MSI GeForce RTX 4070 TI Ventus 12G OC GPU at CES 2023
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

What to Look for in a Graphics Card in 2023

When it comes to GPUs, you’ll want to set your budget, expectations, and requirements regarding performance. But, it’s first important to note that powerful graphics cards like the ones you find alone are mostly for demanding graphical tasks. If you’re not planning on gaming or tasks like 3D rendering, the onboard graphics on a motherboard will be good enough.

Are you looking for a beefed-up graphics card capable of running the latest AAA games in 4K resolution with max details? Or maybe you’re in the market for a budget offering? Graphics cards come in a wide variety of performance and price points, so make sure you know what you need and set your budget accordingly.

Next, check your processor (CPU) if you’re upgrading your current PC. If you’re building a new PC, ensure the CPU is in the same ballpark regarding gaming performance as the GPU. The CPU should be fast enough to keep pace with the graphics card, at least in the resolution you’re playing at, or else the extra power will go to waste.

As for your motherboard, any board will be fine as long as it’s got a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, as even the RTX 4090 almost maxes out when installed in that slot.

Finally, ensure your power supply (PSU) can handle the GPU you’re eyeing. You can get a solid ballpark estimate of whether your current PSU is up to the task by using one of the online PSU calculators, such as the OuterVision Power Supply Calculator.

Once you find out what GPUs you can couple with your CPU and are sure your PSU can handle the new card, it’s time to settle on the video memory (VRAM) amount. You need at least 10GB of VRAM to run games at 1440p resolution or higher with max details without ray tracing. Add ray tracing and the minimum amount jumps to 12GB.

Performance-wise, the current mid-range offerings from AMD and NVIDIA are good for 1440p gaming with max details as long as they have more than 10GB of video memory. High-end cards, starting with the RTX 4070 Ti, are made for 60fps 4K and high refresh rate 1440p gaming.

Another consideration is NVIDIA DLSS and AMD FSR, each company’s AI upscaling technology designed to boost gaming performance. Both of these technologies run games at lower resolutions, then use machine learning to fill in the details and make the game look like it’s running at a higher resolution.

But while the technologies are similar, there are some important differences to note. NVIDIA’s technology is a better choice for 1440p and lower resolutions. At 4K, DLSS still looks better in most games, but the difference is much less noticeable than on lower resolutions. Lastly, the DLSS 3 frame generation feature is good to have, but considering that only RTX 4000 GPUs support it, get ready to pay the NVIDIA tax if you want the latest and greatest DLSS technology.

Aside from AMD and NVIDIA, note that you can also find gaming GPUs made by Intel. The processor giant entered the gaming GPU ring last year with a couple of graphics cards of their own, and while the driver situation was bad at launch, the Arc A750 and Arc A770 GPUs now present decent alternatives to NVIDIA and AMD GPUs. However, they’re still noticeably behind both competitors concerning the quality and stability of video drivers.

Best Graphics Card Overall: NVIDIA RTX 4080 (Gigabyte RTX 4080 Gaming OC)

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4080 Gaming OC GPU on pink and yellow background


  • Blazing fast
  • Excellent ray tracing performance
  • Perfect for 4K gaming
  • DLSS 3 is nice to have
  • Dual BIOS


  • Very big, may not fit in smaller cases
  • Very expensive

If you’re looking for a high-end graphics card but aren’t ready to pay a $1,600+ price for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090, the RTX 4080 is the GPU you want. A variety of companies make GPUs, but the one we recommend is Gigabyte’s RTX 4080 Gaming OC is a perfect choice. It doesn’t go overboard with the price, packs an amazing cooling setup, and features a slick design with a bit of RGB thrown in for good measure.

Performance-wise, the RTX 4080 is fast enough for high-end AAA gaming at 4K and 1440p with triple-digit frame rates. You’ll likely need to turn on DLSS at 4K if you opt for ray-tracing effects, but that’s fine since DLSS looks as good as a native image at 4K.

The RTX 4080 has 16GB of video memory, which is more than enough to play the upcoming wave of demanding AAA games made for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series consoles.

If this 4080 model is out of stock, there are other options. The MSI RTX 4080 Gaming X Trio and the MSI RTX 4080 Ventus 3X OC are also fine choices for those who don’t want to pay much over the $1200 MSRP.

Then there’s the ZOTAC RTX 4080 16GB Trinity OC for those looking for a unique design and more RGB. Finally, the ASUS TUF RTX 4080 OC and ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 OC present high-end choices for those who don’t mind paying extra for ASUS cards.

NVIDIA’s RTX 4070 GPUs are another solid choice for high-end 1440p and mid-to-high-end 4K gaming. They are more affordable, and its 12GB of video memory should be enough for upcoming AAA titles, as long as you forget about ray tracing or use medium RT presets. Our recommendations include the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Gaming OC, the MSI GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Gaming X Trio, the Ventus 3X, and the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Trinity OC.

If ray tracing performance isn’t important to you, the last-gen flagship from AMD, the Radeon RX 6950 XT. This card’s an excellent choice for 1440p and 4K, especially since it comes with 16 gigs of memory instead of the 12GB found on the RTX 4070 Ti.

Best Graphics Card Overall

Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4080 Gaming OC

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 is more than enough for a vast majority of gamers and the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4080 Gaming OC is an excellent RTX 4080 variant that features superb cooling setup and slick design.

Best Budget Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 6600 (PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600)

PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600 GPU on purple background


  • Excellent 1080p performance
  • Lots of bang for your buck
  • Compact design
  • Competitive price


  • The cooling setup is basic but still more than enough for the RX 6600 GPU

The budget GPU segment suffered the most during the last crypto mining craze and the infamous chip shortage. The compound effect of the two has raised GPU prices to the stratosphere, leaving budget buyers with few choices in the sub-$200 market segment.

Even today, most graphics cards costing less than $200 are poor choices if you need your rig to run games. The most affordable budget card we recommend getting is the AMD Radeon RX 6600, and the PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600 is the best of these options since it’s affordable and packs a decent cooling setup.

Concerning gaming performance, the RX 6600 can run less demanding games and older AAA titles with high-quality visuals at frame rates noticeably higher than 60fps in 1080p. The newest AAA titles should run around 60fps with high or medium settings. The 8GB memory buffer isn’t perfect, but it is enough for a budget graphics card targeting 1080p gaming.

Other RX 6600 models we recommend include the ASRock Radeon RX 6600 CLD as a budget offering. If you’re ready to pay $20-$30 more, check out the XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600 Core or the PowerColor Hellhound AMD Radeon RX 6600.

If you want something faster that can also be used for 1440p gaming, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT is your best bet. We recommend the PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT and the MSI Gaming AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT MECH 2X.

But if you’re thinking about getting NVIDIA’s GeForice RTX 3050, don’t. It’s about 30% slower than the RX 6600 while costing more and having the same bottom-tier level of ray tracing performance.

Best Budget Graphics Card

PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600

The PowerColor Fighter AMD Radeon RX 6600 is a superb graphics card for 1080p gaming that's compact and sells at a competitive price. The cooling setup's basic but still more than enough to handle the RX 6600 GPU.

Best Premium Graphics Card: NVIDIA RTX 4090 (ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition)

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC Edition on blue background


  • The fastest graphics card on the market
  • Solid OC potential, for an RTX 4000 card
  • Lots of RGB, if you're into it
  • Over the top cooling setup makes the card very cool and whisper quiet
  • DLSS 3
  • Dual BIOS


  • Very expensive
  • Very big, check your case clearance

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 is the flagship GPU of this generation, and no other graphics card can match it. If you want the absolute best PC gaming experience, this is the GPU to get, and the best model of the 4090 series is the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC.

The ROG Strix offers tons of RGB, a supermassive cooler, good overclocking potential, and more—but all this tech takes up a lot of space. This GPU is almost 360mm (14.2 inches) long and features an ultra-thick, 3.5-slot design. You’ll need to make sure your PC case can fit such a large GPU and still have space!

If you want the premium RTX 4090 card but aren’t ready to pay more than the $2,000 for the ROG Strix, there are RTX 4090 models that bring down the price a bit, such as the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 4090 Gaming OC, the ASUS TUF GeForce RTX 4090 OC, the MSI RTX 4090 Gaming X Trio, or the ZOTAC GeForce RTX 4090 Trinity OC.

Best Premium Graphics Card

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC

The ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4090 OC is an engineering marvel. The card's perfect for 4K high refresh rate gaming, packs 24GB of memory, is ridiculously massive, but also very cool and whisper quiet under load. The only downside here is the price.

Best Graphics Card for Gaming: AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT (ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 6750 XT)

ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 6750 on grey background


  • Perfect for 1440p gaming
  • 12GB of video memory should be enough for 1440p for a while
  • Competitive price
  • Bests every NVIDIA competitor selling at a similar price
  • Overkill cooling setup keeps the card cool and quiet


  • The card's quite large for a mid-range GPU
  • Simple and unremarkable design

While all of the graphics cards we recommend are made with gaming in mind, we’re handing the title of “best graphics card for gaming” to the one that gives gamers the most bang for their buck. By this, we mean a mid-range GPU with 1440p performance that allows a 60fps or higher experience in AAA games with high visuals, light 4K gaming with 60fps and medium or low visuals, and a high refresh rate experience in any esports title, no matter the resolution.

The GPU that best fits that description is the AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT, embodied in the ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 6750 XT. The RX 6750 XT comes with 12GB of video memory, the minimum we recommend when in the market for a new mid-range graphics card. Some good alternative models include the XFX Speedster QICK319 Radeon RX 6750XT Ultra and the XFX Speedster MERC319 Radeon RX 6750XT Black.

If you can find one, the previous generation of this GPU (the RX 6700 XT) is a great option. The 6700 XTs are less than ten percent slower than the 6750s, and in general, they are more affordable. The catch is, being an older model, the 6700s are being phased out and are harder to find.

However, if you do find an RX 6700 XT at a competitive price of around $350, get it. The ASRock Challenger D Radeon RX 6700 XT and the MSI MSI Mech 2X Radeon RX 6700 XT are excellent choices.

For those that don’t want AMD, NVIDIA’s mid-range options are more limited. We’d skip the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070, and RTX 3070 Ti. They all come with 8GB of video memory, which isn’t enough for a 1440p gaming experience in the latest AAA titles with high textures. The RTX 3060 is an okay choice since it comes with 12GB of memory, but it’s also about 30% slower than the RX 6750 XT at a similar price point.

If you insist on the RTX 3060, the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC is a solid purchase.

Best Graphics Card for Gaming

ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 6750 XT

The ASRock Challenger Pro Radeon RX 6750 XT is an excellent graphics card for AAA and esports 1440p gaming that sells at a competitive price and features an overkill cooling setup.

Best AMD Graphics Card: AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX (MSI Radeon RX 7900 XTX GAMING TRIO CLASSIC)

MSI Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX on yellow background


  • Matches RTX 4080 in rasterized performance while being cheaper
  • 24GB of video memory
  • Dual BIOS
  • Perfect for high refresh rate 1440p and 4K gaming


  • Absolutely massive, like every other current gen high-end GPU
  • While cheaper than the RTX 4080, it's still quite expensive
  • Not that great when it comes to ray tracing performance

NVIDIA tends to be the big name in GPUs, but AMD is the company’s closest competitor and has solid options to choose from. The best AMD GPU series is the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, and the specific model we recommend getting is the MSI Radeon RX 7900 XTX GAMING TRIO CLASSIC.

The RX 7900 XTX is a beast of a GPU that matches the RTX 4080 in rasterization performance. The ray tracing performance is behind the 4080, but it comes at a cheaper price while offering 24GB of VRAM instead of 16GB.

Overall, the RX 7900 XTX is an excellent choice for high-refresh 1440p and 4K gaming, but you’ll need to use AMD FSR at 4K where possible to reach triple-digit framerates in the latest and greatest AAA titles.

You’ll reach 60 frames per second in most games with ray-tracing effects if you don’t go for ultra settings. In esports titles, your CPU will most likely reach its limit before the RX 7900 XTX, especially if you play multiplayer games with competitive (as in, lowest possible) settings.

Other quality RX 7900 XTX models include the XFX Speedster MERC310 AMD Radeon RX 7900XTX BlackSapphire Nitro+ AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX Vapor-X, and the Sapphire Pulse AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX.

Alternatives include the RTX 4080 and the RTX 4070 Ti. There’s also the RTX 4090 for gamers seeking a zero-compromise gaming experience.

Best AMD Graphics Card

MSI Gaming Radeon RX 7900 XTX Gaming Trio Classic

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is AMD's flagship GPU and it packs a potent punch. While not being able to reach the RTX 4090, it manages to keep up with the RTX 4080 while being cheaper and having 24GB of memory instead of 16GB.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most straightforward way is to check the box the graphics card came in. It should have the model of the card written all over it.

For owners of NVIDIA cards, right-click on the desktop, then click “NVIDIA Control Panel”. Once there, click “System Information,” located on the lower left side of the window. Read our guide on the subject for more ways to find out which GPU you have.

If you plan on getting a budget or an older graphics card, as long as your motherboard has a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot, you’re good to go. If you plan on getting a newer GPU, especially a newer high-end graphics card, ensure your motherboard has a PCIe 3.0 x16 slot.

If you want to update your graphics card drivers, go to the NVIDIA or AMD drivers page, select your GPU and operating system if needed, download the appropriate driver installation, and install it. For a more detailed explanation, please read our guide on how to update your graphics drivers.

If you want to learn how to install a new graphics card, we have an in-depth guide on how to upgrade and install a new graphics card.

No, you don’t. You can use any graphics card you want. NVIDIA, AMD, or Intel, it doesn’t matter.

The Best PC Cases of 2023

Fractal Design Meshify 2
Best PC Case Overall
Fractal Design Meshify 2
Phanteks Eclipse P300A
Best Budget PC Case
Phanteks Eclipse P300A
Thermaltake Tower 900 Black Edition
Best Gaming PC Case
Thermaltake Tower 900 Black Edition
NZXT H210i
Best Compact PC Case
NZXT H210i
Cooler Master MasterBox 520 Mesh Blackout Edition
Best PC Case for Airflow
Cooler Master MasterBox 520 Mesh Blackout Edition
Fractal Design Torrent
Best White PC Case
Fractal Design Torrent
Apevia Predator-PK
Best Pink PC Case
Apevia Predator-PK
Profile Photo for Goran Damnjanovic Goran Damnjanovic
Goran Damnjanovic is a freelance writer specializing in PC hardware, gaming hardware in general, and video games. He has over seven years of experience writing for various online publications, including TechSpot and EsportsHeadlines.
Read Full Bio »