Buying a graphics card can be a difficult process as it is a large investment with an almost endless amount of choice on offer. All these acronyms and unpronounceable product names can make selecting the correct one for you a daunting task, but we’re here to make it much easier.
If you're in the market for a graphics card make sure you take a look at our best graphics card deals article.
First of all, you’re going to need to decide what exactly you’re going to use your graphics card for. If you’re planning on playing the occasional game, or something that isn’t graphically intensive (popular games like League of Legends, Dota 2, World of Warcraft and Fortnite don’t require an expensive graphics card) then you won’t need a massive powerhouse.
Take a look at our RTX 2080 article right here.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on playing the latest releases on the highest graphics settings then you’re going to want something high end.
How to decide which graphics card is best for you
You need the answer to two basic questions.
- How much do you want to spend?
- What is the resolution and max refresh rate on your monitor?
Make your mind up on how much you’d reasonably like to spend on the card. You’ll know at this point that buying a graphics card isn’t a cheap purchase.
The last piece of the puzzle is to work out which monitor you’re using as this will make a large impact on which card you should buy. The larger the resolution of your monitor the more graphical power you will need to power it.
We compared the 1080 Ti to the 2080 Ti here.
60 FPS is usually the target for gaming, although if you’re playing certain games competitively you may be using a 120 or 144hz monitor. You’ll want to make sure your graphics card is capable of playing your games of choice at these frame rates, or you won’t be using your monitor’s potential.
For example, if you’re using a 1080p monitor and a max refresh rate of 60hz, then you’re not going to need a top-end card to get the most performance out of your monitor. Any increased FPS over 60 isn’t going to be noticeable. If you’re using a 1440p monitor then you’ll need a more powerful card to reach the same FPS as a 1080p monitor as you’re powering more pixels, but your game will look much better for it.
Finally, a 4k monitor will look extremely impressive but to run games at 60 FPS you’re going to need an extremely beefy setup. The majority of people will be using 1080p or 1440p monitors and won’t see any benefit past 60FPS.
Which graphics card should I buy, is an RTX card worth it?
Currently, no released games feature Ray Tracing which is the main feature of the RTX 2000 series of cards.
Taking away that feature, the price/performance for the 2000 series of Nvidia cards is not favourable unless you’re trying to run a game at 1440p and a very high frame rate (120 or 140) or 4k and 60FPS.
The best buying advice right now for the majority of readers is to look for a good deal on a 1080 or 1080 Ti. The RTX 2070 may be a good option when it is released in a couple of weeks, but questions about that card’s ability to use the Ray Tracing technology have been raised due to its specs.
RTX 2080 Ti
The RTX 2080 Ti is the current king of the consumer graphics cards.
If you're looking to future-proof your build and make sure you can play all the latest titles will all the graphics sliders right the way up then this will be the card for you.
This does all come at a (substantial) price as the RTX 2080 Ti won't ever be described as cheap and if you're looking for the best performance per pound/dollar spent, you won't find that here either.
Take a look at our sister site PCWorld's review of the RTX 2080 Ti.
The RTX 2080 will be one of the more popular cards of the next few years, offering a better price/performance ratio than its bigger brother in the 2080 Ti.
The card stacks up well to the previous generation flagship the GTX 1080 Ti in comparison tests and comes with the added bonus of having Ray Tracing technology built in.
Take a look at our sister site PCWorld's review of the RTX 2080.
GTX 1080 Ti
The 1080 Ti is the flagship card of the last generation and is still holding up very well.
The card held the crown as the most powerful consumer-level GPU for a long time and will still handle pretty much anything you throw at it with ease. It will start to struggle if you're gaming on 4k 60fps but almost anything will at that point.
Picking up a 1080 Ti on a deal somewhere could be one of your best price/performance buys, as while the RTX 20 series are very powerful cards - they're also very expensive.
Take a look at the full GTX 1080 Ti review here on PCWorld.com
The GTX 1080 was another fantastic card of the last generation, and like its older brother the 1080 Ti, still holds up very well.
This card is still going to deal with anything modern gaming throws at it, although it will start to struggle in 4k.
If you're playing on a 1080p monitor, finding one a good deal on one of these should still last you a couple of years.
Take a look at the full review of GTX 1080 on PCWorld.com
The RTX 2070 is the lower end of Nvidia's current flagship cards.
The performance is still fantastic and it offers the best price/performance ratio of the three. If you can snap up a good deal on this you'll be able to game with the best of them for a year at the very least.
The downside to this card is that it may struggle with Ray Tracing despite being an RTX series card due to the amount of grunt needed to support the feature.
Take a look at the RTX 2070 Review on PCWorld.com.