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