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In a world where AMD and Nvidia are battling out to create the best GPUs out there, it has come at a minor cost – customers have too much to choose from. Lucky for you, this list would make your next buying decision a lot easier.
Pressed for cash? Also see our guide to the best GPUs under $400.
The Top-Rated GPU Under $500
|Top Pick||MSI Gaming Z GeForce RTX 2060||91%|
|Runner Up||MSI Ventus XS GeForce GTX 1660 Ti||88%|
|Budget Pick||EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming||85%|
|Luxury Pick||Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC||88%|
|Honorable Mention||XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra||87%|
|Also Great||XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro||85%|
Top Pick: MSI Gaming Z GeForce RTX 2060
If you own a 1440p display and need a powerful graphics card to play all of your games on that ultra sharp display, look no further as the MSI Gaming Z GeForce RTX 2060 checks all the boxes. This particular graphic card is one of Nvidia’s RTX lineup which features much better graphics with new features, most notably, Ray Tracing which basically traces the path of light in real time. On top of it, it runs on GDDR6 which is an updated version of GDDR5 and ensures that the graphic runs on a higher and faster bandwidth which only translates to a higher FPS in many games. Minecraft and Battlefield are one of the few games that take advantage of the Ray Tracing cores and it makes gaming so much more beautiful.
It is based on Nvidia’s Turing architecture which is slightly old thanks to the newly released Ampere architecture based cards, but it still does a fine job. This particular model comes with 6GB of GDDR6 RAM and the cooling on this is incredibly great! The fans don’t actually turn on until the temps reach upto 60 degrees Celsius. If you are in the market for the fastest and beautiful graphics providing card, you can’t go wrong with the gorgeous MSI Gaming Z GeForce RTX 2060. It also has RGB if you are interested.
Runner-Up: MSI Ventus XS GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
The MSI Ventus XS GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is a wonderful card that is aimed at people who want to get the best gaming performance with their 1080p capable rig and 1080p display on a budget. It is upto 1.5 times faster than the 1060 6GB variant, which is actually saying something since the 1060 was a really great card. It has become the go-to card for a lot of gamers since it does incredibly well on a 1080p and sometimes, 1440p display. Popular games like Fortnite or Apex Legends easily reach upto 120fps at 1080p on medium-high settings, which is certainly great.
MSI cooling technology comes good here as it still remains well under optimal temperatures while being fairly silent. The GPU also looks good and would be a perfect choice for gamers out there who prefer stealth. It is based on the Turing architecture but it doesn’t feature RT or Tensor cores that its elder brothers, the RTX series has. If you want to achieve high frame rates in 1080p or 1440p and don’t really care about ray tracing, this is the card to get.
Budget Pick: EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming
If you are on a tight budget but still want to experience high FPS on 1080p, then the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming is the right card for you. It is a fairly small card but it packs in so much performance as well! It is a lovely little card that does a great job of handling games at 1080p medium-high settings. This specific card does fall short in one area and that is cooling. It does an okay job but even under peak loads, it makes so much noise that one might be annoyed with it.
Like the 1660Ti, this too is based on the Turing architecture and comes with 6GB of GDDR6 memory which is fast enough and does a good enough job. It also offers a much better value proposition compared to the vanilla 1660 and this is why the EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Super SC Ultra Gaming is the budget king.
Luxury Pick: Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC
The Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC is everything that the 2060 Super is and more as it provides so much more extra performance that a lot of people would appreciate. But all of those extra frames come at a premium cost. This particular model comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory so it should support a lot of games for a very long time thanks to the VRAM (Video Memory) size and the fact that it has RT and Tensor cores that allows one to enjoy the beauty of Ray Tracing.
The card is a bit too thick so bear that in mind. Gigabyte’s WindForce 3X cooling technology does come good here as it remains fairly cool and quiet which is always a great thing to have. You’ll need an 8+6 connector to power this beefy GPU so bear that in mind. It easily manages to touch 60+ FPS on most AAA games at 1440p ultra or max without breaking a sweat and the added incentive of having ray tracing on this card makes this card a worthwhile purchase.
Honorable Mention: XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra
AMD has been making the waves for all the right reasons and the XFX RX 5700 XT Thicc III Ultra is no exception as this is a card that most people should seriously consider. It doesn’t have ray tracing like its competition, the RTX 2070 but it should still do a good enough job for most people who simply want to have the smoothest experience at 1440p. It comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory and it is based on AMD’s Navi architecture, which is their latest architecture at the time of writing. The card also looks good thanks to XFX’s ‘Ghost’ cooler which is slightly thick and longer and wouldn’t fit in some cases, so bear that in mind.
The card isn’t the most power efficient as it sips too much power but it does deliver a very smooth experience at 1440p for eSports and AAA titles. It requires an 8+6 pin power connector so you would most likely require a beefy 600W+ power supply. It does support PCIe 4.0 so most new motherboards would most likely provide an extra boost. If you don’t really prefer Ray Tracing, you could shave off some money and get this for 1440p gaming.
Also Great: XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro
If the budget pick in this list is a little too much for you, then the next best alternative is the XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro. It is a tiny little card that packs in enough performance for solid 1080p gaming. It fared well at 1080p ultra-max settings and it was a very, very capable contender as well. It also does pretty okay even at 1440p but it does slightly fall short of the 1660 Super in certain areas.
It comes with a whopping 8GB of GDDR6 memory and it should be fairly enough to support AAA games in the future. It also does come in a 4GB variant but it is recommended to skip it. Like the 5700XT, this too is based on AMD’s Navi architecture. It is cooled fairly well and doesn’t make too much noise as well. If you plan on gaming at 1080p with a little bit of 1440p, this is certainly a great card!
What to Look for in a GPU
GPUs might seem very straightforward but there are a lot of distinguishing features within a particular price bracket.
Dedicated GPUs use their own memory storage to basically store the video output on a screen. The amount of VRAM is important as it makes a huge difference in high end and demanding games to store large amounts of texture and other things. It also plays a huge role when you want to run multiple displays as well. It is recommended to get about 6GB but avoid 4GB as it isn’t cutting it nowadays. Also, check if it runs on the latest type of memory. At the time of writing, GDDR6 provides the fastest bandwidth.
Each GPU comes with its own TDP or Thermal Design Power limit. For instance, a powerful PSU that is rated around 650W should be used to power the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC from the list. Always consider the power requirements of the GPU and check if you have a PSU with the connectors and the power as well.
Cooling does play a fairly important role as it is responsible for making sure that the inside if your case doesn’t heat up and leads to thermal throttling. Ensure that your GPU has a great thermal solution and always replace the thermal paste on it every two years as well. Alternatively, you could also liquid cool your PC if it suits you as well as it is a much quieter solution than a couple of fans running.
Last Updated on October 26, 2020