When you go to buy a graphics card, it’s easy to get suckered into buying a $1000 model with the best features. However, that’s not really necessary, and it certainly isn’t something that everyone can afford to do.
The most expensive graphics cards tend to have more power than they actually need. That helps to future-proof them for several years, but they’re quite the investment.
That’s why we’ve found ten graphics cards that can play the vast majority of games, and they cost less than two hundred dollars. These budget graphics cards aren’t going to allow you to play Crisis with 4K graphics mods and ultra-high graphics settings. However, they will allow you to play most games with your graphics set to medium or high.
We’ve chosen these graphics cards based on their clock speed, graphics memory, ports, and GPU. All of them are viable options for your gaming rig, but we’ll announce the best graphics card under $200 in the conclusion to our buyer’s guide.
Quick Look: The Best Graphics Cards Under $200
- XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660
- ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 560
- Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti Windforce
- ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570
- ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1060 Mini
- Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050
- Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT 1030
- Asus AMD Radeon R7 250
- XFX RX 550 2GB DDR5
1. XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
The XFX Radeon RX 580 is more powerful than some of the other options on our list, and it has quite a few extra features packed into it. Besides having a powerful RX 580 GPU and 8GB of V-RAM, the RX 580 uses Radeon Chill technology, a Unibody Heatsink, enhanced cooling pipes, FreeSync 2, and Eyefinity technology. Those are just the main features. It's packed with several other goodies, and the list is too long to add here.
Besides those features, the RX 580 uses True Clock technology to make the most out of the card's clock. Instead of using software to run the clock, the clock is hardware based. This allows it to be used reliably, and it can go faster than what it would with software powering it.
This is a great option for anyone. It's cheap enough for everyone to be able to acquire it, and it has plenty of strength. If you have $200 to spend, you can't go wrong buying this graphics card.
2. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660
The GeForce GTX 1660 isn't quite as powerful as the Radeon RX 580, but it's a little less expensive, and it has a few features that set it apart. The majority of the features are similar. It has advanced cooling technology, the AORUS engine, and has enough power to play the majority of games.
The cooling system is the most impressive part of this graphics card. It has a direct-touch cooling pipe, and it has two fans that rotate in opposite directions. This increases the amount of heat that the cooling system can remove from the system. The AORUS engine is a nice touch, too. The engine gives you a lot more control over your graphics card, and it allows you to adjust it on the fly.
It's not the best card on this list, but it doesn't take up the entirety of the $200 budget, and it has what you need to enjoy your favorite games without worrying.
3. ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 560
The ROG Strix isn't the most powerful card on this list, and gamers that play demanding titles will probably want to go with one of the other cards on this list. However, it's a great budget graphics card, and it is powerful enough to play titles that don't require a lot of processing power.
It has a pair of Wing-Blade fans to provide enough cooling for most applications. Some users have complained that it overheats during very strenuous sessions, but ASUS includes the Tweak II interface to allow you to adjust it for more optimal performance.
The technical capabilities of the Strix aren't very impressive. They're just enough to allow casual gamers and enthusiasts to play the most popular titles. For that reason, we recommend that die-hard gamers try the RX 580 that we reviewed. Casual gamers will enjoy the lower price of the Strix.
4. Gigabyte GTX 1050 Ti Windforce
The GTX 1050 is very similar to the Strix 560, but it has a little more power. That makes it a better option for hardcore gamers. It only has 4GB of V-RAM, but it runs at 1468MHz, and it has a few features that help it to maximize its performance. Whereas the Strix 560 would struggle to play the most demanding games, the GTX 1050 can play practically any modern title at 60FPS in 1080p. The GTX 1050 Ti GPU won't allow you to play the most demanding games in 4K, but you can still play them in 1080p, and that's a great value in this price range.
To keep it cool, the GTX 1050 uses WINDFORCE 2X fans. The fans blow circulate air in opposite directions, and that allows it to create a tunnel of air that removes heat more efficiently. You shouldn't have any issues with overheating.
If you need to tune the GTX 1050, it does have the Xtreme engine utility that you can access. With just a single click, you can fully optimize the GTX 1050 while you play.
5. ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570
The ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 is a slightly upgraded version of the 560 that we reviewed earlier. The 560 was great for casual players, but it wasn't a good option for hardcore gamers. The 570's upgrades make it a little more suitable for pickier gamers, but it's still cost effective for casual guys.
The clock runs at a natural rate of 1300MHz, but it can be overclocked to 1310MHz. That's a fairly large improvement over the 560. It has the same fans and cooling pipes as the 560 had, and most of the software is the same. It has Tweak II for changing your card's settings, and it has the same cool lighting effects with Aura Sync RGB. However, it also has Far Connect II. Far Connect II monitors the card's temperature in real-time, and it allows you to manually adjust your cooling system to prevent burning the card up.
The 570 isn't doesn't have a lot of major advantages over the 560, but it processes graphics a lot faster, and it doesn't cost much more. That makes it a great graphics card for newer gamers, and it bridges the gap between being casual cards and hardcore gaming cards.
6. ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1060 Mini
The ZOTAC 1060 packs a lot of power into an excessively small package. The entire unit is only 6 inches long. So, it can fit into most gaming rigs with ease. You do trade a little bit of power for its small size, but it's still one of the most powerful cards on our list. It also requires a full $200 to acquire.
The small frame of the ZOTAC houses a GTX 1060 GPU, 3GB of V-RAM, 1152 CUDA cores, and a clock that can reach speeds of 1708MHz. It also has plenty of ports jammed into its small frame. So, you can attach plenty of different cables to it.
The ZOTAC is a card that can satisfy the needs of hardcore gamers, and it has a price to match. It's one of the most impressive graphics cards on this list, and we highly suggest that you try it out. However, it is a bit more powerful than what most casual gamers need. If you don't need all of the power that it offers, you can save a little money by going with one of our cheaper suggestions.
7. Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050
The GeForce GTX 1050 is a card that squeezes the most performance out of the least resources. Despite only having 2GB of V-RAM, it can handle 1080p resolutions, and it can continue running games in 1080p at 60FPS. It's also fully compatible with DirectX 12. So, you won't have to worry about missing out on some of your favorite DirectX features like you would with other budget graphics cards.
The fan is a fairly standard design, and there aren't a lot of additional software options included. It does let you choose from several settings to maximize its performance, though.
The GeForce GTX 1050 isn't the fanciest graphics card, but it gives you the power of a high-end card at a low cost. It only costs a little over $100, and it's as powerful as a lot of cards that cost three times as much. This is the perfect graphics card for people who don't care about fancy features, but want a lot of power for a low price.
8. Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT 1030
The GT 1030 is one of the best options for people that just want to stream videos in 4K. It doesn't have enough power to play a lot video games on high settings, but it can handle 4K video exceptionally well, and it's cheap. This unit costs less than $100.
The GT 1030 GPU is more than powerful enough to process 4K video files, and its 2GB of V-RAM is good enough to make the process fast. There aren't many other features to discuss with this graphics card. It's just a solid card for streaming and web browsing. It does have the AORUS engine, though. While it's unlikely that you'll need to overclock this card, you can do so with one click.
We don't recommend this card to gamers, but if streaming high-quality videos is your favorite hobby, this card will do the trick.
9. Asus AMD Radeon R7 250
This is another card that costs less than $100, but it's a little more well-rounded. The R7 250 won't allow you to play demanding titles, and it doesn't offer the most features. However, it will allow you to play a lot of titles that aren't demanding, and it can handle streaming very well. It's essentially the best budget graphics card for casual users.
It only has 1024MB of V-RAM, but its engine makes the most of it. It has allows you to use the Tweak II engine to adjust your settings on the fly. So, you can easily adjust it to perform better for each task that you throw at it.
The fans on the 250 are dust-proof. While they're not the best fans available, the dust-proof feature will allow them to run smoothly for longer periods of time. In the long run, that allows them to out perform fans in much higher price ranges.
10. XFX RX 550 2GB DDR5
The RX 550 isn't a graphics card that you'll want to use for intense gaming, but it's a great budget choice for casual gamers. It has 2GB of V-RAM, and it runs at 1203MHz. When that is combined with the AMD RX 550's processing power, the XFX is more than capable of playing most games on moderate settings, and it can stream high-quality video files with ease.
In addition to the hardware specs, the RX 550 comes with Eyefinity and TrueAudio technology. Eyefinity will allow you to plug in multiple monitors, and your graphics card won't struggle to handle the added output. TrueAudio works to improve your computer's audio capabilities.
This is a great option for casual gamers and average people. It won't play Ark on ultra-high settings, but it'll do just about everything else.
Best Graphics Cards Under $200 Buyer’s Guide
Choosing the right graphics card can be hard if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why we’re here. We’ve taken the time to lay out the most important features to look for in a graphics card, and we’ve written everything in an easily understandable way.
Be Reasonable With Resolution
Very few cards will allow you to play demanding titles in 4K. That tends to be a premium feature, and you’ll pay upwards of $1000 for it. However, you can find a lot of cards that allow you to play games in 1080p, and they’ll run at 60FPS. In fact, nearly all of the options on our list allow you to do that for less than $200.
If you want to have a card that renders your graphics in 4K, you’ll have to save a lot of money. Sometimes, it’s more beneficial to buy a cheaper card with less power.
Mind Your Monitor
It’s easy to look at a graphics card’s specs, and buy whatever one has the highest numbers. However, that can end up wasting a lot of your money. You need to know what your monitor’s refresh rate is.
One of the biggest factors in a graphics card’s price is its clock speed. If your monitor can’t refresh faster than your card can, then you’re wasting every bit of extra speed that your card has.
On the other hand, you don’t want to buy a card that is slower than your monitor. You’ll end up with choppy visuals.
Don’t Double Down
Having twice as many graphics cards sounds like a good idea. However, it’s often a huge waste of money. The majority of games don’t require that much power, and it’s often easier to just buy the best card that you can afford.
The cards on our list aren’t the best cards out there, but they can still provide enough power for most applications. Why would you want to spend twice as much when it doesn’t help you?
Overclocking Isn’t a Cure-All
No card has the ability to double or triple its clock speed. Overclocking abilities can help you render more demanding graphics, but they won’t do anything miraculous. If you need more graphical power, you have to invest in a more expensive card. There’s no getting around it.
You Only Have two GPU Options
It may not be the best for the industry, but there are only two companies that manufacture GPU units, whether they’re budget or top graphics cards. Those are AMD and NVidia. That does make it easier to tell what type of card you need, though.
AMD cards are great for people who are on a budget. They’re cheaper than NVidia powered cards, and they can handle almost anything. However, they can’t compare to the high-end GPU units that NVidia offers.
If you’re a hardcore gamer, you need to buy a graphics card that is powered by NVidia. otherwise, you can easily get away with a cheaper AMD card.
Know a Budget Card From a Cheap Card
Every product that we listed is a high-quality product. Not all of them are great for intense gaming, but those products are still great for casual users. However, the market is saturated with garbage graphics cards. If you aren’t careful, you can easily end up with a dud.
The easiest solution is to buy one of the products we reviewed. If you don’t want to do that, you need to be able to tell the difference between gold and dirt.
A budget graphics card isn’t going to offer all of the goodies that a high-end card does. That’s just how it is. However, a budget card will be capable of performing admirably for most tasks, and it will be durable enough to endure daily use.
A piece of garbage is going to be extremely weak, and it probably won’t have protective features that keep it running for long. Look at the GPU, clock speed, V-RAM, and cooling features. The construction materials are important, too. However, they’re not as important as the other features we mentioned.
At this point, you’ve heard everything we have to say about the ten best budget graphics cards available. Hopefully, you read our buyer’s guide, too. Now, we want to name the best options on the list.
The GeForce GTX 1050 is the best card for new gamers. Veterans will want to go with a fancier card, but the GTX 1050 is strong enough to allow new gamers to get an idea of what PC gaming is.
The Zotac is the best card on our list. If you have the extra money, it’s worth spending the $200 for it. It’s small enough to fit in nearly any desktop computer, and it packs a ton of different goodies into its small shell.
If you’re just looking to stream videos, you don’t need either of those. You can easily buy the GT 1030 for your computer. It’s cheap, and it is better at streaming than any other card we reviewed.