‘Best budget graphics card’ lists are typically filled with cards that barely meet the criteria for a budget graphics card. Our list is a little different. We have a couple of cards that are on the higher end of the budget price range, but the majority of our suggestions are extremely affordable. They’re all powerful in their own way, and all of them are capable of providing gamers with a great experience. Your own preferences and gaming style will determine which card is the best choice for you.
If you aren’t familiar with the different features that make up a great graphics card, then you’ll want to check out our buyer’s guide after you read our reviews. It covers every feature that you need to look for, and can serve as your go-to source for information on graphics cards.
TL;DR - 10 Best Budget Graphics Cards:
- XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS
- MSI GAMING GeForce RTX 2060
- ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 560
- Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti
- MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
- XFX RX-590P8DFD6 Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy
- MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050
- XFX Radeon RX 570
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Windforce
1. XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS
Top-end Performance With VR Capabilities
The RX 580 has the newest version of Polaris, and all of the features that were in the previous rendition of the RX have been upgraded. It has 8GB of memory, 4th generation GCN cores, a whole new interface, and its engine has been upgraded substantially.
The RX 580 provides gamers with top-end performance and long-lasting durability. It's a good budget graphics card for less than $200, and it outperforms a lot of other cards in its class. It's even capable of playing VR games with ease. However, the 1366Mhz clock speed isn't the most impressive. It's plenty of processing speed to satisfy most people, but it's a little too slow for people who demand a lot from their graphics cards.
2. MSI GAMING GeForce RTX 2060
For Those Looking For Raw Power
The RTX 2060 is a little more expensive than a lot of the other items on this list, but it's still a solid option to use as a budget graphics card. It has 6GB of memory and boasts a speedy 1710MHz clock. Even though it has less memory than a number of cheaper options, the memory is GDDR6, meaning its memory system can run faster and more efficiently than many older models.
There aren't a whole lot of extra features to talk about. That's one of the reasons that we only suggest this card to people who are looking for raw power. It has some performance advantages over cheaper cards, but it doesn't bring as much value to the table. However, it does come with a digital copy of Anthem, so that's one bonus feature that adds a little bit of value to the overall package.
3. ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 560
Great for Getting Into PC Gaming
The Strix RX 560 is a low-budget graphics card that provides just enough power to let you get into PC gaming. It's not very powerful, but it can handle the majority of new games on moderate settings or higher. For less than $140, that's actually pretty impressive.
It has 4GB of V-RAM, and it has a clock that can be boosted to 1285MHz. It also has 1024 stream processors to help speed it up a little bit. If you're the type of gamer that likes RGB lighting, you'll be happy to know that the Strix RX 560 has RGB lighting installed, and it's programmable to look and behave the way you want it to.
While the Strix RX 560 isn't very powerful, it does have Tweak II installed, so you can easily manage your RX 560's performance settings. If you're just streaming YouTube videos, you can lower its performance a bit, and if you're playing a demanding game, you can give it a little boost.
4. Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti
Ideal for Those on a Tight Budget
The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti isn't the most powerful graphics card, but it uses NVIDIA's new Pascal architecture to improve its performance, and it's a lot cheaper than the other GeForce models.
While the GTX 1050 only has 4GB of V-RAM, it can handle 1080p gaming at 60FPS, and it can stream video in 8K. That's all due to the new Pascal system that NVIDIA has implemented into the GTX 1050 Ti. This may not be the best choice for every gamer, but it is a solid graphics card, and we recommend it to anyone that is on a tight budget.
5. MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Fastest GPU in this Price Range
The GTX 1660 Ti is one of the higher-end performance graphics cards on this list. It's faster than almost every other card on this list, and it still costs less than $300.
It has a powerful GeForce GPU, a 1750MHz clock, 6GB of the latest V-RAM technology, and it's compatible with the GeForce Experience software that NVIDIA created to monitor their graphics cards. It also has a pre-installed tuning utility that allows you to manage its settings.
In our opinion, this is a great card for playing the latest games, and it isn't too expensive. It's probably the best budget graphics card that you're going to find for less than $300. That being said, it has a couple of drawbacks. It's a little too large to fit into an SFF chassis, and you can find a better budget graphics card for 1080p gaming. However, this card is far more flexible than anything in its price range, and it'll make the majority of gamers happy.
6. XFX RX-590P8DFD6 Radeon Rx 590 Fatboy
An Impressive Price-to-Performance Ratio
The XFX RX 590 is optimized to perform admirably for all kinds of gamers, and it's also affordable. It isn't without its flaws, but it is one of the top budget graphics cards. It's simply more flexible than other cards.
The RX 590 has 8GB of GDDR6 V-RAM, and it's capable of being overclocked to above-average speeds. The amount of power that the XFX RX 590 has for its price is fairly impressive. It's VR-ready, and it can handle a lot of the most demanding titles for a low price point.
7. MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660
An Affordable Alternative to the 1660 Ti
We've covered several GeForce graphics cards, so you should know what to expect from the GeForce line. This card is no exception to the usual GeForce quality. It provides a lot of power to gamers, without costing a lot. It doesn't have as many features as higher-end graphics cards, but it's a great budget graphics card for gaming.
It has a faster processor than the majority of cards on this list, but it lacks the V-RAM power of other cards that cost the same amount. The GTX 1660 has a 1830MHz clock, but only 6GB of GDDR5 memory. Most of the other cards in this price range use GDDR6, and that can make this card underperform in certain situations. If you can't afford the 1660 Ti, then 1660 is the card for you.
8. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050
Incredibly Affordable 1080p Gaming
This is essentially a downgraded version of the GTX 1050 Ti, but that isn't necessarily a drawback. It's a lot cheaper, and it's still capable of providing a decent gaming experience. In fact, it'll be difficult to find a card this cheap that doesn't cost $50 more.
Unlike the 1050 Ti, the 1050 only has 2GB of V-RAM. However, it does have the same Pascal architecture that the Ti has, so it can make the most of its 2GB of V-RAM.
The 1050 also has a downgraded clock, but it's still faster than other options on our list. It can run at 1518MHz, and NVIDIA claims that it can play games in 1080p despite its lower specs.
9. XFX Radeon RX 570
Fairly Powerful With an Advanced Cooling System
The RX 570 is another card that's suitable for people on a low budget. It doesn't have the fanciest features, but it is fairly powerful, and it has a decent cooling system to let it run for long periods of time.
Despite its cheap price, it has 8GB of memory, and it's designed to allow you to mine cryptocurrency without having extra equipment. The processor isn't the fastest, but it's good enough to play a large selection of games without stuttering.
The XFX cooling system is what really sets the RX 570 apart from the rest of the graphics cards we're reviewing. Despite being cheap, the cooling system is more advanced than you can find in systems twice as expensive.
10. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 Windforce
High Performance Matched With Stellar Cooling
The 1060 Windforce sacrifices some of the power of the basic 1060 for an advanced cooling system. That makes it a little bit weaker, but it can perform at its peak for far longer than the basic 1060. If you're okay with sacrificing a little bit of power for longer sessions, then the 1060 Windforce is for you.
It only has 3GB of memory, but the GeForce Experience software and the included performance utility will allow it to be manipulated for better performance. The clock is pretty fast as it can run at 1797MHz, and it only requires 400 watts of power from your power unit. That level of efficiency isn't too common in this price range.
The Windforce fans in the 1060 Windforce are designed to suck the heat out of the 1060, and a direct-touch cooling pipe actively works to lower the card's temperature.
Best Budget Graphics Cards Buyer’s Guide
A gaming card relies on its graphics card more than it does its CPU. It’s one of the main factors in dictating which games your computer can handle, and it has a lot to do with your maximum FPS rate. When you go to buy a graphics card, you have to think about what type of monitor you have, what type of chassis size you have, what type of power unit you have, and what type of games you want to play.
That’s a lot of factors to consider. So, we’re going to break each one down into its own easily understandable section in this guide.
Consider Your Monitor
Your gaming monitor and your graphics card have to work together to provide a fluid gaming experience. If your monitor doesn’t have a fast refresh rate, you won’t be able to see all of the enhancements that your graphics card provides. If it is too fast for your card, the same thing will happen. Make sure to match the quality of your monitor to your graphics card. The main specs to look at are your monitor’s refresh rate and resolution. Then, compare them to the capabilities of any cards you’re looking at.
Can You Power It?
Like any technology, a graphics card requires a power source. It specifically needs the same power that the rest of your rig uses. Since your entire computer is powered by your power unit, you’ll want to take your power unit’s output into consideration before you try plugging a high-end graphics card into it. Power units usually don’t have to be extremely powerful to run everything, but you might need to upgrade your PU to keep up with modern cards.
Don’t Rely On Overclocking
It’s tempting to buy a weak graphics card, and then just overclock it in an attempt to play demanding games. That usually won’t work, though. Overclocking is great for getting a little bit of extra performance out of a game you can already play, but it’s not going to let you play something that is way out of your graphics card’s league. If you really want to play something that takes more than your card can handle, you’re better off just buying a higher-end card.
You don’t need a really high amount of memory to play games in 1080p. 3 or 4 gigabytes of V-RAM is usually enough in most cases. You don’t want anything lower than 3GB, though, as you won’t get a high enough FPS rate to play games smoothly. If you’re wanting to play games in 4K, you’ll have to buy a card that has at least 8GB of memory. You’ll also want a card with more memory if you plan to install texture mods into your games. The enhanced textures will make the game demand a lot more power.
How Big is It?
You don’t want your graphics card dangling around in your case. You’ll have to make sure that the one you buy can fit in the chassis that you have. This is easy enough to do; all you have to do is look at the dimensions of your chassis, and then compare them to a graphics card’s dimensions. You can easily find graphics cards that are designed to fit in micro setups, so you should have plenty of options for your rig.
Plugging a graphics card in isn’t as simple as jamming one cable into a slot. They draw so much power that they require multiple PCI cables to be connected. If your power unit doesn’t have enough cables, you’ll have to upgrade it to be suitable for the card.
If a graphics card’s clock speed is fast, you’ll get more FPS. Overclocking features will allow you to slightly enhance a clock’s speed, but you’ll want to buy a card that can play the games you like smoothly without overclocking. You’ll want something that can run at 1400MHz or faster for hardcore gaming.
This is only important if you care about virtual reality. If you don’t, you can completely ignore this section. If you are looking into trying VR, then you’ll want to make sure that the graphics card you buy is compatible with the most popular VR headsets. You don’t have to search too hard to find out if your preferred card is ready for VR, as manufacturers often boast about the feature on their packaging and websites.
Should You Buy a Third-Party Card?
The two main graphics card manufacturers are AMD and NVIDIA. However, they often give smaller companies the ability to make their own cards with their GPU technology. The third-party companies that buy licenses from AMD and NVIDIA often put more advanced cooling systems and other beefier bonus features into their cards, but they cost a lot more.
Overall, the performance of these cards isn’t too much better, but the enhanced cooling features that are commonly found in third-party variants allow them to run a lot quieter, and they’ll typically stay cool for a lot longer. If that’s what you want for your gaming rig, it might be worth saving up the extra money to buy a third-party variant of your favorite GPU.
If you look at the most expensive cards that NVIDIA produces, you’ll see a lot of marketing that hypes up their new ray tracing and AI features. It may seem like you need all of that to play games effectively, but it’s not as important as you may think. In fact, you’re unlikely to use it for gaming.
The technology is new, and the majority of game developers aren’t building games around it right now. So, you can save tons of money by opting to buy a card that doesn’t have those advanced features.
In the future, it might be worth upgrading to a card with ray tracing and AI features, but we think that it’s best to allow the technology to grow before investing large sums of money into it.If you liked our article on budget graphics cards, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.