What is the best graphics card for gaming?
The beauty of building your own PC is that there are plenty of graphics card options available to you based on budget and desired performance. You can mix and match hardware as you please and still end up with a powerful rig. For most people, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is going to hit a high-end performance tier and not cost an excessive amount of money like the more powerful overkill options, at least when scalping and stock shortages aren’t an issue. Cue the NVIDIA RTX 3090, the Ampere generation’s answer to the RTX Titan, ideal for design and development work but demanding a very high price. The same goes for AMD’s Radeon RX 6900 XT, a high-end card that’s overkill for most people.
If you’re looking to experience 4K PC gaming or just want to absolutely destroy 1440p, the NVIDIA RTX 3080 or AMD RX 6800 XT will work well, delivering only about 10% less performance than the RTX 3090 for a whole lot less money. If you want to just dabble in 4K gaming but primarily focus on a high-end 1440p experience, the NVIDIA RTX 3070 will do good for those on Team Green while the AMD Radeon RX 6800 will be attractive for those on Team Red. Want the graphics card that delivers the absolute best value? The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is an ideal choice for a lot of people who don’t want to overspend but still want a GPU that can easily handle modern games.
The best graphics cards aren’t limited to these options; there are more to discuss whether it comes to gaming, 4K power, or to fit a smaller budget. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for where to buy NVIDIA RTX 30-series GPUs and where to buy AMD Radeon RX 6000 GPUs, which haven’t been easy to come by so far. As it stands, here are the best graphics cards in 2022.
1. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080: Best graphics card for most gamers
Bottom line: Thanks to powerful Ampere performance and a competitive price, the RTX 3080 is an excellent pick for most people. It affords you the ability to choose FHD, QHD, or UHD resolutions at a high frame rate, and it delivers extra NVIDIA features like RTX ray tracing and Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS). It’s much faster than the RTX 2080 and even beats out the RTX 2080 Ti in raw performance.
Memory: 10GB / 12GB GDDR6X | Memory speed: 19Gbps | Memory bus: 320-bit / 384-bit | Boost clock: 1.7GHz | CUDA cores: 8,704 / 8,960 | Process: 8nm | Power: 320W / 350W
|MSI||Ventus 3X OC||$1,139 at Amazon|
|NVIDIA||Founders Edition||See at Best Buy|
|EVGA||XC3 Ultra||$1,342 at Amazon|
|Zotac||Gaming Trinity||$1,392 at Newegg|
- High-end Ampere performance with up to 8,960 CUDA cores
- AI enhancements from DLSS 2.0
- Compatible with G-Sync displays
- Powerful enough for 4K gaming
- Outperforms the RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti
- Overkill for some people
There’s no one true pick for everyone when it comes to the best graphics card, but if we’re choosing what should suit most people based on performance and price, we have to go with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3080. While AMD has undoubtedly cut into NVIDIA’s claim to the GPU throne with its Radeon RX 6000 cards, a few of which are included in this roundup, the top-tier option still belongs to Team Green.
In our NVIDIA RTX 3080 review, Windows Central GPU master Harish Jonnalagadda makes it clear that this is the card upgrade you’ve been waiting for. Not only does the RTX 3080 outperform last-generation GPUs, but it also delivers the extra benefits that make RTX cards so sought after. Ray tracing is becoming more prevalent in modern games, and NVIDIA’s GPUs with dedicated ray-tracing cores are up to the task.
DLSS is perhaps the more impressive feature that comes standard with this GPU. It employs dedicated Tensor cores to run AI rendering in real-time, effectively boosting frame rates while also making frames come out at a much higher resolution. Because ray tracing can be detrimental to performance, DLSS is the perfect pairing. AMD’s new RX 6000 cards feature ray tracing, but so far the hit to performance is far more severe compared to NVIDIA RTX. Grabbing one of the best CPUs for the RTX 3080 will really push things over the edge.
The RTX 3080 has some beefy specs, and it’s the right card if you’re looking to enjoy smooth 4K gaming at 60 FPS without having to turn down in-game settings. If you want the best PSU for the RTX 3080, NVIDIA recommends at least going with a 750W option. This card is compatible with G-Sync monitors, which have the adaptive sync technology to reduce screen tearing. It will also work with any FreeSync monitors that are “G-Sync compatible.” Whether you’re looking to game at 4K or 1440p, the RTX 3080 is the new best graphics card for many people.
The RTX 3080 is slowly returning to virtual store shelves, though prices are still generally far above where they should be. The best thing to do is to check back often for availability updates, and be sure to visit our guide on where to buy the NVIDIA RTX 3080 for more information on restock notifications. Also have a look at more GPU options in our best NVIDIA RTX 3080 graphics cards roundup.
Want to turn your plain PC into a powerful gaming PC? You’ll want to look at investing in one of our picks for the best graphics card. It’s responsible for rendering everything you see on-screen and taking workloads off the CPU when powering through calculations. The last thing you want to do when purchasing a new GPU is to waste your money on an older model or one that’s not powerful enough to do what you need. You also don’t want to overspend.
There are several questions you need to ask yourself. What kind of games are you playing? Love low-impact indie titles or well-optimized esports games? Or do you wish to take full advantage of current-gen AAA gaming and want to enjoy the best graphics at a 4K resolution? If the answer is the former, you’ll want to think about more affordable graphics cards that don’t require advanced components to get the most out of the GPU.
As for more demanding games, it’s generally down to your budget and what your current PC has in terms of a processor (CPU), RAM, and more. If your PC build is rocking anything less than a recent Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 CPU, it’s probably not worth forking out on top-of-the-line GPU options. You’ll most likely experience what is known as a bottleneck, where a separate piece of hardware isn’t capable of keeping up with the GPU’s ability. Our roundup of the best processors for your custom PC can help you get the right CPU.
For which resolution and frame rate are you shooting? Entry-level budget GPUs are ideal for 1080p (FHD) gaming, mid-range is best for 1440p (QHD) gaming, and the top-tier options are cut out for 4K (UHD). Of course, you can always drop down to a lower resolution with a top-tier GPU just to get better frame rates, or if you don’t want to shell out the cash for a 4K gaming monitor.
How long would you like the GPU to last? Going with a budget option now will save you money, but it won’t be relevant as long as a mid- or upper-range GPU. If you don’t want to replace the GPU any time soon, you will want to spend a bit more now to ensure you can continue playing games as they’re released in the next few years.
With all these questions considered, those who need a graphics card now should consider the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. It’s our pick for the best graphics card because it hits a sweet spot in terms of performance and price. If it’s not quite what you’re looking for, either in terms of price or performance, there are plenty of other great GPU options available.