Choosing the best graphics card can enhance your gaming PC tenfold, enabling you to enjoy lofty resolutions and frame rates. While GeForce RTX 4000 and Radeon RX 7000 GPUs will soon fight for the crown, Intel could win over gamers on a budget with its Arc Alchemist range.
With that in mind, what makes the best GPU? If you’re rocking a high-spec rig, you’ll likely want a powerhouse card that can run the latest games at 4K and still boost fps. Of course, premium parts come at a price, as flagship RTX 4000 offerings like the Nvidia RTX 4090 cost more than an entire system.
Thankfully, you don’t need a GPU kaiju to build the best gaming PC for your needs, and there is a range of different Nvidia, AMD, and Intel options out there to choose from. So to help unmuddy the sea of specs, we’ve compiled a list of the best graphics card choices on the market right now.
Here are the best graphics cards in 2022:
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti – our top choice
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 – the best cheap and cheerful card
- AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT – the best AMD GPU
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 – a graphics card kaiju
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 – great value for money
1. The best graphics card for gaming
The best graphics card for gaming is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.
Expect to pay $1,199 USD / £1,049 GBP.
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti specs|
- RTX 3090 performance at a cheaper price point
- Better ray tracing performance than the RX 6900 XT
- Less VRAM than the RTX 3090
- Slightly slower boost clock speeds
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti might be the most powerful GPU you can buy, but it arguably provides more performance per dollar than the RTX 3090 Ti. Not only is it $800 cheaper than its flagship sibling, but it’s still capable of running the latest games with settings cranked up to max.
An AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT may cost less, at just $999 USD, but the RTX 3080 Ti will deftly outperform team red’s flagship when it comes to ray tracing. It’s no slouch when it comes to traditional rendering either, making it the perfect card for 4K high refresh rate gaming.
Of course, the RTX 3080 Ti comes with memory caveats, as the card comes equipped with 12GB. Not every game is ravenous when it comes to VRAM, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning on using a native 4K display.
Our Nvidia RTX 4080 review covers why it’s a killer 4K card, but its price prevents it from replacing the RTX 3080 on this list. A price cut could earn it a spot in the future, but the green team will likely release the RTX 4070 before that happens.
2. The best cheap graphics card
The best cheap graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050.
Expect to pay $249 USD / £239 GBP.
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 specs|
- Access to Nvidia DLSS and Nvidia Reflex at a more affordable price
- Solid 1080p ray tracing performance
- Might age faster than other GPUs
- Custom models might cost the same as RTX 3060
At just $249 USD, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 makes putting Ampere in your gaming PC a more affordable prospect. Despite its lower price tag, the RTX 3050 doesn’t miss out on features like Nvidia DLSS. This upscaling technology can help the budget card significantly boost fps in even the most demanding games, with little-to-no impact on image quality.
It’s also capable of ray tracing, and offers greater performance than its main competition, the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT. If you predominantly play esports titles like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, or Valorant, the RTX 3050 is a perfect fit for your system with support for Nvidia Reflex as well.
It’s worth noting that GPU prices are still a little weird at the moment, and some custom RTX 3050 models cost almost as much as an RTX 3060. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the market to make sure prices stay reasonable, as drastic changes could cost the entry-level card its place on the list.
That said, if you can get one for near MSRP, the RTX 3050 is a great budget option that provides a modern gaming experience. It might age faster than higher-end alternatives, but it’ll still run games at a fraction of the price.
3. The best AMD graphics card
The best AMD graphics card is the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT.
Expect to pay $999 USD/ £799 GBP.
|AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT specs|
|GPU Model||Navi 21 XTX|
- 4K gaming at less than $1000 USD.
- Can sometimes outperform the RTX 3080 Ti.
- Ray tracing performance.
- Isn’t as fast as RTX 3080 Ti.
Sitting at the top of its RX 6000 series cards, the AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT is team red’s frontrunner for the GPU performance crown. At $999 USD, it’s much cheaper than either the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti or RTX 3090 Ti, and can turn in very similar frame rates to those cards.
Unfortunately, it can’t quite compete with team green’s flagships when it comes to ray tracing, with Nvidia’s RT cores wiping the floor with AMD’s ray accelerators. If standard rendering is your priority, the RX 6900 XT is the best of the bunch from team red and should be on your shortlist.
Ultimately, the RX 6900 XT doesn’t pack quite as much of a punch as high-end Nvidia cards. However, it’s still an impressive AMD alternative that offers impressive 4K performance for less.
AMD RDNA 3 is scheduled to arrive in December, and we’ll hear more about Radeon RX 7900 XT soon. In theory, it should replace the RX 6900 XT as the best AMD graphics card, but rumours suggest that the badge may go to the beefier Radeon RX 7900 XTX.
4. The most powerful graphics card
The most powerful graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Expect to pay $1,599 USD / £1,679 GBP.
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 specs|
|Memory bandwidth||1,008 GB/s|
- The most powerful GPU on the market
- Staggering gaming performance
- Impressive DLSS 3.0 capabilities
- Premium price point.
- Ridiculously large.
- Ravenous for power.
The Nvidia RTX 4090 has officially booted the RTX 3090 Ti from the performance throne, and it’ll take a lot to slay the Lovelace leviathan. The AD102 GPU’s raw abilities alone are worth ranting about, but additional DLSS 3.0 tricks will help protect the next-gen card’s position at the top.
Our Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 review puts the GPU kaiju through its paces, and its gaming PC capabilities are staggering. The flagship makes short work of demanding games like Hitman 3, Total War: Warhammer 3, and Cyberpunk 2077, even with ray tracing and ultra settings switched on.
With great power comes greater caveats, and the RTX 4090 is far from flawless. For starters, you’ll need to pair the ravenous RTX 4000 card with the best power supply, and older PSUs will have to rely on a PCIe 5.0 adapter.
Price is also a bit of an RTX 4090 sore spot, as it comes in at $100 more than the RTX 3090 did at launch. Of course, you can now grab the latter card for under $1,000 USD, so unless you’re looking to boost frame rates for funsies, waiting for the RTX 4080 might be a better option.
5. The best value graphics card
The best value graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080.
Expect to pay $699 USD / £649 GBP.
- Generational leap even over the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Better features and performance than the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
- Power hungry
- Still expensive
- Less VRAM than high-end alternatives
If you’re looking for the sweet spot between cost and performance, then you’ll want the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. It comes from the same GA102 family as its bigger, more expensive siblings, the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090, but is substantially cheaper at $699 USD.
Even those with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti can expect a significant uplift in frame rates, and it only gets better for those still holding on to GTX 10 series cards. It also supports Nvidia software features like Nvidia DLSS, Nvidia Reflex, and Nvidia ShadowPlay for a wonderfully robust toolset.
The RTX 3080 is by no means a cheap GPU, and you’ll pay more than Founder Edition MSRP for overclocked variants. Yet, it’s still a chunk cheaper than the upcoming RTX 4080, as even the now canceled 12GB model was set to cost a whopping $899 USD.
Sure, the RTX 4080 boasts DLSS 3.0 AI upscaling, but its lofty price only adds to the RTX 3080’s appeal. Who knows, perhaps the RTX 4070 will eventually offer more bang for your buck. Until then, Ampere is a wiser investment.