The main advantage of owning a gaming PC, in comparison to a gaming console or laptop, is that it can last for years while being up to date. All you need to do is swap out old parts and replace them with new ones from time to time. An essential component of a gaming PC that needs to be swapped every few years or so is the GPU.
A Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is the heart and soul of a gaming PC. A GPU is somewhat similar to a CPU as it has its own processor and RAM. However, instead of processing everything, a GPU, as the name suggests, is responsible only for the processing of the graphics in a video game (or 3D modeling and video editing, if you’re into that kind of stuff).
Why a Budget Graphics Card?
Choosing the perfect GPU for your gaming PC build is a crucial yet tedious task since it is the component solely responsible for bringing your games to life. However, a GPU often tends to be expensive. A GPU tends to be the most costly component of a gaming PC. So, it is essential to choose a suitable graphics card that will be able to do all the heavy lifting for your games while not being a heavy burden on your pocket at the same time.
To help you find the perfect GPU within your budget, we have come up with this guide. With the demand for new GPUs such as GTX 2080 Ti, the prices of the older GPU models have witnessed a fall. However, these (rather) older GPUs can deliver excellent performance at an affordable price.
Which are the Best Budget GPUs?
1. ASUS GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- New nvidia pascal architecture delivers improved performance and power...
- Classic and modern games at 1080p @ 60 fps
- Fast, smooth, power efficient gaming experiences; Memory clock: 7008 mhz
- Plug and play design requires no pcie power connectors for easy graphics upgrade
The GTX 1050 Ti series might not be the best graphics card in class, but it certainly gives you the best value for money. It works pretty well for 1080p gaming, especially older titles.
This graphics card is an excellent choice if you're not a serious gamer and only need a GPU for media purposes. It's also a decent option if you're looking to upgrade your current card on a whim. When you factor in its price point, the GTX 1050 Ti is an absolute bargain.
2. ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC Edition 4GB
- New NVIDIA Pascal architecture delivers improved performance and power...
- Classic and modern games at 1080p @ 60 FPS
- Compatible operating systems : Win 7 / 8 / 8.1 64 bits , Win 10 64 bits and...
- Display outputs DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI, 4GB 128-bit GDDR5
The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti presents the best value for the money you’ll spend on a GPU as it features 4GB of GDDR5 ram and will cost you around $170-$180. The successor to the GTX 1050, The GTX 1050 Ti can handle everything you got while maintaining above 30 Frames Per Second constantly.
It benchmarks Fortnite at 70 FPS on ultra settings and around 40 FPS on medium settings in games like GTA V and The Witcher 3. GTX 1050 Ti consumes 75W power.
3. ASUS Radeon RX 580
- 1380MHZ GPU Boost Clock for outstanding gaming experience
- AMD Radeon VR Ready Premium with dual HDMI 2.0 ports to simultaneously connect...
- Dual-fan cooling provides doubled airflow for 3x quieter gameplay
- GPU Tweak II makes monitoring performance and streaming easier than ever.
The ASUS AMD Radeon RX 580 4GB is the AMD competitor and rival of-of GTX 1050 Ti concerning price, as you can get it for around $200. Regarding performance, the ASUS AMD Radeon RX 580 outperforms Nvidia’s GTX 1060 3GB but is not as powerful as Nvidia’s GTX 1060 4GB.
The AMD Radeon RX 580 features the perfect blend of performance and budget that budget gamers are looking out for. The 4GB VRAM is sufficient to run all your favorite new titles smoothly and in legible settings.
It’s worth noting that the Radeon RX 580 utilizes 150W of power, double as compared to the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. So you may have to spend a bit more when choosing a power supply unit.
4. ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
- 1809 MHz boost Clock (OC mode) with 6GB GDDR5;NVIDIA ANSEL for a revolutionary...
- Dual-fan cooling provides double airflow for 3x quieter gameplay
- Vr ready with dual HDMI 2.0 ports to simultaneously connect headset & monitor
- GPU TWEAK II makes monitoring performance and streaming easier than ever,...
The GeForce GTX 1060 6GB is towards the ‘expensive’ spectrum of Budget GPUs, priced at around $250-$280. However, it packs serious power and performance for the price it demands.
6GB of VRAM is more than sufficient to offer you 60+ FPS on high settings in games like The Witcher 3 and GTA V. You can easily expect over 100 FPS in Fortnite. The best feature that this expensive ‘budget’ GPU offers you is the fact that it is a VR Ready GPU.
5. Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 570 8GB
- 2 x HDMI; 2 x DP; 1 x DVI-D
- Gpu: 1284 MHz Boost Engine Clock
- Memory: 1750 MHz, 7000 MHz Effective
Sapphire’s AMD RX 570 is indeed not a budget GPU. However, when you take a look at the 8GB VRAM, the raw power that resides within it, the $300-ish price tag is not too high. It is an instead “premium” budget GPU
The AMD RX 570 is the GPU you purchase when you want to play all the latest video games on high settings with 60+ FPS. The AMD RX 570 purchase when you don’t want to look at minimum requirements anymore as you are sure your gaming rig can run it smoothly.
This “budget” GPU will demand a significant investment in money terms. However, it will future-proof your gaming PC for at least the next 3-4 years.
6. AMD Radeon RX 5700
- 8GB 256-Bit GDDR6
- Core Clock 1690 MHz Boost Clock 1945 MHz
- 2560 Stream Processors
The Radeon RX 5700 is arguably as good as it gets when it comes to budget graphics cards. It can support up to 1440p gaming on Max or Ultra Settings, which makes it virtually a mid-range graphics card.
However, some trade-off have had to be made for the card to be affordable. This card does not feature ray tracing, so it might not be suitable if you want to stream or film your gameplay.
7. Nvidia GeForce GT 1030-2GB
- 【High Speed】: 2G GDDR5 video memory with up to 6 Gbps speed ensure a smooth...
- 【Stay Cool】: Wide aluminum fin-stack array heatsink extracts more heat and...
- 【Low Power Consumption】: No external power supply, about 30W full-load power...
- 【Low Profile Design】: 7.16*4.41*1.38" size even compatible with ITX case....
The Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 is the cheapest GPU on this list. You can easily score one of these bad boys for under $100. The chances are that you might have never even heard of this tiny GPU, as it is more often than not suppressed by its ‘slightly powerful yet ever so expensive’ elder siblings.
The Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 can handle almost any game you throw upon it, although definitely not on max and doubtfully even on medium. The GPU features a minuscule physical profile which will allow you to fit it even in compact cases. The Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 is environment-friendly as well since it draws just 30W.
With a mere 2GB of VRAM, the Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 is not for serious gamers and is not a GPU you would like to upgrade to. However, it's a perfect piece for those who are looking forward to their debut in the world of gaming PC.
Factors to Consider in the Best Budget Graphics Card
1. GPU Model
GPU model determines the graphics card performance and compatibility with the current generation of software and games. The GPU model is typically mentioned in the name of the card. From this, you can tell both the card's generations as well as its model series in the generation.
On this account, AMD makes RX cards whereas Nvidia makes GT and GTX cards. To say on top of the game, always go for the latest GPU generation within your budget.
2. CUDA Cores
CUDA cores work just like cores in a CPU. These are physical processing units that compute video data and deliver images on your display. As with a CPU, the more CUDA cores a GPU has, the after it processes video data, and therefore, the more powerful and faster the card is.
There's a significant difference in CUDA-core count between budge and premium graphics card. Its important to check what performance you expect from a card before deciding whether to buy it or not.
VRAM is essentially RAM for a graphics card. It stores video data on a dedicated VRAM capacity and moves it to the card for further processing. The higher the VRAM, the more video data the graphics card can store at once, making it faster with more reliable performance.
Furthermore, a high VRAM also gives you a lag-free gaming experience. For a budget graphics card, you are ideally looking at up to 8GB VRAM with relatively high clock speeds.
From slowest to faster, VRAM types rank as follows: GDDR5, GDDR5X, GDDR6 to HBM2. Different VRAM capabilities work best with different resolutions:
- 2GB - 720p and 1080p
- 4GB - 1080p and 1440p
- 6GB - 1440p and VR: 4K reguires GDDR6 or higher.
- 8GB - 1440p, VR and 4K
Generally, if you come across with two versions of the same card where one version has more VRAM, go with that one. It futureproofs your system just a tad bit more.
You can find out more about to improve your VRAM for better graphical performance here.
4. Resolution and FPS
GPU performance mainly involves its resolution and framerate (FPS). However, both elements are also affected by your display. Most displays can display only up to 60 FPS or 60Hz.
The best budget graphics cards work best with 720p and 900p (HD). However, you can still find good options on the GPU market that support 1080p (Full HD): This delivers the best performance on a TV, but looks okay on a monitor. That said, the higher the resolution your preferred graphics card can match, the better.
5. Power Consumption
A graphics card requires a significant amount of power to operate. However, most cheap graphics cards consume less than 100 watts, so you don't need to worry too much about your power consumption. You should ensure that your power supply unit (PSU) can supply sufficient power if you get a graphics card with a power requirement higher than 100 watts.
Remember, an underpowered graphics card won't work at optimum level. You'll then have to contend with glitches, crashes and other malformations while using the PC. But it's also worth pointing out that the better the performance of the card, the more likely it is to have high power needs.
6. Cooling Systems
Cooling systems are an essential component of any graphics card. The prevent the card from overheating, allowing you to play games for longer periods without malfunctions.
Look out for GPUs with low TDP numbers as this means you'll need less power to run the card safely. It reduces the need for cooling fans, meaning your computer is also less noisy. Fortunately, the latest budget graphics cards come with sufficient cooling systems for your average and avid gamer.
What Makes a Good Budget Graphics Card?
- Price - It goes without saying that a budget graphics card should be affordable.
- GPU Quality - Depends on the series and model of the card you choose.
- Bandwidth over Memory - While more RAM is always better, more bandwidth is preferable. The standard bit rates are 64-bit and 128-bit.
- Cooler TDP Values - The lower the TDP values, the less power needed to keep the card ar a safe operating temperature.
Ultimately, what makes a good budget graphics card depends on your needs and preferences. Therefore, you need to consider what features you cannot do without and those that are added bonuses to find suitable option.
Frequently Asked Questions on Graphics Cards
1. Which is better? Nvidia or AMD? -str
Nvidia Geforce graphics cards are usually more superior to AMD graphics cards. Nvidia cards have features such as G-Sync, DLSS, NVENC and Refelx that performs better than those on AMD cards. However, better frame rates means Nvidia cards are also more expensive.
2. Which is better? GTX or RTX?
Generally, the GTX series has better performance than the RTX. That said, it also tends to cost more.
3. What is the best card for 1440p 144Hz?
Playing games at 1440p 144Hz requires tops specs and hardware interface. That also men's you need a graphic card with a high clock speed. Therefore, a budget graphics card might not be the best option for dedicated gaming laptops or PCs.
4. Is ray tracing worth it?
If you're just gaming, ray-tracing performance is probably not important for every gamer. However, if you want to use your card for streaming or filming, it becomes an important feature. And if that's the case, ensure you get a graphics card with good video encoder.
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