Choosing the best graphics card can enhance your gaming PC tenfold, enabling you to enjoy lofty resolutions and frame rates. While GeForce RTX 4000 and Radeon RX 7000 GPUs will soon fight for the crown, Intel could win over gamers on a budget with its Arc Alchemist range.
With that in mind, what makes the best graphics card? If you’re rocking a high-spec rig, you’ll likely want a powerhouse card that can run the latest games at 4K and still boost fps. Of course, premium parts come at a price, as flagship RTX 4000 offerings like the Nvidia RTX 4090 cost more than an entire system.
Thankfully, you don’t need a GPU kaiju to build the best gaming PC for your needs, and there is a range of different Nvidia, AMD, and Intel options out there to choose from. So to help unmuddy the sea of specs, we’ve compiled a list of the best graphics card choices on the market right now.
Here are the best graphics cards in 2022:
1. The best graphics card for gaming
The best graphics card for gaming is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.
Expect to pay $1,199 USD / £1,049 GBP.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti might be the most powerful GPU you can buy, but it arguably provides more performance per dollar than the RTX 3090 Ti. Not only is it $800 cheaper than its flagship sibling, but it’s still capable of running the latest games with settings cranked up to max.
An AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT may cost less, at just $999 USD, but the RTX 3080 Ti will deftly outperform team red’s flagship when it comes to ray tracing. It’s no slouch when it comes to traditional rendering either, making it the perfect card for 4K high refresh rate gaming.
Of course, the RTX 3080 Ti comes with memory caveats, as the card comes equipped with 12GB. Not every game is ravenous when it comes to VRAM, but it’s something to keep in mind if you already own the best gaming monitor with a native 4K resolution.
- RTX 3090 gaming performance at a cheaper price point
- Better ray tracing performance than the RX 6900 XT
- Less VRAM than the RTX 3090
- Slightly slower boost clock speeds
2. The best cheap graphics card
The best cheap graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050.
Expect to pay $249 USD / £239 GBP.
At just $249 USD, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 makes putting Ampere in your gaming PC a more affordable prospect. Despite its lower price tag, the RTX 3050 doesn’t miss out on features like Nvidia DLSS. This upscaling technology can help the budget card significantly boost fps in even the most demanding games, with little-to-no impact on image quality.
It’s also capable of ray tracing, and offers greater performance than its main competition, the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT. If you predominantly play esports titles like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, or Valorant, the RTX 3050 is a perfect fit for your system with support for Nvidia Reflex as well.
It’s worth noting that GPU prices are still a little weird at the moment, and some custom RTX 3050 models cost almost as much as an RTX 3060. That said, if you can get one for near MSRP, it’s still a great budget option that provides a modern gaming experience.
- Access to Nvidia DLSS and Nvidia Reflex at a more affordable price
- Solid 1080p ray tracing performance
- Might age faster than other GPUs
- Custom models might cost the same as RTX 3060
3. The best AMD graphics card
The best AMD graphics card is the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT.
Expect to pay $999 USD/ £799 GBP.
Sitting at the top of its RX 6000 series graphics cards, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is team red’s frontrunner for the GPU performance crown. At $999 USD, it’s much cheaper than either the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti or RTX 3090 Ti, and can turn in very similar frame rates to those cards.
Unfortunately, it can’t quite compete with team green’s flagships when it comes to ray tracing, with Nvidia’s RT cores wiping the floor with AMD’s ray accelerators. If standard rendering is your priority, the RX 6900 XT is the best of the bunch from team red and should be on your shortlist.
Ultimately, the RX 6900 XT doesn’t pack quite as much of a punch as high-end Nvidia cards. However, it’s still an impressive AMD alternative that offers impressive 4K performance for less.
- 4K gaming at less than $1000 USD
- Can sometimes outperform the RTX 3080 Ti
- Ray tracing performance
- Isn’t as fast as RTX 3080 Ti
4. The most powerful graphics card
The most powerful graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti.
Expect to pay $1,099 USD / £1,149 GBP
The RTX 3090 Ti sits at the top of Nvidia’s GPU totem pole, but the RTX 4090 will likely catch its crown in a few weeks’ time. The RTX 4000 successor will undoubtedly steal the current flagship’s limelight, but it’s still the most powerful graphics card on the market right now, and it packs a serious performance punch.
Looking to ramp up Cyberpunk 2077 settings, turn on ray tracing, and still maintain 4K 60fps? The RTX 3090 Ti has you covered. While alternative heavy hitters like the MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X can somewhat handle the load, the SKU’s souped-up sibling eats high-performance gameplay for breakfast.
You’re going to need the best PC case to cage this GPU kaiju, and you could pick up an entire cheap gaming PC build for the price. Nevertheless, the RTX 3090 Ti is the most powerful graphics card around, even if it does end up losing to the RTX 4090 in a Godzilla vs Kong style fight.
- The most powerful consumer GPU bar none
- Unparalleled performance in production workloads
- Premium price point
- Takes up three PCIe case slots
- The RTX 4090 will soon steal its crown
5. The best value graphics card
The best value graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.
Expect to pay $699 USD / £649 GBP
If you’re looking for the sweet spot between cost and performance, then you’ll want the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. It comes from the same GA102 family as its bigger, more expensive siblings, the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090, but is substantially cheaper at $699 USD.
Even those with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti can expect a significant uplift in frame rates, and it only gets better for those still holding on to GTX 10 series cards. It also supports Nvidia software features like Nvidia DLSS, Nvidia Reflex, and Nvidia ShadowPlay for a wonderfully robust toolset.
The RTX 3080 is by no means a cheap GPU, and you’ll pay more than Founder Edition MSRP for overclocked variants. Yet, it’s still a chunk cheaper than the upcoming RTX 4080, as even the 12GB model will cost a whopping $899 USD once it arrives in November. Sure, the Lovelace successor boasts DLSS 3.0 AI upscaling, but you’ll have to fork out more for the 16GB upgrade to beat the RTX 3080’s CUDA core count.
- Generational leap even over the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Better features and performance than the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
- Power hungry
- Still expensive
- Less VRAM than high-end alternatives
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 specs|