Best cheap graphics cards 2021: the top graphics cards on a budget

By



John Loeffler

04 February 2021

Get the best cheap graphics cards for your dollar

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(Image credit: Future)

The best cheap

graphics cards


may seem hard to find. For content creators working with high resolutions and hardcore Esports gamers shooting for fast performance, the GPU is probably the most crucial

component


in the whole system. And, typically these graphics cards come at a premium.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of cash for good graphical performance though – there are less pricey alternatives. Whether you’re looking at Nvidia or AMD, there are several affordable options available among the respective

Geforce


and

Radeon graphics cards


as long as you’re willing to look a little deeper.

Luckily, we’ve done the research to help get you the best cheap graphics cards for your budget and your needs. So, read on to see which one works best for you.

Best cheap graphics card at a glance

  1. AMD Radeon RX 5700
  2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super
  3. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  4. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
  5. AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

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(Image credit: AMD)


1. AMD Radeon RX 5700

AMD’s best cheap graphics card all around

Specifications


Stream Processors:


2,304


Core base clock:


1,465 MHz


Core boost clock:


1, 725 MHz


Memory:


8 GB GDDR6


Memory clock:


14 Gbps


Power connectors:


1 x 8-pin and 1x 6-pin


Outputs:


1 x DisplayPort 1.4 DSC, 1 x HDMI with 4K60 support

TODAY’S BEST DEALS



294 Amazon customer reviews















Reasons to buy



+

Excellent performance



+

1440p gaming at Ultra/Max setting

Reasons to avoid





No ray-tracing





Just barely “affordable”

When it comes to “budget” AMD graphics cards, the Radeon RX 5700 is about as good as it gets. Capable of delivering 1440p gaming on Ultra or Max settings, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a better mid-range graphics card at this price point.

Some sacrifices had to be made for affordability, however – and it is just barely affordable. The Radeon RX 5700 doesn’t come with

ray tracing

, so the budget minded will have to wait a little while longer before that feature makes it into even the best cheap graphics cards on the market. Maybe next year.


Read the full review:


AMD Radeon RX 5700

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(Image credit: Nvidia)


2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

A powerhouse for 1080p gaming

Specifications


Stream Processors:


1408


Core base clock:


1.520 MHz


Core boost clock:


1,785 MHz


Memory:


6 GB GDDR6


Memory clock:


14 Gbps


Power connectors:


1x 6-pin


Outputs:


1 x DisplayPort 1.4a, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, DL-DVI

TODAY’S BEST DEALS
Prime
Reasons to buy



+

Excellent 1080p performance



+

Affordable

Reasons to avoid





No RT Cores





Limited Ports

Replacing the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super is absolutely one of the best cheap graphics cards on the market right now. It is able to crank out nearly 80 FPS on

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

on Ultra graphics settings at 1080p and even managing a decent 54 FPS at 1440p. This is incredible considering it comes in at under $250 (£200, AU$400).

Still, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super does have its drawbacks. It still goes with a DVI port in lieu of a second HDMI port (or even a USB-C) and while it does have a DisplayPort, you won’t be running several displays with this card. It also lacks ray tracing cores, but that’s not surprising given that this

is

a budget graphics card. Still, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find another graphics card that’s as good as the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super for the price.


Read our full review:


Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

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(Image credit: AMD)


3. AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Raw performance at a budget price

Specifications


Stream Processors:


2,304


Core base clock:


1,355 MHz


Core boost clock:


1,560 MHz


Memory:


6 GB GDDR6


Memory clock:


14 Gbps


Power connectors:


1x 8-pin


Outputs:


1 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0

TODAY’S BEST DEALS



Check Amazon

Reasons to buy



+

Incredible performance



+

Competitive against more expensive cards

Reasons to avoid





No ray-tracing





Limited ports

With all the cheap 1080p graphics cards out there, it’s especially hard for gamers to find the right card for their systems and budget. In a market flooded with Nvidia offerings, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT thankfully stands out as one of the best cheap graphics cards in its class, and can even bloody the noses of some of the more expensive mid-range cards in terms of raw performance.

Still, it is an AMD card, so it doesn’t have ray tracing, and for a card that costs nearly $300 (about £250, AU$470), it’s worth asking whether it’s worth paying just a bit more for the

Nvidia GeForce 2060

which does have ray-tracing capabilities. If you can get by without the ray-tracing though, the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT is possibly the best cheap graphics card you’re going to find.


Read our full review:


AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

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(Image credit: Gigabyte)


4. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

High-performance, low price

Specifications


Stream Processors:


1,408


Core base clock:


1,530 MHz


Memory:


6 GB GDDR5


Memory clock:


8 Gbps


Power connectors:


1x 8-pin


Outputs:


3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0

TODAY’S BEST DEALS
Prime
Reasons to buy



+

Turing architecture



+

Excellent performance

Reasons to avoid





Only GDDR5

While Nvidia GeForce graphics cards tend to shine brightest on the high-end, they don’t always pack the same performance-to-price value as a solid AMD offering. Fortunately, not every GeForce card is out of reach, and the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G brings the latest

Nvidia Turing

architecture to the budget-minded consumer.

With excellent 1080p gaming performance and even some solid 1440p gaming with the right settings, the GeForce GTX 1660 OC is one of the best cheap graphics card options for gamers who want a little bit more from their graphics card without paying a lofty premium.


Read our full review:


Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G

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(Image credit: AMD)


5. AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

AMD Navi at a budget price point

Specifications


Stream Processors:


1,408


Core base clock:


1,717 MHz


Core boost clock:


1,845 MHz


Memory:


8 GB GDDR6


Memory clock:


14 Gbps


Power connectors:


1x 8-pincompu


Outputs:


1 x DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC, 1 x HDMI with 4K60

TODAY’S BEST DEALS



2 Amazon customer reviews















Reasons to buy



+

Very affordable



+

Solid 1080p gaming performance

Reasons to avoid





Struggles with most-demanding 1080p games

If you’re looking for solid 1080p gaming without spending a ton, you can’t go wrong with the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT. It definitely doesn’t aim beyond its reach and it sticks to turning out quality 1080p performance, edging out the rival GeForce GTX 1660 when factoring in the price.

Capable of pumping out 60 FPS on most AAA titles, the AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT will struggle with a

Metro Exodus

on high settings, much less ultra. But for most games, it’ll be tough to find a better graphics card at this price point.


Read our full review:


AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

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