Your computer’s graphics card or GPU is the most important component when it comes to determining gaming performance (followed by the CPU). To help you choose the right graphics card for your rig, we thoroughly review and stress test all the major cards, ranking each platform in our GPU hierarchy. Below, we publish our list of specific make and model recommendations.
Best Graphics Cards for Gaming
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the first card we’ve tested able to deliver smooth frame rates at 4K with detail settings maxed out, something the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1080 Ti couldn’t quite manage. The GTX 2080 Ti’s halo features aren’t used in many games yet, but as those come online, the Turing architecture is expected to shine even brighter. That said, Nvidia’s recent driver release unlocks ray tracing support on non-RTX cards. So if you have a capable previous-generation Pascal (10-series) card, you can at least try out those snazzy lighting and shadow effects.
Nvidia also did a good job improving the cooler on its Founders Edition version of the 2080 Ti, leading to high sustained clock speeds. That said, the $1,200 (£1,100/$1,900 AU)-plus price means this card is out of reach for the vast majority of gamers. Only those who are truly after a no-compromise 4K gaming experience should consider this card. Both the GTX 1080 Ti, and the one-step-down RTX 2080 are capable of smooth UHD gaming, providing you’re willing to switch off a few settings.
Note that we’ve also tested Nvidia’s RTX Titan. It’s a more powerful card based around the same silicon as the RTX 2080 Ti, with more memory. But it’s not significantly faster than the RTX 2080 Ti, not aimed specifically at gamers, and it’s priced at $2,500 (£2,400). The Titan runs games very well, but we don’t recommend buying it strictly for gaming purposes.
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
Enthusiasts with VR headsets need to achieve a certain level of performance to avoid jarring artifacts. An Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 is fast enough to keep up with the 90 Hz refresh rates of most modern head-mounted displays (HMDs). Moreover, it includes a VirtualLink port for connecting next-generation headsets with a single cable. That’s not really a useful feature today, but it will likely come in handy the next time you consider upgrading your VR headset.
While stock remained high for the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1080, keeping prices low, it was easy to recommend that card over newer RTX options. But now that’s no longer the case, and pricing for the RTX 2070 has occasionally slipped below the starting MSRP of $499 (£450, $800 AUD).
With more than enough pixel punch to handle smooth VR and prices generally below that of the older GTX 1080, the GeForce RTX 2070 is our new pick for VR. Those who want more performance future-proofing may also consider the GeForce RTX 2080, but with pricing for that card starting around $700 (£642, $1,120 AUD), the 2070 is easily a better value for a couple hundred dollars less.
3. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (6GB)
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is the card to beat for high-refresh gaming at 1920 x 1080 and solid performance at 2560 x 1440 (1440p), delivering frame rates similar to the previous-generation GeForce GTX 1070.
Stepping up to the GeForce RTX 2060 will get you higher frame rates at 1440p, while also bringing the company’s Tensor/RT cores to the table. But with a tiny number of current games supporting those features, the 2060 doesn’t look as good in our performance-per-dollar charts, making the 1660 Ti a better value for most 1080p-plus gamers.
That said, if you have a high-refresh 2K screen and / or are particularly excited about what DLSS and ray tracing will bring to more games in the coming months and years, the RTX 2060 is worth paying the extra $70 (£50) or so for.