Which is the best graphics card?
Looking to upgrade your gaming rig, but not sure which graphics card to get?
Well you’re in the right place as we’ve created a definitive guide detailing the best GPUs we’ve tested, making it quick and easy for you to get one that meets your needs and budget.
For non-techies, the GPU is the part of a PC that handles graphics and does the heavy lifting during demanding computational work, like video editing and 3D modelling.
As a result getting one that’s underpowered can be a critical mistake that’ll ruin your entire build. But, equally, if you’re just looking to play Apex Legends, Call of Duty Warzones or enjoy the odd blast on Fortnite in 1080p, there’s no point wasting over £1000 on a top end graphics card.
Every GPU on this list has been thoroughly tested and benchmarked by the experts at Trusted Reviews’ to make sure the advice we’re giving is accurate and up to date.
But before you go rushing off to pick up one of the GPUs detailed in this list, be warned, Nvidia has just unveiled its new “Ampere” RTX 30-series graphics cards.
The cards are set to hit the market in the very near future and, while we haven’t had a chance to test them yet, they feature top-notch specs that are a clear step above the existing 20-series. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is also being marketed as “the first” GPU capable of 8K gaming at 60fps.
Rival AMD is also expected to lift the lid on its next generation “Big Navi” GPUs in the very near future, so it may be worth holding onto your cash a little longer before investing in one of the older cards.
But if you 100 percent can’t wait you can check out a list of the best graphics cards we’ve tested that are still on the market below.
Editor’s note: The latest AMD GPUs aren’t included in this list as the unexpected CoronaVirus lockdown has cut off access to our test samples. We’ll update this best of with the AMD graphics cards the moment we’re able to get access to our test lab and samples.
Related: Intel Core i9-10900K review
- Best for ray tracing: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Best value for ray tracing: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
- Best for Quad HD: AMD Radeon RX 5700
- Best value for Full HD: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- Best for budget Full HD: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660
How we test graphics cards
Each new card is plugged into Trusted Reviews’ test rig, which uses a set of uniform components that is representative of most PC gamers at the time.
Next, we use a series of synthetic and gaming benchmarks to discover the frame rate at which the card will play modern triple-A games at varying resolutions.
We then checkout the potential for overclocking and a card’s power efficiency using the FireStrike benchmark and an external consumption monitor.
Throughout the benchmarking process we retest all previous-generation and competing cards to ensure that frame rates are accurate, and that cards have been tested using the latest drivers available.
Related: Nvidia Ampere vs AMD Big Navi
1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Best for performance and ray tracing, for now…
- Capable of 60fps in 4K with most games
- Future-proofed with exciting features such as ray tracing and DLSS
- Keeps cool and quiet all of the time
- Incredibly expensive
- Limited games support ray tracing and DLSS
- 30-series goes on sale very soon
The GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is going to be replaced with Nvidia’s new RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 cards in the very near future, both of which offer on paper significantly faster performance. But, as we haven’t tested them yet and they’re not currently on sale, the 2080 Ti remains the best option for ray tracing at this very moment.
Despite coming to the end of its life cycle the card still has some pretty impressive specs and a hardware. The biggest are its solid real-time ray tracing and DLSS. The former helps to simulate more realistic light in video game environments, while the latter uses artificial intelligence to make image rendering slicker and more efficient.
Last year the tech was fairly rare, and only compatible with a select number of titles. But this year that’s all set to change with a number of key releases, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Watch Dogs Legion, all confirmed to support ray tracing and DLSS.
The only significant negative thing about the RTX 2080 Ti when we first reviewed it was its hefty £1099 price. However, with the 30-series now unveiled, we’re already seeing a number of cracking discounts appear for the card. We’re expecting even better deals to appear once the 30-series goes on sale.
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Best value for ray tracing
- Solid 1080p and 1440p performance
- Future-proof with Turing
- Decent value when compared to the 1070
- Ray tracing and DLSS still not widely supported
Though there’s now a Super version, the RTX 2060 remains the best entry point to ray tracing. What’s more, with Nvidia remaining hush, hush about the RTX 3060 during its Ampere launch, it looks set to stay that way for at least a few more months.
The card doesn’t offer the fastest performance, but it’s powerful enough to run Battlefield 5 and Metro Exodus with ray tracing on if you’re willing to sacrifice resolution, which considering its price isn’t to be sniffed at.
Specifically, during testing we found most triple-A titles will run at 60fps or above with their graphics settings maxed at 1080p. This makes this GPU the best value RTX graphics card currently available.
What’s more, the RTX 2060 has a number of decent ITX options, making it one of a select few 20-series cards suitable for small builds.
3. AMD Radeon RX 5700
Best value for Quad HD gaming
- Best value card for Quad HD gaming
- Radeon features feel polished
- Sleek and simple design
- Lacks ray tracing
- May struggle to hit 60fps in Quad HD for future AAA games
- Big Navi coming soon
If you’re not fussed about ray tracing at the moment, but want to game at higher than 1080p resolutions, then the AMD Radeon RX 5700 is the card for you.
It’s essentially just a slightly less powerful version of the RX 5700 XT card. While this makes it sound slightly dull, it’s solid specs and competitive price make it a compelling option.
The card is more than powerful enough to play most modern triple-A games in 1440p at frame rates over 60fps. It’s also reasonably future proof as it meets the minimum specs for key big name titles set for release later this year, including Cyberpunk 2077.
The only downside is that, with Big Navi set for release in the near future, it’s time in the sun as AMD’s best 1440p card is coming to a close.
4. GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Best value for Full HD gaming
- Fantastic value Full HD performance
- Intelligent shading improves efficiency for modern games
- Small enough for mini-ITX cases
- Limited overclocking potential
If the 2080 Ti and 30-series sound like complete overkill and you just wanna play basic games at 1080p, then the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is the card to go for right now.
It doesn’t support ray tracing or DLSS, and it’s specs sheet isn’t top end, but you won’t find a better card for the money.
During testing we were able to get a 120fps Full HD performance on the likes of Fortnite, PUBG and Apex Legends, with minimal fuss. For battle royale shooters, you couldn’t ask for a smoother experience.
And even if you’re not fussed about big online brawlers, the GTX 1660 Ti is still the best value 1080p graphics card you can currently buy.
It’s also fairly small and has lower power consumption than its 20 and 30-series siblings, making it a better choice for small, affordable lounge PC/media builds.
5. GeForce GTX 1660
Great Full HD performance at a low, low price
- Superb value for Full HD gaming
- Adaptive shading gives modern games a performance boost
- Incredible optimisation for battle royale game
- The slightly more expensive GTX 1660 Ti offers better value
If you really, really, really have basic gaming needs then the GTX 1660 is the most affordable card on the market we can recommend. The card is aimed at MOBA and battle royale gamers who don’t want to break the bank.
It doesn’t match the performance of its Ti sibling, which we’d see being a better fit for most buyers, but with it costing £100 less there’s no denying it’s still cracking value.
Our tests prove the GTX 1660 is capable of running modern AAA games, such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, at high frame rates, while even being able to achieve a respectable Quad HD performance for titles released a few years ago. Fortnite and Apex Legends fans will certainly benefit, with the GTX 1660 optimised specifically for battle royale games.
How to choose the right card for you
Third-party cards: whenever you buy a GPU, consider which manufacturer you want to opt for since the the specs will differ accordingly. Nvidia’s latest 10-series cards also include so-called ‘Founders Edition’ designs, which are the models we review. Third-party models tend to be more expensive and perform slightly better. Common brand names include EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, Zotac and many more.
With prices constantly shifting and special offers appearing daily, recommending a specific model purely on its price is difficult. As such, this guide will offer each card’s usual price range and the sort of performance you can expect.
Related: Best gaming monitors
A manufacturer’s cooler designs will also affect performance, but only by single-digit percentage points – this is especially true of cheaper cards. With more expensive GPUs card manufacturers push the boat out, throwing clever fans and software into the mix and offering up higher clock speeds, which can make a difference.
Things to look out for on each card include (in order of importance):
- Length of warranty
- Fan noise
- Visual flare
- Extra cooling fans
Ray tracing: Ray tracing is a recent graphics card feature (although an older technology) that enables video game developers to create more realistic reflections and light simulation. Traditionally a very processor intensive operation, the new cards ensure reflections in puddles and light shining through a window will look far more impressive than with traditional rendering methods. Currently, only Nvidia’s RTX cards are fully optimised for this technology.
DLSS: DLSS is a another RTX exclusive feature that uses artificial intelligence to help the GPU render frames more efficiently, resulting in a juicy frame rate boost. However, our testing has shown activating DLSS will negatively impact the display quality, with detail becoming more fuzzy and less pronounced.