The best graphics cards are still the most important thing you can look at when you’re building a new PC in 2021, whether you’re looking to play the best PC games or create content. After all, these days, your GPU can accelerate pretty much everything you do on your PC, so pretty much every workload can find some benefit from a shiny new RTX 3080 in your PC.
Luckily, right now we’re right in the middle of the fiercest competition between AMD and Nvidia in years, so graphics cards are more powerful than ever before. So, whether you want to go with Team Red or Team Green, there’s a compelling option for you out there – if you can actually find one on store shelves.
Because we know buying a graphics card is a matter of speed and luck these days, we went ahead and gathered up the best graphics cards around right now, so you can quickly find the right one for your needs. Hey, the graphics card market is rough right now – you’re going to need all the help you can get, and we’ve got your back.
Best graphics cards at a glance
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
- AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
- AMD Radeon RX 5700
- AMD Radeon RX 6800
- Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 Super Mini
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
- PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC
Is AMD no longer the king of great value GPUs? The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti certainly threatens that claim with its price to performance ratio. The newest arrival in the RTX 3000 line, this graphics card punches way above its weight class, delivering a performance that could rival that of the RTX 2080 Super while keeping its price tag incredibly affordable for most people. And, that’s with impressive ray tracing included. 1080p gaming has never been this good and this affordable.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 4K gaming just became a lot more accessible. Before, you had to shell out more than $1,000/£1,000 to get playable framerates with the RTX 2080 Ti. However, with the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards, the price of 4K gaming has been cut nearly in half, thanks to the RTX 3080. It boasts one of the largest generational leaps in GPU history, delivering a 50-80% performance boost over the RTX 2080 and a 20-30% boost over the RTX 2080 Ti, all while keeping the same price point as the RTX 2080. This is both an absolute powerhouse of a graphics card and a great value, if you have a bit of extra cash lying around.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
You can’t beat the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 when it comes to performance. With a whopping 24GB of RAM, no game or, more importantly, heavy graphics project will suffer performance issues. In fact, you can even get some 8K performance at 60 fps out of the 3090. It is an incredibly expensive unit, and quite large too, so it will probably be too much GPU for most users. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is, in essence, a replacement for the Titan so it’s meant more for the creative user tackling intensive 3D and video rendering than for the avid gamer. Even so, it comes with a massive reduction in price compared to the Titan, even if it’s still out of most people’s budget.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
If you’re looking for the best graphics card out there for 1080p gaming, you might want to look into what the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT has to offer. This AMD card beats the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with its more affordable price tag, delivering high frame rates and plenty of software features while requiring less power. Sure, it doesn’t have the competition’s ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS), but for raw performance and value, AMD’s contender comes out the winner.
Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
The best graphics card on the market for most people, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 delivers excellent performance – on par with the RTX 2080 Ti even – without costing an arm and a leg. Before this card, 4K gaming was out of a lot of people’s budget. The RTX 3070, therefore, brings it to the mainstream for the first time, and that’s without you having to compromise on settings for most games. And did we mention the fact that this GPU is incredibly cheap? A cheap price tag plus 4K gaming on quality settings equals great value, and that’s why the RTX 3070 tops our list.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
This absolute behemoth of a graphics card is still basically brand new, and it’s already topping our list of the best graphics cards, booting former reigning champion and its direct rival, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060, off the top spot. At $349, this powerful mid-range card brings 1440p gaming at Ultra or Max settings to the masses, making it affordable and accessible to everyone. At that price point, it doesn’t need to be perfect – those looking for ray tracing will have to wait. But, for what it offers and how much it costs, it’s well-deserving of its title as the best graphics card of 2021 for most people.
Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 5700
If you think AMD is still stuck in the budget and mid-range markets, think again. The AMD Radeon RX 6800 marks AMD’s return to the high-end graphics card market, and it’s a premium ace without the incredibly premium price. This GPU delivers a solid 4K gaming performance and impressive ray tracing at 1440p, while being a better value than its direct rival, the RTX 3070, thanks to its VRAM. Plus, AMD’s Smart Access Memory technology will make it even faster.
Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 6800
Just because you’re putting together a microATX or mini-ITX gaming PC doesn’t mean you have to have a lightweight GPU. Zotac has made sure of that, allowing you access to Ray Tracing at a reasonably low price with their mini edition of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super. Since it is a smaller card, you will miss some features like SLI support, RGB lighting, and VirtualLink for VR. However, if you just want to get some excellent performance in a stripped-down GPU, then the Zotac GeForce RTX 2060 Super Mini more than fits the bill.
With all those fancy (read: expensive) graphics cards cornering the market, the budget-friendlier ones sometimes fly under the radar. That’s unfortunate, particularly since cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 deserve a spot in the limelight for delivering excellent 1080p performance at a very affordable price. With the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G, you’re also getting a healthy factory overclock and all the outputs you’ll ever need, so you can play all your favorite games with several monitors attached. We’d call that a bargain, maybe even the best we’ve ever had, and it certainly warrants a spot in our best graphics cards list.
Read the full review: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
When Nvidia first revealed its Turing lineup, it was hard to find a model that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Nonetheless, with the launch of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – especially the PNY XLR8 Gaming OC model – next-generation performance became accessible to everyone. You won’t have access to 4K 60 fps gaming with this card, but it’s one of the best graphics cards for anyone still using a 1080p display, and it can handle most esports games well above 60fps. At that resolution, you’ll have trouble running into any title that it can’t handle.
Read the full review: PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC
Michelle Rae Uy has also contributed to this article.