The best graphics cards 2017: top GPUs for your PC
Whether you’re gaming, partaking in rigorous high-res video editing or cryptocurrency mining, you’re going to need a top graphics card. Not only that, but you’re going to need one of the best graphics cards, a piece of hardware that gets the job done with ease and for an honorable price. But, in a world where a multitude of manufacturers create and distribute these graphics cards, or GPUs, how do you know which is the best for your needs?
- Without the best monitor, having the best graphics card means nothing
The good news is that we’ve done the hard work for you. As a matter of fact, we’ve taken each of the most commonly found graphics cards, slotted them into open PCIe slots in our high-performance rigs and tested them to report the results back to you. Of course, all of the graphics cards highlighted in the following paragraphs are powered by technologies designed by either AMD or Nvidia, with third parties having produced some of them.
They range from cheap to cheap-relative-to-performance, and you can expect to play games in up to a 4K resolution with some of them. The GTX 1080 Ti, for instance, will provide you with 11GB of GDDR5X memory and 11.3 teraflops of FP32 performance. That’s a lot when compared to the frequently-boasted 6 teraflops of the Xbox One X. So, if you want to beat out the most powerful console ever made, here are your options.
Best graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
The best GPU to start PC gaming
Stream Processors: 1,280 | Core Clock: 1,506MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 8Gbps | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
Per our previous explanation, the best graphics card is all about offering the most bang for your buck. As such, it’s our consensus that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 is unparalleled when it comes to sheer value. For a modest sum of cash, this graphics card affords players full HD 1080p and – perhaps with a bit of overclocking – 1440p and even 4K gaming. At the same time, however, the GTX 1060 doesn’t bear support for SLI, so you’re limited to just one card.
Best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Titan X performance without the Titan X cost
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,480MHz | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory Clock: 11GHz | Power Connectors: 1 x 6-pin; 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
The Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti comes closest to dethroning the Titan Xp as the world’s most powerful GPU. It’s wildly more capable than the GTX 1080 proper, thanks to its 11GB of GDDR5X VRAM and dramatically higher CUDA core count. It’s still no match for two GTX 1080s in SLI, but this single card is cheaper and supports a larger pool of games. If you’re looking for a single part to run your games at 4K, the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti is the best graphics card to do it.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
Best QHD graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
The all-around 1440p champion
Stream processors: 2,432 | Core clock: 1,607 | Memory: 8GB GDDR5 | Memory clock: 8Gbps | Power connectors: 1 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI
As its ‘Ti’ subtitle would suggest, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti finds the happy medium between last year’s GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080 above it. As it turns out, one year on, the 1080 isn’t enough for 4K games and the 1070 isn’t quite there for 1440p, hence the GTX 1070 Ti. This piece of kit handles Forza Motosport 7 at upwards of 93 frames per second at the ambitious resolution of 2,560 x 1,440. Likewise, it can manage Shadow of War at over 60.
Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti
Best Full HD graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
Punchy graphics performance above its weight
Stream Processors: 3,584 | Core Clock: 1,156MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 800MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 is one of the best value-packed graphics card on the market right now. Benchmarks prove it runs faster than the Nvidia GTX 1070 and, thanks to the Bitcoin mining craze, it’s also cheaper to boot. The Vega 56 is arguably a little bit overkill for Full HD gaming, but that’ll come in handy for 144-to-240hz monitors and future-proofing. Users can also expect a great 1440p experience with this graphics card.
Best VR graphics card: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
AMD’s return to high-end graphics cards
Stream Processors: 4,096 | Core Clock: 1,247MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Memory Clock: 945MHz | Power Connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
AMD’s flagship graphics card may not have won titles for best for gaming on our list, but it is nevertheless a return to form for the Red Team. After all, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 has proved itself every bit as capable as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080, and for a lower price. Sporting 4,096 stream processors, 256 texture units and 8GB of HBM2 memory, this card has the brute computing power for physics-heavy VR gaming now and into the future. If nothing else, this is the AMD card to rule them all.
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Best mini graphics card: Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini
Stream processors: 3,584 | Core clock: 1,506 | Memory: 11GB GDDR5X | Memory clock: 10Gbps | Power connectors: 2 x 8-pin | Outputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, 1 x DL-DVI-D
When you’re building a microATX – or, especially a mini-ITX – computer, you want to aim for the smallest parts you can find without compromising much on performance. Though it’s a given that you might have to sacrifice a few frames-per-second in favor of a more compact form factor, with Zotac’s GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Mini – the smallest of its kind at 211 x 125 x 41mm (8.31 x 4.92 x 1.61 inches) – there’s very little in the way of prodigious 4K gaming.
Best budget graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
The little GPU that could
Stream Processors: 640 | Core Clock: 1,354MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
The Nvidia GTX 1050 might not look like much on paper, what with only 2GB of video memory onboard, but this affordable GPU plays games better than you would think. If you’re willing to drop settings to medium, you can play Overwatch, CS:GO and other popular competitive shooters well above the silky smooth 60fps mark. Thanks to its compact size, it’s also perfect for small builds and entertainment center-bound streaming PCs.
Best eSports graphics card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Competitive for both eSports and in price
Stream Processors: 768 | Core Clock: 1,290MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Memory Clock: 7Gbps | Power Connectors: PCIe | Outputs: 1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, DL-DVI
eSports games often demand high frame rates over beautifully rendered graphical details, and this is where the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti comes into its own. It’s an affordable but potent graphics card that can play most eSports games well above 60fps. It’s a tad more expensive than its lower-end Nvidia GTX 1050 brethren, but you’ll appreciate the extra legs on this card to play future eSports titles as well as the odd AAA game.
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