Graphics Cards are always changing, and the entry fee for high-resolution gameplay has been steadily declining over the years. Now, it’s possible to experience 1080p gameplay with High to Ultra settings without spending that much. Things were not always like this, but as time goes on and graphics cards become faster, quieter and cooler, the price tag tends to reflect this.
Today, we’ll be rounding up this year’s current Graphics Card lineup between AMD and nVidia, taking a look at just how much you can get for your money from each manufacturer. This will not be an in-depth look at any of the featured cards, but it should give you an idea of how they perform. We also wish to disclose that the pricing on these cards reflects the current prices found on sites like Amazon and Newegg, and not the MSRP for these cards. Due to market shortages, influxes, and other happenings, the prices of these cards will shift dramatically from time to time.
Lastly, keep in mind that we will only be covering the current-gen cards from AMD and nVidia. Older generation cards have the potential to perform better, and they may even be cheaper depending on where you look, but many older cards are also no longer being manufactured and will soon become entirely unavailable once stock runs out.
Let’s get to it!
Best Gaming Graphic Cards 2017 For Roundup:
|RX 570||4GB/8GB||1168Mhz||1080p60 (High-Ultra)|
|GTX 1050 Ti||4GB||1290Mhz||1080p60 (High-Ultra)|
|RX 580||4GB/8GB||1257Mhz||1060p60 (Ultra)|
|GTX 1060||3GB/6GB||1506Mhz||1080p60 (Ultra)|
|GTX 1080||8GB||1607Mhz||1440p60 (Ultra)|
|GTX 1080 Ti||11GB||1582Mhz||1440p60 (Ultra)|
Budget Graphics Cards (<$200)
Budget cards, while not the most powerful of options available, can be a nice addition to cheaper and weaker PCs, helping to strike a balance among your other components. They certainly won’t be driving games to the max, but they also won’t leave you with performance similar to integrated graphics.
One thing to note though is that while it may be tempting to buy a card for $90 or $100, you’re likely going to lose out on a lot more than you gain. These cards are more suitable for HTPCs which simply require additional ports for displays, a little extra graphics horsepower, or something else of that nature. However, there is a nice sweet spot once you step up closer to the $200 range. This is where things become interesting.
AMD: RX 570
Coming in at just under $200, the RX 570 is a fantastic card from AMD for gamers on a tight budget. While not the most powerful of cards, the RX 570 is capable of driving modern games at High to Ultra settings while gaming at 1080p, and it can even hold its own in 1440p if settings are adjusted appropriately.
The card features 5.7 Billion transistors, comes in 4GB / 8GB variants and also has 2048 Stream Processors on board. For a more in-depth review, check out DigitalFoundry’s review.
One major downside to the RX 570 is its availability. Many manufacturers simply don’t have stock in right now, and the card is rather hard to come by.
nVidia: GTX 1050 Ti
Coming in from nVidia is the GTX 1050 Ti, a card that is surprisingly powerful for its price. While the card does run shockingly similar to the RX 570 in most titles (where developers didn’t favor one card in particular) the card can also be had for much cheaper. Though this is likely due to availability as mentioned previously, it still shines true as a fact. The 1050 Ti isn’t likely to set you back more than $140, which is a whopping $60 cheaper than the RX 570.
Once again, the card shows its true colors at 1080p, where it can run most modern titles at High to Ultra, with respect to some settings like AA, Render Distance and other demanding options. The card features 4GB of VRAM, 768 CUDA Cores, and a Base Clock of 1290Mhz.
For a more in-depth look at the GTX 1050 Ti, see LinusTechTips’ review.
Mid-Range Video Cards (<$300)
Mid-Range cards are where we begin to enter an interesting and exciting territory. Fewer compromises are made, more features generally become available, the cards can become much larger, and most importantly, they’re much faster.
As of now, the Mid-Range cards is where AMD finds its comfort. While nVidia generally continues to dominate the High-End market, AMD’s competition in this area is fierce. That isn’t to count nVidia out entirely, however.
AMD: RX 580
AMD’s premiere offering for the Mid-Range market is their RX 580, a refresh of last year’s RX 480. Though the cards are very similar, the RX 580 is faster, cooler and quieter by a slight margin. Where the RX 580 falls short though, is availability. The card, much like the RX 570, is practically sold out everywhere as of the time of this article.
That’s for a very good reason, however. The RX 580 is aggressively fast for its price point of $250 for the 8GB variant (If you can find one.) Dominating titles at 1080p and 1440p, the RX 580 makes very few compromises when it comes to gaming. Even moreso when and if the card is coupled with the Vulkan API. Easily slicing through 1080p titles at Ultra settings, the card is the perfect options for gamers intending to play at 1080p with Ultra settings, or 1440p with a mixture of High / Ultra.
Although it might not look like a different, faster card than the RX 570, featuring the same number of transistors and Stream Processors, I can assure you that is is a step or three above the card nearest to it.
If you don’t wish to take my word for it, feel free to check out Anandtech’s review, which also includes the RX 570.
nVidia: GTX 1060
Competing directly against the RX 480 / 580 is the GTX 1060 from nVidia. A card that comes in at just under $250 (for the 6GB variant — the 3GB variant is slower and not worth picking up compared to the RX 580 4GB) the card offers AMD some fierce competition. Similar to the battle fought by the 1050 Ti, the 1060 often finds itself landing within margin of error of the RX 580 in most titles, though both cards have found their own advantages through developers that favor one manufacturer over the other.
Similarly to the RX 580, the 1060 excels in gaming at 1080p and can hold its own in titles at 1440p. As expected, you’ll have to tune settings accordingly to ensure proper performance once you step up to 1440p, but for a majority of titles the card should perform admirably at both 1080p and 1440p.
The (6GB variant) card features 1280 CUDA Cores, and a Base Clock of 1506Mhz.
For more information about the GTX 1060, head on over to PCGamer’s review.
High-End Graphics Cards (<$500)
Now we’re talking.
High-End GPUs are where no compromises are made, you’ll be getting blistering-fast framerates, AIB (Add-in Board — Third-Party cards) manufacturers go all-out with their cooler designs, and you are offered a much wider variety of cards. With all this comes a hefty price tag, however.
Unfortunately, AMD currently does not have any modern competition at this price point. While they have fast cards like the Fury and Fury X, these cards are incredibly hard to come by and have begun phasing out manufacturing. What we do have, however, is RX Vega, which we’ll cover below.
AMD: RX Vega
RX Vega is AMD’s up-and-coming High-End GPU architecture, built from the ground up. Similar to their Ryzen CPU refresh, RX Vega is intended to bring AMD back into the premiere market, offering cards for enthusiasts and not just budget gamers. Little information is known about these cards, however, so there isn’t much more that we can say without speculating.
AMD’s RX Vega is slated to release sometime this summer.
nVidia: GTX 1080
The GTX 1080 is nVidia’s flagship card for their Pascal architecture. The card is insanely fast and leaves little headroom for improvement in gaming for the duration of this generation. While not the fastest card nVidia offers, the GTX 1080 received a price reduction once the 1080 Ti was released, bringing its price all the way down to $500. For that price, you’re getting a monster of a card.
The 1080 is a card designated for 1440p / 4K gaming and is in a league of its own in terms of speed. Leaving AMD in the dust entirely, the card absolutely demolishes titles, treating them as if they were child’s play to drive.
Depending on the titles you’re trying to play, the 1080 can even excel at 144hz gameplay at lower resolutions. Of course, by lower I mean 1440p, where the card hardly begins to break a sweat.
The card features 8GB of VRAM, a whopping 2560 Cuda Cores, and a Base Clock of 1607mhz.
If you wish to delve deeper into this monster of a card, consider taking a look at Anandtech’s review.
Enthusiast Graphics Card(s) ($500+)
Before we go any further, you might want to lock up your wallet in a safe space that is hard to access.
Reaching the pinnacle of consumer Graphics Cards, we’ve arrived at the peak of Graphics Horsepower for this generation. From here, the only way you can go upwards is by doubling your investment for lackluster return. These are the cards you dream about; the cards that make you question whether mankind is ready for such power.
Jokes aside, the Enthusiast tier of graphics cards is, unsurprisingly, dominated by nVidia. Right now, as AMD has no offerings in this tier either. We’re still hoping for RX Vega to be a huge success, and for AMD to spring back into what they used to be, but for now, all we can do is wait and hope.
nVidia: GTX 1080 Ti
To say the 1080 Ti is a fast card would be an understatement. Practically a slightly underclocked Titan XP, the 1080 Ti is tremendously fast, slicing through games at 4K as if it were just another resolution. One would hope so of course, as the GTX 1080 Ti comes in at a whopping $750.
To say buying a 1080 Ti si a good idea is a difficult task. The card is incredibly fast, powerful, and impressively quiet and cool, but its price tag just doesn’t sit well with many consumers. If you’re after the best of the best of this generation, you’d have to look at the newly-released Titan XP (not to be confused with the Titan X, which was named the Titan XP by the community, to differentiate the Pascal version from the Maxwell Titan X — okay, this is getting confusing.)
The 1080 Ti demonstrates just how impressive nVidia’s Pascal architecture is. The question shifts from “What games can this card run?” to “What games can give the 1080 Ti a good fight?” If your intention is to play at 1440p, you might want to actually look at the 1080, as the 1080 Ti really is intended for larger resolutions. It is an incredible card.
The 1080 Ti features an astonishing 3584 Cuda Cores, an incredible 11GB of VRAM, and a Base Clock of 1582Mhz.
To learn more about this feat of technology, consider watching LinusTechTips’ review.
Whether you’re a gamer on a tight budget, an enthusiast with money to spend, or someone simply looking for the most out of their dollar, both AMD and nVidia have many nice offerings at many different price brackets. We’ll surely be keeping a keen eye on AMD to see how their RX Vega performs, but in the meantime, nVidia has a stranglehold on the High-End and Enthusiast markets.
We may have left out a few cards, but the goal of this article was to gloss over the market as it is now, so that we have something to reflect back on some time from now. Cards like the GTX 1070 come in at a price that is too close to the GTX 1080 to be recommended, whereas cards like the Fury X from AMD are simply hard to come by, whether or not they’re great cards.
Now, this begs the question: what will this lineup look one year from now?