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[Top 4] Best Cheap Graphics Cards – Reviews and Comparison

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It might sound a bit flowery, but graphics cards are the springboard for our gaming entertainment. Without them, we’d be stuck with a horrible on-board graphics chip like some kind of plebeian. Fortunately, this is not the case. Sure, a lot of people look at the GTX 1080, see the associated price tag, and immediately swear PC gaming is overpriced. As you might know (if you’ve read the title of the article), you can absolutely get a cheap graphics card that offers really great performance. You no longer need to break the piggy bank in which you have been saving money for the past two decades.

Instead, you can find yourself a cheap graphics card for under $200 that can play almost any game at a medium or high setting at 1080p. If you know how to optimize your Windows 10 for gaming, you won’t have any major problems. So what are the best low-cost graphics cards ?

 

1 Sapphire Pulse AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although many people may not think of Radeon graphics cards from the start, AMD has actually managed to establish itself in the low to mid-level graphics card range. At the very top of this range, the RX 590 comes close to the GTX 1060, if not surpasses it.

While it’s true that GTX 1060 clock speeds are generally higher, the RX 590 packs a whopping 6g of additional ram over similarly priced GTX 1060s, and 2g more than the high-end models.

Likewise, it used 256-bit channel memory, compared to the 192-bit channel memory of the GTX 1060. For the uninitiated, this means that while the GTX 1060 can run faster, the RX 590 can sustain a greater load.

Today, being able to handle more might not have meant much a few years ago, but nowadays most AAA games requiring a minimum of 4 gigabytes of RAM, and a 6 gig VRAM recommendation, you can see how much of an advantage the RX 590 has.

What’s interesting here is that the RX 590 comes equipped with dual BIOS mode, which allows you to run the card at two different clock speeds depending on what you’re doing. In silent mode, the card runs at the base clock speed, which means less heat and much less fan usage, so it’s actually a very quiet card.

On the other hand, if you want to improve performance, you can go to the default BIOS which overrides the card and spins the fans at a clearly audible level.

Unfortunately, the RX 590 has one major problem, and that is its terrible thirst for power. As you will see in the rest of the article, the consumption of 225 watts is immense, since it exceeds that of the second card of this list by 40 watts. In terms of performance per watt, it’s abysmal, with the GTX 1060 being 70-80% more power efficient, which is saying a lot.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to find the perfect card in this price range, and the higher power of the RX 590 is offset by its increased VRAM mode and dual bios. Considering the cheapest GTX 1060 is around $10 more expensive, and only has 3 gigs of VRAM, the RTX 590 is an excellent choice for 1080p gaming.

  • Core1469MHz
  • Absorbed power225w
Advantages
  • 8 gigabytes of GDDR5 Ram
  • Can play everything at 1080p
Disadvantages
  • massive power
  • Not much overclocking possible

2 MSI GTX 1050 TI

 

 

If you want to take a little jaunt through funky town, you might consider the GTX 1050, a card that literally just came out a few months ago. Sitting between the 10 and 20 series, the GTX 1050 offers the same performance as the 20 series, but with the absence of ten cores (AI) and ray tracing of the GTX 10 series and below.

One of the great advantages of the GTX 1050 is that it is equipped with GDDR6 RAM, rather than GDDR5, which will allow a considerable increase in performance compared to the previous generation of cards.

Of course, it still uses the 192-bit memory bus, which means you can only get a maximum of 6 gigabytes of RAM, which puts it at the edge of the line. Of course, just because it’s a bit behind the RX 590 in terms of memory doesn’t mean it still packs a punch.

XC Gaming’s high clock speed means you get 300Mhz more, which results in better overall performance and significantly reduces memory mismatch.

Interestingly, while the clock is faster than the RTX 2060, the architecture only achieves around 85% of the performance, which isn’t bad considering the quality of the RTX 2060. To frame it a little differently, the GTX 1660 offers around 5% more performance and 50% more memory for around 66% of the price of the top-end GTX 1060.

So you can probably understand at this point why the GTX 1660 is on this list as opposed to the GTX 1060, since you could get the latter cheaper, with the former offering better performance per dollar. As for real-world use cases and without all the technical gibberish, the GTX 1660 should be able to run smoothly in any 2k game at max or near max settings.

If you want to see more options for the best graphics cards under $300, check out our article on that.

  • Graphics coprocessorNvidia
  • Graphics RAM TypeGDDR5
  • RAM size4000MB
Advantages
  • Hardened clock at 1845 MHz
  • GDDR6 Ram
Disadvantages
  • Lack of ray tracing and Tencor core computation

3 MSI Radeon RX 570 Armor 8G GDDR5 OC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, so far we’ve looked at the most expensive budget graphics cards and this might not be for everyone. What if you prefer to get the cheapest graphics card possible, while having reasonably good performance? Well, AMD and MSI come to the rescue with the RX 570 Armor OC.

Just like the rest of AMD’s 500 series, the RX 570 comes with 8GB of VRAM, which if you’ve been following this far is a great feature. Of course, the problem is clock speed, with the main clock speed not being very high and the boost clock speed being only marginally better.

Luckily, the cooling on this graphics card is excellent, and there’s actually great overclocking potential, that is, if you can get rid of the fan noise. Surprisingly, at idle, the card can stay at a temperature of 30°C –; 35°C degrees, with peak load pushing it up to 65°C degrees, although the fan speed is 100%, both in terms of RPM and annoyance.

Of course, if you can overcome the fan noise and your computer case is well cooled, you can push that temperature to 65°C to 75°C and maybe even 80°C to 85°C. By the way, graphics cards are designed to withstand these high temperatures or to maintain safe GPU temperatures, so no need to worry. My GTX 1080 regularly runs at 80°C-85°C at full load (and 50°C at idle), so it’s perfectly fine.

So, as you can see, the RX 570 walks the line between being a pain and being wonderful pretty well. While you can’t play every 1080p game on the highest setting, you should at least hit a medium setting, and hit a medium-high setting often enough to make this graphics card worthwhile.

  • Video output interfaceDVI, HDMI
  • chipsetsAMD
  • Graphics RAM TypeGDDR5
Advantages
  • Best value for money for this price range
  • Great overclocking potential
Disadvantages
  • Fan speeds can get very noisy at full throttle

4 XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition 8GB GDDR5 OC+

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re considering buying the MSI Radeon RX 570 Armor, you should consider the XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition instead, especially if you don’t want to play around with overclocking too much.

In comparison, there’s actually not too much of a difference between the RX 580 and the RX 570, to its detriment. Worse still, there is also very little difference between the RX 580 and the RX 480, which makes the question even more confusing. It’s a big mess, that’s what I mean.

As you can see, the differences are very minor and it doesn’t make much sense to upgrade. This is where the keyword comes in: “Upgrade”. If this is your first time buying an RX series graphics card, it makes sense to jump straight to the RX 580 or RX 570, especially since the price difference is really minimal.

As for choosing the RX 580 over the RX 570, that makes sense if you don’t want to mess with overclocking. Cooling on the former isn’t as good as the latter, and the card is already overclocked, so overclocking potential is minimal to non-existent.

Sure, the RX 580 has higher power, which is a downside, but that’s pretty much the same for AMD cards (just look at the RX 590).

In summary, the RX 580 is a great card if you want to hit the upper end of graphics settings at 1080p, while the RX 570 hits mid settings. What you are looking for depends on the games you play and what kind of budget you have. My advice ? If you play a lot of AAA games, go with the RX 580 (or the RX 590 if you can save up).

If you want to see more options for sub-$200 quality graphics cards, you can start by looking at the other excellent RX 580 GPUs.

  • Core1366MHz
  • Dimensions10.63 x 4.88 inches
Advantages
  • VR is ready
  • One of the best graphics cards for 1080p
Disadvantages
  • Not that much compared to the RX 480

 

 

Buy cheap graphics card

As you can see, choosing a graphics card is not easy, especially if you don’t have the technical know-how to differentiate the important elements. Luckily, we have things like cheap GPU scaling to help us out if we can’t budget thousands of dollars for a gaming pc. While you can find extremely long tech specs for everything, if you want a quick rule of thumb, here are the three things to look for:

1 Clock speed

Just as it sounds, clock speed determines how fast a GPU can run. The higher the clock speed, the better. Also, you’ll notice that many graphics cards come with the letters “OC”, which stands for “Overclocked”, i.e. the manufacturer overclocks the GPU to make it run faster (yes, that’s is exactly what is comically correct). You can overclock a cheap GPU yourself, or even a CPU for that matter, but if you don’t have the necessary experience, you risk frying your CPU and having a very expensive paperweight.

Although there are guides, if you don’t have the necessary experience, go for a factory overclocked CPU, and if you just have to try it for yourself, do it on the hardware you don’t. don’t be afraid to lose. Either way, check out our guide on how to properly overclock your budget GPU .

2 Cheap GPU memory

Memory simply refers to the type of RAM used by the graphics card. You see, each graphics card has its own dedicated RAM, called Video Ram. This RAM helps the GPU temporarily store the elements it uses to render a scene, such as meshes, bitmaps, graphics, etc.

About five years ago, VRAM wasn’t important, but with the ever-increasing demands of AAA games, VRAM has taken on a much more central role. In most cases, you really don’t want to buy a 4k graphics card that has less than 4GB of VRAM, with the ideal setting at 6GB. The maximum you’ll find on budget graphics cards is 8GB , and it would definitely be the best option if you can afford it.

3 Energy consumption

While this isn’t as important, besides the ecological reasons, more power consumption from your cheap graphics card usually means more heat is created, and more heat means more cooling. As a general rule, the hotter an object, the more powerful the fans should be and the louder they will be. Also, you should always be aware of power consumption, as it will be directly related to the type of power supply you need to get.

Best GPU Brands

You must notice, there are a multitude of graphics cards on the market. To find the list of gamer components you need, check out our list. If you want to buy an external graphics card , or a portable GPU , check with the brands. Choose between Intel , AMD or Nvidia .

NvidiaIntelAMD
Nvidia QuadroIntel hd graphics 620AMD Radeon r7
Nvidia Geforce GTXIntel hd graphics 5500amd radeon r5
Nvidia GeForce GT 730Intel hd graphics 520AMD Radeon r2

Choose your graphics card between GTX and RTX

RTX technologyGTX technology
RTX 3090 graphics cardGTX 1050 TI graphics card
RTX 3080 graphics cardGTX 1060 graphics card
RTX 3070 graphics cardGTX 1070 graphics card
RTX 3060 graphics cardGTX 1070 Ti graphics card
RTX 2080 graphics cardGTX 1080 graphics card
RTX 2070 graphics cardGTX 1080 Ti graphics card
RTX 2060 graphics card 

FAQ: Everything you need to know about budget graphics cards

Will the price of graphics cards go down?

Yes and no. High-end graphics cards will always be expensive when they are released, but as they spend more and more time in the market, their prices will come down. For example, when the GTX 1080 was released it was $699, but you can find $599 versions. These days, you can find GPUs for every budget:

  • Graphics card under $100
  • Graphics card under $150
  • Graphics card under $300

What graphics card do I need?

It depends a lot on what you play. If you play a lot of AAA games, then a mid-to-high level game like the GTX 1070 or RX 580 is probably what you’re aiming for, assuming you’re playing at 1080p.

Are the graphics cards compatible with any motherboard?

Yes, any graphics card can fit in any motherboard, with the caveat that it might not run at full speed if you’re not using PCIe 16x. Also, you should be aware that smaller motherboards like Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX tend to fit into smaller towers where a graphics card might not fit.

Can a graphics card be upgraded?

The graphics card itself cannot be upgraded, but you can remove the one you have and replace it with a newer one. This is a tricky procedure and you can check out our guide on installing a graphics card.

Last point

I really hope I’ve given you a little taste of what good cheap graphics cards can be. There are plenty of haters out there who just want to be mean to PC gaming as a whole, and there’s no need to jump on the bandwagon, especially when it’s proven wrong. Yes, hardware is more expensive, but you don’t need $1000 to get yourself a decent gaming PC.

That being said, if you’re just gagging to throw away a bunch of cash, why not check out our article on the best budget graphics cards for gaming . You can also check out our list of outstanding games that support MSI ‘s SLI .

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Justin Silva

Fan of video games and new technologies, I have been an editor in this field for several years now. I like to share my passion through news, tests, and other files. I also love wrestling and Harry Potter (and cats of course!)

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