Best graphics cards for PC gaming 2020

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Best graphics cards for PC gaming 2020

“What graphics card within my budget gives me the best bang for my buck?”


That simple question cuts to the core of what people hunting for a new graphics card look for: the most oomph they can afford. Sure, the technological leaps behind each new GPU can be interesting on their own, but most everyone just wants to crank up the detail settings on Battlefield and get right to playing.

Updated May 18, 2020 to update the news section with information about Nvidia’s Ampere GPU architecture reveal.

Answering the question can be a bit trickier than it seems. Raw performance is a big part of it, but factors like noise, the driver experience, and supplemental software also play a role in determining which graphics card to buy. And do you want to pay Nvidia’s RTX premium to get in on the bleeding edge of real-time ray tracing?

Let us make it easy for you. We’ve tested nearly every major GPU that’s hit the streets over the past couple of years, from $100 budget cards to $1,200 luxury models. Our knowledge has been distilled into this article—a buying guide with recommendations on which graphics card to buy, no matter what sort of experience you’re looking for.

Note: There are customized versions of every graphics card from a slew of vendors. For example, you can buy different GeForce GTX 1660 models from EVGA, Asus, MSI, and Zotac, among others.

We’ve linked to our formal review for each recommendation, but the buying links lead to models that stick closely to each graphics card’s MSRP. Spending extra can get you hefty out-of-the-box overclocks, beefier cooling systems, and more. Check out our “What to look for in a custom card” section below for tips on how to choose a customized card that’s right for you.

Graphics card news

  • The long wait for a new Nvidia graphics architecture is over, a year and a half after the GeForce RTX debut, though it’s initially only available in data center form. Nvidia’s next-gen “Ampere” architecture will be inside both A100 data center GPUs and future GeForce cards alike, built using the 7nm manufacturing process, PCIe 4.0 technology, and amped-up tensor cores for AI smarts. Here’s what PC gamers need to know about Ampere.
  • AMD also revealed scads of details about its next-gen “Big Navi” Radeon graphics cards in recent weeks. Xbox Series X announcements and information revealed during AMD’s Financial Analyst Day show that “RDNA2” GPUs will include real-time ray tracing, variable rate shading, a massive 50 percent jump in performance-per-watt efficiency, and more. The introduction of a new, compute-focused “CDNA” architecture could portend big changes for Radeon’s gamer DNA as well. The reference designs for RDNA2 graphics cards will also ditch AMD’s traditional blower-style cooler for an axial fan design.

Best budget graphics card

For the first time in a long time, there’s a new budget gaming champion. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super is a superb 1080p graphics card that can hit the hallowed 60 frames per second mark at High or Ultra settings in virtually all modern games—a hell of a feat for just $160, or $170 for the feature-loaded ROG Strix model we evaluated. It comes packed with 4GB of ultra-fast GDDR6 memory, and Nvidia’s latest and greatest Turing NVENC video encoder, something the original GTX 1650 lacked. Better yet, Nvidia’s GPU is incredibly power efficient, and that means these graphics cards run cool and quiet, too.

You’ll need a six-pin power connector to run the card, which is much more potent than its non-Super cousin, the $150 GeForce GTX 1650. The only reason to consider the non-Super version is if you’re upgrading a big-box office PC into a gaming rig and have no extra power cabling available, since the vanilla GTX 1650 can draw all its more from your motherboard. Otherwise, the GeForce GTX 1650 Super is far superior, especially for just $10 more.

Unfortunately, the ROG Strix isn’t available at retail at the time of publication. Two other Asus GPUS—the $165 GeForce GTX 1650 Super Phoenix Fan Edition and $160 Asus TUF GTX 1650 Super—are, and you should expect similar bottom-line gaming performance out of them, though these alternatives don’t pack all the same extras as the Strix.

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