The best graphics card for your gaming PC inevitably means different things to different people. At its most basic it’s just a simple question of how much spare cash you can afford to blow on a new GPU.
The equation is pretty simple: the more money you spend on a new graphics card, the more gaming performance you’ll be able to squeeze out of it.
1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
The RTX 2070 Super is the fourth tier Turing card in the current, incredibly packed Nvidia GPU stack, but for our money it’s the card we’d be happy recommending to people building a 4K gaming PC. It’s essentially a better version of the GTX 1080 Ti from the last generation, for less cash and with more future-proofing potential.
It’s also incredibly close to the performance of the far more expensive RTX 2080, mostly owing to the fact that it’s rocking the same Turing TU104 GPU at its heart. That makes it an entirely different card to the standard RTX 2070 and much better for it; the Super is therefore essentially an RTX 2080 Lite. But that name sounds stupid, not like ‘Super.’
- CUDA Cores: 2,560
- Base Clock: 1,605MHz
- Boost Clock: 1,770MHz
- TFLOPS: 9.06
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- Memory Clock: 14 GT/s
- Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s
2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
Released way back in 2018 the RTX 2080 Ti is still the fastest consumer graphics card that you can stick into your gaming PC. If you wanted to go all out you could squeeze a Titan RTX in there for the full-fat TU102 GPU, but that will net you an even less of a performance return for the extra $1,300 you’d have to spend for the privilege.
With 11GB of speedy GDDR6 memory strapped to the board, 68 RT Cores, and 4,352 CUDA cores all baked into the GPU, the top RTX Turing card is ready for pretty much anything PC gaming can throw at it. Though even the RTX 2080 Ti will struggle to nail 4K gaming with your graphics settings dialed up to max and ray tracing turned on. It really is that demanding.
- CUDA Cores: 4,352
- Base Clock: 1,350MHz
- Boost Clock: 1,545MHz
- TFLOPS: 13.4
- Memory: 11GB GDDR6
- Memory Clock: 14 GT/s
- Memory Bandwidth: 616GB/s
3. RTX 2080 Super
If your bank account is thinking about going on strike for eyeing the 2080 Ti, stepping down to the RTX 2080 Super might help. You’re still getting the second fastest graphics card, saving about 35% on the price, and getting 85-90% of the performance.
What’s more, 1440p and 4K gaming are totally possible on the RTX 2080 Super, just not necessarily at maximum quality (especially 4K). The good news is that the difference between ultra and high quality in many games is difficult to see, while the jump in performance can be significant.
There’s still the question of what will happen with ray tracing adoption in the future, of course. The first round of DirectX Raytracing (DXR) games has often seen performance drop by 30-40% when the feature is enabled.
DLSS can often make up for that drop, but the implementations of both DXR and DLSS vary by game. But if you take a game like Control, which features ray traced reflections, contact shadows and diffuse lighting — the most complete implementation of ray tracing in a game to date (not counting Quake II RTX, which is old and still rather ugly) — performance dropped by half.
If games in the near future start using more ray tracing effects, even the 2080 Super may not keep up.
- GPU: Turing (TU104)
- GPU Cores: 3072
- Boost Clock: 1,815 MHz
- Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 15 Gbps
- TDP: 250 watts
4. RX 5700 XT
Fourth on our list in terms of performance, AMD’s RX 5700 XT has other benefits. It’s nearly as fast as the RTX 2070 Super, trailing by just 5-8% overall, and pricing starts at just $360 for the least expensive models.
We’ve tested several custom 5700 XT cards, and performance typically falls in a narrow range, with aesthetics, cooler size and price being the main differences. AMD doesn’t support hardware or software ray tracing, which is certainly a factor, but in traditional rasterization techniques AMD’s RDNA architecture is very competitive.
AMD’s GPUs also tend to do better in games that use either DirectX 12 or the Vulkan API, though DX11 games favor Nvidia.
Overall, across our test suite, the 5700 XT beats the RTX 2060 Super by about 9% in performance, and typically costs $30 less. There have been some concerns with AMD’s drivers since Navi launched, but the latest updates appear to have addressed some of the biggest problems.
- GPU: Navi 10
- GPU Cores: 2560
- Boost Clock: 1,755 MHz
- Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps
- TDP: 225 watts
5. RTX 2060 Super
Out of all the Nvidia RTX cards, the RTX 2060 Super is the hardest to recommend. It’s not that it’s a bad card — it’s plenty fast and has the same features as the other RTX models — but performance and pricing end up being eclipsed by AMD’s 5700 XT, or you can save even more money and only give up a bit of performance with the RX 5700.
It’s technically a hair faster than the 5700 overall, but costs nearly $100 more. In a direct face off between the RX 5700 XT and the RTX 2060 Super, we gave AMD the edge, though it’s by no means an insurmountable lead. Both are great cards that handle 1080p and 1440p gaming without difficulty; AMD’s card just costs less.
The good news is that competition from AMD means better pricing for everyone, whether you go with team red or team green. The RTX 2060 Super is nearly the same performance as the earlier RTX 2070 that we’ve recommended in the past (it’s 4% slower), and it costs $100-$200 less. And like the other RTX Super cards, there’s no Founders Edition ‘tax’ this time.
- GPU: Turing (TU106)
- GPU Cores: 2176
- Boost Clock: 1,650 MHz
- Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 14 Gbps
- TDP: 175 watts