The Best Video Cards for Gaming in 2014

Best Video Cards for Gaming

The video card is the star component in your gaming computer. Today we’ll look at the best video 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 2014 and you want to really take your gaming experience to the next level, then you definitely need to make sure you get yourself a solid video card.

A 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 your video card. It’s generally recommended to put at least 20-30% of your total budget into your video card.

In this post, we will take a look at the best video cards for gaming in 2014 at various price ranges for different budget sizes. I’ve broken down the categories into four different video 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.

More From This Series:

TIER 1BEST VIDEO CARDS

The Tier 1 video card comprise of the video cards you want to get if you have a high budget. While they are very expensive, these video cards will allow you to max out most games on a 2560×1440 monitor.

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 of the best, 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, but to play on max settings, you’ll want to consider running at least two of these cards in SLI or CrossFire configuration.

Tier 1 Video Card Comparison Chart

Picture Video Card Core  VRAM PSU +12V Price
Gigabyte GTX 980 1126 MHz 4GB 500W ?? Hover
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 1165 MHz 4GB 500W ?? Hover
Gigabyte R9 290X 1040 MHz 4GB 600W 33A Hover
PowerColor R9 290 1040 MHz 4GB 550W 31A Hover

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 4GB ($320-$350)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

It’s that time of year again… where we have to pass the crown from one GPU to the next. This year, we see the GTX 780 Ti give way to the GTX 980.

With NVIDIA’s release of its new Maxwell GPUs (the GTX 980 and GTX 970) we get a look into the future of video cards. The initial impression shows that these cards are going to bring optimal performance with less powered consumed than in previous generations and at very affordable prices.

Most benchmarks show the GTX 980 competing with and even surpassing the GTX 780 Ti in most cases… and that’s all for $50-$100 cheaper than the 780 Ti.

Ultimately, the GTX 980 will allow you to max out anything on a 2560×1440 monitor and it will even serve as a good entry point into 4K gaming.

So, if you have a huge budget, and you want to run games on higher resolutions, then get the GTX 980.

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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Specs

  • DirectX 11
  • NVIDA PhysX Technology
  • NVIDIA 3D Technlogy
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology
  • NVIDIA GPU Boost
  • NVIDIA Surround (Play on up to four monitors)
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • 4GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From tntgdh on Amazon:

All reviews show this board beating the 780 Ti by 10%, and everybody knows that the 780 Ti is stronger than the Titan.

From Michael L. on Newegg:

This card is very fast. I upgraded a i7 4770k system from a 780 to this 980. On 3d Mark it went from better than 83% of other computers to better than 93% of other computers.


EVGA GeForce GTX 970 4GB ($330-$350)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

Perhaps even more intriguing than the GTX 980 is the GTX 970. Now, while the GTX 980 is clearly superior in performance, the GTX 970 can match the GTX 780 Ti in many settings and comes it around $300 less.

So, in essence, you can run two GTX 970s for the price of a single GTX 780 Ti. And, since the power consumption on the new Maxwell GPUs have been vastly improved, it makes SLIing two 970s a lot more doable.

Even if you don’t want to run dual 970s and prefer a single GPU setup, the 970 still offers incredible value at around the ~$350 range. If you have a moderate budget (and not an enormous one), this is the card to get.

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EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Specs

  • DirectX 11
  • ACX Cooling
  • NVIDA PhysX Technology
  • NVIDIA 3D Technlogy
  • NVIDIA Surround (Play on up to four monitors)
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • 4GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From Timothy Milligan on Amazon:

As for performance and noise, its a great card. I came from a GTX 780 and my Firestrike score increased roughly 16% stock for stock. At $329.99, this card is an incredible value. It not only runs cooler than the 780, but its nearly $100 cheaper than the cheapest GTX 780 on the market right now. The low energy consumption also makes this a great card for SLI without having to purchase a huge PSU.

From Ralph Hardy on Amazon:

These are a much better buy than the 980’s at the current price point. It will play all the games I throw at it at max settings and not even blink.


Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X 4GB ($490-$510)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

While the GTX 780 Ti outperforms the R9 290X in most benchmarks, the performance difference is marginal. So, if you’re looking for the better deal, then you might want to look at Gigabyte’s R9 290X.

For just under $500, you pay nearly $100 less for very similar performance to the GTX 780 Ti. That’s a very good deal for AMD’s top single GPU video card.

Ultimately, the R9 290X is a great option for anyone looking to build a high-end gaming computer. It will max out any game you throw at it on 1080p and 1440p and it will even serve as an entry-level card for 4K gaming.

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Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X Specs

  • DirectX 11
  • Windforce Cooling
  • AMD CrossFire Compatible
  • AMD Eyefinity Compatible
  • AMD Mantle
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • 4GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From Wei Z. on Amazon:

I picked this up after the recent price drop in AMD cards. I picked one reference card which was loud like jet airplant. I also saw other bad reivews on this, so I was a little hesitant. Switching from NVIDIA(Upgraded from Gigabyte GTX 770 Windforce, Gigabyte windforce Fan) to AMD was easy, and I haven’t had any driver problems others had since I did new install of windows 7 64 bit and AMD 14.4 whql driver. The card can max out Thief at 1080p, stay cool, and keep the framerate buttery. Runs bf4 on ultra around 110fps when Mantle enabled. Gets around 73c after gaming for a few hours. Experienced a 20+Fps improvement in all games from GTX770.

From william dauk on Amazon:

I upgraded from a crossfire setup using 2 7870’s (msi’s twinfrozr OC). I wanted to have a single card cause i was getting sick of the crap you have to do with when using crossfire. This card easily matches and in most cases out performs my previous setup. I have it overclocked 1150 core 1450mem and I have never seen it go above 85C. The card is quite heavy, so make sure you secure it in your case or it might break something.


TIER 2BEST VIDEO CARDS

These Tier 2 video cards 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 video cards will easily max out any game on a 1920×1080 monitor and will even give you high-end performance on 1 2560×1440 monitor in most games.

So, if you don’t have an unlimited budget, but you are looking to get a high-end video card, these cards will give you a ton of power.

Tier 2 Video Card Comparison Chart

Picture Video Card Core  VRAM PSU +12V Price
MSI GeForce GTX 770 1137 MHz 2GB 600W 42A Hover
Sapphire R9 280X 1070 MHz 3GB 550W 30A Hover
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 980 MHz 2GB 500W 30A Hover
Sapphire Radeon R9 280 850 MHz 3GB 550W 30A Hover

MSI GeForce GTX 770 SC 2GB ($290-$310)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

The NVIDIA 700 series of video cards sports the refreshed version of the Kepler architecture and is noticeably faster than the previous series of cards.

And, if you’re looking for a high-end video card just below $300 the MSI GeForce GTX 770 SC is a great option for you.

With all of the graphics processing power you could ever need, the GTX 770 is the perfect point between high-performance and somewhat reasonable spending. And it’s a great card to build a brand new gaming computer around.

It’s a tough decision when deciding between the GTX 770 and the R9 280X, especially since the price of AMD’s cards have come back down to normal.

In any case, if you’re looking for top of the line, then the GTX 770 is definitely a solid option.

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MSI GeForce GTX 770 SC Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • NVIDA PhysX Technology
  • NVIDIA 3D Technlogy
  • NVIDIA CUDA Technology
  • NVIDIA GPU Boost
  • NVIDIA Surround (Play on up to four monitors)
  • Kepler Technology
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • 3GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From Richard L on Amazon:

When you are paying a premium, you have high expectations and this card did not let me down. The performance upgrade I got from this MSI GTX 770 over my Radeon 6850 has been staggering, not incremental. It is extremely quiet. I have my desktop case on my desk and I can barely hear it when playing games—games like Hitman Absolution maxed out at 60 fps.

From Aaron on Amazon:

What a great video card this is. I never worry about the temps of the card even when it is 100 degrees outside with no air conditioning in my house. This can easily run most games on their highest settings. It is also very quiet… My entire rig is pretty silent even when cranked up to its highest.


Sapphire Radeon R9 280X 3GB ($270-300)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

Now that AMD’s prices have come back to earth, the R9 280X is yet again a very attractive option in the $250 to $300 range.

The Sapphire Radeon R9 280X is currently the best deal, coming in at below $300. That’s nearly $30 less than the cheapest GTX 770 on Amazon–a card that the R9 280X trades blows with performance-wise.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a card in the ~$300 range, you definitely can’t go wrong with an R9 280X.

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Sapphire Radeon R9 280X Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • Dual-X Cooling
  • Incredible deal compared to similarly priced cards
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • 3GB 384-bit Dedicated Memory
  • Eyefinity compatible

Customer Reviews

From Jedijo on Amazon:

I have been gaming since 1999 and this is only my 2nd AMD card but this was an amazing surprise from a power stability point of view. I would recommend it for sure.
On a last note – this card is massive – way bigger than my GTX660.

From Levman05 on Amazon:

Great graphics and a great price for a card with the new GPU and 3 gig of DDR 5 ram. It’s a Asus and I have had great luck with there motherboards, sound cards, and video cards!


Sapphire R9 280 ($200-$230)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

Now that the the coin mining craze has ceased to make AMD graphics cards ridiculously priced, AMD’s R9 series of cards present excellent value. And,  in my opinion, the R9 280 is the best price-to-performance video card currently on the market.

At ~$210 the Sapphire R9 280 is very affordable for the performance it delivers.

The R9 280 will not only be able to handle anything on a standard 1920×1080 monitor, but it will also allow you to max out most games on a 2560×1440 monitor.

So, if you’re looking to make the switch to a higher resolution monitor and you want an affordable, but powerful, video card, then an R9 280 is probably exactly what you’re looking for.

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Sapphire R9 280 Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • Dual-X Cooler
  • Will Max Out Any Game on 1920×1080 Resolution
  • Can Handle Many Games on 2560×1440 Resolution
  • CrossFireXCapable
  • 3 GB 384-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From Bron B on Newegg:

Runs every game I have on max settings, it runs super cool in my case, this is not a power hungry card, it was drawing under a volt from the PSU, Do not worry about running BF4 on ultra, this card can handle it.
The fans go SILENT when the card is not under load.

From William C on Newegg:

This is one of the best deals going as I got the card for $209 .. cooling is very good and it overclocks to the XFX DD 280 speeds very easy with Trixx as I set it to 10% board power and made gpu clock 1005mhz and memory clock is 1301mhz ..Heaven 4.0 got it up to 66c with these clocks speeds and i’m sure it will go higher!


TIER 3BEST VIDEO CARDS

The Tier 3 video cards 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.

So, if you have a more moderate budget, these cards are the perfect options for you.

Tier 3 Video Card Comparison Chart

Picture Video Card Core  VRAM PSU +12V Price
MSI GeForce GTX 660 1033 MHz 2GB 450W 24A Hover
Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X 1050 MHz 2GB 500W 24A Hover
ASUS R9 270 975 MHz 2GB 500W 24A Hover

Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X ($170-$190)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

AMD’s R9 series of cards is back down to normal levels now after the coin mining craze has stopped impacting video card prices. Right now, the Gigabyte Radeon R9 270X is sitting at $190 with a $10 MIR on Amazon.

In terms of performance, the R9 270X is a very capable card. On a 1920×1080 resolution there aren’t too many games that the 270X won’t be able to handle.

So, if you’re looking for a solid video card for under $200, then the Gigabyte R9 270X might be your best bet. Though, if you can stretch your budget to an R9 280, or GTX 760, it would be worth it.

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Gigabyte R9 270X Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • AMD Eyefinity Compatible
  • AMD PowerTune
  • AMD ZeroCore Power
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • CrossFireX Capable
  • 2GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From Timothy M. on Amazon:

Get this card and wait for the next line of graphics cards and then upgrade to another new mid range GPU. My ‘ philosophy ‘ is that you should always get mid range PC parts. As long as they get you 40+ FPS at high-ultra settings in all games, they’re good. No point getting a really high end GPU just to show off. Well of course if you play on multiple monitors or at a higher resolution than 1920 x 1080 , a higher end GPU would be recommended.

From Jason Wolford on Amazon:

I have to say as a die hard Nvidia guy for the past 13 years I was getting tired of my friends using single AMD cards and out performing my Dual Nvidia cards. So I have officially jumped ship to the AMD world. Out of the box the card was easy to install took about 3 mins. Had the drivers installed in about 5 mins. After a reboot AMD gaming app found BF4 configured the video and I was in my Apache making life hard on people with in 15 mins of opening the box. AMD has done there homework and now I am a believer in AMD. The crazy thing is this is a mid range card that was super cheap and easy. I was really surprise how simple and easy the replacement was.


TIER 4BEST VIDEO CARDS

Tier 4 video cards aren’t ideal, but they still offer really good performance for the price. In fact, these video cards can max out a lot of games on a 1920×1080 monitor.

They may not allow you to turn on all the eye-candy settings in the more demanding games, but if you’re looking for a nice budget video card, these are definitely good options.

Ultimately, they’ll allow you to play all of the games you want to play on medium-to-high settings.

Tier 4 Video Card Comparison Chart

Picture Video Card Core  VRAM PSU +12V Price
Sapphire Radeon R7 265 900MHz 2GB 500W 21A Hover
EVGA GeForce GTX 750Ti SC 1176 MHz 2GB 400W 20A Hover
GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 650 Ti OC 1032 MHz 1GB 400W 20A Hover
MSI Radeon R7 260X OC 1175 MHz 2GB 450W 19A Hover
Gigabyte Radeon HD 7790 1075 MHz 1GB 500W 21A Hover

Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB ($150-$160)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

AMD has done a good job mitigating the inflated prices of their cards due to the crypto miners. They’ve come out with a couple of new additions (the R9 280 and the R7 265) to help provide more options for their gaming customers.

The R7 265 is a very solid video card option in the $150 range. In most benchmarks, the R7 265 outperforms NVIDIA’s GTX 750 ti. And, if you’re playing Mantle-friendly titles like Battlefield 4, the performance difference is even more clear.

So, ultimately, if you’re looking for a solid budget-friendly video card, the R7 265 is a very excellent option at around $150.

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Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • AMD Eyefinity Compatible
  • AMD PowerTune
  • AMD ZeroCore Power
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • CrossFireX Capable
  • 2GB 256-bit Dedicated Memory

Customer Reviews

From David K. on Newegg:

I’m upgrading from a Sapphire HD4670 so this card is HUGE in comparison. Only game i really play is WOW at 1400×900 resolution getting 90-100 FPS at Ultra settings. I don’t mine so can’t help ya there. Paired up with my Phenom ii x4 965 at 3.8GHZ.

From Anonymous on Newegg:

Upgraded to this card from a Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. I figured the performance increase would be minimal but boy was i wrong. I went from playing Titanfall on med some high settings to max across the board! This card wipes the floor with Nvidia’s new 750ti just check the online vs test.


EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti SC ($150-$160)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

The GTX 750 Ti is part of NVIDIA’s initial release of their new Maxwell architecture. Although initial benchmarks show that the 750 Ti doesn’t give a significant performance increase over the 650 Ti, the 750 Ti offers incredible power efficiency.

In the table above I posted EVGA’s recommended power requirements of a 400W PSU with at least 20A on the +12V rail. This number is actually a lot higher than is necessary. Considering that the 750 Ti doesn’t even require a PCIe connection from the PSU and will run solely off of the power from the PCI slot, you can pair this with a power supply that you normally wouldn’t consider for a gaming PC (thus saving you money).

This improved power consumption also makes the 750 Ti a great choice for gamers who want to upgrade their video card, but who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, due to their lower-end PSU.

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EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti SC Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • G-Sync Support
  • SC Edition for Better Performance
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • SLI Capable
  • 2GB GDDR5 Memory

Customer Reviews

From Ahsan on Amazon:

If you want to play modern titles on 1080p on a single monitor (games such as: Battlefield 4, Titanfall, COD: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag, Skyrim, The Witcher 2, etc.) this is by far the best graphics card to buy at the moment.

From Michele M. Wolford on Amazon:

2x better than the GTX 645 that came in my Alienware x51 also runs cooler and quieter. Very happy, cant wait to see future driver updates


Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti ($130-$150)
(Prices fluctuate–check here for current pricing)

The GTX 650 Ti is perhaps one of the best price-to-performance cards on the market. With a price consistently around ~$150 or lower, the GTX 650 Ti is capable of maxing out most games on a 1920×1080 monitor.

And, with AMD’s prices fluctuating like crazy due to BitCoin miners buying their cards like crazy, the 650 Ti is probably the best option in the price range.

In any case, if you’re looking for a solid budget card, the GTX 650 Ti will get the job done and then some.

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Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650 Ti Benefits

  • DirectX 11
  • WINDFORCE Cooling
  • OC Edition for Better Performance
  • PCIe 3.0 Compatible
  • SLI Capable
  • 2GB GDDR5 Memory

Customer Reviews

From Amazon Review Dude on Amazon:

I purchased this because of the small form-factor to use in a mini-ITX build. It works fantastically for that purpose. I haven’t had any heat problems with it, even given the cramped quarters in the small case.

From Michele M. Wolford on Amazon:

This is a great video card, the graphics are excellent for gaming as well as videos. The prices are fantastic for what you get, and the shipping was lightning fast. Over all this is an great buy, well worth the money I paid.


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Comments

  1. Michael Stuart says

    I just wanted to first say that this is a great list of great GPUs. Now I would like to ask, where does the R9 295X fit in all of this. I ask this mainly for the reason that the R9 295X has dropped $500. I know that it isn’t a single GPU, but it still is a one piece GPU with water cooling.

  2. Johnny says

    Can someone please leave a link to the HD 7970, I’m new into building PC’s and am interested in this card over the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC 2GB. I’ve looked for it over google but I always find different results.

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