Purchasing a great GPU will often set you back a few hundred dollars. It’s just a natural part of the tech world. However, you may be surprised to discover there are some great graphics cards under $100 that can still get the job done. They might not have all of the latest tech jammed into them, but they can typically handle gaming extremely well. The majority of them can often even compete with more expensive options when it comes to their rendering capabilities.
TD;LR - Best Graphics Cards under $100:
- GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 Graphics Card
- XFX RX 550 2GB DDR5 Video Card
- MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710
- ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Graphics Card
- MSI AMD Radeon R7240
- Asus AMD Radeon R7 250
- ViewMax GeForce GT 740
- ASUS Graphics Cards R5230
1. GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 Graphics Card
A silent unit ideal for casual gamers and digital creatives
This GIGABYTE graphics card is a low-profile graphics card for under 100 dollars. It isn't the most powerful, but it is good enough for casual gamers and people who work with 3D modeling applications.
It only has 2GB of RAM, but it somehow manages to play a lot of games on high settings. It performs best with games that aren't too graphically advanced, but it can often still play new releases on moderate settings without overheating.
To keep it from frying itself, GIGABYTE has included a fan and a heatsink with the GT 1030, and together these run silently, so you can play without putting up with any annoying buzzing. It also comes with AORUS to allow you to overclock it with a single click.
The clock is fairly quick for it to be part of such a cheap graphics card, too. It has a base speed of 1468Mhz, and AORUS allows you to overclock it to 1506Mhz. That's plenty of speed to perform well while rendering today's hottest titles.
2. XFX RX 550 2GB DDR5 Video Card
A high-performance budget option to rival the industry champions
XFX is one of the best performance graphics cards that we'll be reviewing in this price range. It has the same amount of V-RAM as the GT 1030 above, but it has a faster clock, and its other components give it a major performance boost.
It uses AMD's App Accelerator software to give it a little more speed despite its cheap price, and it also comes with AMD TrueAudio and AMD Crimson installed. These software features improve its overall gaming performance to rival that of a much more expensive Nvidia graphics card.
This one is great for people who are just now getting into gaming on PC systems, and it's a solid secondary GPU for advanced gamers. The only issue that we have with it is that the fans are quite loud. They work really well, but they can be annoying if you're not playing with a noise-cancelling headset.
3. MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710
Mighty affordable while still capable of supporting the needs of serious gamers
This graphics card from MSI is one of the best budget graphics cards on this list. It costs less than half of the budget we set for this list, and it uses a GeForce GT 710 chip to allow it to handle the needs of more serious gamers.
The 710 chip is one of Nvidia's older models, and it's not as advanced as their newest models, but it is strong enough to handle some pretty demanding titles with decent graphics settings. The speed of the processor is what helps this MSI graphics card make the most out of its chip. The included V-RAM is a standard 2GB setup, more than enough to play the majority of modern games smoothly.
Despite being extremely inexpensive, MSI has made the most out of budget-priced components, and the GT 710 performs admirably as a primary graphics card for beginners, and it's a great secondary card to help advanced gamers boost their systems a bit.
4. ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Graphics Card
An impressive unit that will out-perform most budget options
The ZOTAC is one of the best gaming graphics cards under 100 dollars, and that's mostly due to its Nvidia chip. The GT 730 was impressive when it was first released, and it's just as impressive today. It may not be able to handle the most recent titles on the highest settings, but it offers a number of advantages over many other budget graphics cards.
It has 4GB of RAM, and that's twice as much as every other previous option we've reviewed. The extra RAM ensures that the GT 730 will outperform almost any other card on this list in terms of how quickly it can render complex models and images.
The 730 is essentially an upgrade to the MSI 710, but it costs a little more than the MSI. If you're a gamer who isn't worried about spending a little extra money, this is one of the best cards you can get at this price, and it certainly won't disappoint.
5. MSI AMD Radeon R7240
An extremely affordable option for more casual, everyday use
This MSI version of the Radeon R7240 is extremely cheap, and it performs well enough to satisfy people who like to watch a lot of HD videos. It's not quite strong enough to handle the demanding requirements of modern games, but it can handle older titles that casual gamers love.
2GB of RAM is pretty standard, but it matches the other components well and processes images very smoothly, and you won't need any more V-RAM to play the games that the R7240 excels at running.
The cooling system is fairly impressive for such a cheap unit. It consists of a single fan that actively removes hot air from the unit, and has a copper heatsink that absorbs quite a bit of heat efficiently. These together run silently and do a very good job of keeping the GPU cool.
The R7240 is a great option for people who just want to use their computer for watching movies, streaming TV shows, or normal work tasks, but it's not something that we recommend to anyone who wants to play games from this generation of gaming.
6. Asus AMD Radeon R7 250
A fully-automatic system best in the hands of digital creatives
Asus has done a great job using AMD's Radeon 7 chipset here, but this is not something that we recommend to gamers. This unit only has 1GB of GDDR5 V-RAM, and that's a huge hindrance when it comes to its gaming capabilities.
Otherwise, this graphics card performs pretty well overall. It has a dust-proof fan that keeps dust from sticking to the GPU, and that increases its overall lifespan dramatically. It's also fairly silent, and the entire system is fully automatic due to the use of AUTO-EXTREME technology.
There aren't really any other features that set it apart from other budget options, and its lack of a reasonable amount of V-RAM makes it a poor choice for modern gaming. It will work admirably for people who are into 3D modeling and video editing, and it has more than enough power to play games from around 2012 with ease. It's capable of rendering video files pretty quickly and can stay cool for long periods of time.
7. ViewMax GeForce GT 740
Great performance and cooling at a surprisingly low price
When it comes to playing games, the ViewMax GT 740 is probably the best graphics card for under 100 dollars. It has 4GB of GDDR3 RAM, and its memory clock runs at 1600Mhz. It's not going to be able to compete with an Nvidia Titan, but it's more than enough for beginners to save a few bucks without being limited to playing older games.
This is a multi-core GPU that runs extremely cool, too. Its fans are fairly advanced for something that costs less than $100, and it only requires 65 watts of power to run the cooling system and the GPU. That means that you'll need a 400-watt power supply, but most gamers will have that in their rig by now.
To make the package even better, it comes with the entirety of Nvidia's performance software, and it even comes with Lossless audio. The included performance software helps it compete with more expensive models, and that makes this unit a great budget option.
8. ASUS Graphics Cards R5230
The perfect addition to a budget video streaming machine
The R5230 isn't a gaming graphics card. While that might be a turn-off for gamers, that doesn't mean that people looking to create a home theater can't get a lot of use out of it. It has 1GB of V-RAM and runs silently, so it can play HD video files for long periods of time without overheating or making any annoying noise. This is the perfect card for a computer that is mostly going to stream videos or play movies.
It's also a low-profile graphics card. This makes it a viable option for use in a home theater computer because it can be placed in more discreet cases, and you don't have to clutter your entertainment center with a large PC. To help you tweak its performance for 4K videos and other demanding tasks, the R5230 also comes with Tweak II installed.
We don't recommend this card to gamers at all, but it's great for setting up a PC for movies, streaming, and other entertainment tasks. If you're looking for a powerful graphics card to help you properly experience your favorite films, this is the card to buy.
Graphics Cards Under $100 Buyer’s Guide
This is the part of the article where we break down the key factors that should help you to determine whether you should buy a specific graphics card. Everyone has different needs, and you can end up spending a lot more than you need to if you don’t buy the right card.
Some cards are better suited for gamers, and some are more useful for putting together a work computer or home theater. The latter is a lot cheaper, and the price difference between the different kinds of graphics cards can be pretty dramatic.
After reading this guide, you’ll have the knowledge necessary to decide upon the best graphics card for under 100 dollars for you.
V-RAM is far more important than your general RAM when it comes to rendering graphics. That goes for games, video files, and modeling programs. How much you need is determined by what you’re buying the card for.
Gamers typically need a card with at least 4GB of high-speed V-RAM. We recommend only using cards that use GDDR3 or higher quality RAM. Modern games require a lot of speed and processing power, and anything less will greatly impact the performance of your rig.
Work computers and home theater units don’t require nearly as much RAM unless you’re dealing with very sophisticated modeling programs. 1GB of GDDR3 V-RAM is typically enough to get the job done. To ensure that your system performs adequately, we recommend buying a card that uses 2GB of GDDR3 or better. 1GB is usually enough, but 4K video and other demanding files might push a 1GB card to breaking point.
Clock speed comes in two varieties. The memory clock speed is how fast the V-RAM can transmit information, and the GPU clock speed is how fast the GPU’s cores can process information. It’s always best to go with faster clock speeds, because they typically mean that the graphics card will run smoothly. A good graphics card under 100 should have a clock that runs around 1200Mhz at the very least. That’s usually fast enough to process gaming information, and it’s more than enough to watch your favorite YouTube channels or Netflix movies.
Ports aren’t quite as important as the main hardware used in a graphics card, but they are important. They determine how you connect the graphics card to your PC. The most common ports are HDMI and Display Ports, and we suggest getting a graphics card that has both of those. DVI-Dual Link is also fairly common, and VGA is still used by some graphics cards.
More ports usually mean that you have more options with your graphics card, but they’re not always necessary if you already know what ports you’ll be using. If you know what you’re looking for, you can buy a cheaper unit that only has the ports you need, and you can save yourself some money. It’s usually not something that should determine whether or not you buy a specific card, but it can come in handy. If you’re looking at two similar cards, and the only real difference is an extra port that you don’t need, buy the cheaper card, and save yourself a few bucks.
Cases are designed to hold graphics cards that fit into a specific size range. You have to take your case into consideration before buying a graphics card. Some cards are low-profile and will only fit into cases that are designed to safely hold their smaller frame. The opposite is also true; larger graphics cards will not fit into cases that are built for low-profile cards.
Take the time to measure your case’s GPU slot before you commit to a certain card. Then, you can refer to a card’s listed dimensions to see if it’ll fit in your system. Whatever you do, don’t allow your graphics card to haphazardly flop around in your case because you bought one that doesn’t fit into your case’s GPU slot. That can lead to a lot of wasted money.
Gaming Graphics Card Under $100
Gaming graphics cards under 100 dollars tend to come with a few drawbacks. The technology required to power high-end games is simply too expensive to pack all of the latest features into a cheap unit.
Typically, that means that you often have to sacrifice V-RAM, cooling, and special software. That’s not the case for all budget graphics cards, but it’s common. To get the best graphics card possible for your gaming hobby, you’ll usually have to make a sacrifice in one of these areas.
2GB cards are fairly common in the $100 range, and they’re sufficient enough for gaming on moderate graphics settings. If a graphics card only has 2GB of high-speed V-RAM, but it also has several types of performance optimization software, we recommend buying it over a unit that has 4GB of sub-par V-RAM and few performance-enhancing features. Sometimes, numbers aren’t the most important things to look at.
Cooling systems are very important when it comes to gaming. Gaming GPUs require a lot of power to run properly, and that power generates heat. If your cooling system isn’t up to par, your GPU can overheat and fry itself. So, it’s important to pick a budget graphics card that can keep itself cool with a proper fan and heatsink. It’s okay to buy a unit that runs a little louder if it keeps the system cool. In fact, it’s one of the main sacrifices you’ll have to make when buying a card in this price range.
Ideally, your budget graphics card should be exceptional in terms of performance, and you should aim to only sacrifice special features rather than any core functionality.
For Work and Entertainment
Computers that are only going to be used for work or video streaming don’t require much power, so you’ll have a little more room to splurge on special features here.
We recommend buying a card that has 1GB of high-speed V-RAM in most cases, unless you’re going to be watching a lot of 4K videos. In that case, you should bump it up to 2GB. Since you only need half as much V-RAM for this type of card, you can focus on buying a card that has a much better fan.
Dust-proof fans are great because they lower the number of times that you’ll have to open up your rig for extensive dust removal. In this way, they also help your GPU to last longer.
On top of getting a dust-proof fan, it’s best to get one that’s silent. Gamers shopping in this price range often have to sacrifice silence for performance features, since they can just block out the buzzing of a loud fan with a good pair of headphones. That’s not practical for a home theater or work computer, and the sound of a loud fan can be annoying enough to ruin your experience.If you liked our article on graphics cards under $100, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.