There are a number of different scenarios in which a person might need to upgrade their GPU. Perhaps your graphics card isn’t producing the performance levels you desire in the latest games, or maybe you just bought a new monitor and your old GPU doesn’t support 4K output.
Whatever the reason, purchasing the right GPU for your needs can be quite stressful. Here at WePC, we like to take the stress of product research and comparison away. Our team of dedicated PC enthusiasts is constantly reviewing, benchmarking, and comparing the latest graphics cards so you don’t have to.
With that in mind, the following article will be a closer look at only the best graphics cards the market has to offer. We’ll be comparing price, performance, aesthetics, and cooling, ensuring our selection are the best overall value for money products on the market.
So, with all that in mind, let’s waste no further time and dive into the best graphics cards for 2021.
Our Top Picks
Best Graphics Cards: First Look
If you’re looking for the most powerful, potent gaming GPU on the market then look no further. The RTX 2080 Ti is the new king of graphics cards thanks to enhanced specs, newly developed Turing architecture, and real-time ray tracing.
The 2080Ti is undoubtedly the most powerful graphics card available in today’s market, smashing the competition out of the park with new AI-enhanced graphics and Real-time ray tracing.
The RTX 2080 might not be the 2080ti but has been developed to compete directly with the 1080ti which has been the peoples favorite since it’s release. All the exciting technology that comes with the RTX range but at a more affordable price tag.
Nvidia dominates the high end of the GPU spectrum with their RTX 20 series, ensuring that those who want nothing but the best possible FPS have nowhere else to go but Team Green.
The RTX 2080 might not be as powerful as the Ti, but it still smashed pretty much every other GPU clean out of the water.
The 2070 Super takes over where the GTX 1080 left off, offering better performance in the benchmarking, whilst still offering better value for money. Furthermore, we see the inclusion of RTX’s new ray tracing technology and DLSS.
Another 20 series GPU from Nvidia has squeezed its way into our list of best GPUs for 2020 and it’s hard to argue against it. Nvidia really has knocked it out of the park with the RTX range and the 2070 Super does not disappoint on performance and price.
AMD’s latest offering comes in the shape of the 5700XT and is aimed at hardcore gamers who want the power and performance to play any game at a fraction of the cost.
AMD’s best price to performance card we have seen for some time. The potent RX 5700 XT competes with the 2070 to deliver a superb gaming experience. This card smashes 1080p and even comes with some 1440p power too.
The RTX 2060 Super is one of Nvidia’s best selling GPU’s and comes to the table with performance boosts over its predecessor, the 2060.
The 2060 Super offers solid performance across 1080p and 1440p and has the ability to support future RTX compatible games. If you want to future proof your rig but don’t have the big bucks to splash out on a 2080 then this is definitely the pick for you.
This is actually a lot simpler than you might think. With other products, like monitors, there’s a lot more to take into account when making lists like these. When it comes to graphics cards, though, selection will pretty much always boil down to the following two questions:
- How well does it perform?
- How good is the value for that level of performance?
We also took into mind popular searches around the Internet, including:
- What is the best AMD/Nvidia graphics card?
- What is the best 1080p/1440p graphics card?
Our goal is to answer these questions to the best of our ability while still providing you with a selection of high-quality GPUs that you won’t regret purchasing. We like to think we succeeded in this goal.
Now, how should you pick from this list, since we’ve done most of the work already?
How You Should Choose
Also pretty simple! Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my target resolution: 1080p, 1440p, or 4K?
- Do I need to push frame rates higher than 60?
- How much can I afford to spend on a graphics card?
As long as you know the answer to those three questions and read our detailed descriptions of each of the graphics cards listed, you shouldn’t have any problems picking the right card for your needs. You can also choose to leave a comment below if you need our direct assistance.
MORE: Best Graphics Card Deals
Testing the products we recommend is a huge part of the overall selection process in our best of guides. It’s a way to make sure what we recommend is, without a doubt, the best option in its specific category.
To be sure a product is “the best,” it must show excellent performance in our tests, and display better qualities and features than the competition it faces.
Most of the products we recommend here at WePC have gone through a strict testing process that involves everything from the price and performance, to build quality, efficiency, and aesthetics. Each product is pushed to the limit to see how it performs under intense stress to make sure it warrants our coveted top spot.
Doing this enables us to provide you with the most accurate review of how the product performs and, ultimately, whether it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
Ultimately, it comes down to your requirements and specific needs.
If you’re on a budget and can’t buy tech often, you’ll likely be looking for either the best value pick or the cheapest card you can find. In this situation, we recommend going for value, even if it’s a bit more expensive than entry-level. That way you can make the most of your purchase and enjoy it for the longest time.
If budget isn’t a concern, you should still probably be smart and do your research. You wouldn’t want to drop $1K on a last-gen or overpriced GPU, for instance. You also wouldn’t want to buy super high-end when there’s a new generation of GPU around the corner… unless there’s a significant discount or trade-up program, of course.
If you’re somewhere in between, just make sure your needs are being met. If you only game at 1080p, for instance, you’re best with going for a mid-range card that will satisfy your needs. If you need to push a high refresh rate or high resolutions, you may want to consider a higher-end option, you get the idea.
The resolution you want to play at has a major impact on the graphics card you should choose. Because higher resolutions utilize more pixels, you are literally increasing the demand that’s put on your GPU by increasing the resolution. If you currently play on 1080p but want to increase to 1440p, you will almost certainly need a much more powerful GPU.
The monitors refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz) and tells us how many times the monitor refreshes the image it’s displaying per second. The refresh rate has a major impact on the quality of your gaming experience and requires similar (if not higher) frame rate output to see the best results. There’s no point in getting a 144Hz monitor if your GPU can only push 60FPs.
Depending on what you’re doing, the graphics card’s cooling can be very important. If you plan to overclock or use a case with poor airflow, you’re going to want the best possible cooling you can afford. Cooling solutions come in many forms, so choosing the right one for your needs is essential.
Remember, a hot GPU will work less efficiently than a cool one. It will also run the risk of having a reduced life-span too.
So, with everything in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at the 7 best graphics cards for 2021.
You can check out our GPU Hierarchy right here.
- Clock Speed – Measured in MHz, clock speed represents the “speed” of the GPU core within the graphics card. These alone don’t determine relative performance, but boosting your core clock speed via overclocking can give you some free performance bonuses.
- VRAM – Stands for Video – Random access memory and acts as a buffer between your CPU and GPU. The more VRAM your GPU has the more efficiently it can process graphics.
- GDDR6 – The latest VRAM available, it has more capacity and increased bandwidth making it the most powerful VRAM on the market.
- GDDR5 – The most common modern VRAM standard. Decently fast, shouldn’t bottleneck in most situations.
- GDDR5X – An amped-up version of GDDR5 used by Nvidia for their high-end cards.
- HBM2 – AMD’s go to VRAM standard, as quick as anything on the market however much more expensive thanks to production methods.
- Memory Bus – In massively-simplified terms, the wider the memory bus, the faster the core and VRAM are able to communicate with one another. The HBM2 cards use this to their advantage to greatly increase speed across the board.
Best 7 Graphics Cards in 2021
The fastest gaming GPU on the market
4k Gaming at ultra settings
Real-time ray tracing
Not many games currently make use of ray tracing
Many of you will not be shocked to see the 2080ti at the top of our list for the best gaming GPU of 2020. It’s the most powerful gaming GPU available in today’s market and has a tonne of new features that make the 2080 future proof for years to come.
It’s based upon Nvidia’s enhanced Turing architecture and real-time ray tracing which is considered the future of gaming visuals. The Turing TU102 is 60% larger than the pascal GP102 of the 1080ti with 55% more transistors. The extra transistors have been put towards more CUDA cores and Tensor cores which help accelerate DLSS, a deep learning algorithm. Let’s not forget the RT cores which help accelerate their ray tracing either.
So in short, a very powerful GPU with 11GB GDDR6 memory which will smash 4k and VR out the window when game developers have caught up. However, as you probably expect, this all comes at a price and that price isn’t cheap. Many people will only be able to sit and look at this card online in envy as it currently retails at over $1000.
4k gaming at ultra settings
Real time ray tracing and deep learning algorithm
Limited ray tracing games available
Nvidia’s second most powerful card comes in the shape of the RTX 2080 and literally replaces the 1080ti in our list of top GPU’s. It comes to shelves with all the same tech as the 2080ti but with slightly less power, as you’d imagine. Real time ray tracing and AI enhanced graphics are just a couple of the features that this card has been developed with. However, to fully make use of the new tech we’ll have to wait for game developers to catch up as currently, there isn’t a great deal of product compatibility right now.
The 2080 can be found with a much cheaper price tag than that of the 2080ti, but is still considered fairly expensive on a consumer level. Most AAA game titles don’t require a card of this power, but with games becoming more technologically advanced, the next wave of games are going to be much more taxing on your GPU. If you’re planning for the future, the RTX 20 series is definitely the way to go.
Great in-game performance
Very high build quality
Ray tracing technology
Very efficient cooling
Few RTX-enabled games to enjoy
Nvidia launched its super cards around the same time we saw the release of the 5700 XTs back in summer. These cards were released to counter the highly impressive AMD cards which ended up outperforming the non-super version of the RTX 2070. The super version of the GPU is based on the 13.6 billion transistors “TU104”, like the RTRX 2080 and RTX 2080 Super. This means aftermarket partners could reuse existing RTX 2080 board designs that are capable of handling much higher temps.
The RTX 2070 is currently priced appropriately when you consider it is around 10% better than the 5700 XT, the extra $50-$100 difference is justified. While the 2070 Super is capable of 4K gaming, you would still want to grab a 2080 Super or Ti to gain the best results possible for that resolution. This Gigabyte version offers virtually silent operation and icy cool temps under load. For the 1440p gamers out there this is the perfect card for you, as you will reach 100+ FPS across your favourite AAA titles.
This card is going to leave no one disappointed, it has all the power a gamer could need and is priced well so that you can build a great all-round gaming PC for less. There is no over the top RGB lighting or flamboyant designs with the Gigabyte Gaming OC but it still gets some style points, while being a high-end performer.
Fantastic value for money
Outperforms the 2070
Very efficient triple fan cooling solution
One of the largest 5700XT’s
No real-time Ray Tracing
Not the best for overclocking
AMD launched its answer to high-end GPUs earlier this year, the Radeon RX 5700 XT. The card is built on the 7nm process and is based on the Navi architecture. The card supports DirectX 12.0 and features 8GB of GDDR6 memory, which is connected using a 256-bit memory interface. This graphics card is dual slot and powered with a 6+8-pin connector.
The Sapphire Radeon Pulse version of the card shows vast improvements on temps when we compare it to the older reference card, making this a better choice for you and your system. What is great about these aftermarket 5700 XTs is that there is little to separate them performance-wise, but the low noise of the Pulse version and its ability to handle heat, make it our top AMD pick.
This is a highly capable card and will easily run games in high settings at 1440p. That being said, you don’t want to be grabbing this GPU if you are considering 4K gaming as it’s not going to produce the results you will need. This graphics card’s biggest selling point is its incredible value, the GPU sits near the 2070 in terms of performance but with a smaller price tag.
If you don’t mind spending a little more then the RTX 2070 Super is a worthy next step. You could also hang around for the highly anticipated Nitro+ version of this card, which will most likely feature a bigger overclock. All in all, this GPU is fantastic and with it landing punches on Nvidia’s RTX cards, its a card worthy of your new build.
Very good gaming performance in 1080p and 1440p
Based on new Turing architecture
Very efficient cooling
Outperformed by RX 5700XT
Few RTX-enabled games to enjoy
When Nvidia released the 2060 it was regarded as their entry-level GPU into ray-tracing. Despite its power, it still struggled with 1440p gaming greatness but with the Super version, those days are over. The RTX 2060 Super brings performance to the masses with significant results at a low cost. While this serves as an entry-level card in some ways, it is actually a high-performing mid-range GPU.
The 2060 destroys games in 1080p but the 2060 Super extra performance brings 1440p into shot. While many would consider the 5700 XT the smarter purchase at this price point, this card offers ray tracing at an entry-level price. Now, the 2060 Super may not offer the best price to performance but it sits nicely in between the RX 5700 and RTX 2070.
In short if you want to future proof your graphics option, then going for the RTX Super brings you ray tracing support which the RX 5700 XT doesn’t have. We are still unsure whether an entry-level card like this will be able to deliver a decent ray-tracing experience but according to Nvidia, even these weaker RTX cards will produce a good experience.
And that’s it!
We hope our guide helped you pick out the best graphics card for your needs.
Feel free to comment below and let us know if you need any assistance: we’re always ready and willing to help!
Otherwise, do you agree with our selections? Is there anything you would add or change? We’re welcoming any and all feedback, so feel free to sound off!
You can now head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything GPU-related with like-minded individuals.