Best graphics card 2019: Top GPUs for 1080p, 1440p and 4K

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Best graphics card 2019: Top GPUs for 1080p, 1440p and 4K

We’re not even a month into 2019 yet, but there’s already been a flurry of activity in the world of best graphics cards thanks to two big announcements at this year’s CES. The first came from Nvidia, who lifted the lid on their new mid-range champion, the RTX 2060 – and man alive is it a corker. Then AMD went and unveiled their next 4K chomper (and the world’s first 7nm consumer graphics card) in the form of the Radeon 7, which is due to arrive in just a couple of weeks time at the beginning of February.

And of course, new graphics cards can only mean one thing: it’s time to re-evaluate our best graphics card list for 2019. With all the old AMD and Nvidia graphics cards still going strong as well, we’ve now got more graphics cards to choose from than ever before. Fortunately, help is at hand, as I’m here to aid you in finding the best graphics card for you and your budget. Whether it’s for playing games at 1920×1080, 2560×1440 or 4K, I’ve got you covered.

Here are the rules. For each resolution, you’ll find two recommendations: the best graphics card for playing games at 60fps on max settings at said resolution, plus the card you should actually buy if you’re not that fussed about having the bestest best graphics. This way, the list caters for both the budget conscious among you, and those who’d rather spend a little extra to max out their current monitor setup.

As for which particular brand of graphics card you should buy, that’s a little more difficult to pin down. More expensive cards tend to have superior, custom cooling mechanisms or slightly faster factory overclock speeds, but in terms of performance increase, you’re really only looking at a couple of frames per second difference – as my RTX 2080Ti benchmark showdown shows. My advice is to simply go for the cheapest one you can find, as I’m not overly convinced you’re really getting that much more for your money by opting for something more expensive.

If you’re building a mini-ITX PC, you’ll also want to look at for ‘mini’ versions of some cards, too, which Zotac tend to specialise in. These often have smaller or a single fan as opposed to two, making them slightly less efficient than a normal sized-model, but they’re a great alternative for smaller PC cases, or those looking to save a bit of money.

Palit's GTX 1050Ti and Zotac's GTX 1060

What you should actually buy: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX 570

If you want to play games at maximum settings at 1920×1080, the 6GB version of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060 or the 8GB AMD Radeon RX 580 is definitely the way to go.

Sure, there are cheaper 3GB versions of the GTX 1060 and 4GB models of the RX 580 out there, but in terms of giving yourself a bit of future-proofing against the ever-increasing memory demands of today’s big blockbusters, 6GB / 8GB will put you in much better stead in the years to come. Both cards can capably handle almost every game available today at max or very high settings at this resolution, making them our top picks for flawless 1080p gaming. Right now, you also get two free games with the RX 580 (out of Devil May Cry 5, the new Resident Evil 2 remake and The Division 2), arguably making it better value overall than the GTX 1060, which only nets you a free copy of Monster Hunter: World and a Fortnite gear bundle.

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However, for those who’d rather not spend the better part of 200 big ones on a graphics card, the 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti or 8GB AMD Radeon RX 570 will do you just fine. This is as good as it gets under £200 / $200, and is about as close as you’ll get to a perfect budget graphics card. The GTX 1050Ti’s modest-sounding 768 cores put in a surprising amount of work, pushing it to visibly better performance levels than you’d see from a regular GTX 1050 or AMD’s Radeon RX 560, while the RX 570 comes with a healthier 8GB of memory for superior future-proofing. As long as you stick to 1080p, many games will achieve a certain silkiness with maxed-out quality, while the tougher ones can usually be tamed with Medium settings.

The RX 570 is a new addition to this category, as until very recently it was almost as expensive as the RX 580, making it a rather silly choice when its considerably more powerful sibling only cost a fraction more. However, with prices now as low as they are, the 8GB model is now a much better bet for 1080p gaming than it was six months ago. It’s not as power efficient as the GTX 1050Ti, requiring a power cable from your PSU instead of drawing it straight from your motherboard, but it does come with the added bonus of the same two free games offer as the RX 580. The GTX 1050Ti, on the other hand, doesn’t come with free game bundles at all right now.

Read our Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti review and our AMD Radeon RX 570 review for more info.

What you should actually buy: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

A new entry in this category – and the only one that doesn’t have a cheaper alternative because it’s already such a great price for the amount of performance you’re getting – Nvidia’s new RTX 2060 is an absolutely stonking 1440p GPU.

Previously, you would have had to have forked out another £100 / $100 for something like Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070Ti or AMD’s Radeon RX Vega 56 to get proper 1440p perfection on maximum or high quality settings, but now the RTX 2060 can do everything they can and more for a heck of a lot less.

Even better, Nvidia are currently doing a game bundle with the RTX 2060 that gets you a copy of either Battlefield V or Bioware’s upcoming jetpack RPG, Anthem, both of which can make use of the card’s fancy Turing RTX features such as its reflection-enhancing ray-tracing tech and performance-boosting DLSS.

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Yes, I appreciate not everyone wants to spend upwards of £330 / $350 on a 1440p graphics card, and if you’re looking for something a little bit cheaper, then there’s still a strong case to be made for opting for Nvidia’s 6GB GTX 1060 or AMD’s Radeon RX 590 if you’re not that fussed about having the best-looking polygons. Both of these cards make excellent companions for playing games at 1440p, as well as nearly maxed out 1080p, and will only set you back around £200 / $280. The RX 580 is also a fine choice here if you can’t quite stretch to the RX 590, but AMD’s latest mid-range graphics card is by far and away the better card out of the three cheap options.

Really, though, you should aim for the RTX 2060 if you can, as this really is the best value for money 1440p graphics card I’ve ever seen – and if you need more convincing then have a look at our GTX 1060 vs RTX 2060 comparison graphs to see just how much faster it is in some of today’s toughest games.

Read our Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 review for more info.

Zotac's GTX 1080 and Nvidia's RTX 2080Ti

What you should actually buy: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 or AMD Radeon Vega 64

It’s ludicrously expensive, but if you’ve got the cash and are after the best of the best that 4K has to offer, then the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080Ti is the only card around right now that can do a silky smooth 60fps at 4K on max settings without compromise. You’ll also benefit from all of Nvidia’s best Turing features as and when developers eventually patch in support for all the confirmed RTX and DLSS-enabled games, and you probably won’t have to upgrade your graphics card again for a considerable number of years.

The thing is, you can still get a pretty damn good 4K experience for almost as much money. Until recently, I recommended sticking with the GTX 1080, but prices have since soared and stock’s become increasingly scarce for this card, making the RTX 2070 a much better proposition for would-be 4K-ers. The RTX 2070 is a smidge faster than the GTX 1080, too, plus it does all the neat Turing-related bits and bobs as the RTX 2080Ti and comes with a free copy of Battlefield V to show it all off as well. Some games might require settling for Medium to High settings at 4K, but there are still plenty of others that can hit 60fps on max quality with this card, making it much better value for money than its ludicrously expensive sibling.

However, for those looking for an even cheaper way of getting a decent 4K experience, AMD’s current top graphics card, the Radeon RX Vega 64, has also finally come down in price as well. This was more or less on par with the GTX 1080, so isn’t quite as powerful as the RTX 2070, but its cheaper price (at least in the UK) plus the same three free games deal available with the RX 590 all add up to make it another tempting offer for those looking to keep costs down.

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Read our Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 review and AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 review for more info.

With Nvidia’s RTX 2060 now out in the wild, it’s only AMD’s Radeon 7 we’re really waiting on now – or at least it is out of the upcoming graphics cards we know about and have been officially announced. The Radeon 7 will only really be a concern for those after a new 4K graphics card, but I’d also be wary of buying a new GPU if you’re at the other end of the resolution spectrum right now, as we simply don’t know when Nvidia will drop their inevitable RTX 2050 card, or indeed what’s happening with AMD’s next-gen Navi cards either.

It’s possible we may see some more announcements in June when Computex takes place over in Taiwan, but we may well have to wait until Gamescom in August like Nvidia did with their original RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti launch last year. It’s just too early to say.

At a guess, though, I’d hazard that any kind of RTX 2050 card will likely be on the same kind of level as the current GTX 1060 is now – that is, a proper 1080p card that can also do a little bit of 1440p – giving it a serious leg up over the existing GTX 1050Ti. As for what AMD’s Navi cards are going to consist of, that’s anyone’s guess. It could be another bunch of high-end cards, or it could be an entire suite of budget to mid-range cards. We just don’t know.

Consequently, the only really safe bet right now in my books is the 1440p category. I’d be very surprised if AMD come up with an RTX 2060 competitor any time soon, so anyone after something at the border between mid-range and high-end should be able to buy a new graphics card right now with relative confidence. As for those aspiring to 4K, check back in a couple of weeks time once to see what I make of the Radeon 7.

How we test:

Whenever a new graphics card comes in for testing, I put it through a number of gaming tests using both in-game benchmarking tools and real-world gameplay, where the aid of frame rate counters help me determine what kind of average frame rate you can expect at various different quality settings. Currently, I test each graphics card with the following games:

In each case, I see what’s possible at the highest graphics setting at 1920×1080, 2560×1440 and, if it can handle it, 3840×2160 (4K). Then I aim to get each game running at 60fps at each resolution, giving you the best case scenario for each one and an idea of what kind of compromises you’ll have to make.

If you’re also looking for a new monitor to go with your new graphics card, make sure you check out our best gaming monitor recommendations as well.

Content courtesy of RockPaperShotgun.com published on , original article here.

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