Graphics Cards

The best graphics cards 2021: all the top GPUs for gaming

WHERE TO BUY THE BEST GPUS RIGHT NOW

The best graphics cards for 2021 can see you through your video editing or graphic design needs, as well as handle any graphically-intensive game at high resolutions. And, there are some truly impressive cards out there like the Nvidia GeForce  RTX 3080

Unfortunately, right now both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards are in short supply, causing prices to spike up on the second-hand market. The latest cards in the AMD RDNA 2 and Nvidia Ampere lineup are genuinely worth it, but you’re going to want to make extra sure you’re picking out the right card before you drop hundreds of dollars. 

Regardless of which direction you go, whether you’re upgrading from your old gaming laptop or building your own PC, you need one of the best GPUs for an immersive and seamless experience with the best PC games or the most demanding content creation software. Take a look at our list to find the most ideal fit for you.

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Best graphics cards at a glance

  1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
  3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
  4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090
  5. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  6. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
  7. AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
  8. AMD Radeon RX 6800
  9. MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio
  10. PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

(Image credit: Nvidia)

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Best graphics card

Specifications

Stream Processors: 4,864

Core Clock: 1.41 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)

Memory: 8 GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 1080p performance+Ray tracing performance is solid

Reasons to avoid

-Only entry-level 4K performance

Is AMD no longer the king of great value GPUs? The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti certainly threatens that claim with its price to performance ratio. The newest arrival in the RTX 3000 line, this graphics card punches way above its weight class, delivering a performance that could rival that of the RTX 2080 Super while keeping its price tag incredibly affordable for most people. And, that’s with impressive ray tracing included. 1080p gaming has never been this good and this affordable.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

(Image credit: Nvidia)

2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The best graphics card, hands-down

Specifications

Stream Processors: 8,704

Core Clock: 1.44 GHz (1,71 GHz boost)

Memory: 10 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 19Gbps

Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 4K gaming performance+Low temperatures

Reasons to avoid

-Still kind of expensive

With the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, 4K gaming just became a lot more accessible. Before, you had to shell out more than $1,000/£1,000 to get playable framerates with the RTX 2080 Ti. However, with the next generation of Nvidia graphics cards, the price of 4K gaming has been cut nearly in half, thanks to the RTX 3080. It boasts one of the largest generational leaps in GPU history, delivering a 50-80% performance boost over the RTX 2080 and a 20-30% boost over the RTX 2080 Ti, all while keeping the same price point as the RTX 2080. This is both an absolute powerhouse of a graphics card and a great value, if you have a bit of extra cash lying around. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

(Image credit: Future)

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti

Nvidia’s new Ampere leader

Specifications

Stream Processors: 10,240

Core Clock: 1.37 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)

Memory: 12 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Outputs: HDMI, 3x DisplayPort

Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin

Reasons to buy

+Excellent performance+Beautiful graphics card+Same size as RTX 3080

Reasons to avoid

-Very expensive-Power-hungry

 There’s a new Nvidia champion in town, and it takes power and performance to an even more accessible price point. Delivering RTX 3090-level performance, an impressive feat in its own right, the long-awaited RTX 3080 Ti comes with an even better price tag, making all that sheer power more accessible than ever. It continues what the RTX 3080 has started – to take 4K gaming into the mainstream arena – with its breathtaking 4K at 60fps performance while slashing a few hundred dollars off the steep 3090 price. This is the best graphics card on the market right now, especially if you care about ray tracing. 

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

(Image credit: Nvidia)

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

Best graphics card for creatives

Specifications

Stream Processors: 10,496

Core Clock: 1.40 GHz (1,70 GHz boost)

Memory: 24 GB GDDR6X

Memory Clock: 19.5Gbps

Power Connectors: 2x PCIe 8-pin

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Reasons to buy

+GPU performance to beat+Up to 8k performance

Reasons to avoid

-Extremely expensive-Very large

You can’t beat the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 when it comes to performance. With a whopping 24GB of RAM, no game or, more importantly, heavy graphics project will suffer performance issues. In fact, you can even get some 8K performance at 60 fps out of the 3090. It is an incredibly expensive unit, and quite large too, so it will probably be too much GPU for most users. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is, in essence, a replacement for the Titan so it’s meant more for the creative user tackling intensive 3D and video rendering than for the avid gamer. Even so, it comes with a massive reduction in price compared to the Titan, even if it’s still out of most people’s budget.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

(Image credit: AMD)

5. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Nvidia better watch out

Specifications

Stream processors: 3,584

Core clock: 1,506

Memory: 11GB GDDR5X

Memory clock: 10Gbps

Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin

Outputs: 1.4 with DSC DisplayPort, HDMI with 4K60 Support

Reasons to buy

+Generation-defining performance+Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-No ray tracing-Only 6GB of VRAM

If you’re looking for the best graphics card out there for 1080p gaming, you might want to look into what the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT has to offer. This AMD card beats the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with its more affordable price tag, delivering high frame rates and plenty of software features while requiring less power. Sure, it doesn’t have the competition’s ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS), but for raw performance and value, AMD’s contender comes out the winner.

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

(Image credit: Nvidia)

6. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

One of the best graphics cards of all time

Specifications

Stream Processors: 5,888

Core Clock: 1.50 GHz (1.73 GHz boost)

Memory: 8 GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 14Gbps

Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a

Reasons to buy

+Amazing performance+Best value graphics card today+Awesome ray tracing performance

Reasons to avoid

-Same inflated prices as Turing-Required 12-pin power connector

The best graphics card on the market for most people, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 delivers excellent performance – on par with the RTX 2080 Ti even – without costing an arm and a leg. Before this card, 4K gaming was out of a lot of people’s budget. The RTX 3070, therefore, brings it to the mainstream for the first time, and that’s without you having to compromise on settings for most games. And did we mention the fact that this GPU is incredibly cheap? A cheap price tag plus 4K gaming on quality settings equals great value, and that’s why the RTX 3070 tops our list.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

(Image credit: AMD)

7. AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

Another high-end swing from AMD

Specifications

Stream Processors: 2,560

Core Clock: 2.32 GHz (2.58 GHz boost)

Memory: 12GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 16 Gbps

Power Connectors: 8 pin + 6 pin

Outputs: HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC

Reasons to buy

+Excellent 1440p performance+Ray tracing+Lightweight card with no sag

Reasons to avoid

-Ray tracing performance is weak-No FidelityFX Super Resolution

Those comfortable messing with your BIOS and looking for a 1440p graphics card that’s slightly more accessible, price-wise, will appreciate AMD’s latest high-end offering. This Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti rival delivers a solid 1440p performance with ray tracing to boot. It comes at the right time as well, with 1440p gaming monitors’ growing popularity. Its price is a bit closer to the more powerful RTX 3070, but if you’re an AMD fan, it’s still an excellent contender.

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT

AMD Radeon RX 6800

(Image credit: AMD)

8. AMD Radeon RX 6800

AMD’s return to the high-end graphics card market

Specifications

Stream Processors: 3,840

Core Clock: 1.82 GHz (2.10 GHz boost)

Memory: 16GB GDDR6

Memory Clock: 16Gbps

Power Connectors: 2 x 8 pin

Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, HDMI 2.1 VRR and FRL

Reasons to buy

+Excellent performance+Finally, AMD ray tracing

Reasons to avoid

-Divisive design

If you think AMD is still stuck in the budget and mid-range markets, think again. The AMD Radeon RX 6800 marks AMD’s return to the high-end graphics card market, and it’s a premium ace without the incredibly premium price. This GPU delivers a solid 4K gaming performance and impressive ray tracing at 1440p, while being a better value than its direct rival, the RTX 3070, thanks to its VRAM. Plus, AMD’s Smart Access Memory technology will make it even faster. 

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX 6800

MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

(Image credit: MSI)

9. MSI RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

For when you need the very best

Specifications

Stream processors: 2,176

Core clock: 1,650

Memory: 24GB GDDR6X

Memory clock: 19.5Gbps

Power connectors: 3 x 8-pin

Outputs: DisplayPort 1.4a x3, HDMI 2.1

Reasons to buy

+Incredibly powerful+Stylish RGB

Reasons to avoid

– So expensive

If you’re after the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, you’re going to want one with a cooler that’s more than powerful enough to handle the full brunt of the power on offer. The MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio has the cooling power not only to handle this GPU at its stock settings, but has enough oomph to overclock it to make it even more powerful. For a GPU that already laughs in the face of all PC games at 4K, this extra power is just icing on the cake. 

Read the full review: MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio

PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

(Image credit: PNY)

10. PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

The best eSports graphics card

Specifications

Stream Processors: 1,536

Core Clock: 1,500MHz

Memory: 6GB GDDR6

Memory Speed: 12Gbps

Power Connectors: 1 x 8-pin

Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x DVI

Reasons to buy

+Affordable+Excellent 1080p performance

Reasons to avoid

-Limited memory bandwidth

When Nvidia first revealed its Turing lineup, it was hard to find a model that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Nonetheless, with the launch of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti – especially the PNY XLR8 Gaming OC model – next-generation performance became accessible to everyone. You won’t have access to 4K 60 fps gaming with this card, but it’s one of the best graphics cards for anyone still using a 1080p display, and it can handle most esports games well above 60fps. At that resolution, you’ll have trouble running into any title that it can’t handle.

Read the full review: PNY GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XLR8 Gaming OC

Michelle Rae Uy has also contributed to this article.

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