The best graphics cards 2017: top GPUs for your PC

Graphics cards (or GPUs) are arguably the most important part of a PC build, demanding an even more conscientious evaluation than finding the best processor. The GPU powering your system will ultimately determine whether it’s robust enough to handle PC games or smoothly stream 4K videos. Unlike processors that can go on for years without an upgrade, GPUs are far fickler and often require replacement every couple of years.

At the same time, though, a hot new graphics card is one of the easiest upgrades to give your PC a significant boost in power. Whether you’re looking for a smoother PC gaming experience or bump up to a high-resolution display, a graphical update might just be what the doctor ordered for your computer.

Best of all, graphics cards saw a renaissance even before the processors wars of today. Nvidia has released its strongest lineup of GPUs with its 10th series Pascal architecture and Radeon RX Vega is a return to form for AMD.

Thanks to the newly-rekindled competitive graphics card market, the best graphics cards aren’t necessarily the most expensive anymore. Instead, they all span a wide range of budgets at reasonable prices depending on what you want to do. For example, some cater toward providing you with sublime value than real-time 4K graphics at 60 frames per second (fps). Whether you’re repping Team Red (AMD) or Team Green (Nvidia), we’ve narrowed our list down to the three top graphics cards for both first-time and veteran PC builders.

As we said above, the best graphics card isn’t necessarily the most expensive. The Nvidia GTX 1060 meets the happiest middle ground of affording Full HD with playable frame rates without blowing up budgets. With a little bit of overclocking, users may even be able to achieve smooth gameplay experiences at a 1440p or even 4K resolution. The only downside of the Nvidia GTX 1060 is it doesn’t support SLI, so users looking to bump up PC’s graphical power will have to buy a new, higher-end card rather than having the option of doubling up on the same part.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

best graphics cards

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

The Nvidia GTX 1080 is the best all-rounder graphics card for gaming we’ve ever tested. While it can make 4K gaming viable, it’s the undisputed master of playing PC games at 1440p and perfect for 1080p setups looking to go well beyond 60fps. Thanks to a recent price drop from Nvidia, it’s also more affordable than ever.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080

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.

AMD’s flagship Radeon RX Vega 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.

Read the full review: AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

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.

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.

Read the full review: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

Photographer Profile: Teri Franzen

Photographer Profile: Teri Franzen
Long Island, NY. I encountered this young Piping Plover during very harsh mid-day light. Its size was that of a cotton ball with legs. And it was very quick. When I first I spotted this one and its sibling I backed off and sat low on the sand, giving it room to forage for food. And, eventually, it actually ran in my direction. The harsh lighting made shadows tough and the speed of movement made it difficult to stay focused. But in this frame, the young shorebird was running up to a brim of sand. The wide open aperture allowed the foreground sand to become an ethereal haze of white. Canon 1DX II, 500mm II lens, 1.4x III TC. Exposure: f/5.6, 1/3200 sec., ISO 200.

Photographer: Teri Franzen

Part-Time Professional Photographer

Photographic Specialties:

  • Landscape
  • Wildlife
  • Travel
  • Photojournalism
  • Macro
  • Other

Biography

Based in Endicott, NY., I am a wildlife photographer and member of the Waterman Conservation Education Center board of directors. My emphasis is in promoting awareness of the natural beauty that surrounds us through photography and stories.

Website

www.terifranzenphotography.com

Facebook

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Flickr

Photographer Profile: Teri Franzen
Pennsylvania. I photographed this adult female during a second banding attempt of her young nestlings. During the first banding attempt, one of the climbers had captured a quick photo of one of the adults perched on a branch jutting out from the cliff. During the second banding attempt, weeks later, I sought out that branch and waited for one of the adult Peregrines to land on that branch. It wasn’t long at all until the female flew in. The area had been shaded, but just as she approached the branch she flew into a small pocket of light, giving this image a rich, dark background. Canon 1DX II, 500mm II lens, 1.4x TC. Exposure: f/4, 1/2000 sec., ISO 400.
Photographer Profile: Teri Franzen
Johnson City, NY. This Merlin had captured a pigeon outside a local business. When I first found learned of this from the business owner I tossed my gear into my jeep and drove 20 minutes to get there. By the time I finally arrived the pigeon was nearly frozen. I had exactly six minutes from the first to the last. I had thought through my exposures during the drive, giving me more time to shoot upon arrival. At first, there had been a distracting railing in the shots. I repositioned to the opposite side of the Merlin to found a clean background. From there captured a handful of images before she left. I then examined the remains of the pigeon to find it frozen solid. The meal was over. Canon 1DX II, 500mm II lens, 1.4x III TC. Exposure: f/5.6, 1/1250 sec., ISO 800.
Photographer Profile: Teri Franzen
Owego, NY. Wood Ducks are extremely difficult to photograph in upstate New York. They are very wary and will not stick around if they see anyone within 200 yards. This image required full camouflage clothing and a makeshift blind. Prior to the encounter, I had spent months researching Wood Ducks behaviors. I had made a list of behaviors I wanted to witness. This courtship grooming image was high on my list for springtime in 2015. After many hours in my blind, I was finally able to capture this one afternoon in late April. Canon 7D II, 500mm II lens, 1.4x III TC. Exposure: f/7.1, 1/1250 sec., ISO 500.

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Kuri, the cutest home robot, has learned how to dance

 Kuri’s definitely the most adorable home robot, even if that’s not that hard an honor to claim given the relatively sparse competitive field. But it’s even cuter now, because it can now dance. The debut product from Mayfield Robotics shows off its moves in a brand new video from the company, dancing to a pancake robot song. If you missed it Kuri debuted at CES last year, and… Read More

Photo Of The Day By Ingrid Elizabeth

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “A Feathered Friend” by Ingrid Elizabeth. Location: Prescott, Arizona.
Photo By Ingrid Elizabeth

Today’s Photo Of The Day is “A Feathered Friend” by Ingrid Elizabeth. Location: Prescott, Arizona.

Photo of the Day is chosen from various OP galleries, including Assignments, Galleries and the OP Contests. Assignments have weekly winners that are featured on the OP website homepage, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To get your photos in the running, all you have to do is submit them.

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