The graphics card is the star component in your gaming computer. Today we’ll look at the best graphics cards for gaming at various different price points so that you can get a good idea of the GPU that you’ll use to power your legendary gaming computer.
There is no component that has a bigger direct impact on your gaming experience than your video card will. And, if you’re looking to build a gaming computer in 2016 and you want to really take your gaming experience to the next level, then you definitely need to make sure you get yourself a high-end GPU.
A graphics card (or video card) basically acts like a second processor. However, the video card is only responsible for processing graphics-related tasks.
Therefore, having a high-end video card not only helps your system by improving the quality of visual effects that it can display, but also by relieving your main processor of the responsibility of having to carry out graphics-related tasks. This will give your computer a significant increase in performance.
When building a new gaming computer, you want to put a good portion of your budget towards getting the best video card possible. It’s generally recommended to put at least 20-30% of your total budget into your graphics card.
In this post, we will take a look at the best graphics cards for gaming in 2016 at various price ranges for different budget sizes. I’ve broken down the categories into four different graphics card tiers.
For each video card tier there’s a chart that breaks down the different options and then below a few of those cards are highlighted with an overview. There are definitely other worthy cards made by other manufacturers, but as I update this I try to find the card that’s going to offer the best price-to-performance. So, if a certain reputable manufacturer’s card is on sale when I update this list, then I’ll likely add their card.
The Tier 1 graphics cards comprise of the options you want to get if you have a high budget. While they are very expensive, these GPUs will allow you to max out most games on a 1440p monitor as well as allow you to play most games at 4K resolution.
And, with all of the power that they bring to the table, they will stay relevant for a long time coming.
So, if you’re looking for the best GPU for gaming, and you’re planning on using a 2560×1440 monitor for better visuals, then you need one of these cards.
For 4K gaming, these cards will get your feet in the door and the new GTX 1080 and 1070 can even be utilized as single-GPU solutions to maxing out most games at 4K resolution.
And, then you have the RX 480… a VR-ready, 4K-capable video card priced at around ~$240 (or, at least it should be when more become available and the demand isn’t so high.) The RX 480 is by far the best price-to-performance video card currently available and it will really help mainstream gamers hop into the higher levels of gaming (4K, 1440p/144Hz, and VR.)
TIER 1 GPUS (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)These Tier 2 GPUs bring a lot of performance to the table. While they aren’t as powerful as the Tier 1 video cards listed above, they aren’t that far behind either.
These graphics cards will easily max out any game on a 1920×1080 monitor and will even give you high-end performance on a 2560×1440 monitor in most games, as well as serve as entry-level graphics cards for 4K gaming.
The GTX 970 and R9 390 can actually serve as decent options for 4K gaming as well. And, both of those cards meet Oculus Rift’s minimum requirements, so they will work for an future VR setups as well.
Ultimately, though, if you don’t want to spend much over $300 but you are looking to get the best video card for the money, these cards will give you a ton of power.
TIER 2 GPUS (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)The Tier 3 GPUs are the sweet spot for gamers playing on a 1920×1080 monitor. These cards are powerful enough to max out pretty much any game at 1920×1080 resolution and they’re much more reasonable in price.
They will struggle with more demanding games at higher resolutions, but overall they are excellent options if you are sticking with a 1080p monitor.
Of the cards in this group, the GTX 950 is easily the best option. For under $150 it is capable of handling anything on a 1080p monitor. The other three options are excellent choices as well if you are trying to build a budget gaming PC.
Ultimately, though, the good news is that even though you don’t have a couple hundred or more to spend on getting the best graphics card available, these options serve as amazing entry-level graphics cards and they will allow you max out most games on a 1920×1080 monitor.
TIER 3 GPUS (CLICK ‘READ REVIEW’ TO EXPAND)
WHICH GRAPHICS CARD IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
This is not a list of every graphics card on the market. There are certainly quite a bit of lower tier video cards that can be had. However, a lot of them are comparable to the integrated graphics you can get on a newer CPU.
There’s also a good chance that AMD will come out with an R9 380X (update… it already has) and an R7 370X in the near future. And, I’m sure NVIDIA will come out with a GTX 950 Ti as well…
If so, look for those cards to be added to this list as they will definitely be worth considering if they fall in line with your budget.
In the end, the graphics card you choose for your gaming computer will be the biggest determining factor in what games you can play, at what resolution you can play them at, and how high you can turn up the settings.