The #1 discussed topic amongst gamers in 2018
2018 has been a good and bad year for the gaming community. The good news of AMD bringing some fresh air into the CPU market and getting Intel to actually innovate again after 10 years of inactivity was followed by the huge increase in GPU prices caused by miners buying graphics cards in quantity to get as much money out of them as possible. The inflated prices in RAM prices as well show that 2018 is not a great year for people who want to build or upgrade their rig. Gamers face the biggest problem who rely on their GPU to deliver the much-wanted gaming performance they desire. For content creators, on the other hand, things look much better as there is some great variety of processors on the market right now to choose from.
Click here to see the best CPUs for 2018
Is it worth buying a new GPU in March 2018? Short answer: No.
It is a sad reality that it is not worth buying a new graphics card for the time being, although there is a huge variety of quality GPUs on the market. In this guide, we will be looking at the best GPUs for all categories of gamers from entry level up to high-end GPUs. Speculation insists that GPU prices will return to normal in the next couple of months, but that is yet to be seen and confirmed. For now, the best we as gamers can do is check prices, do our research and keep our money until prices start to fall back to MSRP level.
On the contrary, if you want to invest in a GPU right now, you can do that by checking out my guide and deciding for yourself if it is worthwhile to you or not. In the end, it is your money, your decision. For those of you who are eagerly awaiting the price drop, keep this guide in mind for a future purchase.
Things to keep in mind before buying a new GPU
Before jumping onto the actual guide, there are some things you should focus on before buying a new graphics card. I will list those things starting with the most important:
What resolution are you gaming on?
This is by far the most important question. Depending on the resolution you want to game on you have to buy the appropriate GPU. There is no need to spend money on a Gtx 1080ti if you aim to game at 1080p. On the other hand, do not expect an RX 580 to provide you with adequate graphical performance to run games at 4k 60fps.
For a more detailed view on what to buy depending on each resolution check out this link
2. What refresh rate will you game on?
High-refresh rate monitors are very common nowadays and gamers prefer them over standard 60Hz monitors as they offer superior gaming performance due to the fact that they can display more images per second, making the game look more fluent. Once you get a 144Hz monitor, you can not go back to your standard 60 Hz monitor. The experience is truly superior but it is something you have to check out for yourself. In order to take full advantage of the refresh rate, your GPU has to be able to achieve those high framerates. More GPU power is required to hit 144 fps at 1080p than 60 fps at 1080p. Just keep that in mind. The same goes for 1440p. 144hz 4k monitors are just rolling out and no GPU can provide adequate performance in order to justify the purchase of a 144hz 4k monitor.
Click here for a great and cheap 1440p 144hz monitor
3. What is your budget?
After having decided on the resolution and refresh rate of your monitor, you have to take your budget into consideration. Every gamer’s dream is to own a Gtx 1080ti but the main reason they don’t have one is that they are budget-limited. For example, going for a Gtx 1080 instead of a Gtx 1080ti for 1440p gaming and lowering the settings from Ultra to High is a perfect choice if you don’t have 200-300$ more to spend. That is what I did personally and I do not regret it. Let us face it: Some people have lots of money but most of us do not. That is why making smart choices is even more important.
4. For how long are you planning to keep your graphics card?
Many gamers tend to swap out their GPUs every two years or even after one year of use. However, if you are one of those who cares about the longevity of their GPU, it would be wise to postpone your purchase and going for the high-end product. Even if you own a 1080p monitor, for example, it is not a bad idea to spend your money on a Gtx 1080 or Gtx 1080ti because it will last you for many years. So, if you have the cash to spend now go for it and upgrade your monitor or other crucial components in the future. It is definitely overkill to game on a 1080p monitor with a Gtx 1080ti, but that should not discourage you from buying one considering the fact that you will upgrade other Pc parts later on.
After understanding the basics of how to buy a GPU, it is time to jump on the actual graphics card buying guide for 2018.
Best high-end GPUs for 2018
Gtx 1080Ti: The undisputable king of gaming
If you want the absolute best gaming performance in 2018, there is no need looking further than the Gtx 1080ti. Based on Nvidia’s latest Pascal architecture, with 11 GB of GDDR5X VRAM, 3584 Cuda cores, a base clock of 1480 MHz and a boost clock of 1582 MHz and 11gbps of memory speed. This beast of a graphics card spits out FPS like crazy and can handle any resolution as well as maintain a steady 60fps+ in 4k. The only choice you have to make is whether you want a Gtx 1080ti from Gigabyte, MSI, EVGA, and ASUS. These are the brands I recommend you buy from and the difference lies in cooling performance, looks and slight variations in clock speeds as the actual performance difference is negligible. It is a matter of preference. I will list all those GPU links down below so you can check prices and choose what fits your taste.
Gtx 1080: A definite second place
If the Gtx 1080ti is not an option for you, you can still get high performance by going with the Gtx 1080. It comes equipped with 8 GB of GDDR5X VRAM, a base clock of 1607 MHz and a boost clock of 1733 MHz, 2560 Cuda cores and 10gbps of memory speed. Also, note that Pascal graphics cards are great overclockers, so you can get a good boost of free extra performance by playing around with the clock and memory speeds as well as voltages.
In this guide, you can learn how to effectively overclock your GPU
A Gtx 1080 can handle everything up to 4k but expect to lower some settings in 4k to hit a steady 60fps or to get 144fps in 1440p (2k). A Gtx 1080 is a great candidate for any resolution if you are willing to make some compromises.
Radeon RX Vega 64: Similar performance to a Gtx 1080 from AMD
RX Vega 64 is the latest high-end offering from AMD on the GPU market. Yielding a similar performance to the Gtx 1080, this GPU has 8 GB of HBM2 memory, 4096 Cuda cores and comes with an out-of-the-box base clock of 1247 MHz for the air-cooled version and 1406 MHz for the liquid cooled version and a boost clock of 1546 MHz and 1677 respectively. These specs might look inferior to Nvidia’s Gtx 1080ti and even the Gtx 1080 but AMD uses the HBM2 architecture which is different from Nvidia’s GDDR5 architecture.
Best mid-to-high-end GPUs for 2018
In this category, there are 3 GPUs worth looking into: The Gtx 1070 ti, Gtx 1070 and RX Vega 56.
Gtx 1070Ti: Undeniable the best out of the three
The Gtx 1070ti was a chess move by Nvidia who introduced it after the release of the RX Vega 56 which traded blows with the Gtx 1070 and even dominated in some games. Nvidia could not bear that AMD was beating their mid to high-end GPU king, the Gtx 1070 and decided to squeeze the Gtx 1070ti between the Gtx 1070 and Gtx 1080 to blow the RX Vega 56 out of the water. After the introduction of the Gtx 1070ti, Nvidia took the lead again in the mid to high-end GPU sector. The GPU has 2432 Cuda Cores, 8 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and with a base clock of 1683 MHz out of the box. The Gtx 1070ti is very close in performance compared to the Gtx 1080 and can be used for 1440p gaming even on a high refresh rate monitor, but you should take into account that you need to lower some settings. It is not recommended for 4k gaming.
Gtx 1070: The perfect choice for 1440p 60Hz gaming
If you are considering to get a 1440p 60Hz monitor or you already own one, there is no need looking further than the Gtx 1070 or Vega 56, as those cards can both sustain a steady 60fps at this resolution. The Gtx 1070 comes equipped with 1920 Cuda Cores, 8 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and with a base clock of 1683 MHz out of the box just like the Gtx 1070ti. You should also consider this GPU for 1080p 144Hz gaming, as you will hit around 100-120 fps on this resolution.
If you favor AMD, the Vega 56 is a great choice
Trading blows with the Gtx 1070, the Vega 56 is a great choice alongside the Gtx 1070. The card has 3584 Cuda Cores, 8 GB of HBM2 VRAM, and comes with a base clock of 1156 MHz and a boost clock of 1471 MHz out of the box.
Digital Foundry has a great video on his channel, showing the performance difference of the Gtx 1070ti, Gtx 1070 and Vega 56. Subscribe to his channel and support him as he makes great comparison videos.
As you can clearly see, the Gtx 1070ti outperforms both the Gtx 1070 and Vega 56 and is not far behind the Gtx 1080 performance wise.
Best mid-end GPUs for 2018
The Gtx 1060 is the best choice for 1080p 60Hz gaming. If all you want is gaming on a standard 60Hz at 1920×1080, this is the card you should consider buying. It comes equipped with 6 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, a base clock of 1607 MHz and a boost clock of 1733 MHz, 1280 Cuda cores and 8gbps of memory speed for the 6GB version. There is another 3 GB version, less powerful but, nevertheless, enough powerful to deliver great performance at this resolution for the more budget-oriented gamers.
RX 580: A refurbished and capable RX 480
The RX 580 is a great card and a renewed version of the RX 480 by AMD, with higher clock speeds which slightly outperforms its predecessor. The card has 2304 Cuda Cores, 8 GB of HBM2 VRAM, and comes with a base clock of 1257 MHz and a boost clock of 1340 MHz out of the box.
The Gtx 1060 and RX 580 perform similarly and your choice should be based on personal preference. Some games favor the RX 580 while others are keen on the Gtx 1060. Keep in mind that the comparison is between the RX 580 and The Gtx 1060 6 GB version. The 3GB Gtx 1060 loses to the RX 580.
Best low to mid-end GPUs for 2018
If you are on a strict budget but still would like to get into Pc gaming, do not worry there are some pretty good choices for you. Expect a great 1080p performance with those graphics cards on High settings in most games. You can play all the latest AAA titles without issues on Medium to High settings at 1920×1080.
Gtx 1050ti: The best choice
The Gtx 1050ti is not exactly a low-end GPU as the Gtx 1050 of RX 560. You can still game greatly on this GPU and get up to 60 fps on High settings at 1080p. The same applies to the RX 570, pretty decent performance for the price.
RX 470: The alternative choice
Clearly depending on personal preference, the RX 470 is very close in performance to the Gtx 1050ti, if not identical. If you prefer AMD to Nvidia go with the RX 470, you will not regret it.
Low end (Entry level) GPUs
The reason why I do not recommend you to buy entry level GPUs is that the price difference to a PS4 or XBOX is not justified, in addition to the inflated prices of graphics cards in 2018. In case you can not afford a Gtx 1050ti or RX 470, you would be better off getting a PS4 as you would get similar overall performance at a much lower price. Alternatively, gather some money and postpone your purchase until you can get to the low to mid-end tier level of GPUs.
As I mentioned before, the performance difference between MSI, EVGA, Gigabyte, and Asus is negligible for each graphics card. Below, I have listed the links of all GPUs by each of those 4 brands, so you can check out prices for yourself and choose accordingly. Please keep in mind that GPU prices will vary depending on when you are checking out this list. Prices may be really high at the moment, but will surely decrease in the upcoming months.
- Gtx 1080ti:
2. Gtx 1080:
3. Gtx 1070ti:
4. Gtx 1070:
5. Gtx 1060 6GB:
6. Gtx 1060 3GB:
7. Gtx 1050ti
- RX Vega 64:
2. RX Vega 56:
3. RX 580:
4. RX 570:
Great choices for every budget
No matter your budget or your preferences, there is a plethora of choices for every portfolio and taste. The most important thing is to be clear on which resolution you want to game on as well as the refresh rate and decide on your budget and how long you want to keep your new graphics card. Prices are bound to change for the better as this whole mining madness will come to an end at some point as miners will not be able to make much profit out of buying more GPUs. Nvidia is already coming up with a plan to produce more graphics cards for gamers knowing that they are upset about the inflated price.
If you have any questions or would like to post a comment, you are invited to do so in the comment section below. Are you actually planning on upgrading your graphics card now are will you wait for the prices to normalize? What GPU do you have?