When it comes to graphics cards, we go in depth. Year after year, we test dozens of GPUs from Nvidia, AMD (and also Intel) to see which are worth your money and which are dead on arrival.
To make the process of choosing a new graphics card a little easier, TechSpot’s guide to the best GPUs is meant to answer a simple question: given a specific budget, which graphics card should you buy?
Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of new graphics card releases, but very few of them were exciting, leading to a situation where the product that sucks the least is the winner. There are a few models that fell below MSRP to eventually become decent offerings, while others are still massively overpriced but can deliver incredible performance.
So depending on your perspective, you could say you get what you pay for. We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up the food chain…
Entry level: around $200
AMD Radeon RX 6600 or Radeon 6650 XT
For $200 or less, there aren’t many GPU options, and certainly very few good ones. A really bad example would be the Radeon 6500 XT, which launched in January 2022 with a 4GB model that was supposed to cost $200, but due to supply and demand issues it started to approach $300 and more.
Today it can be bought for $160 and sometimes less than that, but in reality this GPU frankly belongs to a sub-$100 segment. Indeed, for $60 more you can get a Radeon RX 6600 and although that’s about a 40% price premium, the 6600 is on average 80% faster at 1080p.
The Radeon RX 6600 also supports video encoding, more than two display outputs, twice the PCIe bandwidth, and can produce 60+ fps in modern AAA titles using reasonable quality settings at 1080p. So for around $200, the Radeon RX 6600 is your best graphics card option.
If you can push the budget closer to $300 the Radeon 6650 XT is also a great option, for 20% more than the vanilla model you get 20% more performance.
There’s no GeForce alternative worth considering at this price point. The RTX 3050 still costs at least $260, bringing it closer to the 6650 XT, which is a problem given that the regular RX 6600 directly destroys the 3050, delivering over 20% more performance on average, while costing cheaper.
$400 mainstream GPU:
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti or Radeon RX 6750 XT
For those of you with around $400 to spend on a graphics card, Nvidia is starting to get competitive. In this price range, the best options include the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti and Radeon RX 6700 XT and 6750 XT.
The Radeon 6750 XT is about 5% faster than the 6700 XT, so if the price is similar, you might as well go for the updated model. Right now the 6750 XT is usually around 10% more expensive which makes the stock better value so our recommendation would be for the 6700 XT then you can overclock it and get the 6750 XT performance for free .
Alternatively, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti can be had for just over $400, which is similar to the 6750 XT in price, but worse in the value equation as it costs 15% more than the 6700 XT and is ~5% slower on average. You’re also looking at around $330 for the standard RTX 3060, which results in a similar cost per frame to the 3060 Ti. The problem with the RTX 3060 is that if you spend 10% more on the 6700 XT, you’ll get around 35% more performance.
In other words, the RTX 3060 Ti is the first GeForce product we would start considering buying. Nvidia’s advantage over AMD at these lower performance levels is limited. In our opinion, ray tracing performance isn’t much use here, so the only key selling point would be DLSS, but Radeon GPU scaling options are constantly improving.
Mid-range performance: $600 and up
Radeon RX 6800 XT or ???
The price range between $500 and $800 is difficult at the moment and the buying time has temporarily expired. The release of the GeForce RTX 4070 Ti is imminent and this new GPU could break the segment if it becomes available at nearly $800, potentially driving down the prices of all older models, which would be great.
Most of the Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT graphics card bargains have been made so far. At the time of writing, retailers are listing several 6800 XTs for between $540 and $550, but none are in stock, while some local retailers have removed 6800 XT listings entirely. If you can snag a Radeon 6800 XT for around $500, that’s a bargain, but way more than that and we wouldn’t mind.
Meanwhile, the GeForce RTX 3070 starts closer to $600, but we’d pass that on. In our opinion, the RTX 3070s should be closer to $400 at this point. The same goes for the RTX 3070 Ti, which has an asking price of $700, which doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons – perhaps none greater than the terrible value Radeon RX 7900 XT costs. only $200 more – less than 30% price premium, for over 60% more performance.
It’s the same story with RTX 3080 – it’s too expensive so basically the only GeForce 30 series GPU worth investing in right now is the 3060 Ti everything else is dead in apart from a few limited offers here and there. The best value you could find on a high-end GPU was the 6800 XT, 6900 XT, or 6950 XT, but unfortunately those deals have run out to make way for next-gen GPUs. We just have to hope they don’t suck as much as the 7900 XT and RTX 4080.
The Terrible $1,000+ Mark
GeForce RTX 4080 vs. Radeon RX 7900 XTX
Speaking of next-gen GPUs, if you’re willing to spend $1,000, or a little more than that, here are your options: the $900 Radeon RX 7900 XT, a price not currently in stock, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX at $1000, which would be pretty decent but not found outside of scalper prices, and the GeForce RTX 4080 which can sometimes be found at MSRP $1200 but is often closer to $1300.
We tend to believe the Radeon RX 7900 XTX is the best deal here, assuming you can find it at MSRP $1,000. Frankly, we’re not terribly impressed with any of the options… the RTX 4080 is shoddy and the 7900 XTX might seem like a better deal – and depending on your preference, it might be – but the lower RT performance, an upgrade the lower scale in terms of image quality and game support, along with higher power consumption and numerous driver bugs means the XTX must cost at least $200 less.
What you are doing here is hard to say. You can’t really buy the 7900 XTX anyway and the RTX 4080 is above MSRP, so might as well wait. Let early adopters and fanboys buy them, let the market cool, then strike a deal. We’re not very committed to any of these GPUs at current prices and don’t care to argue which is the best of the bad.
$1,600+ for a flagship GPU
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
The king of the bad bunch is the GeForce RTX 4090, a product we can’t decide if we love or hate. Yes, at $1600 it’s super expensive, but the market sets the price and Nvidia has determined that gamers are willing to pay that and more for optimal performance, so here we are…
We can complain about the price of high-end GPUs all day, but in the end it won’t matter if people keep buying them, and buying them, in droves it seems. Right now, there isn’t a single RTX 4090 at most retailers, with most stores carrying multiple different makes and models and none of them in stock – even the one from Asus ROG Strix which sells for $2,000.
The RTX 4090 wins the Ultimate High-End GPU category by default. There’s no competition from AMD, it offers about 25% more performance than the 7900 XTX, and while it may cost 60% more at MSRP, gamers who want the best seem more than happy to pay the premium. With the 4090 and 7900 XTX out of stock right now, it’s hard to imagine the prices of top GPUs dropping anytime soon.
As we begin a new year, we are coming out of a period where gamers were happy to finally be able to buy graphics cards again, only to end up disappointed once they could.
At least that’s the story of the mid-to-high value conscious buyer. For those looking for the best of the best, this was quite an exciting outing with the release of the jaw-dropping RTX 4090.
We’ve also seen a number of affordable Radeon GPUs such as the Radeon RX 6600 drop well below their MSRP as a positive. In the coming weeks and months, we expect to see some next-gen midrange to high-end parts arrive, such as the heavily leaked RTX 4070 Ti and hopefully AMD’s meter with some something like a Radeon RX 7800 XT, so the GPU war looks set to heat up in 2023.
#GPUs #Early #Update