Gaming GPUs Ranked
If you call yourself a PC gamer who needs to compete at the highest possible levels, whether you are ganking the mid lane in League of Legends, or making the millisecond flick of the wrist to hit that shot in Valorant, then you know your graphics card is the engine that powers everything you do.
But what is the best graphics card?
As you are selecting the best graphics card for your gaming preferences, everything comes down to two key factors: resolution and price.
Choosing the Resolution for Your Graphics Card
Deciding what resolution you are looking for in your video cards, includes many other factors, some more obvious than others. At the highest end of PC gaming the differences can become specific and difficult to notice without careful study. Resolution ultimately comes down to the ability of the graphics card to push out FPS (frames per second) while maintaining graphic fidelity to the game you are playing. Typically, people play at 720p, 1080p, 1440p, or 2160p (4K) which all have to do with the number of pixels shown on the screen for each frame. To play at 4K quality means each frame your gaming GPU processes is based on showing 2,160 horizontal lines of pixels across the entire screen. The more pixels on your screen, the more clarity you will see in your game.
An unlikely factor in making your purchasing decision for a great gaming graphics cards is the refresh rate made possible by the coordination of your monitor alongside your GPU. Monitors with higher and higher refresh rates, coupled with a gaming video cards ability to squeeze in more FPS, makes an entirely different gameplay experience with ultra-smooth graphics. What this means, in general, is the higher FPS your GPU can push out at 4k resolution, alongside your high refresh rate monitor, the smoother your gameplay – giving you the edge in fast-paced, competitive games.
Considering Price Options for Your Graphics Card
The second factor is the price. For most high-end gaming, you are going to pay the appropriate price to get what you want. And that’s not always a bad thing considering the stark contrast between budget options and premium options.
The question is this: can you spend less and still get a high-end gaming experience?
The answer: sometimes, but only at the highest possible levels does the price difference truly make much of a difference compared to the next highest-rated gaming video cards.
Our Top 4 Choices for the Best Graphics Cards
All four of these GPUs were released in late 2020 and will reflect those "new tech" prices. The other thing to note about price, items like this are always priced based on demand, and demand is often high at launch which means supply may run out quickly! So you better get them while you can (if you can, as we are still seeing abysmal global inventory levels).
In the past, there has been no question about NVIDIA dominating the graphics card market. However, in 2020, AMD has stepped up their game with some graphics cards overtaking NVIDIA. These gaming GPUs come in all price ranges, but we are confident you will find one of these to meet your high-end needs and expectations while fitting your budget.
These gaming graphics cards are our top-rated options on the market right now.
Price: $579 at launch
The AMD Radeon RX 6800 hit the market in November 2020 alongside its counterpart, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT. This gaming graphics card by AMD has been released as direct competition to some of NVIDIA's most powerful graphics cards. In recent years, AMD has not fully invested in their gaming solutions for computers, but the introduction of the Radeon RX 3800 line has changed all that.
At 4k resolution, this piece of hardware was tested and compared to other GPUs using ultra-high quality graphics settings on various popular games. To see how it handled the competition, the RX 6800 clocked in at 88 FPS (frames per second) on Far Cry 5, beating NVIDIA's RTX 3070 by 18 FPS at these settings. In terms of resolution, AMD's RX 6800 has some serious power behind it not previously seen from them.
With 16GB of memory and a 650W power requirement to run the RX 6800 is the best bang-for-your-buck to start playing new games in 4K without completely draining your bank account. This being said, it is still severely lacking in performance when compared with our #1 spot. The competition is fierce, though, and this graphic card deserves to be in the ring for this fight!
Learn more about AMD Radeon RX 6800.
Price: $649 at launch
Launching at the same time as the AMD Radeon RX 6800, the "XT" model has much of the same hardware, but a lot more “oomph” than you would expect. In general, we are talking about a 16% difference in frame rate for a 10% price increase. Not too shabby at all.
If you are looking to squeeze a little more performance from your gaming graphic card without the huge price hike, then the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is a worthwhile investment. It launched simultaneously with the AMD Radeon RX 6800 and quickly rose in popularity as AMD's flagship gaming GPU.
Following the same settings on Far Cry 5 with ultra-high graphics and running at 4K quality this GPU was able to squeeze out 98 FPS, an improvement over the RX 6800, and actually beats out our #2 in terms of FPS! It requires 750W of power as a minimum requirement, so draws a lot more power. Ultimately, it falls ever so slightly below our next two GPUs only because of its inability to keep pace when it comes to noise and ray tracing (which is the ability to create light and shadows in-game and how they interact with each other).
Overall, for 100W more power and an extra $70, it is a worthwhile upgrade if your budget has room for it!
Learn more about the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT.
Price: $699 at launch
Having launched in the early fall 2020, right before the AMD series GPUs mentioned earlier, the RTX 3080 is the budget model of NVIDIA's flagship gaming graphics card. It clocks in at almost all the same markers as the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT, but runs a little quieter and has improved ray tracing.
The RTX 3080, when running Far Cry 5 at ultra-high settings in 4K, produces 93 FPS. This is better than the AMD Radeon RX 6800 but actually slightly lower than the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT. However, at lower resolutions, the RTX 3080 drastically outpaces these two GPUs with a 14% increase in FPS. While this means the RTX 3080 might not beat the RX 6800 XT at 4K resolution it also means the RTX 3080 outclasses AMD's competition by nearly every other benchmark.
For NVIDIA, this model having some of the best benchmarks on the market while staying under $1,000 is significant. The race for improving GPUs while maintaining cost-effectiveness is increasing the competition in the arena of how long a graphics card will last and how much consumers are willing to drop on the ever-evolving technology.
Learn more about the NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 3080.
Price: $1,499 at launch
Looking to give yourself the best graphics card available currently? NVIDIA’s Geforce RTX 3090 is an incredible gaming video card. If you want the pinnacle of performance then look no further. There is absolutely no better graphics card on the market, and it won't be beaten in the near future, at least for some time. For our review of the NVIDIA Geforce RTX 3090 make sure to head over to our blog here.
And yes, there has been quite the controversy surrounding the release of this particular graphics card from NVIDIA. There have been many supply and shipping issues with the card preventing many people from getting access to them. It may have been a strategy on NVIDIA’s end to try to increase the demand with a lower supply. We may never know the real behind-the-scenes of what went on with the launch of the NVIDIA’s graphics card.
In every conceivable way the RTX 3090 over-delivers for your gaming needs and desires. It has the finest ray tracing, the largest amount of memory and GPU cores for a single graphic card, and even outperforms NVIDIA's dual-core Titan model GPU with a smaller price tag.
This GPU is an absolute machine!
There isn't much else to say about this powerhouse of a GPU. It is hands-down the best gaming graphics card on the market. It is one of the only graphics cards on the market right now to reliably and efficiently play at a whopping 8K resolution without losing graphical fidelity.
Learn more about getting your hands on the NVIDIA GEFORCE RTX 3090.