Best graphics cards 2018: the best GPUs for gaming
The first thing that most people probably think about when they’re trying to build the best gaming PC is buying the best graphics card. It makes sense, next to the best processors, the best graphics cards are going to be a huge determining factor when trying to play all the best PC games, or even if you’re trying to watch movies in 4K.
And, seeing how the best graphics cards are one of the easiest and most straightforward upgrades you can make to your PC, most people will upgrade their GPU every couple of years. So, whether you can’t quite hit that coveted 60fps benchmark anymore, or you just want to move up to a new resolution, the best graphics cards might be exactly what you need.
To help all of you navigate the mercurial GPU market, we’ve made this list of eight of the best graphics cards available right now. We approached this by picking out the graphics cards that truly stand out from the rest of the GPUs the TechRadar editorial staff has reviewed or tested over the last year. Whether you’re batting for Nvidia or AMD, want to play the hottest AAA games or just League of Legends – one of these best graphics cards is about to change your life.
Best graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
The best GPU to start PC gaming
Stream Processors: 1,280 | Core Clock: 1,506MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 8Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Per our previous explanation, the best graphics card is all about offering the most bang for your buck. As such, it’s our consensus that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 is unparalleled when it comes to sheer value. For a modest sum of cash, this graphics card affords players full HD 1080p and – perhaps with a bit of overclocking – 1440p and even 4K gaming. At the same time, however, the GTX 1060 doesn’t bear support for SLI, so you’re limited to just one card.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Titan X performance without the Titan X cost
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,480MHz | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 11GHz | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin; 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
While the Nvidia GTX 1060 might give you the most performance per dollar, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti the ultimate one punch upgrade to 4K gaming. While it might seem like only a slightly tuned up Nvidia GTX 1080, this graphics card almost dethrones the Titan Xp as the world’s most powerful GPU, thanks to high-speed video memory and a dramatically higher CUDA core count. It’s still no match for two GTX 1080s in SLI, but this single card is cheaper and supports a larger pool of games. If you’re looking for a single part to run your games at 4K, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti is the best graphics card to do it.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Best QHD graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
The all-around 1440p champion
Stream processors: 2,432 | Core clock: 1,607 | Memory: 8GB GDDR5 | Memory clock: 8Gbps | Power connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
Going down a few rungs in the graphics card hierarchy, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti is the best graphics card for QHD gaming. This card finds the happy medium between the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080. Whereas the 1080 is too expensive for 1440p gaming and the 1070 isn’t quite there, the GTX 1070 Ti perfectly drives a QHD experience. In our own testing, this piece of kit handles Forza Motosport 7 at upwards of 93 frames per second at 2,560 x 1,440. Likewise, it can manage Shadow of War at over 60 with the same ambitious resolution.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
Best Full HD graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
Punchy graphics performance above its weight
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,156MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 800MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is the best graphics card for Full HD gaming on the market right now. Our benchmarks prove it runs faster than the Nvidia GTX 1070 and, thanks to the Bitcoin mining craze, it’s also cheaper to boot. The Vega 56 is arguably a little bit overkill for Full HD gaming, but that’ll come in handy for 144-to-240hz monitors and future-proofing against increasingly demanding games. Users can also expect a great 1440p experience with this graphics card.
Best VR graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD’s return to high-end graphics cards
Stream Processors: 4,096 | Core Clock: 1,247MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 945MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
Moving on beyond traditional PC gaming, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 has all the brute computing power to handle physics-heavy VR gaming now and into the future. Sporting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, it’s every bit as capable as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and for a lower price no less. If nothing else, this is the AMD card to rule them all.
Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Stream processors: 3,584 | Core clock: 1,506 | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory clock: 10Gbps | Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x DL-DVI-D
When you’re building a microATX – or, especially a mini-ITX – computer, you want to aim for the smallest parts you can find without compromising much on performance. Though it’s a given that you might have to sacrifice a few frames-per-second in favor of a more compact form factor, with Zotac’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini – the smallest of its kind at 211 x 125 x 41mm (8.31 x 4.92 x 1.61 inches) – there’s very little in the way of prodigious 4K gaming.
Best budget graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
The little GPU that could
Stream Processors: 640 | Core Clock: 1,354MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
The Nvidia GTX 1050 might not look like much on paper, what with only 2GB of video memory onboard, but this affordable GPU plays games better than you would think. If you’re willing to drop settings to medium, you can play Overwatch, CS:GO and other popular competitive shooters well above the silky smooth 60fps mark. Thanks to its compact size, it’s also perfect for small builds and entertainment center-bound streaming PCs.
Best eSports graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Competitive for both eSports and in price
Stream Processors: 768 | Core Clock: 1,290MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
eSports games often demand high frame rates over beautifully rendered graphical details, and this is where the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti comes into its own. It’s an affordable but potent graphics card that can play most eSports games well above 60fps. It’s a tad more expensive than its lower-end Nvidia GTX 1050 brethren, but you’ll appreciate the extra legs on this card to play future eSports titles as well as the odd AAA game.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
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