The GPU industry last year was a roller coaster. The first few months of 2018 was the time when graphics cards prices were literally through the roof because of the crypto mining craze. Crypto-miners had wiped out graphics card shelves faster than all the combined GPU manufacturers can produce.
The other half was when new, more powerful graphics cards were introduced, specifically, NVIDIA’s Turing RTX and AMD’s Radeon RX 590, Vega 56, and Vega 64. But this didn’t put the previous generations far behind in terms of performance. This is why the gaming community has got more graphics cards to choose from now than ever.
Breaking the GPU Jargon
Let’s clear out some terms and jargons to better understand each graphics card’s capability and performance.
This represents the speed of the GPU core inside the graphics card. It’s is measured in MHz and does not determine the relative performance of the card. Overclocking the card does provide a free bonus performance. But this has to be done right as it could risk damaging the graphics card if done incorrectly.
The dedicated memory inside the graphics card. Similar to RAM or Random Access Memory, more Video Random Access Memory or VRAM means you get better texture quality in higher resolutions.
GDDR5 and HBM
GDDR5 or Graphics Double Data Rate Type 5SGRAM (Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) is the modern standard form of VRAM. It’s capable of attaining higher clock speeds but consumes more power and is physically larger than HBM.
HBM or High Bandwidth Memory is the newer form of VRAM. It can be stacked to achieve a smaller form while boosting performance by allowing higher bandwidth at lower clock speeds. It also consumes lesser power compared to GDDR5.
GDDR5X vs GDDR6
The GDDR5X (Graphics Double Data Rate Type 5X SGRAM) is the newer version of GDDR5. It has the same speed modes at which the GDDR5 operates but its third-tier speed mode is what makes it faster. In fact, this third-tier speed mode is reported to have twice the data transfer rate. It is also commonly found in high-tiered cards.
The GRRD6 (Graphics Double Data Rate Type 6) is the successor of both GDDR5 and GDDR5X. It offers faster memory speeds and high bandwidth with even lower power consumption. This is aimed towards high-end gaming and is specifically present in NVIDIA’s Turing (RTX-series) graphics cards.
HBM2 or High Bandwidth Memory 2 is the newer version of HBM. It’s basically an upgrade of the HBM with its higher bandwidth and higher memory speed.
Questions to Ask To Make the Right Pick
To make the right choice, your selection should be based on these 3 questions:
How Much Are You Willing to Pay?
On average, your budget ultimately has the say. If budget isn’t an issue, get the Titan RTX. The performance is going to be worth it, especially if you’re the competitive type.
If you can’t get a Titan RTX or even an RTX 2080 Ti, there are numerous alternatives you can choose from. And we’ll cover them one by one in the review section below.
What is Your Preferred Gaming Screen Resolution?
1080p resolution is the most popular choice for gamers, and a GTX 1050 Ti should be enough to push decent frame rates at 1080p resolution on high settings.
But if you’re looking at gaming on a widescreen or 4K monitor, avoid low- and mid-range graphics cards and go straight for premium cards. All the RTX cards, as well as the GTX 1070 Ti, GTX 1080 and the GTX 1080 Ti version, are perfect choices.
Other Things Worth Considering
Like computer cases, graphics cards come a variety of shapes and sizes. There are cards with 3 cooling fans and other cards of the same model with only 1 fan, specifically, mini and reference cards.
Because of this, it’s important to check the dimensions ahead to make sure the card will fit in just fine.
TDP or Thermal Design Power
TDP is the amount of power (watts) needed to dissipate the heat generated by a graphics card under normal operation. Knowing this allows you to choose the right power supply as well as give you an idea of how many case fans you need to dissipate the heat from inside the case efficiently.
Some graphics cards require an eight-pin connector while some only require six-pin connectors. Moreover, there also are graphics cards that have 2x eight-pin and 2x six-pin connectors. If your power supply does not have the supplemental connectors, an upgrade will be essential.
Best Graphics Cards in 2019
|Graphics Card||Clock Speed||VRAM||TDP (Thermal Design Power)||Power Connectors|
|Best Overall: Titan RTX||1350 MHz – 1770 MHz||24 GB GDDR6||280 Watts||8+8pin|
|Best AMD GPU: Radeon RX Vega 64||1247 MHz – 1546 MHz||8GB HBM2||295 Watts||8+8pin|
|Best NVIDIA GPU: RTX 2080 Ti||1350 MHz – 1545 MHz||11GB GDDR6||250 Watts||8+8pin|
|Best 1440p GPU: RTX 2060||1365 MHz – 1680 MHz||6GB GDDR6||160 Watts||8-pin|
|Best 1080p GPU: GTX 1060||1506 MHz – 1708 MHz||6GB GDDR5/X||120 Watts||6-pin|
1. Best Overall: Titan RTX
This is currently the best graphics card in the market.
This monstrous graphics card holds a sheer power that focuses on data science, content creation tasks, and AI– not on gaming. But even though it’s specifically made for content creators, deep learning, CAD, and other professional tasks, you can still use this for gaming. In fact, it’s so powerful that it can run games smoothly even at 8K resolution, not just 4K.
It’s just that that amount of money you’d spend will be better off investing in graphics cards specifically dedicated to gaming, such as an RTX 2080 Ti.
2. Best AMD GPU: Radeon RX Vega 64
The RX Vega 64 is AMD’s fastest consumer graphics card. This card can handle modern AAA games at 4K resolution without any drop in performance.
A noticeable downside is that it generates more heat. This means it also produces more noise to keep the temperatures low. So, if you’re going to consider this option, make sure you get the aftermarket version of the Vega 64 like the Asus Strix model as this does a pretty good job at keeping this beast cool.
3. Best NVIDIA GPU: RTX 2080 Ti
After the release of the powerful GTX, 1080 Ti comes to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. This is currently one of the largest consumer GPU’s ever manufactured. It also features the new Turing RTX technology (TU102) that was reported to be 60% faster than the GTX 1080 Ti’s Pascal technology (GP102).
Essentially, this has the new Ray-tracing technology for a more immersive and surreal graphics experience when playing games. Just make sure you upgrade your gaming monitor as this card works best at 4K resolution. If the Titan RTX is too expensive for you, you wouldn’t go wrong with the RTX 2080 Ti.
4. Best 1440p GPU: RTX 2060
A new entry in the 1440p territory is Nvidia’s RTX 2060 graphics card. This graphics card is potent enough to deliver more frames at 1440p resolution than a GTX 1070 Ti for a lot less. Plus, it runs the latest Turing RTX feature, Ray-Tracing technology, for a more immersive gaming experience.
5. Best 1080p GPU: GTX 1060
The GTX 1060 graphics card offers a premium experience at 1080p resolution. In fact, it’s very capable in the 1080p territory that you can pump the resolution up to 1440p and still get decent frames– as long as you sacrifice a little of the quality for performance.
Compared to its competitor, RX 580, this uses 50W less power and is quieter. It may also be 2GB short of VRAM than the RX 580 but that’s really not a concern in gaming, specifically at 1080p resolution.
When buying a graphics card, it’s important you choose according to what you can afford and what you need. So, with all of these laid out, you should have the best graphics card for you on your next purchase.