The best graphics cards give you all the grunt to push the latest and most demanding games to their limits. While flagship models have their intentions firmly rooted in the 4K spectacle, budget GPUs can deliver 1080p in playable frame rates, too. Whether you're in the market for something wallet-friendly or wanting to go all out, we've made considerations to models of all sizes and power levels.
Specific attention has been paid to budget, mid-range, and high-end video cards from both Nvidia and AMD in 2022. In an ideal world, every PC gamer would be running the best graphics card from a raw technical level, but that simply isn't going to be the case for everyone. The most important factor for GPUs to make our list is that these models deliver on their promises with performance that's built to last. Now that the graphics card shortage appears to be winding down, we're now seeing prices on the RTX 30 series and AMD Radeon RX 6000 line decreasing, too, making now an ideal time to invest in a new card if you haven't already.
Perhaps most encouraging, particularly on the budget-end of the video card spectrum is that we're now seeing widespread graphics card deals for the first time in nearly two years. What's more, some higher-end models are actually selling for their actual retail price, too. It's safe to say that things truly are stabilizing in the graphics card world, and with Nvidia's RTX 40 series likely to launch this year, plus competition heating up from Intel Arc Alchemist, things are looking optimistically healthy in the very near future as well.
The best graphics cards in 2022
If you can find any of the best graphics cards for close to their retail price, then we're confident in recommending the RTX 3080 as the one you should strongly consider. Having launched at just $699, this Ampere GPU proved that super-fast 4K gaming on PC wouldn't have to cost as much as the previous RTX generation did.
Even in 2022, there's nothing that the RTX 3080 can't achieve in 4K, especially when factoring in the benefits of DLSS for the less-well optimized titles on the platform. The numbers are suitably self-evident too. If the RTX 3070 base model could outperform the RTX 2080 Ti (at least in many conditions) then the RTX 3080 absolutely decimates those figures.
In our testing, we were impressed by just how well the RTX 3080 could handle 4K gaming in all the latest games, such as Guardians of the Galaxy, while not finding too much to break into a sweat. The only real drawback to a card running 10GB VRAM, is that modern games' HD textures can push the memory requirements into the 12GB+ field, as we've seen with the likes of Resident Evil Village and Far Cry 6.
However, for most circumstances, the RTX 3080 isn't just a flagship GPU, it's a once-in-a-decade performance boost that would be far more popular inside the machines of gamers the world over - if you could buy one at MSRP. Also worth considering is the improved thermal design of the Founders Edition model, and comparatively low temperatures when stacked up against some other RTX 30 series models, meaning it'll tick over like a watch for many years to come.
Read more: RTX 3080 review
At release, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT was poised to take on Nvidia's RTX 3080, and while this card doesn't quite take that GPU's crown, it does position itself as one of the best graphics cards from AMD at the moment. In 1440p, there are definitely instances where the RX 6800 XT is neck and neck with the RTX 3080, such as in Watch Dogs: Legion at Ultra settings, though 4K is where the divide starts to show the most.
The ray tracing capabilities of the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT may be admittedly disappointing when stacked up with the higher-end Nvidia GPUs, though, it's in that extra VRAM where the speed of Team Red's video card starts to shine. We're starting to see more Radeon-optimized games demand upwards of 11GB of VRAM, which only the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 are capable of at the time of writing, in titles such as Far Cry 6 with HD textures. This is a big jump, and it's likely that we'll see more developers in the near future wanting to utilize upwards of 12GB in this current PC gaming generation we're in.
On that front, however, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT is running 16GB GDDR6 memory and not the faster GDDR6X - with the latter being significantly faster. The company has attempted to circumvent this shortcoming through the 128MB of global cache, marked as Infinity Cache here, to fuel more data into the processor than would typically be available normally. The bottom line? If you're after a high-performing AMD video card with VRAM to spare, then the RX 6800 XT is a solid option in 2022, it also happens to be more available than Nvidia's current high-end line in the aftermarket scene as well.
The RTX 3050 is the newest budget Ampere video card designed with 1080p60 in mind, making it perfect for those budget-minded PC gamers in 2022. Armed in the same 8GB GDDR6 memory that you'll find in pricier RTX 30-series GPUs is our roundup, the RTX 3050 is the best budget graphics card that you can get right now.
In our testing, we found that even more demanding titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Control, and Metro Exodus ran at a rock-solid 60 FPS with ray tracing and DLSS enabled in Full HD. 1440p is also decent in many games, though it's usually going to be a toss-up between having visual fidelity and performance, as a 60 FPS average normally means disabling ray tracing and going heavier on the DLSS upscaling options. Regardless of how you push to that that smooth frame rate, this video card can keep up well under most circumstances.
You need to keep your expectations in check, of course, as the RTX 3050 is a wallet-friendly GPU designed to replace the likes of the perenially popular GTX 1650 and 1660 lines. That means that 4K just isn't on the cards for this particular model, but if you're after something affordable that gives you ray tracing then you really can't go wrong. The RTX 3050 launched with an MSRP of $250, and at the time of writing, you can find RTX 3050 stock for around the $300 mark if you know where to look.
- Read more: RTX 3050 review
The RTX 3070 Ti may appear on the surface to be an only slightly upgraded version of the original model, but the reinforced edition features one major difference that tips it over the edge - a bump up to GDDR6X RAM as used by the high-end RTX 3080 line and the RTX 3090.
We're also seeing an extra 256 CUDA cores for slightly better ray tracing support, but this difference is very minor overall. The upgraded memory type and faster clock speed over the original RTX 3070 provides a solid 10-15% performance boost whilst meaning it will be able to be pushed further by more intensive games in the future through an allowance for higher bandwidths.
The gaming performance of the RTX 3070 Ti is something to be commended, as it's frequently been able to maintain a solid 60 FPS in 4K in some of the latest titles such as Halo Infinite and Deathloop in high settings. We've been consistently impressed with what this GPU can do, and if you're aiming for 4K60, or 1440p in higher frame rates, then you're going to be very happy with what this video card can do.
The RTX 3060 Ti offers performance that was previously thought impossible from an entry-level graphics card only three years ago. The benchmarks don't lie; this video card runs circles around the RTX 2080 Super (the previous high-end GPU to beat) while costing half as much. It really is that simple.
Now, 4K isn't really going to be the RTX 3060's strong suit. While achieving UHD visuals is possible, it's geared more towards higher frame rates in 1440p and steamrolling through Full HD games pushed to their absolute limit. Again, that's not to say that the GPU can't benefit from Ultra HD, especially with the benefits of DLSS, but it's not a card built with it this resolution in mind.
If you can find the RTX 3060 Ti for a fair price online, then it's going to be ideal for the vast majority of PC gamers (if you can put aside a consistent 4K average in favor of more general gaming performance in lower resolutions, that is).
For as powerful as the RTX 3080 Ti is, especially given its upgrade to 12GB GDDR6X VRAM as opposed to the original model's 10GB, that boost in power comes at a steep price of an additional $500 above the stock RTX 3080, pricing it comparatively closer to the RTX 3090's $1,499 MSRP - which has double the available memory.
Price aside, however, there's little debate that the RTX 3080 Ti is a formidable GPU for high-end 4K gaming as the benchmarks can indicate. We're essentially seeing a noticeable improvement on the stock RTX 3080, but that power difference comes into its own when looking at games such as Cyberpunk 2077 which, at the time of writing, cannot yet hit native 4K60 on anything right now.
Make no mistake, you're getting an incredibly capable and futureproofed GPU that's going to be able to burn through the vast majority of demanding games in 1440p and 4K with no compromises for many years to come.
The RX 6600 XT is built first and foremost with being one of the best graphics cards for PC gamers aiming for fast frame rates in 1080p. It's been geared in the marketing primarily towards the Esports crowd, as the competitive games in the circuit may not be too visually demanding, but require super-high FPS to compensate. The RX 6600 XT is a decent rival to Nvidia's base RTX 3060 model, however, if you're thinking of picking this GPU up for 1440p performance then you may need to cast a wider net in the field of AMD.
While the RTX 3060 Ti generally does ray tracing in Full HD better, the benchmarks for the RX 6600 XT really do speak for themselves. AMD published the full list online, where the GPU managed well above 70 FPS in the likes of Far Cry 6, Hitman 3, Resident Evil Village, Deathloop, and more. If you've wanted to max out the latest titles in Full HD, then this video card will serve you well.
The RTX 3090 can easily be considered one of the most powerful video cards, and best graphics cards, ever made, and the absolute top of the food chain of the RTX 30 series. The BFGPU utilizes 24GB of GDDR6X memory for unparalleled 4K, and even 8K, performance later down the line.
When it comes to getting value for money, this GPU sure seemed steep when it was originally released in September 2020. However, considering the sheer power at your disposal here, the RTX 3090 more than justifies its original MSRP. All of that power is kind of unnecessary for right now, though, as this graphics card is built with the near future in mind as opposed to what's available right now. This is evidenced by the fact that you're getting a roughly 10% performance increase in 4K over the RTX 3080. With that said, though there's nothing else on the market that can compare to what it can do, either.
While the RTX 3090 Ti is likely to be complete overkill for the vast majority of PC gamers, there's no denying the kind of performance that the new BFGPU refresh is able to deliver as the most powerful GeForce GPU ever released to date.
In terms of what makes the new Ti variant different from the original model which was released nearly two years ago, you're looking at a bump up to 21 Gbps effective memory and 1,008 GB/s bandwidth alongside 256 more CUDA cores and eight more Tensor cores, and two more RT cores. This extra power gives the RTX 3090 Ti even more frames to work with in the latest games, not to mention effectively futureproofing this model for many years with the 24GB GDDR6X VRAM.
In our testing, we found that there was very little that could rival the RTX 3090 Ti in terms of both our suite of benchmarking software and demanding ray traced games. This hulking video card delivers frame rates far exceeding 4K60 in all but one of the games we tested it in, and easily well above 100 FPS in 1440p with all the slides dialed up to their absolute maximum. There's some serious power under the hood for those who want the best of the best when pushing Ampere GA102 to its absolute limits in 2022.
Keep in mind that the added performance of this newest flagship Nvidia graphics card doesn't exactly come cheap, as the RTX 3090 Ti carries a starting MSRP of $1,999. Make no mistake, it's one hell of an investment, and likely only to primarily appeal to enthusiasts who want to stay on the bleeding edge of PC gaming hardware. But for those who can afford it and value its merits not just in terms of gaming performance but as a productivity video card as well, then the RTX 3090 Ti is sure to find its niche.
While it has since been overshadowed by the newer and more powerful RTX 3070 Ti, the RTX 3070 GPU is still very much worth considering if you haven't yet been able to make the jump to Ampere GPU hardware. This graphics card's goal was to provide an affordable entryway to high-end PC gaming, much like how the coveted GTX 970 did many years ago - which remained in one of our systems for a very long time.
The RTX 3070 is powerful enough to fuel the latest titles at 4K, however, its best strengths come into play when considering the outstanding 1440p performance across the board. We've noticed that this resolution has been favored by gamers over the past few years for its sharp image quality and high frame rates, and the RTX 3070 can definitely deliver on that front.
While you're still very unlikely to be blown away by the numbers capable of the stock RTX 3080 or the RTX 3090, it's worth remembering the original pricing model for this unit, at $499. Now, it's very challenging to find this GPU at anywhere close to that price, with normal rates usually sitting at just under double, but there's no denying that for what it offers the RTX 3070 is still one of the best graphics cards and worth your attention.
How we test graphics cards
At GamesRadar, we take an encompassing approach to testing the best graphics cards with a strict set of benchmarking tools before the GPUs end up on our list. First and foremost, we use the likes of 3DMark for quantified and comparable figures in our extensive write-ups. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, we use demanding games with ray tracing enabled, if applicable, to see how the graphics cards hold up in real-world performance.
Best graphics cards - Frequently asked questions
How many types of graphics cards are there?
There are two types of best graphics cards when you consider gaming PCs, integrated graphics and dedicated graphics cards. The former is weaker, and usually baked onto the processor chip in the form of an APU or SOC. Dedicated graphics cards, like all of those models listed above, as discrete models that are slotted into your computer's PCIe Express port, most being two-slot, but some taking up three-slots depending on size, to deliver far greater visual prowess.
How many gigabytes of RAM do graphics cards need in 2022?
Our advice is that 4GB GDDR6 memory should be considered the absolute minimum for graphics card gaming performance in 2022. This is because many modern games are pushing the VRAM to new limits due to increased texture sizes, game worlds, and reliance on the speeds afforded by newer storage drives. A good average to look out would be 8GB GDDR6/GDDR6X VRAM, which you can find in some of the best graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia. This would give you enough overhead for high-FPS 1440p gaming as well as 4K60 in most instances.
Is RTX better than GTX?
If you've followed Nvidia's graphics cards for some time then you may not that the company's GeForce lines have rebranded from GTX to RTX. The latter delegation refers to the ray tracing potential of the video cards, which was first seen in the RTX 20-series (Turing) in 2018. Now, since late 2020, with the RTX 30-series (Ampere), the ray tracing performance has been vastly improved. It's currently unknown as to what the successor generation will be known as.
Check for Nvidia RTX 30-series stock
If you've wanted to try your chances at a different graphics card in the RTX 30 series, be it standalone or as part of a laptop/desktop configuration, then these helpful guides are the best places to point you in the right direction.