Everyone wants to have an amazing gaming experience. Gamers are hooked to the diverse forms of entertainment provided. From the HD graphics to the brilliant display of color in the games provided, the slightest detail matters. If you are on a budget and looking for the best graphics card for your GPU(General Processing Unit), then read on to find out what exactly to look out for and how to get the best performance from it.
This article is especially aimed at those with a budget of $150 and $300. It contains a list of the best $150 graphic cards and also the most ideal $300 graphics cards. Additionally, it gives information on the purpose of graphic cards, a guide to buying the best graphics card, and the pros and cons of each listed item. By the end of this read, you will have understood what the digits in the model numbers stand for, therefore enabling you to identify the graphics card you need with added ease. So let’s get into it.
MSI Gaming GeForce
Its clock speeds are 1290MHz with a memory boost clock of 1392 MHz.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX
It has the perfect boost speeds for someone without a lot of cash to splash on the gaming machines.
Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT
Best for any desktop computer
MSI R5604TPC RX560 4GT
Supports MSI Over-clocking Utility, as well as AMD FreeSync
ViewMax GeForce GT
Has HDMI, DVI, as well as display ports
Sapphire Radeon PULSE
It operates only on 65W and needs no extra power connectors.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1060
Its cooling system has a dual fan setup that manages its 120W TDP
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS
Can play both 1440p and 1080p resolutions
MSI GeForce GTX
It has a 192-memory bit bus making it best for most gaming needs.
ASUS GeForce GTX
Gamecaster GPU Boost 3.0
Best Budget Graphics Cards
Previous versions of graphics cards cost an arm and a leg, so gamers were relieved when newer GPU versions hit the market at lower prices. Nvidia and AMD provide the best gaming and computing experience due to their ideal solution to graphics. But getting the best graphics card(while still minding your wallet) can be a daunting task. So what you need to know is what to look out for in the graphics card.
The factors to consider include:
- Memory bandwidth of the card
- The model numbers and what they mean
- Clock speeds
- Memory clock
- Onboard VRAM
These features are what is important to know about what kind of gaming experience you are going to have.
This is the number on the graphics card — the one you see when you lift it up — for example, Nvidia GeForce GTX 780i. Someone else is staring at Radeon RX 580x. They all have different model numbers due to their purpose and processing power, therefore, making them an indicator of how the graphics card will perform. The Nvidia graphics cards have a distinction in their model numbers, with GT relegated to office work using a low-end GPU. Gaming machines perform at higher power, thus the GTX, which is a high-end card due to its performance.
Now let us break down the model number and what it means.
GeForce GTX 780i
The 780Ti indicates the card’s generation. This is represented by the 7 in the sequence. 80 indicates the performance level of the gaming machine. Usually, the level scales from 00, which is for the low-end cards and 80 for the most powerful cards.
Ti indicates more power or boost
Nvidia contains up to 20 series of cards that are not only the latest but designed for those with deep pockets. When it comes to AMD GPUs, the number sequence contains four numbers.
Consider, for example, AMD HD5770.
5 shows that this is from the fifth generation, while 770 represents its overall performance. The naming system in AMD displays the model number in it, showing the level of performance first and the degree of power it is on. The last digit in the sequence represents the number of clock speeds.
Consider this other example: J7 QQQ; R2 800X
The 8 shows that the model is from the 800 series.
AMD goes all the way up to Radeon RX 500X series.
Onboard Random Access Memory (RAM)
Using the same working principle of flash disks, the more memory capacity for graphic processors, the better. Some people are content with a 2GB flash disk, but others will obtain a 4GB one for more storage. In the processing of the latest developed games, display of special video effects, and correct distribution of color, cards with up to 8GB of memory are preferred.
Engine Clock Count
Basically, this is a measure of the speed of operation of the core. Fast GPUs operate at high speeds due to the high core number. In comparison to GPUs of the same brand, this information comes in handy.
Memory Clock And Memory Bandwidth
Everyone would desire a GPU with a high memory clock for just one major reason. The more memory bandwidth left out, the faster the speeds of data transfer in the GPU. This correlation makes for a better performing GPU.
Every electrical machine, after hours of use, is bound to heat up. In the case of high-performance GPUs, this can happen a lot, and without the proper cooling system, it is likely to burn or fry. The types of cooling systems available are either reference or aftermarket coolers.
Reference coolers direct the hot air outside the GPU, thus regulating the temperature of the computer. Unfortunately, they always hum, therefore, are noisy and not necessarily what you would want or choose. Aftermarket coolers are quieter since they work within the computer, recycling the hot air inside. This then raises the temperature of the computer and escaping in vents built in the computer.
Best Budget Graphics Cards Worth Under $150
1. MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB DDR5
This is among the best graphics cards that will not dent your pocket and still provide the best gaming service. Much more power as compared to the GTX 1050. It is ideal if you are aiming to play modern eSports titles as these cards are known for gaming. Developed by Nvidia, the GeForce GTX cards pack a better punch than the GTX 1050, which is an alternative version. It has an HD display that may require you to adjust the settings to medium on some occasions.
2. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050 2GB
It is intended for intense gaming experiences, all while displaying it in HD. Also built around Pascal architecture, it only has 640 CUDA cores, therefore, making its performance less sharp than the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. It has one of the six SM clusters not working. To cover this deficiency, its high clock speeds range all the way up to 1404 MHz. This can extend to 1518 MHz when you do internal overclocking.
It can fit into some compact gaming rigs that include laptops due to its ability to draw power under 75W. It also pulls power from its motherboard, thus boosting performance massively. You will enjoy playing games like Hitman on it due to its features like the Ansel Super Screenshots, Fast Sync, and HDR support.
3. Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 Graphics Card
This is one of the new entry-level AMD GPUs that is worth less than $100! It is a 2GB GDDR5(I hope you still remember what all these letters and numbers represent. If not, go back to the first part of this article). With 384 CUDA cores, this a low power consumption machine designed for casual gaming with a much lower performance.
The base clock speed of this model is 1227 MHz and a boost clock speed of 1468 MHz. It can be used for long periods of gaming since it has the ability to manage more speeds as compared to other models. It runs at 6GHz while using a 64-bit bus enabling crisp and high clarity videos. It doesn’t require any additional power connectors since it uses only 30W — what a perfect machine for an ardent gamer with lots of time on his hands. Due to its low power consumption, the temperature never goes above 65C. At the 24th working minute, this machine reaches its final working temperature.
4. MSI R5604TPC RX560 4GT LP OC Graphics Card
This is the most competitive card from the 500 Series of AMD. It trumps all the RX 400s. It has simplified Asynchronous Shaders and an enhanced Geometry Engine, therefore, providing more power for all your favorite AAA titles. Being a low profile type of graphics card, you will save space and achieve installing in small PCs in its slot.
It comes with base, and boost speeds are 1196 MHz at maximum clock speeds. It also boasts of 16CUs in its uncut GPU. This cheap graphic card will reward you with ultra-high resolution since it can manage 4K resolution gifting you with crispier and sharper images. It has the ability of wireless control over an iOS or Android device. In case of overheating, the temperature is regulated faster by passing the hot air through wide air slits resulting in a colder after-feel immediately.
5. ViewMax GeForce GT 730 2GB GDDR5
It is very, I mean, very pocket-friendly. Based on the Femi architecture, it contains 192 processor cores. It uses Nvidia adaptive Vsync technology that provides you with quicker frame rates. It also has better tear-free video quality, more so if you include a few games. This pocket-friendly graphics card is also able to maintain low temperatures and a barely there level of noise. It comes with a dependable memory configuration setup.
6. Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 550 $GB GDDR5
If you are looking for something suitable for your eSports games, then this is the ideal graphics card to go for at an affordable price. The machine boasts of higher resolution and frame rates with the next generation API features. Most importantly, this budget graphic card is very power efficient.
It also provides you extra features like instant replays, recording of videos and screenshot captures heavily reliant on the FreeSync monitor compatibility. Unlike many similar products, this device has no glitches in its deliverance of images due to AMD’s FreeSync. It offers base clock speeds of up to1100 MHz and a boost clock of 1183 MHz, therefore, matching the criteria of eSports games.
Best Budget Graphics Cards worth Under $300
In case you are looking for a better gaming experience, you have to dig a little deeper into your pockets. The following is a list of 4 of the best performing graphics card worth $300.
7. EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB GDDR5
For starters, it is a 3GB gaming machine. Nvidia created this machine for the intent of gaming at a higher memory performance. It is perfect for both QHD and FHD gaming. It comes with half the memory and reduced CUDA cores (1152 to be precise). Built based on the Pascal architecture, the graphics card boasts of advanced features of the 6GB GDDR5. It has ultra-fast FinFET installed in it, therefore, making for a much more improved gaming experience.
8. XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition 8GB GDDR5
This graphics card, as compared to others, has an extended lifespan and faster frame rates. If you are looking for an upgrade, this card has spectacular full HD and 1440p gaming performance. The graphics card has a base clock of 1366 MHz and a boost clock of 1386 MHz. It also packs 8GB of GDDR5 and over 2000 stream processors.
Its bandwidth is 256 memory and 144 texture units. It’s going to offer you 6.17 teraflops in its performance, making it a giant in comparison to the RX480 model. The device is VR ready running on AMD Liquid VR technology, complete with a cooling system that allows for no setbacks. This affordable graphics card also uses the Radeon chill cooling system, which is a method where the internal temperatures of the computer are lowered along with the noise levels and power consumption. So if it’s not in use, it is not heating up, and that makes it oh so much better.
9. MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
It is easily one of the tiniest Nvidia creation. It is a small compact gaming experience you can freely walk around with. Regardless of its size, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 Gaming Graphics Card is built around the Pascal architecture, and it boasts of a new chip: GP106. This brings its performance at par with that of more expensive GPUs without raising its temperature and power needs.
10. ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB Dual-Fan
This graphics card is best for those who have an ASUS laptop or computer. It is the GPU that goes easily with the ASUS X99-A II and Windows 10. It is a little pricier than the others, but its performance is ultimately the best as it is high-performance. I think with this one, it is worth every penny put into it. It has a base clock of 1569 MHz and a turbo clock of 1785 MHz.
It has varying modes on its panel with different clock speeds for every activity. The graphics card maintains power loss using the Super Power Alloy II, resulting in lower temperatures and higher speeds. It accommodates two HDMI ports that enable you to connect the VR headset and a display simultaneously. There is also the option of customizing the clock speeds to fit your preference and also the voltage you need. The cooling system is the wing-blade that works by improving static pressure by over 100%. This then makes it operate at three times a lower volume.
Importance Of The Graphics Cards
By now, you have gotten a grasp of the different types of graphics cards and how they interact with various core processors. What stands out is the correlation between the cooling systems and the performance of the gaming experience. Nvidia and AMD have come up with custom made cooling systems that are embedded on every graphics card.
The goal of trying to regulate temperature also touches on the clarity and solidity of the frame rate in the computing experience. Low-end graphics cards have a better time with the regulation of temperatures, with most processors fitted with fans and wide slits that assist in dissipation. Ardent gamers will tell you that a high resolution and the best frame rates are what make for a great gaming experience. They take into account a lot of factors, including the cooling system, because, as we saw, it plays a huge role in the gaming and computing experience.
It is imperative to keep up with the times and avoid using old gaming GPU. The newer versions will also help in the playing of modern games using a compatible GPU. This also calls for less upgrading of the systems and therefore maintaining a constant gaming experience. Imagine you are fully engrossed in a game, only for it to pause and freeze awkwardly on the screen due to some malfunction.
It is also important to know what experience you want to be going for as there are those graphics cards that do not support VR or SI. The graphics cards also help in choosing which one to use for the low-end tasks and those to go for in case of high-end tasks. Minecraft, League of Legends, and DOTA 2 are able to use cheaper graphics cards.
Invest in a good monitor to assist in the workings of the graphics cards by easing pressure on their processing power. Those interested in playing games that need constant refreshing, get a model that will enable you to accomplish this with ease. In these cases, the monitor should be in good working condition. This also affects the resolution, so if you want a good 4K experience, a good monitor will go a long way in assisting you to achieve this.
Tips for Buying Best Budget Graphics Cards
Graphics cards are distinguishable using their model numbers. Pay special attention to the model number, and it will give you all the information you need. If you were reading through seriously, by now, you already have a model number in your head. There are only two manufacturers of graphics cards: AMD and Nvidia, who offer the best range of graphics cards. With a choice of only two, it is as simple as buying both brands, trying them out both and deciding which one to always go with. Not so hard.
Consider the following before buying a graphics card:
- What type of game do I have?
- How much power consumption do I want to use?
- Do I have a good working monitor?
- What is the cooling system of this setup?
- Compatibility of the graphics card to my computer
- What resolution does the graphics card have?
Sometimes, a graphics card does not always have to be new. Some computers have the possibility of upgrading the GPU in order to accommodate the graphics card. This is done by checking the motherboard slot and seeing if it fits with the current model or if it’s removable.
Are SLIs important?
SLI stands for Scalable Link Interface. This is a standard that allows the use of more than one graphics card. Its end effect is having the output of two GPUs and very high performance operating on the power of a high-end model. The downside to this is that much more heat is generated in the interflops of the model, thereby causing the fans to operate at high speed and thus causing a lot of noise. This obstruction is invasive and uncomfortable. Check to see the cooling system on this and if your graphics card is SLI supported before the commencement of any game.
The Compatibility Test
If you try to wear a smaller sized hoodie than you, a little pain will shoot up your arms, and you will immediately stop. The same case happens with graphics cards and monitors. Only it’s called bottlenecking. Check your CPU(Central Processing Unit). If it is an old Pentium or Celeron, any of those dual-cores, do not use a high-end graphics card. You will avoid bottlenecking your computer by using a lower-end graphics card.
Well, that was everything laid out to you about model numbers, boost clock speeds, memory limit, and all you need to know as you go forth to get yourself a graphics card.