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Desktops & Components

Best Graphics Cards

PC gaming has become increasingly popular in recent years, and graphics software is more available for a wide range of computer users. As a result, graphics/video cards are now more important than ever before. To keep up with such demands, manufacturers offer an array of different models to fit just about any need. Gamers looking for incredible detail and blistering frame-rates can find a wide range of gaming-oriented video cards. "Budget" video cards cater to casual users and amateur multimedia editors looking for a more affordable price point. For power users who want more performance than a single card can achieve, we even looked at the best video cards for SLI and Crossfire setups. Regardless of your needs, there's some essential product information everyone should know which is covered below in our graphics card buyer's guide.

EVGA GeForce GTX 960 4GB FTW Gaming Graphics Card

There is a lot to like about this value video card, starting with 4GB of GDDR5 video memory which runs at a clock speed of 7.0GHz. That’s a great amount of memory in a value card and the speed just can’t be beat. You also get a core GPU clock speed on this card of 1304MHz, which you can boost to up to 1367MHz, and this model has 1,024 CUDA cores, making it a great option for PC gaming, streaming HD media, and even doing video editing and rendering.

If you're looking to set up a really powerful system, this is a great choice as it includes SLI support and even works with NVIDIA’s 3D Surround technology. This is ideal for a professional or gaming rig since it has five output ports including a DVI-I port, three DisplayPort connectors, and an HDMI port. You can connect up to four monitors to this card and the three-year warranty from EVGA gives you great protection for your investment in this card.

ASUS STRIX Radeon R9 380 Overclocked 4 GB DDR5 256-bit Gaming Graphics Card

This card represents a great overall value and is probably your ideal choice if you prefer AMD cards to NVIDIA’s offerings. It has 4GB of GDDR5 memory that runs at 5.7GHz and it's 256-bit RAM, which gives you great bandwidth for handling graphics. This card has 1,792 Stream processors which lets it run really fast and handle a wide range of tasks. The core GPU clock speed on this card is 990MHz in Gaming mode, though you can run it in OC mode, which boosts the clock speed to 1010MHz for even faster processing and better performance. There are four output connections on this card which include DVI-I and DVI-D ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort connector that support up to three monitors at any given time. This card is designed to run well and stay cool and quiet so it's perfect for gaming and combining with additional cards in a CrossFire setup.

EVGA GeForce GTX 950 2GB FTW Gmaing Graphics Card

While there are a lot of strengths to this card, you can get much better performance for just a bit more money. If you need something closer to a budget model, however, then give this one a good look. It has 2GB of 128-bit GDDR5 memory that runs with a clock speed of 6.6GHz, which is quite fast, but you can get more memory with higher bandwidth if you’re willing to spend just a little more money.

The GPU in this card has a core clock speed of 1203MHz, and you can boost it up to 1405MHz, which is quite fast and offers very good overall performance. This one also has 768 CUDA cores and five output ports including three DisplayPort connections, an HDMI port, and a DVI-I port. With support for up to four monitors at once and a three-year warranty, this is a great overall value, but if you can spend a little more money, you can simply get better performance.

Sapphire AMD Radeon R7 260X 2G D5 OC Version

Sapphire AMD Radeon R7 260X 2G D5 OC Version

While there is a lot to like about this video card, there are just other models on the market that give you better performance for about the same price. This card has 2GB of 128-bit GDDR5 memory, which has a clock speed of 6.6GHz for fast performance that can handle a wide range of PC games and other media. The clock speed of the GPU itself is 1150MHz, which certainly offers excellent performance, but you can find faster video cards for about the same price.

This model has four output connections which include a DVI-I port, DVI-D port, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort connector, and it supports up to three monitors at a single time. This is a pretty good model if you're interested in a CrossFire setup, thanks to great cooling and pretty low power demands, but it ultimately just costs a bit more than it should. For the same price, you can get slightly better performance, though this is a great option if you find it on sale.

VisionTek Radeon HD 7750 Graphic Card

This value video card offers some great performance for the price, but there are just a few other models that are simply better and cost about the same price. You get 2GB of GDDR5 memory on this laptop and it can handle a wide range of PC games and other programs. With that in mind, there are some weaknesses with this video card to consider, as it is a somewhat older model. It supports up to DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.2, which are not the latest versions of those standards. However, this is an excellent choice if you're interested in running multiple monitors together. This card has six DisplayPort connectors and can support as many as six monitors connected to it simultaneously, with different resolutions and color controls for each one. If you don’t mind an older card and need five or six displays connected to your system, then this is an excellent choice at a great value.

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

This budget video card from XFX is pretty hard to beat, and you certainly won’t find more memory from a comparable card in this price range. You get 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 5.6GHz. This is the only budget model that includes 256 bit memory, which takes the performance you get to a higher level. That's an excellent amount of fast video RAM at this price range; and with over 1,000 Stream processors, it should work well even for PC gaming or other demanding programs. The core speed on this card is rather low, unfortunately, and is the only thing really holding it back. It has a core GPU clock speed of 995MHz, which is slower than some other, similarly priced cards. It's probably not a huge difference that you're likely to notice while using your computer, but it is worth mentioning if you're looking for the best performance for your money. Otherwise, this is a great card with an HDMI port, DisplayPort connection, and two DVI ports that can support up to 4K resolution through a digital connection.

EVGA GeForce GTX 750Ti SC 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card

There's definitely a lot to like about this video card and it comes in right around $140, making it ideal for just about any budget. It has 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which is quite good for this price range. With that in mind, the memory has a clock speed of 5400MHz, which is not as fast as the RAM in some other cards, so that is one weakness of this model. The card itself has a core clock speed of 1176MHz, with a boosted speed of 1255MHz, which is quite fast for a card at this price. It has an HDMI port, a DisplayPort connection, and a DVI-I port, plus it supports up to three displays at once. There are other budget cards that have four output connections, usually a DVI-D port, which gives you more options and flexibility when connecting your computer to a monitor. That’s a pretty minor deficit, however, but still worth considering as you look at video cards and the type of monitor you have.

Gigabyte GTX 960 Mini ITX Overclocked 2GB GDDR5 Graphics Card GV-N960IXOC-2GD

There is a lot to like about this video card, but the price on it is just a bit high. It has 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which is quite good, and that video RAM runs at 7.0GHz. This gives you excellent overall performance, especially when running demanding software that relies on fast video memory such as a PC game or streaming HD media. The core GPU clock speed with this card is 1165MHz, which can be boosted up to 1228MHz for even better performance. This is quite fast for a budget video card, but probably not a major improvement over a card with more memory. You get four output connections on this card, including both DVI-I and DVI-D, along with HDMI and DisplayPort connections. All of this comes together to make a very nice card in this price range, but it is a bit expensive, coming in at about $190, though if you find it on sale then it becomes a really nice value.

ASUS RADEON R7360-OC-2GD5 PCIE 3.0

Despite the low price of this video card, it still offers very nice performance that far surpasses what you can get from onboard graphics. This card has 2GB of memory that has a clock speed of 6.5GHz, which runs nice and fast and is perfect for some light PC gaming or streaming HD media. The card has a GPU core clock speed of 1070MHz, which is not amazing, but certainly good enough for a wide range of tasks and pretty fast for this price range. You get four output ports on this card which include a DVI-I port, DVI-D port, DisplayPort connection, and an HDMI port. What really sets this model apart from many other budget video cards is the price, since you can find this one for about $120, which is excellent for a low-cost computer build.

Asus GeForce 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 Graphics Cards (STRIX-GTX950-DC2OC-2GD5-GAMING)

You get 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which has a clock speed of 6.6GHz and that lets this video card run nice and fast. That's significantly faster than some other cards at this price, which helps it keep running smooth no matter what you throw at it. The clock speed on the card itself is very nice too, with a core speed of 1165MHz, and boosted speed of 1355MHz. This speed is when the card runs in OC Mode, though it can also run in Gaming Mode for speeds of 1140MHz that can be boosted to 1329MHz if you want it to run more quietly. You don’t typically find customizable GPU clock speeds in a card at this price point, so that is a nice option. This card has a DVI-I connection, DVI-D port, DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI port, so you can connect it to just about any monitor or screen. These features are all great, but the price on this one is usually about $170, which is pretty high for what it offers.

HIS H435F512HA Radeon HD 4350 512MB AGP 8X/4X Video Card

As far as modern AGP graphics cards go, this is pretty much the most powerful one you're going to find. It has 512MB of DDR3 RAM, rather unusual for these legacy models since most AGP cards only have DDR2 or older memory which can be slower and generally provides diminished performance compared to DDR3. The Radeon HD 4350 is one of the better chipsets around for older cards and will let you play a number of older PC games with pretty good settings.

This card supports up to DirectX 10.1 which is good for older games but won't be enough for many newer ones. There are VGA, DVI, and HDMI ports on this model, so it can connect to a wide range of displays and even has dual-monitor support. As more and more manufacturers stop making older cards, this type of good-quality AGP video card will become harder to find, but this one is still readily available and supported by HIS.

VisionTek 900374 Radeon HD 3450 512MB AGP 8x Graphics Card

Although this card isn’t as nice as the Radeon HD 4350 from HIS, it's also less expensive. Much like the 4350, this card supports DirectX 10.1. If you're looking to play a game from around the mid 2000s, this card is probably going to run it just fine. Anything that requires newer functions in DirectX 11, however, is definitely going to have a hard time with this card or simply not work at all.

Both this and the 4350 from HIS have 512MB of memory, but this one has DDR2 RAM instead of DDR3. DDR2 is older. The performance isn't as good as DDR3 RAM, but you probably won't notice much difference unless you're pushing this card to its limit. This card works fine if you're just looking to navigate the Internet and use some basic software to create spreadsheets or text documents. It has a D-SUB port and a DVI port, but no HDMI connection, and includes dual-monitor support.

EVGA GeForce 6200 LE 512 MB DDR2 AGP 8X VGA/DVI-I/S-Video Graphics Card, 512-A8-N403-LR

For the most part, Nvidia has abandoned the AGP video card market in favor of newer, faster technologies. However, this GeForce 6200 has half a gig of memory, but it's older DDR2 RAM which is substantially slower than what you'll find on modern video cards. The performance from this AGP video card is alright but you certainly won't be running any of the latest games on it.

This card only supports up to DirectX 9 and Shader 3.0, which is going to be a major issue if you want to play newer PC games. Some older games definitely work well with DirectX 9, but anything from the last few years will require 10 or even 11; this card simply won't run such titles. It has ports for VGA, DVI-I, and S-Video, which makes it handy for a wide range of setups, but lacks any kind of HDMI support.

Jaton 3DForce6200Twin nVidia Geforce 6200 Dual VGAs 256MB DDR AGP 8X 10 300 Video Card

If you want a card to install into your computer to have a dedicated monitor connection and slightly improved performance over your motherboard's onboard hardware, then this can certainly meet your needs. This model only has 256MB of DDR memory which is quite slow and there's not a lot of it. However, it’s also a nice, small card that's easy to install and use making it a good choice for certain builds.

This unit is perfect if you have some legacy hardware you need to keep running, such as an older computer and monitor. Don't expect to run any modern 3D games since it only has DirectX 9.0 and Shader 3.0 support, but some older titles will probably still work with this pick. It has two VGA connections with support for up to two monitors. This would have been a decent video card about a decade ago but at this point it certainly won't be winning any awards for performance.

Axle3D Nvidia Geforce 6200 512MB DDR2 64-Bit w/ DVI + VGA + S-Video + Low Profile Bracket AGP 8x Video Card

This video card certainly isn't cutting edge, even for AGP cards, but it can probably get the job done if you're looking to run older games or simple applications. It has 512MB of DDR2 memory, which is decent for this type of card but it's not going to run as fast as one with DDR3 memory. Faster RAM like that in an AGP card is quite rare so the level of performance with this card is still pretty good in a legacy computer.

It has VGA, DVI, and S-video connectors and supports two monitors at once, though its maximum resolution is fairly low. You don't get an HDMI port on this model, which makes it less than ideal for some newer monitors or televisions; however it still works with a wide range of systems. While some AGP video cards can be hard to find, this one is readily available and you can pick it up at a very reasonable price.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Gaming Graphics Card 06G-P4-4990-KR

This is a terrific video card even by itself, but in an SLI configuration it becomes an absolute beast. It has 6GB of 7.0GHz 384-bit GDDR5 memory for incredible speed and processing power. The core GPU clock speed on the card itself is 1000MHz, with a boosted clock speed of 1076MHz and it has 2816 CUDA cores, which all comes together for excellent performance. Put two of these together in SLI and you have a machine that can handle anything you throw at it.

You get 3D display support with this card and it can handle up to four monitors at a single time with support for HD 4K resolution, so this model works well with even the newest displays on the market. One card does require at least a 600 Watt power supply so you’ll need a pretty serious PSU to run two of these in SLI, but that's not surprising for this level of performance. The price on this one is a bit high at about $650 per card, but if you have the budget to drop $1300 on a pair of graphics cards your system will be top of the line.

EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB SC Gaming Graphics Card 12G-P4-2992-KR

For the absolute peak of performance, this is the way to go, but buying two or more of these will definitely tax most computer budgets. One of these cards alone has 12GB of 384-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 7.0GHz for incredible performance whether you are running a PC game or rendering your own 3D scenes and videos. The core GPU clock speed on this card is 1127MHz, which can be boosted up to 1216MHz, and this card has over 3,000 CUDA cores. Additionally, it supports up to four monitors and can easily handle HD 4K resolution.

Power requirements for this card are not as high as you might expect, though one does require at least a 600 Watt power supply, so you will need a very powerful PSU to handle two or more of these together in SLI. At a little more than $1,000 for just one of these cards, it is impractical for most computer budgets but two or more of these in a single system will definitely take you to the bleeding edge of performance.

PNY GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB CC OC Graphics Cards VCGGTX780T3XPB-CC-OC

If you want a high level of performance, and don’t want to spend $1,000 for two cards in SLI, then this is a great option. One of these cards offers 3GB of 384-bit memory, which runs nice and fast thanks to a speed of 6.0GHz. The core GPU clock speed on this card is fairly slow at 902MHz that can be boosted up to 954MHz, but it does have 2,304 CUDA cores, so it offers excellent performance despite the slower core speed.

This card supports up to four monitors and can handle 4K resolution plus NVIDIA 3D Surround technology, if you are interested in using a 3D display. You still need at least a 600 Watt power supply to handle one of these cards, so if you want to put together two or more of them then you’ll definitely want a very powerful PSU. However, the price on this card is excellent which lets you put together two of these for less than $900 while still getting terrific performance.

ASUS Graphics Cards GTX970-DCMOC-4GD5

If you need to pick up a couple of graphics cards to run together in SLI, but you're on a moderate budget, then give this card a good look. This graphics card has 4GB of dedicated 256-bit GDDR5 memory that runs at 7.0GHz, giving you great overall performance. The core GPU clock speed on this model is 1088MHz, with a boosted speed of 1228MHz, which is great for playing just about any PC game or handling any other kind of media you need.

This card has 1,664 CUDA cores, which combined with the high clock speeds of the video memory and the card itself all comes together to give you terrific performance. The price on this one is also quite good, so you can pick up two of these for about $700 and put together an NVIDIA SLI system for around the same price as buying a single EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Keep in mind that this pick has similar power requirements as more powerful cards, so you still need at least 600 Watts for a single one of these and a more powerful PSU for two or more of them.

Asus GeForce 2GB 128-Bit GDDR5 Graphics Cards (STRIX-GTX950-DC2OC-2GD5-GAMING)

You get 2GB of GDDR5 memory, which has a clock speed of 6.6GHz and that lets this video card run nice and fast. That's significantly faster than some other cards at this price, which helps it keep running smooth no matter what you throw at it. The clock speed on the card itself is very nice too, with a core speed of 1165MHz, and boosted speed of 1355MHz. This speed is when the card runs in OC Mode, though it can also run in Gaming Mode for speeds of 1140MHz that can be boosted to 1329MHz if you want it to run more quietly. You don’t typically find customizable GPU clock speeds in a card at this price point, so that is a nice option. This card has a DVI-I connection, DVI-D port, DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI port, so you can connect it to just about any monitor or screen. These features are all great, but the price on this one is usually about $170, which is pretty high for what it offers.

Sapphire NITRO R9 390X 8G D5 Video Card

Sapphire NITRO R9 390X 8G D5 Video Card

It’s hard to argue with the level of power and performance this video card brings to the table, and in a CrossFire setup it's just tremendous. You get 8GB of 512-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 6.0GHz. This gives you a lot of really fast memory with excellent bandwidth, and if you put two of them together in a single system, your performance just goes through the roof. The core GPU clock speed with this video card is 1080MHz, which isn’t mind-blowing, but should be more than sufficient for just about any task.

This card has just over 2,800 Stream processors, which gives you terrific performance in an individual or CrossFire setup. You get five output connections on this card, which is more than just about any similar model you can find, and they include three DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI port, and a DVI-D port. All of this comes together to make for a really powerful video card that is perfect for an extremely high-performance CrossFire setup.

XFX Video Card Graphics Cards R9-FURY-4TF9

There is a lot to like about this video card just by itself, but combined with the power of a CrossFire setup, it becomes incredibly impressive. It starts with 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (also called HBM) which has been developed by AMD to offer far greater bandwidth than what's possible with GDDR5. Looking at the video RAM’s clock speed is misleading, as it only runs at 500MHz, but consider that along with the fact that HBM is 4096-bit memory and you can see that speed isn't an issue with this graphics RAM.

The card has a core GPU clock speed of 1000MHz and 3,584 Stream processors, which lets it run very fast no matter what you throw at it.However, one thing to keep in mind with this model is that it has four output connections, but three of them are DisplayPort connectors and one is an HDMI port, so consider what you need for your monitor. Overall, however, this is a powerful card that just becomes even better when set up in CrossFire, thanks to a massive amount of bandwidth.

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

This budget video card from XFX is pretty hard to beat, and you certainly won’t find more memory from a comparable card in this price range. You get 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 5.6GHz. This is the only budget model that includes 256 bit memory, which takes the performance you get to a higher level. That's an excellent amount of fast video RAM at this price range; and with over 1,000 Stream processors, it should work well even for PC gaming or other demanding programs. The core speed on this card is rather low, unfortunately, and is the only thing really holding it back. It has a core GPU clock speed of 995MHz, which is slower than some other, similarly priced cards. It's probably not a huge difference that you're likely to notice while using your computer, but it is worth mentioning if you're looking for the best performance for your money. Otherwise, this is a great card with an HDMI port, DisplayPort connection, and two DVI ports that can support up to 4K resolution through a digital connection.

Asus AMD R9 380 4GB PCI-E Strix Gam, STRIX-R9380-DC2OC-4GD5-GAMING

While this isn't the least expensive AMD card for a CrossFire setup, this is a great middle-of-the-road option that can fit a wide range of budgets and makes for a really great option. It starts with 1,792 Stream processors and 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory that runs at 990MHz in Gaming Mode. You can also run this card in OC Mode which boosts the clock speed to 1010MHz for improved speed and overall performance. That’s not the most or the fastest memory you can find on an AMD card, but it is enough for a lot of PC gaming and running other programs, plus it is a great foundation for a CrossFire setup. This card has four output connections including a pair of DVI ports, a DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI port. The price on this model is quite reasonable, making it a great price-point for putting together two or three of these in a CrossFire setup.

HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Boost Clock 3GB Graphics Card H280XQM3G2M

If you want great performance at a decent price, then this is good option, especially if you're interested in a 4-way CrossFire setup. You get 3GB of 6.0GHz GDDR5 memory with this card, and it's 384-bit RAM, which isn't the best possible memory, but is still very good. The core clock speed on this card is 1000MHz out of the box, with boosted speeds of 1050MHz for even better performance, and it has just over 2,000 Stream processors. This card has two physical Crossfire connectors on it, making it a great choice if you want to put together a 4-way CrossFire setup. You get four output connections on this card, which include a DVD-I port, an HDMI port, and a pair of Mini DisplayPort connectors. There are a lot of great features with this card, but the price is a bit higher than it really should be, However, if you find it on sale, then this card is an excellent option.

EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti SC+ Gaming Graphics Card (06G-P4-4995-KR)

You get pretty much everything you could want in a video card with this model, and it is an excellent option specifically for 3D support. This card has 6GB of GDDR5 memory, which runs at very fast speeds and gives you plenty of video RAM for running the latest PC games or streaming HD media, even on a 4K display. You also get over 2,800 CUDA cores and a base GPU clock speed of 1102MHz, which keeps this card running at blisteringly fast speeds. This card supports NVIDIA’s 3D Surround technology, which means it not only works with 3D monitors, but supports up to four displays simultaneously. This lets you set up a computer system with three monitors together to give you an all-around experience, with a fourth display that can be used for email and other information not part of a game or movie. The price tag on this model is pretty high, so keep that in mind, but for a powerful 3D computer, it really can’t be beat.

XFX Video Card Graphics Cards R9-FURY-4TF9

There is a lot to like about this video card just by itself, but combined with the power of a CrossFire setup, it becomes incredibly impressive. It starts with 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (also called HBM) which has been developed by AMD to offer far greater bandwidth than what's possible with GDDR5. Looking at the video RAM’s clock speed is misleading, as it only runs at 500MHz, but consider that along with the fact that HBM is 4096-bit memory and you can see that speed isn't an issue with this graphics RAM.

The card has a core GPU clock speed of 1000MHz and 3,584 Stream processors, which lets it run very fast no matter what you throw at it.However, one thing to keep in mind with this model is that it has four output connections, but three of them are DisplayPort connectors and one is an HDMI port, so consider what you need for your monitor. Overall, however, this is a powerful card that just becomes even better when set up in CrossFire, thanks to a massive amount of bandwidth.

EVGA GeForce GTX 970 SSC ACX 2.0+ 4GB GDDR5 256bit, DVI-I, DVI-D, HDMI, DP SLI Ready Graphics Card

Here is a great option if you want a high-end graphics card for a 3D setup, but don’t quite have the budget for something like the EVGA NVIDIA GeForce 980 Ti. It has 4GB of GDDR5 memory, which is perfect for PC gaming or streaming HD media without seeing any slowdown. You can select between three different modes, depending on what kind of speed you need, with the OC Mode offering a core GPU clock speed of 1140MHz, while Silent Mode has a clock speed of 1051MHz, so you can control what level of performance you need at any particular moment. This card supports 3D Surround and up to four displays at once, at resolutions up to 4K, though you might experience some issues running multiple displays at 4K with just one of these cards. MSi has also designed this card to handle cooling quite well so it's s a pretty great option for running two or three cards together in SLI.

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

XFX AMD Radeon R7 370 DD XXX OC Graphics Card

This budget video card from XFX is pretty hard to beat, and you certainly won’t find more memory from a comparable card in this price range. You get 4GB of 256-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 5.6GHz. This is the only budget model that includes 256 bit memory, which takes the performance you get to a higher level. That's an excellent amount of fast video RAM at this price range; and with over 1,000 Stream processors, it should work well even for PC gaming or other demanding programs. The core speed on this card is rather low, unfortunately, and is the only thing really holding it back. It has a core GPU clock speed of 995MHz, which is slower than some other, similarly priced cards. It's probably not a huge difference that you're likely to notice while using your computer, but it is worth mentioning if you're looking for the best performance for your money. Otherwise, this is a great card with an HDMI port, DisplayPort connection, and two DVI ports that can support up to 4K resolution through a digital connection.

EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN Z 12GB Gaming Graphics Card 12G-P4-3990-KR

If you have the budget for it, this is definitely the best gaming video card on the market. You get 12GB of 768-bit memory, which is pretty much the best video RAM you will find in a graphics card. The memory runs at 7.0GHz, so not only do you have plenty of RAM to run any PC game on the market, or to be released for quite a few years, but it also runs at incredible speeds. Don’t let the core GPU memory clock speed of 705MHz fool you, with 5,760 CUDA cores, this graphics card is incredibly fast and delivers on everything you could want from a gaming video card. This model uses rear-vent cooling, so there’s a fan on the card that vents some heat into your tower, but it also moves heat out the back of your computer case. This is ideal for a single card setup or running two or more in SLI, since it minimizes the amount of heat released into your tower. It’s a massive card, requiring three slots, and it is expensive, but if you have the budget and room for it, you cannot beat this model.

Sapphire R9 FURY X 4G D5 Graphics Card

Sapphire R9 FURY X 4G D5 Graphics Card

Don’t be put off by the seemingly low amount of dedicated graphics memory on this model; it is a fantastic gaming video card. It has 4GB of RAM, but it is 4096-bit High Bandwidth Memory, which is designed to run significantly faster than even GDDR5. That means that while the amount might seem low at first, the speed and performance it offers is incredibly impressive. The core GPU clock speed on this card is 1050MHz and it has 4,096 Stream processors, which all comes together to give you the best performance you will find in an AMD video card. It has an HDMI port and three DisplayPort connectors that can support up to four monitors at once, with full HD3D and HD 4K resolution support. This model comes with a liquid-cooling system already installed onto it, which keeps it very cool even during intense PC gaming, but you do need to make sure it can fit your computer case.

EVGA GeForce GTX TITAN X 12GB SC Gaming Graphics Card 12G-P4-2992-KR

For the absolute peak of performance, this is the way to go, but buying two or more of these will definitely tax most computer budgets. One of these cards alone has 12GB of 384-bit GDDR5 memory, which runs at 7.0GHz for incredible performance whether you are running a PC game or rendering your own 3D scenes and videos. The core GPU clock speed on this card is 1127MHz, which can be boosted up to 1216MHz, and this card has over 3,000 CUDA cores. Additionally, it supports up to four monitors and can easily handle HD 4K resolution.

Power requirements for this card are not as high as you might expect, though one does require at least a 600 Watt power supply, so you will need a very powerful PSU to handle two or more of these together in SLI. At a little more than $1,000 for just one of these cards, it is impractical for most computer budgets but two or more of these in a single system will definitely take you to the bleeding edge of performance.

Gigabyte Radeon R9 390X Video Card

Gigabyte Radeon R9 390X Video Card

This is a great AMD video card, especially if your computer case and setup is not designed for a liquid-cooled video card. It has 8GB of very fast 512-bit GDDR5 memory that runs at 6.0GHz, so it can handle any PC game you throw at it, even at very high settings. The core clock speed of the GPU is 1060MHz, which is definitely fast enough for just about any task, and it has 2,816 Stream processors, making it ideal for the latest PC games and titles that will be released over the next few years. This card supports up to four displays at once, with HD 4K support and a number of connections including three DisplayPort connectors, an HDMI port, and a DVI-D port. One thing to keep in mind with this model is it has a more conventional cooling design. Twin 90mm fans can deal with the heat this card produces, but a lot of that heat is vented into your tower, so make sure you have the case fans to handle it.

EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti 6GB Gaming Graphics Card 06G-P4-4990-KR

This is a terrific video card even by itself, but in an SLI configuration it becomes an absolute beast. It has 6GB of 7.0GHz 384-bit GDDR5 memory for incredible speed and processing power. The core GPU clock speed on the card itself is 1000MHz, with a boosted clock speed of 1076MHz and it has 2816 CUDA cores, which all comes together for excellent performance. Put two of these together in SLI and you have a machine that can handle anything you throw at it.

You get 3D display support with this card and it can handle up to four monitors at a single time with support for HD 4K resolution, so this model works well with even the newest displays on the market. One card does require at least a 600 Watt power supply so you’ll need a pretty serious PSU to run two of these in SLI, but that's not surprising for this level of performance. The price on this one is a bit high at about $650 per card, but if you have the budget to drop $1300 on a pair of graphics cards your system will be top of the line.

Buyer's Guide

 

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide

As you're looking at different graphics cards on the market and try to find the best value for your money, it's easy to get overwhelmed given the amount of numbers and stats provided with each model. Thankfully, there are only a few major considerations you should keep in mind as you compare your options. Once you know what to look for, it becomes easy to pick the right card for your computer.

Manufacturer - Chipset vs. Card

Typically, the first place to start with when looking at a graphics card is the manufacturer. When it comes to commercial video processors there are basically two companies which are NVIDIA and AMD. NVIDIA cards are associated with "GeForce" while AMD cards typically go by "Radeon". However, there numerous companies which are the actual card manufacturers who use these processors as a base and then add on cooling systems and other hardware.

For example, if you see a card labeled "EVGA GeForce GTX 980," then what you're looking at is a card by the company EVGA with an NVIDIA GPU. A card labeled "Sapphire Radeon R9 290X," on the other hand, is a card built by Sapphire using an AMD processor.

Memory

The amount and type of memory or VRAM found on a video card is vitally important to how well it performs in a system. When looking at the amount of memory more is generally better, but you also need to consider the bandwidth of that memory. Rather than looking for a number, you can usually just look at the type of memory used with GDDR5 being the most recent and high-performing type of video memory. 2GB of GDDR5 memory is going to perform much better than 4GB of older DDR3 memory, so prioritize a decent amount of fast VRAM over a lot of older, slower memory.

Model Number

Model numbers can get a little confusing, but most manufacturers use increasing numbers to indicate a new series or improvements to cards within an established series. You'll see model numbers for cards based on the GPU, so an EVGA GeForce GTX 980 uses the same chipset as a GeForce GTX 980 card from any other manufacturer, it just has different hardware around it. Higher model numbers won’t always mean better performance, but it does usually indicate a newer version which often equates better processing power and memory.

For AMD, Radeon R9 cards are typically more powerful than R7; higher numbers like the R9 290X offering better performance than a R9 270 or R7 260X. If you're looking at NVIDIA cards, then the GTX 900 series will give you better performance than the 700 or 600 series, so something like the GTX 970 is going to be much more powerful than a GTX 750 or GTX 660.

Cooling and Power Requirements

It's important to keep in mind how cooling is handled on a graphics card and how much power they’ll require. Typically called a "reference", basic cooling on a card can work fairly well but doesn't always do an amazing job. Aftermarket cooling, usually added by the card manufacturer, is designed to cool the card more efficiently and quietly. Different manufacturers have their own forms of aftermarket cooling, but for really powerful cards look for the presence of multiple fans or liquid-cooling.

You'll also want to look at how much power is required for a video card and make sure you have much more than the minimum requirement. A 600W power supply is typically considered the bare minimum, but you'll be much safer with a 750W or higher PSU. In general, NVIDIA cards usually require less power than AMD models, but you'll want to look at the specific stats of a card to be sure your system can handle it.

For in-depth information on power requirements, please check out our power supply buyer's guide.

Compatibility

Even if your system has the power to run a certain video card, you still want to be sure you can actually install it within your tower and motherboard. There are different types of connections for video cards, with PCI Express, or PCIe, being the most recent and best performing.

Older motherboards might only have PCI or AGP connections which will require an older video card so naturally you want to check what connections your motherboard has before choosing a card. Newer and very powerful graphics cards tend to be quite large, so ensure there’s room on your motherboard and inside the tower as well.

A full tower can usually handle a card such as the Sapphire Radeon R9 295x2 which measures more than a foot long and takes up two and a half slots on a motherboard. If you have a mid-size or smaller tower, however, then check the size of any graphics card you're interested in to be sure it can fit.

Finally, check to be sure any video card you look at is compatible with the version of DirectX you need for your programs. For example, most recent PC games require DirectX 11, but some older cards might only support DirectX 9 or 10.

Monitor Compatibility

You’ll want to consider the maximum resolution of your monitor before you pick up a video card. For example, if your monitor only supports up to 1280x1040 resolution, then you don't need to spend more money on a card with HD4K support unless you plan on upgrading to a higher-resolution monitor rather soon. On the other hand, if you do have a 4K monitor or want to connect your computer to a large HDTV as a display, then you'll want to look for graphics cards supporting HD4K and similar high resolutions to take full advantage of your hardware.

CUDA Cores/Stream Processors

The number of processors indicated with a graphics card can give you a sense of overall performance when running any graphics intensive program. NVIDIA refers to the processors on newer cards as "CUDA cores" while AMD uses the term "stream processors”. While you can’t directly compare these numbers between the two manufacturers, you can compare between different cards from the same company. In general, more processors give you better performance, so look for a high number. For example, 1,000-2,000 is excellent for a high-end card while upper-midrange cards usually have a range of 600-1,000.

Multi-Card Setups

If you're interested in a really impressive setup, then you might be considering a multi-card system. NVIDIA refers to its multi-card technology as "SLI," while AMD uses the term "CrossFire”. Both technologies let you connect two or more cards together on a single motherboard for improved performance. Keep in mind you need to use two cards from the same manufacturer and they usually will need to be either the same cards or use the same GPUs. Running two or more cards in your system requires an expensive power supply, typically generates a lot of heat, and their multiple cooling fans can generate a lot of noise.

Multi-card setups are ideal if you have a high resolution HD4K monitor, an HDTV is serving as your display, or for using three or four monitors together but keep in mind a second card will only boost performance somewhere between 25-50 percent. Adding a third or fourth card to the setup increases performance but with greater diminishing returns by greatly increasing power consumption, heat production, space required in your rig, and of course the added monetary costs.

Furthermore, multi card configurations can suffer from an issue known as micro stuttering (not to be confused with rubberbanding lag or screen tearing) which is a high frame time variance that’s simply a delay in one of the cards rendering and displaying a frame. However, newer drivers and software have helped minimize this issue in both NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire enabled cards. 

Simply put, a multi-card setup is definitely not right for everyone.

Overclocking

If you're looking to get the best performance possible out of your graphics card, then you're probably considering overclocking it. Most modern video cards have great overclocking potential but you want to make sure you have the cooling capabilities to handle it. Aftermarket cooling is typically required for safe overclocking so look for manufacturers who add their own fans or liquid-cooling onto a card.

Some really powerful cards might already be tuned so high they run hot regardless and don't give you much room for boosting performance. For example, if you want to overclock something like a Radeon R9 290X then you'll definitely want to find a model which provides excellent cooling. Keep in mind you can always add aftermarket cooling yourself if you can't find a graphics card ideal for overclocking.

Greg Wiesen
With an AA in Computer Animation, I have spent years building computers and playing video games. I learned early on that the best way to figure out a new software program was to just start pushing buttons and see what happens (saving often, of course), and that is still my philosophy. From hard drives and motherboards to graphics cards and "holographic" keyboards, I enjoy checking out and playing with all the tech I can get my hands on. I have written hundreds of informative computer and technology articles in the past, and I believe that anyone can understand and use a computer. I'll worry about research and trying out different hardware, you just enjoy the results.
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