Buying a graphics card can be a difficult process as it is a large investment with an almost endless amount of choice on offer. All these acronyms and unpronounceable product names can make selecting the correct one for you a daunting task, but we’re here to make it much easier.
First of all, you’re going to need to decide what exactly you’re going to use your graphics card for. If you’re planning on playing the occasional game, or something that isn’t graphically intensive (popular games like League of Legends, Dota 2, World of Warcraft and Fortnite don’t require an expensive graphics card) then you won’t need a massive powerhouse.
Take a look at our RTX 2080 article right here.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on playing the latest releases on the highest graphics settings then you’re going to want something high end.
How to decide which graphics card is best for you
You need the answer to two basic questions.
- How much do you want to spend?
- What is the resolution and max refresh rate on your monitor?
Make your mind up on how much you’d reasonably like to spend on the card. You’ll know at this point that buying a graphics card isn’t a cheap purchase.
The last piece of the puzzle is to work out which monitor you’re using as this will make a large impact on which card you should buy. The larger the resolution of your monitor the more graphical power you will need to power it.
We compared the 1080 Ti to the 2080 Ti here.
60 FPS is usually the target for gaming, although if you’re playing certain games competitively you may be using a 120 or 144hz monitor. You’ll want to make sure your graphics card is capable of playing your games of choice at these frame rates, or you won’t be using your monitor’s potential.
For example, if you’re using a 1080p monitor and a max refresh rate of 60hz, then you’re not going to need a top-end card to get the most performance out of your monitor. Any increased FPS over 60 isn’t going to be noticeable. If you’re using a 1440p monitor then you’ll need a more powerful card to reach the same FPS as a 1080p monitor as you’re powering more pixels, but your game will look much better for it.
Finally, a 4k monitor will look extremely impressive but to run games at 60 FPS you’re going to need an extremely beefy setup. The majority of people will be using 1080p or 1440p monitors and won’t see any benefit past 60FPS.
Which graphics card should I buy, is an RTX card worth it?
Currently, no released games feature Ray Tracing which is the main feature of the RTX 2000 series of cards.
Taking away that feature, the price/performance for the 2000 series of Nvidia cards is not favourable unless you’re trying to run a game at 1440p and a very high frame rate (120 or 140) or 4k and 60FPS.
The best buying advice right now for the majority of readers is to look for a good deal on a 1080 or 1080 Ti. The RTX 2070 may be a good option when it is released in a couple of weeks, but questions about that card’s ability to use the Ray Tracing technology have been raised due to its specs.
- Reviewed on: 22 March 2017
The GTX 1080 Ti is expensive, but offers stunning performance. This is the standard version: overclocked versions are even quicker, but also cost more.
Currently this is the fastest consumer graphics card around, but if you’re not planning to buy a VR headset or run games at 4K, you can save money and buy a GTX 1080 or Vega 64.
- Reviewed on: 20 November 2017
The MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti Gaming 8G delivers performance between a GTX 1070 and a GTX 1080 and its upgraded PCB design and cooling system makes it suitable for significant overclocking.
However, there are no factory-overclocked modes available on this or any other GTX 1070 Ti. You’ll get cooler, quieter operation, but to you’ll need to manually overclock the board to get the best value for money.
If you’re prepared to do so, this this board will give you near GTX 1080 performance at a significantly lower price.
Read our MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Ti GAMING 8G review.
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2017
The Radeon RX Vega 56 is a worthy competitor to Nvidia’s GTX 1070, often beating it on both performance and price. It can be a little power hungry and runs rather loud but, if you can find one at recommended price, it’s an excellent value for money card.
Read our AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 8GB review.
- Reviewed on: 15 September 2017
The Radeon RX Vega 64 is a much-needed high-end update from AMD which delivers significant improvements over the previous ‘Fury’ cards and finally offers a worthy competitor to Nvidia’s GTX 1080.
It isn't as quick as the GTX 1080 Ti, but then again, it's much cheaper.
Read our AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB review.
- Reviewed on: 18 July 2016
Although surpassed by the GTX 1080 Ti, the 1080 is still a very powerful graphics card. And now it costs less than £500 it's even better.
This particular card from Asus costs more than that, but it's factory overclocked and offers even better performance. But don't forget you can buy a standard GTX 1080 and attempt to overclock it yourself if you want to save money.
- Reviewed on: 7 July 2016
At £419.99, the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G costs significantly more than the £374.99 you would be paying for a ‘vanilla’ 1070, but it offers much more in terms of both performance and features, and is still some way off the price of a GTX 1080. If you can’t afford a GTX 1080, or would simply like to save some money, this is an excellent high-performance graphics card.
Read our MSI GeForce GTX 1070 GAMING X 8G review.
- Reviewed on: 24 December 2016
One of the best options for upgrading an ageing PC, the Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB OC Edition delivers some of the fastest frame rates you can achieve from a low-end PC.
Check out AMD's Radeon RX 560 as well, though.
- Reviewed on: 4 August 2016
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Founders Edition brings a new level of performance to mid-range gaming, with high frame rates at 2560x1440 resolution, strong VR peformance and low power consumption, but the Founders Edition is, as ever, not the best version of the card