDDR6 memory setup rather than a GDDR5, and this makes for higher performance and more speed over a standard card. The 14GB of VRAM too doesn’t hurt its prospects at all.
In fact, the 14GB VRAM enables the GeForce GTX to perform at a level similar to that of the more expensive GTX 1660 Ti, in spite of the fact that it sports less actual GPU inside its chip. Go figure.
Apart from sending the ill-fated RX 5500 Xt to oblivion, these are just a few reasons out of many that have made the GeForce GTX a force to reckon with in the graphics card space today.
Red Dragon Radeon RX 5700 XT
The Red Dragon Radeon RX 500 XT is hands down one of the best overall gaming GPUs, across all brands and price points. And this can be chalked up to the sheer brilliance of its performance.
It’s got both price and performance going for it. For example, the Red Dragon Radeon RX 5700 XT is almost as fast as the RTX 2070 Super—lagging only by 4%, and at the same time, it costs as low as the AMD Radeon RX 5700.
It’s like a cheat code meant to sweeten life for your gaming and your pocket.
And maybe that is why there are a lot of custom models of this graphics card available on the market today. Everybody wants to be on a winning team. Some of these models are more expensive while others are less so, but you can expect the same level of a stellar performance from any.
Simply go with whatever model you can find that agrees with your budget.
Now, like any other AMD graphics card at this moment, the Red Dragon RX 500 XT does not support ray tracing. But this does not even make a dent in the pedigree of this overachieving graphics card.
Because of the superb RDNA architecture on which it is built, the Red Dragon RX 500 XT is more than capable of delivering an unforgettable performance for your gaming that is on par and even surpasses that of cards from brands that do offer ray tracing. And you would have to pay less for the privilege.
There is also the 7nm FinFET manufacturing protocol under which this GPU is built and which helps in ramping up the cold-blooded efficiency we have come to appreciate about the Red Dragon RX 500 XT. It is this effect that is behind the continued rise in popularity of 7nm FinFET manufacturing.
The result of all these features is a card that operates at 1440p and 1080p with ease, using 75W less power.
The Red Dragon RX 500 XT upgrades all features of previous generations to deliver a performance that feels like a new day. If you are looking for a high-performing graphics card but don’t to give an arm and a leg for it, this is it.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super
Graphics cards are traditionally known to be among the costliest components in your gaming PC setup. And that can’t be helped, given the crucial work they do in making your game playable and bringing your game to life
But that doesn’t speak for all gaming graphic cards. There are some like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super that cost low enough to not ruffle any feathers and which still deliver value to be considered on our list.
The GeForce GTX is considered the best value-for-money graphics card on the market, for its great price and high performance. A straight-up cost/performance ratio clears up any doubts as to its gaming proficiency.
Despite the fact that this game costs less than $200 most times, it is able to punch above its weight by offering effective 1080p frame rates at even the maximum in-game options.
It can also handle 1440p too, surprisingly. But you would need to reduce some of the options to make the gameplay smooth and enjoyable for you at that sky-high resolution.
You can compare the GTX 1650 Super to the GTX 1660 more than you could to its predecessor, the GTX 1650. This is because they use the same TU116 GPU. Also the GTX 1650 Super has more cores than the standard card.
Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mine
The Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 Ti Mini is the best mini graphics card you can get on the market today. Are you in the process of putting together a mini-ITX gaming PC or a micro ATX? There would be no need to settle for mediocre; thanks to the stellar performance you can get from this GPU.
Now, this is not the latest and greatest gaming GPU you can get out on the market today. However, it still packs enough of a punch to merit consideration—especially if you’re happy to need something suitable to bring your microATX together.
Consider it a bonus that you can get all that power from a unit that is only 211 x 125 x 41mm.
What to Take Note of When Buying a GPU for Gaming
There are a few things you want to take note of buying a graphics card for your gaming PC:
Generally, the higher the resolution you are playing at, the more performance you will need. Therefore, go for what promises to be commensurate to your needs. For example, you don’t need to break the bank for a 4K compatible GPU when you could go much lower for a card that is appropriate for the 1080p gaming you currently do.
You need an adequate power supply for your gaming card, as well as the right 6 or 8 pin connector. For example, Nvidia suggests a 650 watt PSU for the stellar RTX 2070 Super, and you’ll need two 8-pin or 6-pin PEG connectors.
You could go for the minimum of 4GB. But know that 6GB models and 8GB models exist and could present more future proof options to consider.
FreeSync or G-Sync
Both of these technologies will synchronize your GPU’s frame rate with the refresh rate of your gaming monitor. If you have a g-sync monitor, then go for a GeForce GPU. If your monitor supports FreeSync, then go for Radeon cards. That said, Nvidia has certified some FreeSync displays as being compatible with G-Sync.
If you happen to rock a gaming monitor like that, you can get the best of both worlds.