How to choose the best graphics card to play with

Best graphics card It is not always the most powerful, nor does it have to be the most expensive. I know the concept of the “best” sticks to the idea of ​​being above everything else, but most users prioritize value for money; H. Return per euro invested which is able to offer a specific graphics card.

It’s completely understandable, after all Not everyone can (or wants to) spend 1,549 euros to have the best graphics card on the market. That’s exactly what it costs, the GeForce RTX 3090, the most powerful graphics card currently available and the first to be developed to break into the world of gaming with 8K resolution.

By focusing on finding the best value for money, we can directly rule out the best performing graphics cards on the market, aka Top class models. These graphics cards usually offer a performance improvement of between 20% and 30% compared to the immediately previous model, but their price doubles, which means that their value per dollar invested is very poor.

Let’s go back to the previous example. The GeForce RTX 3090 costs 1,549 euros, but only average yields, between 15% and 20% more than the GeForce RTX 3080 in gaming (low pitch), a graphics card that is offered at a price 719 euros. You don’t need to do complex analysis to determine that the second is the best graphics card for value for money.

With this simple comparison we gave the necessary context to understand this idea Choosing the best graphics card, prioritizing value for money, a criterion that we should use as a starting point for any purchase in the technological world, as it usually allows us to make more balanced investments that we can make profitable with no effort.

Choose the best graphics card

How to choose the best graphics card to play with: preliminary considerations

We’ve already given you the basic starting point, value for money, but with this guide we want to Immerse yourself in all the keys This should generally guide the purchase of a new graphics card that, as stated in the title, will allow us to play current titles in optimal conditions.

First of all, there are three things that you should be clear about: What resolution will you play with, what budget do you have and what equipment will accompany your new graphics card. These are the other three pillars on which to base your decision as you obviously don’t need the same graphics card to play in 1080p as you do in 4K. If your budget is very low and the purchase is of no use, then there are certain tiers that you cannot fall back on. The best graphics card on the market if your PC can’t handle it.

We start with the resolution:

  • If you want to play in 1080pThe processor has a huge impact on the FPS rate and can limit the potential of your new graphics card if you are using a very old or weak model. Graphics cards between 150 and 200 euros allow us to have a good experience with this resolution.
  • If you want to play 1440the dependency on the processor is reduced, but still has a significant impact. In this case, graphics cards between 250 and 400 euros offer very good results and allow us to play with absolute fluidity without having to forego good graphics quality.
  • If you want to play in 2160pYou need to keep in mind that the processor has little impact but must meet the number of cores and threads required for each game. Otherwise problems will arise. At this level, we need a high-end graphics card in order to play with guarantees, which puts us in the range between 450 and 800 euros.

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As we can see, we have very wide price ranges. This makes decision-making more difficult, but at the same time is positive for the user means there are more options You can choose based on your budget. Speaking of the budget, we’ve indicated the tiers by which we can find graphics cards that are powerful enough to play with guarantees at each of these resolutions.

This means that We could use a graphics card of less than $ 200 to play in 1440pbut the experience it wouldn’t be quite optimalespecially in some demanding and / or poorly optimized games. For example, an RX 580 that costs less than 200 euros can move games in 1440p but cannot maintain the same graphics quality and fluidity as the GTX 1660 Super at around 219 euros. The same applies to other higher resolutions. So keep that in mind.

If your budget does not reach the recommended minimum that we indicated in the three previous points I recommend that you save a little more until you can access a suitable model for each of these resolutions. For now, we’re not going to go into specific recommendations as there are other key points that we need to cover, but don’t worry, we’ll address this point in the final section of this guide.

Before we close this section, we’ll talk about the equipment that will accompany our new acquisition. As I said, there is no point in assembling the best graphics card on the market when it is accompanied by an outdated processor, or if we have not enough RAM. Check the specifications of your PC, make sure there is room in your case to mount a new graphics card, and make sure that your devices meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Processor: Core i7 4770K or Ryzen 5 1500X (four cores and eight threads). Ideally you would have a Ryzen 5 3600 or a Core i5 10400.
  • R.A.M.: 8 GB, although the ideal would be to have 16 GB.
  • power supply– Make sure it has the power and amperage needed to move your new graphics card.

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If you do not meet these requirements, you should upgrade the components that are below these minimum requirements before purchasing a new graphics card. Remember that, as I said, you are buying a powerful 1080p graphics card and pairing it with an “old” processor like the Core i7-4770Knor it will prevent you from playing fluently, but the FPS rate you need it will be much lower compared to what you’d get with a Ryzen 5 3600 or a Core i5 10400, for example.

At 4K resolutions (2160p) this problem would be minimal since then The GPU takes on most of the workloadand the processor doesn’t have to work at the same pace (it’s more comfortable).

NVIDIA or AMD? A closer look

Both companies sell interesting graphics cards very competitive prices in different areas and price ranges. In order to (really) choose the best graphics card and get our purchase right, we need to forget about the preference for one brand or another and focus on the value that each company offers within the level that we are going to focus on. This level is determined by our budget and the resolution we want to play with.

Day after day, NVIDIA has the most powerful graphics cardsA reality that was reinforced with the introduction of the RTX 3080 and RTX 3090. It is also the one that offers the most advanced technologiess RTX 20 and RTX 30 series graphics cards have hardware for accelerating the ray tracing function and intelligent rescaling of DLSS 2.0 which, as we have seen in this article, produces fantastic results and fully supports the spectrum DirectX 12 Ultimate- Functions

These two keys have a clear consequence, and they are NVIDIA graphics cards offer a more interesting value from a technical point of view, Especially after confirming the industry giants’ support for the rescaling of DLSS 2.0 and the introduction of ray tracing on the next generation consoles, PS5 and Xbox Series X. In return, however, we have to pay a higher price.

AMD hasn’t been able to keep up with the top for the past two generations, but it has been able to rely on a strategy to focus on offer a good price-performance ratio which has worked quite well for him so far. Current graphics solutions can compete with NVIDIA’s upper mid-range models and are inexpensive, but lack advanced features that are widespread and represent the near-term future of the gaming world. makes it an option that is increasingly difficult to recommend. You compensate for these shortcomings with a lower price.

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Metro Exodus with global illumination through ray tracing. The result is fantastic.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. AMD completes the rollout of its new graphics cards based on the RDNA 2 architecture, due to be released on October 28th. As we told you in previous articles, this new line of graphics cards known as the Radeon RX 6000 is will have dedicated hardware to speed up the ray tracing functionit will use its own intelligent rescaling technology and deliver a significant leap in gross performance. It will also be fully compatible with DirectX 12 Ultimate.

In terms of efficiency, NVIDIA is still ahead, and this is also true for operating temperatures in most cases. If we focus on the drivers, AMD has improved a lot in that regard, so Some of your older graphics cards have seen a “second youth”. Thanks to the good support that Sunnyvale has given them at driver level.

In summary, For technology, performance, and efficiency, NVIDIA would be the best option right nown, but personally I recommend you wait a little Let’s see what AMD presents on October 28th. Everything seems to indicate that the Radeon RX 6000 is good value for money and comes very close to the NVIDIA RTX 3080.

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Death Stranding in 1440p with DLSS 2.0. Looks better than native 1440p and TAA.

Generation, specifications, graphics memory and other points to consider

We already have an interesting basis for choosing the best graphics card for gaming based on our needs and budget. So we are ready to go. on a more technical level.

NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards differ by generation and area. At the moment the first one on the market three great series:

  • GTX 16: They form the lower middle range and the economic middle range. They use the Turing architecture but do not have hardware ray tracing acceleration and do not support DLSS 2.0.
  • RTX 20: Shape the middle and top areas. Like the previous one, they use Turing architecture and have hardware ray tracing acceleration and DLSS 2.0 support.
  • RTX 30: You are at the top of the sector. They use the Ampere architecture, accelerate the hardware ray tracing function and support DLSS 2.1.

AMD, for its part, has overall two big lines of graphics cards:

  • RX 500: They shape the budget low-end and low-mid-range. These use the Polaris architecture and have no hardware ray tracing acceleration.
  • RX 5000: AMD covers the middle and middle range with this series. They use the RDNA architecture and have no acceleration of the hardware ray tracing function.
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The graphics quality settings can make a huge difference and affect the gaming experience.

Each series is designed to move optimally Games in different resolutions. So as not to make complicated comparisons, we can make a simple breakdown to help you make it clear which level to look at depending on your budget and the resolution you want to play.

When you go play in 1080p, the series GTX 16 and Radeon RX 500 You have to be your target point. For example, a GTX 1650 Super or a Radeon RX 580 can move any current game smoothly at this resolution with very high or maximum qualities and maintain a good level of fluidity.

In case you go to play in 1440you can fall back the top of the GTX 16 series, the base of the RTX 20 series or the RX 5000 series. With a GTX 1660 Super, for example, you can play in this resolution with high quality and good fluidity. However, it would be ideal to use an RTX 2060 or a Radeon RX 5600 XT.

Finally, if we want to play 2160p resolutionwe have to take a look the top of the RTX 20 series and the RX 5000 series. For example, a Radeon RX 5700 XT can provide a good experience at this high or very high quality resolution depending on the needs of each game, making it a good option when we are on a tight budget. If we want to play with maximum language competence in maximum quality, we should opt for an RTX 3080.

As we can see, the graphics card selection also means being clear What user experience do we want to enjoy? If we are satisfied with stable high and medium qualities of 30 FPS, we don’t have to make very heavy investments even if we are going to play in 4K. On the other hand, we have to scratch our pockets if we want to enjoy maximum quality and a stable 60 FPS.

This reality means that the best graphics card is not always the same for everyone. For example, a user who wants to move games in 1080p with a stable 30 FPS and high quality can choose one Radeon RX 570 4 GB, a very economical model that costs less than the 150 euros we set. The best graphics card for a user who wants to play in 1080p with maximum qualities and a stable 60 FPS in almost all cases should look for one 8 GB Radeon RX 580, the price of which is around 170 euros.

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The quality of the textures is one of the aspects that affects the graphics quality of a game the most, and it is also the setting that can consume the most graphics memory. When playing in 1080p, we should never go for a graphics card with less than 4GB of VRAM.

The same would happen in the remaining resolutions. Starting with a GTX 1660 Super, we can play at 1440p with guarantees, but when we get an RTX 2060 or a Radeon RX 5600 XT we get greater fluidity and, in the case of the first, hardware accelerated ray tracing and DLSS 2.0.

We have to take that into account too The processing quality can affect the value of the graphics cardHowever, especially in terms of cooling and maximum working temperatures, it is not worth investing in premium designs that force us to accept a price much higher than the reference design, especially if that price increase would allow us access to a higher model .

I don’t want to end this point without talking about graphic memory. There are many myths surrounding this point In fact, this was caused by misinterpretations of comparisons and analyzes that have revised the graphical memory usage of many current games.

We need to be aware that the fact that a game takes up 11GB of graphics memory doesn’t mean it really needs it. Let’s go with an example. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019 It’s running smoothly on a graphics card with 6 GB graphics memory (GTX 980 Ti) and on a graphics card with 10 GB graphics memory (RTX 3080), but the memory usage recorded in both is different.

When running Call of Duty Modern Warfare on the GTX 980 Ti at 1440p and maximum quality, the game is occupies almost all of the available graphics memory. With the same configuration, the graphics memory is used up when running on the RTX 3080 up to 9 GB. This is because the game is using as much graphics memory as possible preventive, that is, even if you don’t really need it.

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DOOM Eternal was consuming 6.6 GB of graphics memory at 1440p with high quality and maximum texture.

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If we configure everything to the maximum with this resolution, the memory consumption increases to 6.9 GB. We were able to play in 4K at maximum quality on an 8GB graphics card without any problems.

The conclusion you should draw from this is simple 8GB graphics cards They weren’t small and in the short term they won’t. These days, 4GB is enough to play in 1080p, although the ideal is to have at least 6GB in order to be able to maximize the textures in some games. With 6 GB we can play with guarantees in 1440p, and with 8 GB we can do the same in 2160p.

It is obviously that sooner or later we will experience a transition period And that games end up using more graphics memory, but being so happy to say that today’s games are already consuming 11 GB of graphics memory, is not true. You can consume this amount of memory if it is available as they act proactively (as if it were a cache). However, this does not mean that they will perform poorly with less graphics memory.

Final remarks: what is the best graphics card?

If you’ve read this entire article, you’ll have learned that There is no such thing as the absolute best graphics card, and this has an explanation: it is a component that depends on the needs and budget of each user. That’s why the best graphics card for me doesn’t have to be for you, it is that simple.

However, we can make a general selection of the best graphics cards based on its value for money This will serve as a starting point for determining which graphics card is best for you. To make this selection easier for you to interpret, we’ll take the lowest retail price we’ve found and divide it up according to the recommended resolution.

Best value graphics card for 1080p: 8GB RX 580

  • Polaris 20 graphics core.
  • 2,304 shaders.
  • GPU at 1,257 MHz – 1,386 MHz.
  • 144 texturing units.
  • 32 grid units.
  • 256-bit bus.
  • 8 GB GDDR5 effective at 8 GHz.
  • 185 watt TDP. Requires an 8-pin connector. We need a source with 27A and 500 watts.
  • Price: from 163.96 euros.

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Best price-performance graphics card for 1440p: GTX 1660 Super

  • TU116 graphics core at 12 nm.
  • 1,408 shaders at 1,530 MHz – 1,785 MHz.
  • 88 texturing units.
  • 48 grid units.
  • 192-bit bus.
  • 6 GB of effective 14 GHz GDDR6 memory.
  • 125 watt TDP, requires an additional 8-pin power connection and a 450 watt 24A supply.
  • Price: from 219.95 euros.

Best price-performance graphics card for 2160p: Radeon RX 5700 XT

  • Vega 10 graphics core.
  • 2,560 shaders.
  • GPU with 1,605 MHz base frequency, 1,755 MHz game mode and 1,905 MHz in turbo mode.
  • 160 texturing units.
  • 64 grid units.
  • 256-bit bus.
  • 8 GB GDDR6 at 14 GHz.
  • 225 watt TDP. Two power connections are required, a 6-pin and an 8-pin, as well as a 600 watt 34 A power supply.
  • Price: from 355.75 euros.
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