They are the soul of your machine. If the CPU is the brain of your rig then the graphics card is the heart, pumping textures and resolutions through its copper coated veins. Whether you are building your own PC or buying a pre-built, the first thing most of us look at is the graphics card. The GPU is the main difference between a gaming rig and whatever your mom plays Candy Crush on. Having the best-of-the-best allows PC gamers to maintain 4k resolutions, all the while rubbing their 60 frames-per-second in their console bretheren’s faces. It feels good, trust me. GPUs aren’t only crucial to the quality of visuals you are going to receive, either. They are a status symbol and, damn, can they be sexy. Let’s be honest, no one is drooling over the newest Core i5 processor, but we are all sitting with our mouths agape at Nvidia’s latest card. I mean, just look at that heatsink!
With so much pressure on the GPU, however, you will definitely want to know which one is truly the best. With so many options and with third-party manufactures offering different versions of the same card, it can be a daunting task to choose the right one. To help you out, we have compiled a list of the best in graphics processors available right now. These cards will give your PC the kick it needs to bring you into the newest generation of gaming elite.
Here is our list of the top five graphics cards available right now:
5. AMD RX480
AMD’s RX480 is in direct competition with Nvidia’s GTX 1060 GPU and the match was close. This was the hardest spot to decide since there is no clear-cut winner (and because I am currently running the losing card in my gaming PC). At first glance, the 1060 is the clear choice. In most of the pair-ups, benchmark tests with the Nvidia card outperformed the RX480 in most cases. The key here, however, are the benchmark tests in which the RX480 won. When looking at tests using the current-to-past generation Direct X 10 and Direct X 11, the 1060 is king. However, when looking at the current-to-future generation Direct X 12, the RX480 edges ahead. Since this list attempts to look forward at the gaming needs of the future and since Direct X 12 is certainly the future, we had to give the RX480 a spot on this list. The AMD card also features 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, two more gigabytes over its competition.
BUY: MSI Radeon Rx480
4. AMD Radeon R9 Fury X
As a budget PC gamer, I have always been a fan of AMD’s graphics cards. They tend to pack as much performance as possible into their GPUs while almost always undercutting Nvidia in price. The R9 Fury X is no different, offering great performance at a great value. When compared toe-to-toe with the similarly priced GTX 1070 card, the Fury X is outperformed in most aspects, save for texture quality. However, the Radeon card is nearly $100 less than the 1070 so that margin is understandable. Also, since AMD cards are known to run hotter than most, this card comes stocked with a liquid cooler. It is a nice touch from the manufacturers, sort of saying “hey, we know our cards are hot. Here is a solution.” It’s a great addition to an already great card.
BUY: XFX Radeon R9 Fury X
3. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
While the first two spots on this list basically cream the competition, Nvidia’s GTX 1070 still outperforms the AMD cards, by a smaller margin. When compared to AMD’s R9 Fury X, the GTX 1070 squeaks by, but still achieves better performance in nearly every category. While the 1070 is overtaken by the Fury X card in overall texture quality, it does not give any ground to the AMD card in any other aspect. It does all of this while using 125watts less power than the R9 card making it one of the most energy efficient GPUs available. It seems 8GB of GDDR5 memory is becoming the standard for high-end Nvidia graphics processors and the 1070 is no different. The GTX is definitely a solid choice for those wanting to get the best performance with a card that won’t break the bank.
2. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
Touted by Nvidia’s CEO as the ” largest chip project endeavor in the history of humanity, with a budget of several billion dollars,” the GTX 1080 certainly lives up to its hype. Since the 1080’s release last year, the 10-series architecture has outperformed almost every version of AMD’s R9 series of cards. The GTX card consistently outperforms AMD’s R9 Fury card in benchmark tests with the Nvidia GPU outperforming the Fury by as much as 20%. While still priced slightly above the R9, compared to the performance one can get out of this card, it may provide the best value for your money. There are countless different versions of the GTX 1080 made by many different manufacturers that all feature a myriad of options and pricing, but the ASUS version linked below is known to have some of the best lighting options and is one of the quietest versions available.
1. Nvidia Titan X Pascal
The difference between the Titan X Pascal (Nvidia’s newest upgrade from Titan X Maxwell architecture) and any other GPU on this list is ridiculous. The Titan X Pascal simply blazes past all of the other cards in performance. In benchmark tests, this thing clocks at least 20-25% better performance than most cards at 4k and nearly doubles its closest competition at 2k. Nvidia hasn’t pulled any punches as they have loaded this insane piece of hardware with an unprecedented 12GB of GDDR5 memory. Let’s just reflect on that for a moment. Twelve… gigabytes. If you are investing in this caliber of hardware, you are certainly going to be well equipped for VR, as well. As with all other 10-series or higher Nvidia chips, the Titan X Pascal is compatible with G-sync enabled display devices. This added level of visual fidelity helps create the most immersive VR experiences by eliminating screen tearing and helping to curb VR related nausea. With performance like this and all of the goodies it’s packed with, the Titan X Pascal certainly isn’t cheap. In fact, most gaming PCs I’ve built over the years cost about the same (or sometimes less) than this card alone. And do not forget that you can run this card in SLI, meaning it’s possible to have two of these four-pound cards in one machine. The Titan X Pascal really is the best-of-the-best and, if you can afford it, it is without question the premier GPU available right now.