best video card buyer's guide

If you're a PC gamer or HTPC enthusiast looking for the best graphics cards on the market at every price point, you've come to the right place! Our top 10 list profiles every card worth buying, starting at under $100 for a simple drop-in upgrade for older systems, through low-profile cards favored by Home Theater enthusiasts, and going up to the fastest gaming cards on the market!

For Summer 2020, Nvidia continues to dominate the ultra-high-end with its RTX 2000 series, which includes the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 Super, while the mainstream is locked up by its GTX 1660 Super GPU. But in the middle, where a lot of gamers tend to focus, AMD's Navi series of cards has knocked Nvidia's feet out from under it, offering better performance and higher efficiency at a lower price. That means the RX 5600 XT at $300 and RX 5700 XT at $400. Finally, gamers on a strict budget (i.e., under $200) should stick to AMD as well, where the older Radeon RX 580 8GB offers unbeaten value (although Nvidia still gets the nod for home theater PC use). And the newest addition to the guide is the low-profile GTX 1650, by far the best and fastest low-profile GPU ever released!

Of note, the GeForce RTX cards will soon be getting a major upgrade as Nvidia moves to its first new architecture in two years, code-named Ampere. We expect it will offer up 20-30% better performance per dollar. And it's at this point, just before a new GPU line arrives, that we always recommend buying Nvidia cards from EVGA, which offers an awesome 90-day step-up program allowing you to trade in your card for a new one within 90 days!

Prices shown in this guide use real-time pricing engines, so they are always up-to-date. Note that we also include country-specific links for our readers in Canada, the UK, and Germany. If you decide to purchase one of the cards we profile, please use the links we provide, which helps support continued development of this guide. And keep in mind that once you start throwing a lot of GPU power at existing systems, you'll quickly reach the limits of older CPUs, which are taxed more heavily at higher settings. Feel free to check out our Builder's Guides to get a sense of what we consider to be balanced systems in terms of CPU and GPU power. 

Video Cards - Summer 2020

  • Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GT 1030 2G LP OC

    Nvidia offers up some serious performance with the single-slot, low-profile GeForce GT 1030. While it isn't a big deal when it comes to gaming, it is a very big deal when it comes to HTPC use. And there's one simple reason: HDMI 2.0, which allows 4K/60Hz output for an excellent home theater experience. Note that anything less expensive than the GT 1030 at this point isn't worth buying, as it would be slower than the built-in video processing on most modern CPUs.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model also has a Displayport output, which is extremely rare in budget cards. It can drive a monitor at resolutions up to 4K, meaning this card can actually support dual 4K monitors!

  • Video Card:

    Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 OC Low Profile 4GB

    After a wait that felt like forever, a low-profile version of the GTX 1650 has finally arrived, and it absolutely blows away the previous best low-profile GPU, the GTX 1050 Ti, offering gaming performance that's a full 35% faster! And guess what else? It's cheaper too! Yes, indeed, if you're a low-profile PC fan, this is your dream come true - it's by far the fastest low-profile card ever released! Plus, it doesn't need additional power connectors, meaning it uses less than 75W at maximum load. That makes it a safe bet for just about any power supply. It's not the best value in terms of performance/dollar, but it's the only true gaming card that can fit where standard-sized cards can't!

    The Guru's Tip:

    A card like this isn't just good for gaming - it's also a fantastic addition to any low-profile Home Theater PC or content creation box, thanks to its HDMI 2.0 output and impressive application acceleration capabilities!

  • Video Card:

    Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 580 8GB

    Thanks to some very big price cuts, the RX 580 8GB is now our pick for the best bang-for-the-buck GPU on the market. Priced at well under $200 (at least when it's in stock!), it's the clear pick for anyone who wants to do serious gaming while sticking to a strict budget. And thanks to having 8GB of VRAM, it will be able to handle all the latest games without hitting a VRAM bottleneck.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This card trades blows with the newer GTX 1650 Super 4GB, but we strongly believe that for gaming, its 8GB of VRAM is a huge asset and will mean it continues to perform well for years to come, whereas a 4GB card will run out of steam in modern games due to lack of VRAM.

  • Video Card:

    MSI GeForce GTX 1660 Super Ventus XS OC

    Step up to a true gaming GPU with the GTX 1660 Super, which pulls well ahead of the RX 580 listed above. If you're willing to spend over $200 on a GPU, this is what you should buy! Just note that there are still many 1660 "non-Super" models floating around, and they are typically just $10-$20 cheaper despite being much slower.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This GPU in fact offers the best performance per dollar of any GPU in history!

  • Video Card:

    Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB

    Offering the best performance you can get for under $300, the RX 5600 XT 6GB is capable of driving nearly any game at resolutions up to 2560 x 1440.

    The Guru's Tip:

    When it's available, we always recommend Sapphire's Pulse model. It comes in at a decent size, yet has a very effective cooler.

  • Video Card:

    Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5700 XT

    It's a whole new world, and in the critical $300-$400 market, AMD is now king. Released in the Summer of 2019, the RX 5700 XT 8GB was simply leaps and bounds better than Nvidia's similarly-priced RTX 2060 6GB, and in fact could beat Nvidia's original RTX 2070 as well, truly flipping the mainstream market over to AMD. We also like that it offers 8GB of VRAM, which adds a whole lot of future-proofing.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Nvidia launched the RTX 2060 "Super" 8GB to counter the RX 5700 XT, but at over $400, it's just not worth it.

  • Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Super Black Gaming 8GB @EVGA

    The RTX 2070 Super 8GB blows past the original RTX 2070 by 15%, and in so doing also beats the former king-of-the-hill GTX 1080 Ti, still the benchmark by which many cards are judged. It truly delivers ultra-high-end performance at a mainstream price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    We highly recommend EVGA at this point, because it has a 90-day step-up program, allowing you to trade in your card within 90 days for a brand-new GPU, if one is released in that time. And rumor has it that Nvidia will have all-new GPUs arriving in the Fall!

  • Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super KO @Newegg

    The RTX 2080 Super 8GB is the card you want for true 4K gaming capability. It will easily drive any game on the market to 4K with all settings maxed out! The RTX 2080 Super is about 6% faster than the original RTX 2080, which isn't night and day, but the big deal is that it costs the same or less!

    The Guru's Tip:

    We highly recommend EVGA at this point, because it has a 90-day step-up program, allowing you to trade in your card within 90 days for a brand-new GPU, if one is released in that time. And rumor has it that Nvidia will have all-new GPUs arriving in the Fall!

  • Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Black Edition @EVGA

    If you want the ultimate gaming card, the RTX 2080 Ti is your only option! Beating the previous king-of-the-hill GTX 1080 Ti by more than 30%, it's capable of running any game today at 4K with max settings, and can even hold its own at 4K/120Hz, which is going to be the new standard to beat going forward!

    The Guru's Tip:

    And if you buy it direct from EVGA, you can get 5% off using Associate Code J45HKU1STKHTH3H.We highly recommend EVGA at this point, because it has a 90-day step-up program, allowing you to trade in your card within 90 days for a brand-new GPU, if one is released in that time. And rumor has it that Nvidia will have all-new GPUs arriving in the Fall!

  • Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti XC Hybrid

    OK, so if you actually need the fastest gaming setup in the world, what you want is dual liquid-cooled RTX 2080 Ti cards in SLI. Nothing can come close to the performance on tap here, even Nvidia's high-priced RTX Titan.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note to get SLI working on RTX cards, you need an NV-Link adapter. SLI adapters included with motherboards won't work. Most motherboards require a 3-slot adapter, but some will require a 4-slot model.