There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to play a video game that everybody is raving about, just to realize that your graphics card can’t handle it. However, a computer with a powerful graphics card isn’t just heaven for gamers, but also for those who are into video editing or graphic designing, for example. Or for those who are into…using their computer, plain and simple. As long as the graphics card has a lot of processing power and video memory, operating the PC will be done in a smooth and speedy manner. Choosing the best one can be a tiring task though and this is why we did the dirty job for you.
1) AMD Radeon R9 290X
There is no graphics card more powerful than the AMD Radeon R9 290X, period. The frame rates it manages to sustain and the memory bandwidth are well above what any other graphics card has to offer. Its Hawaii GPU is a monster, guaranteeing that every game currently available can be played at the highest details without any loss in smoothness. However, great power comes with a price and in this case, it’s 290X’s very loud fans and power consumption.
2) Nvidia GeForce GTX 780
The GTX Titan is GTX 780’s big brother, but that doesn’t mean that the GTX 780 is less worthy of praise – quite the opposite. Despite being a single-core GPU, its performance is outstanding even when it comes to the more demanding games. The frame rates come just behind the 290X and the memory bandwidths of the two are also similar. The absolute highlight of this graphics card is the GK110 chipset, boosting 2304 CUDA cores; on the downside however, the base core clock speed could have been higher.
The AMD Radeon HD 7970, despite not being a recent graphics card release, is still relevant thanks to its outstanding performance and speed; the Graphics Core Next is responsible for that. It has 128 texture units and 2048 stream processors, but its most talked about feature is the PowerTune. This technology automatically adjusts the clock speed, overclocking the GPU in case there is power available which is not currently in use. This technology ensures that the games’ graphics are always top-notch, without having to worry about overlocking. We would have ranked it higher if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a really big graphics card which easily heats up, meaning it needs extra fans.
4) Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Even though the GTX 680 is another graphics card which falls into the ‘dated’ category, it still holds its own remarkably well. The performance is impressive even when it comes to the newest games and its high memory bandwidth and base clock speed are responsible for that. The GTX 680 was the first graphics card to feature the Kepler architecture, which lessens the power consumption and the noise and increases the processing speeds. Unfortunately, the GTX 680 has just a single HDMI port and requires a lot of space, being a long graphics card, but apart from that, it’s still able to compete with the big guys.
If you want to play 1080p games without throwing the money out of the window, this graphics card might be the right choice for you; that’s in part thanks to the Curacao XT chipset with 1280 stream processors. The memory bandwidth is wide enough to support many of the most recent games, but it shows its weaknesses by dropping the frame rate below 60 when they are played at their highest settings. While the power consumption is fair, the 270X could have been less noisy, considering that it’s not a high-end graphics card.