Best Graphics Card Under 200

Five Awesome Graphics Cards that Won’t Break the Bank

WEPC Best GPU under 200 Featured image 01

A discrete graphics card isn’t really a choice for modern gaming, it’s a must. Sure Intel is still slinging out those integrated UHD cards in selected CPUs, and it’s a nice gesture, but if you’re serious about gaming, they just don’t cut it. 

Without a powerful GPU chugging out framerates left and right, you’re in for a laggy experience if the game even runs at all. Gaming should be immersive, and your graphics card is a huge part of that, but these days you could sell your car and still come up drastically short for a high-tier GPU.

But we’re here to tell you that you can keep your keys because there are some awesome GPUs out there that you can buy for less than $200 and still run your system to the standards you desire and deserve. So, without further ado, let’s get you a new graphics card!

Our Top Picks

Editor's Choice
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1650
Runner up
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
Runner up
Asus TUF Gaming Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 OC Edition

First Look

Editor's Choice
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1650

You probably never thought you could score Nvidia’s Turing architecture for $200 or less, did you? Enter the MSI GTX 1650! Featuring most of the technological advancements of the RTX series, this graphics card can really tighten up your visuals.

Decked out with MSI Twin Frozr fans in a black and gunmetal shroud detailed with faux knurling, this little monster runs cool as can be and looks awesome in any case.

Runner up
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
0 /5
Editor's Rating

This is a dual-fan axial card, with multiple cooling focus points. It doesn’t just center on the GPU, but the memory unit as well, making this one of the coolest running cards at this price point. It’s this advanced thermal headroom that enables such intensive overclocking.

Featuring the OC+ reimagining of XFX’s True Clock technology, it doesn’t just support hardware-level high speeds, but an extra boost on top, giving your frame rate averages that support they need to run demanding titles fluidly.

Built using the Polaris microarchitecture blueprint, the RX 580 boasts a whopping 2304 cores. This ensures flawless shader performance and realistic gameplay even in the absence of ray tracing technology. Polaris brings large 2MB L2 caches to the table for loads of super-fast visual data transfers and buttery smooth gaming.

This is an amazing card for gaming at 1080p in ultra settings, hitting averages of 60fps and beyond across a huge array of titles. Thanks to that 8GB GDDR5 memory, you can even run some titles in 1440p.

Runner up
Asus TUF Gaming Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 OC Edition

This diminutive dynamo comes pre-overclocked straight out of the box, giving you an epic frame per second boost as soon as you plug it in. It’s another GTX iteration of the Turing blueprint, so it’s full of modern features with one goal in mind, enhanced video acuity.

It only has 4GB of VRAM, but thanks to the GDDR6 memory type, this card goes above and beyond the typical abilities of a 4GB design. Use it for flawless 1080p gaming or push it to the limit with some medium settings 1440p brilliance.

Also consider
XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro
0 /5
Editor's Rating

Asides from being the most regal-looking card on our list, with a lovely black and gold color combination, the 5500 XT Thicc II Pro is a hell of a performer. 1080p on ultra settings won’t even break a sweat, and thanks to the 8GB GDDR6 memory format, 1440p isn’t so much of a challenge either.

Developed using AMD’s RDNA microarchitecture with an enhanced graphics pipeline, better volumetric lighting, and reduced blurring, this XFX card offers a visually stunning, latency-free experience.

Budget Pick
Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC Edition
0 /5
Editor's Rating

If you came here looking for the best dang 1080p card for the cash, the Zotac 1050 Ti OC is 100% the card you’ve been dreaming of. Granted the 10-Series is a little long in the silicone tooth these days, but thanks to some nifty factory OC-ing and that Ti suffix, it’s still incredibly relevant.

The 1050 Ti is an entry-level card, but it’s situated at the high end of that spectrum, the factory OC and Ti augmentations allowing it to push out 60fps averages across most titles. Due to the 4GB GDDR5 memory configuration, it’s not suitable for higher resolutions, but if you’re looking for a card that will compliment a 60Hz 1080p monitor, this is one to go for.

How We Choose

Believe it or not, we’re not all filthy stinking rich at WePC, so even though we may get to test a lot of the top-tier new releases in a professional capacity, the idea of us actually taking home some of these graphics cards upward of $1000 isn’t all that realistic. We’d love to, but most of the time, we settle for something much more modest, so over the years, we’ve picked up a few things about budget graphics cards.

Of course, we research and test all our products, but the chances are at least a few of us have at some point or another incorporated every one of these graphics cards in our personal builds. These are the graphics cards that gave the most and asked for very little in return. These are the cards that democratize gaming, giving everyone a chance to own them and enjoy their favorite games in high quality.

Things to Consider

Although all of the listed graphics cards are awesome bits of tech, you’ll need to consider a few key factors before you know which is best for you and your system.

AMD vs Nvidia

As you must be aware by now, AMD and Nvidia have been duking it out in the GPU arena for more than a decade now, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to see a resolution any time soon.

Generally speaking, Nvidia is thought to produce the higher-performing GPUs of the two companies, especially as they cracked real-time ray tracing first, but AMD has a lot going for them too. Known as more of a consumer-friendly brand, AMD GPUs always arrive at a lower price point than their Nvidia equivalents.

Architecture

Each new generation of GPU is based on a different architecture. Architecture refers to the general blueprint of construction. Each architectural advancement is given a codename and exhibits increased performance across the board while simultaneously reducing equivalent power consumption.

As well as general performative upgrades, new architecture may bring completely fresh features to the table such as Nvidia’s variable-rate shading as found in their RTX GPUs. Nvidia’s latest microarchitecture is known as Ampere, while AMD’s is known as RDNA 2. To stay within the $200 budget, we’ll mostly be focusing on cards based on Nvidia’s Turing and Pascal architecture and AMD’s RDNA architecture.

Cooling

The cooling abilities of your GPU are essential. The hotter GPUs get, the lower their performance potential becomes.

There are two main types of GPU cooling, axial and blower. Axial or open-air cards feature two or more fans that blow air into the enclosure. The air is exhausted out both sides of the card into your case. Axial cards tend to run cooler but place more of a burden on your other hardware.

Blower-type cards have a singular fan that blows air over the heat sinks, down the length of the card. Blowers tend to run hotter, but vent hot air directly out of your case.

Dimensions

Dimensions are arguably the most important thing to consider when shopping around for a new GPU. If it doesn’t fit in your case, it’s not going to be all that much use to you. Graphics cards come in a range of sizes, but pretty much all modern designs have a 2-slot width, by which we mean it takes up two expansion slots on your motherboard.

You’ll need a minimum of roughly 10.5 inches of clearance to accommodate a quality graphics card, so micro towers may not be up to the task. Mid towers, on the other hand, are normally capable of accommodating large graphics cards.

Resolution and Frames Per Second

This is the exciting part…gaming performance. When choosing a graphics card, you should focus on what would suit your gaming habits. The higher the resolution you like to use for gaming, the more powerful Your GPU will need to be.

The desired goal in any resolution is 60fps or above, enough to facilitate some smooth and immersive gameplay. The minimum is around 30fps. Anything lower than that isn’t really considered playable.

VRAM

VRAM is your GPU’s dedicated fast access memory cache. It holds all the information your graphics card needs to smooth out on-screen transitions. It stands as a buffer between your processor and GPU. Expressed in the GDDR format, the baseline for gaming is generally seen as GDDR4. If you play in 1440p resolutions or above, a large VRAM capacity and efficient configuration can really help boost your frame rates.

Best Graphics Card for Under 200

Editor's Choice
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MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC Graphics Card

Clock Speed

1695 MHz (Boost)

VRAM

4GB GDDR5

Memory Bus Width

128 bit

Runner up
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Runner up
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Also consider
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XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro 8GB

Graphics Coprocessor

RX 5500 XT

Video Output Interface

HDMI, DisplayPort

Chipset Brand

AMD

Graphics RAM Type

GDDR6

Best Buy

Amazon

Best Buy

Amazon

Budget Pick
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In-depth Review

1.
Editor's Choice
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1650
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MSI GeForce GTX 1650 4GT LP OC Graphics Card

Clock Speed

1695 MHz (Boost)

VRAM

4GB GDDR5

Memory Bus Width

128 bit

Pros

Turing Architecture – Full of neat features that iron out any visual kinks.

MSI Frozr Cooling – High-performance fans keep temperatures low and performance quiet.

G-Sync – Sync up your frame rates to your monitor’s refresh rate for tear-free gameplay.

GDDR5 Memory – Very efficient configuration that reduces the chances of lag.

Cons

Build Quality – It’s a plastic-heavy design.

This MSI card loaded with Nvidia’s GTX 1650 GPU is the most affordable way to get your hands on Turing microarchitecture. It doesn’t have all the RTX bells and whistles such as RT or Tensor cores, but it does feature variable-rate shading, improving acuity in essential areas of the screen, a whole new mesh shading technique, and other goodies like improved NVENC encoders for smooth streaming.

With 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, it’s not primed for high res gaming, but for 1080p in ultra settings and even some titles in 1440p on low to medium settings, it reaches the 60fps zone, which is generally the desired rate for some silken visuals. It has no problem running three monitors simultaneously either, a very impressive feat for a little card.

The enclosure is predominantly plastic, but the design is appealing and neutral, allowing it to sit nicely in any case without jarring the feng shui, so to speak.

We’re assuming MSI’s Twin Frozr thermal solution’s reputation precedes this review. This dual-fan system combines traditional and dispersion blade-design to minimize air turbulence and keep things lovely and quiet.

2.
Runner up
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
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Pros

Thermals – Multi-focus cooling keeps this card very chill.

OC + – You can push this card well beyond the limits of RX 580 reference specs.

8GB GDDR5 – Use this card to dabble in some quality 1440p gaming.

Comparative Price – Much cheaper than the Nvidia equivalent.

Cons

Garish Design – Some might not appreciate the very angular enclosure.

This is a dual-fan axial card, with multiple cooling focus points. It doesn’t just center on the GPU, but the memory unit as well, making this one of the coolest running cards at this price point. It’s this advanced thermal headroom that enables such intensive overclocking.

Featuring the OC+ reimagining of XFX’s True Clock technology, it doesn’t just support hardware-level high speeds, but an extra boost on top, giving your frame rate averages that support they need to run demanding titles fluidly.

Built using the Polaris microarchitecture blueprint, the RX 580 boasts a whopping 2304 cores. This ensures flawless shader performance and realistic gameplay even in the absence of ray tracing technology. Polaris brings large 2MB L2 caches to the table for loads of super-fast visual data transfers and buttery smooth gaming.

This is an amazing card for gaming at 1080p in ultra settings, hitting averages of 60fps and beyond across a huge array of titles. Thanks to that 8GB GDDR5 memory, you can even run some titles in 1440p.

3.
Runner up
Asus TUF Gaming Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 OC Edition
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Pros

GDDR6 – Higher memory bandwidth, lower power consumption. It’s all good.

Factory OC – Faster out the box, with more thermal headroom for manual overclocking.

Dimensions – Should fit in most cases.

Cons

VRAM Capacity – 4GB VRAM isn’t ideal for high-resolution gaming.

The Asus TUF 1650 OC arrives on your doorstep overclocked and ready to tear up the 1080p arena! The factory OC means it has faster clock speeds out the box and greater thermal headroom for some manual tinkering too. What shocked us the most about this card is the 1440p clout it brings to the desk.  We managed to hit fps averages between 40 and 60fps on most games, and that’s on ultra settings as well.

The reason this 1650 surprised us with its power is that it’s a very unassuming card. Measuring just over 8 inches long, it will fit in any mid-tower and even some micro setups. The dual fan axial shroud design does a magnificent job of keeping things cool. You’ll only ever really hear it during 1440p gameplay.

Another reason the 1440p performance dropped our jaws is that it only has 4GB VRAM capacity, which usually isn’t sufficient for densely pixelated resolutions, but the GDDR6 configuration gives it that extra oomph required, amounting to a truly formidable card.

4.
Also consider
XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro
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XFX RX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro 8GB

Graphics Coprocessor

RX 5500 XT

Video Output Interface

HDMI, DisplayPort

Chipset Brand

AMD

Graphics RAM Type

GDDR6

Best Buy

Amazon

Best Buy

Amazon

Pros

8GB GDDR6 – A super-low latency, high capacity memory system that eats 1440p for dinner.

RDNA Architecture – More frames, less energy!

Thicc II – Excellent heat sink design makes this a very quiet card.

Aesthetics – It looks awesome!

Cons

Dimensions – This thing is BIG!!

If you’re looking for a quality budget card to pair with a 60Hz 1440p monitor, your search is over. Featuring 8GB GDDR6 memory, the XFX 5500 XT Thicc II Pro glides through most titles at 1440p with a stable average of 60fps.

The backbone of this card is AMD’s RDNA microarchitecture built using their 7-nm process. It offers a 50% increase in performance across the board from their previous 14-nm GPUs. That means higher frame rates and less energy consumption, improving your gameplay and reducing your bills simultaneously.

The ‘Thicc’ part of this card’s name refers to its insane heatsink. What you’ll find under the hood are four 6mm copper composite heat-pipe, reducing the burden on the fans, amounting in an exquisitely quiet performance, so you can finally game in peace.

5.
Budget Pick
Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC Edition
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Pros

Factory OC – Comes ready to outperform reference specs right out of the box.

Thermals – Runs cool as a river and half as loud.

Energy Efficiency – Only requires 75 watts that it can pull straight from your mobo.

Cons

Limited Performance – It’s a 1080p card.

The 1050 Ti is an entry-level card, but it’s situated at the high end of that spectrum, the factory OC and Ti augmentations allowing it to push out 60fps averages across most titles. Due to the 4GB GDDR5 memory configuration, it’s not suitable for higher resolutions, but if you’re looking for a card that will compliment a 60Hz 1080p monitor, this is one to go for.

Using Nvidia’s Pascal building blocks and pulling only 75 watts, it’s so energy efficient that it doesn’t even need its own power input. It simply draws all it needs directly from the motherboard.

The cooling system is lovely and quiet. The highest temperature we recorded was 65°C, and that’s largely due to the two highly effective copper heat pipes and 34 heatsink fins, not to mention the highly capable 11-blade dual fans.

Measuring just over 11 inches long, it’s a pretty beefy card considering the light energy draw, but if you’ve got room to spare, we highly recommend filling it with this epic 1080p card.

Final Word

It’s easy to get caught up in the arms race that is graphics card production, and while it would be nice to be able to afford the latest and greatest, the truth is, you really don’t need it. Unless you’re a competitive player, any one of these budget graphics cards will be enough for some silky smooth gaming.

The best all-rounder in our opinion is the MSI GTX 1650. Even without hardware ray tracing and advanced deep AI learning, the Turing architecture makes a noticeable difference to gameplay. For a 1440p monitor, on the other hand, we’re torn between the XFX cards. They both have impressive VRAM and pristine thermals, both of which are essential for snagging that 60fps average in higher resolutions. That said, the Asus card can handle itself in 1440p as long as the game isn’t too demanding.

If 1080p is your arena and you see no reason to upgrade any time soon, we’d suggest you go for our budget pick, the Zotac 1050 Ti. It’s not flashy, but it’s all you’ll ever need for high fps AAA 1080p gaming.