Best Graphics Cards For Gaming
If you've got the money why not go all out and get the best graphics card for gaming out there? Here at Peek&Co, we don't judge people who get first in line for a GTX 1080. In fact, we love it (check out our FB page and you'll know what I mean). Gamers should play on their terms and if you need a graphics card that can support 1080p or 4k gaming then there's no reason you shouldn't get the best.
We've written up the best high end graphics cards on the market, including detailed benchmark breakdowns, as the third part of our graphics card series. Who could say no to a GTX 1080? Just look at it...
Things to keep in mind before buying high-end graphics cards
1. They're going to be expensive. If you're looking for 1080p gaming you can still get a slightly more affordable video card but you won't be able to play the most demanding games out that level. For our official list of the best budget graphics click here
2. Yes, most of these graphics cards are powerful enough to handle VR - especially the GTX 1080.
3. These cards are seriously powerful. If you're looking to get one of these, consider upgrading your monitor if you haven't already done so. We recommend the latest ultrawide monitors to really take advantage of everything they have to offer.
3. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ENOUGH POWER. The best graphics cards for gaming will consume pretty large amounts of energy to perform at their best - make sure you have a solid power supply unit for your computer. For more information on why a PSU can be invaluable even if you're not gaming - click here
4. Keep your computer cool. Luckily, our selection of the best graphics cards for gaming all have awesome cooling capabilities. Even so, if you're running the latest games then you want to make sure you don't fry your computer so invest in an adequate fan or cooling system! For our recommended list, click here.
Best Gaming Video Card for Gaming #1:
GTX 1080 - Founder's Edition or the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming ACX 3.0
The king himself. Boasting more power than even the GTX 980TI and Titan X, the 1080 blows away all competition making it the best graphics card for gaming - hands down.
GTX 1080 Specs
2560 NVIDIA CUDA® Cores
1607 Base Clock (MHz)
1733 Boost Clock (MHz)
10 Gbps Memory Speed
8 GB GDDR5X Standard Memory
The new pascal architecture really does deliver in terms of performance over the previous maxwell generation. Aside from the obvious spec upgrades, Nvidia packed in a bunch of new features including a VR-ready screenshot tool, a 3D audio solution, multi-monitor projection (with 16 independent viewports), and multi-res shading, a new feature of the pascal architecture that renders the outer portions of the display in a lower resolution and stretches it to improve performance.
An unexpected benefit of the pascal architecture is power consumption. The 1080 packs in the performance of the most powerful graphics card on the market with the power consumption of a mid range card. Check out the graph below (we know it's blurry):
You'll notice that while the GTX 1080 delivers substantial more performance than the rest of the maxwell family of cards, including the Titan X, it needs only 180W of power. This is a large departure from the previous generation, which continued the trend of more power intensive cards, culminating in the 250W Titan X.
The price of the founder's edition of the card is set at $699, but expect that number to vary as more manufacturers release their own versions of the card.
In fact, if you're looking to splurge even more for a design with that is both quieter, cooler and still just as powerful we recommend the EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming ACX 3.0 as a another candidate for best graphics card for gaming.
Best video card for gaming #2:
EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC GAMING ACX 3.0, 8GB GDDR5, LED, DX12 OSD Support (PXOC) Graphics Card 08G-P4-6173-KR
The new prince of high end graphics cards. Nvidia's second entry incorporating the new pascal architecture, the GTX 1070 still beats out all previous generations including the 980 Ti in performance benchmarks.
The only differences between the 1070 and 1080 are fewer shaders, slightly lower clock speed, and GDDR5 memory instead of GDDR5X, which together results in a lower TDP of 150W versus the 1080's 180W.
The GTX 1070 and all of its variations use GDDR5 which is the latest in GPU technology. It is exponentially faster and more powerful than previous GDDR4 and GDDR3 iterations. So don't worry if other graphics cards promise more memory - if it's not GDDR5, it's not the best. At roughly $400, the 1070 is tough to beat in the gaming graphics card range for the price.
Even though it's not quite as powerful at the GTX 1080 above, you'll be hardpressed to find something it can't run. Because of that, it more than deserves its spot as the best value graphics card for gaming right now.
For a slightly more pimped out version of the GTX 1070 that costs $40 - we personally recommend the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0 with 8GB GDDR5.
Best Gaming Video Cards: #3 & #4
GTX Titan X and the 980 Ti
The old stalwarts. The most powerful graphics card of the previous Maxwell generation, the 980 Ti and the Titan X filled the role of flagship high end GPUs for Nvidia, and did their job well. They support SLI (which means you can tether 2 or more together) and have aged extremely well, making them extremely relevant even in NVIDIA's Pascal Architecture era.
Though a single Titan X will run most games at 4k, you might need to get 2 to run some of the more intensive games at that resolution if you don't want to lose frames. As far as 1080p gaming goes...you certainly won't have a problem.
Specs included below:
GTX 980Ti Specs
2816 NVIDIA CUDA Cores
1000 Base Clock (MHz)
1075 Boost Clock (MHz)
7.0 GBPS Memory Speed
6 GB Standard Memory
GTX Titan X Specs
3072 NVIDIA CUDA Cores
1000 Base Clock (MHz)
1075 Boost Clock (MHz)
7.0 Gbps Memory Clock
12 GB GDDR5 Standard Memory
While we know now the new pascal architecture from Nvidia will challenge these cards, there is the possibility that the maxwell cards get pushed down in price due to reduced demand. What this means is that you should be on the look out to snag one of these cards at a bargain.
The 980Ti in particular, which featured stronger performance relative to price than the Titan, still looks like a strong option in the high end graphics card range. Slightly lower clock speeds and memory speeds will certainly impact performance, but looking at the side by side benchmarks of the cards, the 980Ti stands up well (roughly 20% better performance from the 1080 at factory settings).
Bottom line - If you're in the market for a high end graphics card, don't be turned away from the 980Ti and Titan just because they're not pascal cards. They are perfectly capable of running anything you throw at them including 1080p gaming, VR and 4K HD, and will most likely have price drops as a result of market pressure.
Each is, without a doubt, the best graphics card for gaming of the previous generation and they promise to keep humming powerfully along for many more years to come.
Best Graphics Card For Gaming...Ever?
Titan Z 12GB GDDR5 Gaming Video Card (Pascal Architecture)
The amount of power on this card is absolutely disgusting. If you've got the money to spare and you want to have a future-proof gaming graphics card that is never going to be irrelevant this is the way to go. The reason it is not #1 on the list is because it is not particularly cost-effective. Having said that, the specs and the speed on this bad boy are certainly enough to make it the best graphics card for gaming hands down.
Want to play VR? No problem. Want to run multiple 1080p monitors or 4k ultramonitors? Go for it. The thought of someone taking advantage of the SLI capabilities and rigging multiples of these together makes my head want to explode.
- Base Clock: 732 MHZ
- Boost Clock: 915 MHz
- Memory Clock: 7000 MHz Effective
- CUDA Cores: 5760
- Bus Type: PCI-E 3.0
- Memory Detail: 12288MB GDDR5
- Memory Bit Width: 768 Bit
- Memory Speed: 0.28ns
- Memory Bandwidth: 672 GB/s
- LED Logo: Yes
Just look at the amount of cores it has. It blows anything else out of the water. It can even run up to 4 monitors at the same time. Just remember to use a power supply unit of 700W or more. Otherwise you might risk overheating your computer rig.
Best AMD Graphics Card for Gaming:
Sapphire Radeon R9 Fury X 4GB with High Bandwidth Memory
AMD's sole entry on the list (mainly because we haven't yet heard the specs of the AMD counterpart to the pascal generation - its 4XX series codenamed Polaris), the Fury X and the cheaper Fury both pack quite a punch and should definitely be considered in the list of best high end graphics cards.
Fury X/Fury Specs
Stream Processors 4096/3584
Base Clock 1050/1000
Boost Clock 1050/1000 MHz
The Fury series' head to head benchmark with Nvidia's maxwell cards is relatively even. The Fury X matches up well against the 980Ti, while the Fury holds its own against the GTX 980.
The Fury X has higher shading and texture units, higher floating point performance, and a slightly higher base clock speed than the 980Ti, , but lags behind the in terms of pixel rate and memory clock speed. Ultimately what this means is the 980Ti scores higher on the G3D passmark score, which is a compilation of performance scores across different games and metrics. The heads up between the Fury and the GTX 980 follows a similar pattern.
One thing to keep in mind that the Fury X comes with a separate water cooling system that adds additional space requirements to your build. Specifically the tubes that connect the radiator the the GPU add several inches to the baseplate, even though they are meant to be flexible.
Even though it's far from the most powerful gaming GPU on this list, it's a solid contender that demands respect. For those interested in the lower end of high-end, this is a great video card that can take care of almost anything a casual gamer could want - including gaming at 1080p.
There are a number of high end graphics cards available on the market today, including entries from both AMD and Nvidia. While you may be tempted to sell out for the new pascal-based GTX 1080/1070, its worthwhile to take a look at some of the older generation models. Not only will you find surprisingly strong performance (especially for the games currently on the market), but you may even find a high end bargain.
If you've gotten this far into our review, and you realized that a high end graphics card just isn't for you, check out our budget graphics card and mid range graphics card reviews. There you'll find cards in the $200-400 range and below (for the budget cards).