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High-Performance GPUs – GPU Buying Guide

When it comes to gaming PCs, having the best graphics card is key. It’s more important than any other part. A great GPU makes your games look amazing, but the right one depends on your budget and what you want. We’ll suggest options for different needs, like speed, value, and price.















We ranked graphics cards not just on speed, but also on price, features, how well they work, and how easy they are to get. Considering all this, we’ve picked the best ones available now.

AMD and Nvidia have almost finished their newest graphics cards. There might be a new Nvidia RTX 4050, but details are unclear. We’re also hearing about RTX 40-series Super cards coming soon, which could replace current ones. But, there’s a ban on exporting the RTX 4090 to China, leading to some problems.

AMD might release a new RX 7600 XT, but we’re not sure what it will be like. We think it might arrive in January.

Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs are a bit older. They compete with the RTX 3060 and RX 6700 10GB. The Arc A750, priced under $200, is a good choice despite some small issues.

Our list has mostly new graphics cards, with a few older ones. The older ones are still good value, especially if you’re not looking for the top performance.

We tested 15 games to rank these cards, including games with ray tracing. We didn’t count how well they upscale games, which would favor Nvidia. The RTX 4090 is at the top because of its performance, and the RTX 4070 is just ahead of the 7800 XT.

Our final picks consider price, power, and features. While these are our choices, others might have different opinions. But all the cards we’ve listed are worth considering.

Best Graphics Cards for Gaming 2024 – List of 6 High-Performance GPUs

1. GeForce RTX 4090

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: Ada AD102
GPU Cores: 16384
Boost Clock: 2,520 MHz
Video RAM: 24GB GDDR6X 21 Gbps

TGP: 450 watts

For those who prioritize speed regardless of cost, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4090 is the top choice. It’s the first to use Nvidia’s Ada Lovelace architecture and is expected to be Nvidia’s strongest card until around 2025 when new models might come out.

The RTX 4090’s price has soared, mostly selling above $2,000 due to export limits to China. If you don’t have one yet, it might be wise to skip it for now.

In gaming tests, the RTX 4090 outperforms Nvidia’s next best card by 35% and AMD’s best, the RX 7900 XTX, by 51%. However, it’s about 60% more expensive than the AMD card.

You need a high-quality 4K monitor to fully benefit from the RTX 4090. Its lead narrows at lower resolutions, and you’ll also want a top-notch CPU to maximize its capabilities.

The RTX 4090 isn’t just about gaming. In professional tasks like Blender and AI workloads, it’s significantly faster than the competition. For instance, in Stable Diffusion tests, it’s about four to seven times faster than the RX 7900 XTX, depending on the image size.

Nvidia excels in content creation applications, but they sometimes restrict the best performance to their professional-grade cards through driver limitations.

AMD’s RDNA 3 might offer better value in certain games, but for sheer power, the RTX 4090 is unmatched. Just remember, to get the most out of it, you might also need to upgrade your CPU and power supply. If you’re considering a purchase, you might want to wait a bit to see if new models like the rumored RTX 4080 Super offer a more cost-effective option.

2. Radeon RX 7900 XTX

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: Navi 31
GPU Cores: 6144
Boost Clock: 2500 MHz
Video RAM: 24GB GDDR6 20 Gbps

TBP: 355 watts

The new champion from AMD, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, is now the fastest graphics card they offer. It’s near the top in performance, but it also comes with a higher price. Originally $999, the cheapest models are around $950 now, and they’re widely available due to high demand. This demand is because of its advanced RDNA 3 architecture.

The 7900 XTX has significantly more computing power, 33% more memory, and better bandwidth. Compared to its predecessor, the RX 6950 XT, it’s about 40% faster at 4K resolution. This lead decreases to 30% at 1440p and 24% at 1080p. Plus, it achieves this performance without much increase in power use or size.

AMD’s card is great for those who aren’t focused on ray tracing. While ray tracing games are increasing and often support Nvidia’s DLSS tech, AMD’s alternative, FSR2, doesn’t always match up. For the best experience in ray tracing right now, Nvidia is still ahead.

AMD’s GPUs are also useful for professional work, but performance can vary depending on the application. While some programs run well on AMD, others don’t. For AI or deep learning, Nvidia’s cards are the better choice. The RX 7900 XTX is AMD’s top model for this generation and offers strong performance. The 7900 XT, a step-down model, is also a good choice, especially since it’s priced more attractively now.

3. GeForce RTX 4070

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: AD104
GPU Cores: 5888
Boost Clock: 2,475 MHz
Video RAM: 12GB GDDR6X 21 Gbps
TGP: 200 watts

The Nvidia RTX 4070, while not outstanding in terms of extreme performance or value, matches the performance of the earlier RTX 3080. It features the latest Ada Lovelace architecture and costs $100 less than previous models. However, it’s important to note that the RTX 3070 and higher models are no longer being produced. The RTX 4070, priced $200 less than the RTX 4070 Ti, offers 85% of its performance for 75% of its price.

Nvidia isn’t likely to win praise for affordability as it tends to price its products at the higher end. But compared to other options, the RTX 4070 stands out, especially when matched against AMD’s RX 7800 XT. It’s slightly slower in standard graphics but faster in ray tracing, and it supports DLSS technology. A significant advantage of the RTX 4070 is its lower power consumption, using about 60W less than the RX 7800 XT.

Nvidia emphasizes that its RTX 40-series performs much better when using DLSS 3 Frame Generation, which creates additional frames. However, these aren’t the same as genuine frames and can increase input latency. While DLSS 3 does enhance performance by about 10–20%, it doesn’t match the 50–100% improvement shown in Nvidia’s charts.

Since its launch, the RTX 4070 has been sold at its suggested retail price, indicating a lower demand for these higher-priced mainstream parts. Overclocked versions with extra features like RGB lighting cost slightly more. Despite feeling a bit pricey, the RTX 4070 does outperform the previous RTX 3070 Ti, offering around 23% more speed at the same $599 price.

4. GeForce RTX 4060

 

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: Ada AD107
GPU Cores: 3072
Boost Clock: 2,460 MHz
Video RAM: 8GB GDDR6 17 Gbps
TGP: 115 watts

Nvidia has nearly completed its current line of desktop graphics cards with the RTX 4060, based on the Ada Lovelace architecture. There might be a RTX 4050 coming, and possibly some updated versions of current models, but for now, the RTX 4060 is the most affordable option in the RTX 40-series.

However, there are some limitations. Nvidia has reduced the memory interface to 128 bits, affecting memory capacity. The standard version has 8GB of memory, and it’s unlikely we’ll see different configurations, except for the 4060 Ti 16GB. Also, these cards use an x8 PCIe interface, which usually isn’t a major issue.

On the bright side, the RTX 4060 performs about 20% better than the previous RTX 3060 at 1080p and 1440p resolutions. But in some high-demand situations, like 4K gaming, the RTX 3060’s 12GB memory can sometimes perform better, even though neither card is ideal for such settings.

The RTX 4060 also offers the latest Ada features, including support for DLSS 3, and has a low power consumption of around 115W for the standard model, not going much over 125W even for overclocked versions. Plus, most RTX 4060 cards avoid the complex 16-pin power connector.

AMD’s RX 6700 XT is a comparable alternative, with better performance in standard graphics but poorer in ray tracing, and it requires about 100W more power. The new RX 7700 XT is more expensive, so it’s not a direct competitor. The RTX 4060 leads in ray tracing performance and is about 25% faster in those tests, while AMD’s card is about 15% faster in standard graphics at 1440p ultra.

Another way to see the RTX 4060 is as an upgraded RTX 3050, with 60% better performance but at a $50 higher price. Although the RTX 3050 was often priced above $300, its price has dropped in recent months.

5. Radeon RX 7800 XT

 

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: RDNA 3 Navi 32
GPU Cores: 3840
Boost Clock: 2,430 MHz
Video RAM: 16GB GDDR6 19.5 Gbps
TBP: 263 watts

AMD has nearly finished its RDNA 3 GPU lineup with the launch of the RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT, using the Navi 32 technology. Between these two, the 7800 XT is the better choice, being up to 20% faster while costing only 11% more. However, it’s only 5% faster than the existing RX 6800 XT and is priced the same at about $500. Yet, the 7800 XT does have some benefits.

While its overall performance improvement is modest, the 7800 XT is more power-efficient, using about 45W less than the 6800 XT in our tests. It matches the 6900 XT in performance but with less power consumption and a lower price online. It also brings new features like AV1 encoding, DP2.1 video output, and better compute and AI abilities. For instance, it’s 45% faster in Stable Diffusion tasks than the 6800 XT.

The RX 7800 XT outperforms the Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti significantly, leading by 26% at 1440p and 40% in standard graphics games. However, the RTX 4060 Ti is $100 cheaper. The RTX 4070, on the other hand, is 6% faster overall at 1440p, and 27% better in ray tracing, but costs $100 more. So, AMD’s RX 7800 XT finds its place at the $500 price point without direct competition.

In summary, AMD’s usual pattern continues: better standard graphics performance but weaker ray tracing and AI capabilities, at a competitive price. If the price drops by another $50, the RX 7800 XT would be an even more attractive option.

6. Radeon RX 7900 XT

SPECIFICATIONS

GPU: RDNA 3 Navi 31
GPU Cores: 5376 (10,752)
Boost Clock: 2,400 MHz
Video RAM: 20GB GDDR6 20 Gbps

TBP: 315 watts

As prices rise for older graphics cards, we’re on the lookout for the best current options. AMD’s RX 7900 XT is a strong contender, outdoing Nvidia’s RTX 4070 Ti in standard graphics but falling behind in ray tracing games. However, its slightly lower starting price of $750 makes it a competitive choice, especially with the updates from the RDNA 3 architecture.

AMD doesn’t hold back on video memory, offering 20GB, which is 67% more than the 4070 Ti. But, it lacks DLSS support, and while FSR2 is available on both Nvidia and AMD cards, DLSS generally delivers better quality. The value of these upscaling technologies like DLSS and FSR2 can vary depending on user preferences.

It’s worth noting that while AMD GPUs can handle AI tasks, they tend to be slower. This is because RDNA 3’s “AI Accelerators” share pathways with the GPU shaders, leading to limited AI performance. Additionally, many AI projects are more compatible with Nvidia’s ecosystem.

AMD’s new chiplet architecture in its GPUs is innovative but seems more focused on reducing costs than boosting performance at this stage. The performance of AMD’s RX 7900 XT is slightly behind Nvidia’s 4070 Ti, especially when you factor in Nvidia’s DLSS and DLSS 3.

The RX 7900 XT is a solid choice, offering a noticeable improvement over previous AMD models. Another option to consider is the RX 7800 XT, which is $250 cheaper and only about 20% less powerful. However, it’s important to recognize that overall, prices for new generations of GPUs have gone up, and product naming can sometimes obscure this fact. For example, the RX 7900 XT might seem like a replacement for the 6900 XT, but it’s more akin to a successor of the 6800 XT, despite AMD’s naming choices.

How We Evaluate Top Graphics Cards

When testing graphics cards, we focus on getting the purest measure of performance. Our 2023 test setup includes a Core i9-13900K CPU, MSI Z790 MEG Ace DDR5 motherboard, 32GB of G.Skill DDR5-6600 CL34 memory, and a Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G 4TB SSD. We also use a be quiet! 80 Plus Titanium PSU and a Cooler Master CPU cooler.

We run tests at the three most common gaming resolutions: 1080p, 1440p, and 4K. We use ‘medium’ and ‘ultra’ settings at 1080p and ‘ultra’ at 4K. We typically use ‘reference’ cards from Nvidia and AMD for these tests. For cards without reference models, we select ones close to the reference specs.

Our testing process for each card is consistent. We start with a warm-up benchmark run, followed by at least two more at each setting and resolution. If the results are close, we pick the faster one. If there’s a big difference, we do more tests to find the normal performance.

We also check our data for unusual results. For example, if the RTX 3070 Ti, RTX 3070, and RTX 3060 Ti perform outside their expected range, we retest to ensure accuracy.

We often retest cards due to new drivers and game updates that can affect performance. We also might add new games to our tests if they’re popular and useful for benchmarking.

Choosing the Right Graphics Card We offer a variety of top graphics card choices. The latest models include Nvidia’s Ada Lovelace, AMD’s RDNA3, and Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs. These support DirectX 12 Ultimate and ray tracing, with additional features in Arc and RTX cards.

We list available cards with current prices, tracked in our GPU prices guide. With prices closer to MSRP, supply improving, but demand decreasing due to economic factors, it’s a good time to consider an upgrade.

Our advice is to wait for the right deal on the latest RTX 40-series or RX 7000-series cards. While only high-end models are available now, more affordable options will come.

Remember, a powerful GPU needs a good CPU for the best gaming experience. Check out our recommendations for the best gaming CPUs and our CPU Benchmark hierarchy.

Our recommendations consider performance, price, features, and efficiency. That’s why some slower cards may rank higher on our list.

Tips for Buying a Graphics Card Keep these points in mind:

  • Resolution: Higher resolution gaming requires more powerful GPUs. For 1080p, a top-end GPU isn’t necessary.
  • Power Supply: Ensure your PSU can handle the GPU. Check the wattage and connector requirements.
  • Video Memory: Minimum is 4GB, 6GB is better, and 8GB or more is best. Some games now use up to 12GB.
  • FreeSync or G-Sync: These sync your screen’s refresh rate with the GPU’s frame rate. Nvidia supports G-Sync, while AMD supports FreeSync.
  • Ray Tracing and Upscaling: Modern GPUs support ray tracing for better visuals. Nvidia’s RTX cards offer DLSS for upscaling, while AMD’s FSR is available on many GPUs. New technologies like DLSS 3 and Intel XeSS are also available for enhanced gaming.

Graphics Card Performance Overview

We’ve updated our game test suite to include 15 different titles, with recent testing data. We test the top-performing cards at 1440p and 4K resolutions, but aim to test all cards at 1080p, both on medium and ultra settings.

For each resolution, we present three charts. The first shows the average performance across all 15 games. The second chart displays results from nine games using rasterization technology, and the third chart is dedicated to ray tracing performance in six games. Additionally, we provide individual game charts for those interested in detailed data.

AMD’s FSR technology has been available for about two years, with FSR 2.0 now over a year old. Nvidia’s DLSS 2 has been around since mid-2019, and Intel’s XeSS was launched in October 2023. In our tests, 12 games support DLSS 2, five support DLSS 3, five are compatible with FSR2, and four work with XeSS. We conducted all benchmarks at native resolution. We’ve also written a separate piece on FSR and DLSS, highlighting that DLSS and XeSS generally offer better performance with minimal impact on image quality, while FSR2 is compatible with any GPU.

The charts below feature most of the current RTX 40/30-series, RX 7000/6000-series, and Intel’s Arc A-series graphics cards. For more comprehensive results, including tests from our 2020-2021 suite on a Core i9-9900K, check out our GPU benchmarks hierarchy. The charts are color-coded for clarity: AMD in red, Nvidia in blue, and Intel in gray.

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