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GPU hierarchy 2020: Ranking the graphics cards you can buy

GPU hierarchy 2020: Ranking the graphics cards you can buy

If you’re thinking about upgrading your GPU, you probably want to know where your current one stacks up—that’s where our graphics card hierarchy comes in. Whether you’re planning on buying one of the best graphics cards, or simply want to get something newer and faster, our list makes it very clear what constitutes a major upgrade or a minor one. You'll also want to think about the rest of your system: what's the best CPU for gaming, what about AMD vs Intel CPUs, and do you have a sufficiently large SSD for gaming?

It’s harder than ever to know how cards fit into the history and evolution of the modern GPU. Nvidia now has three versions of its 20-series graphics cards—20XX, 20XX Super, and 20XX Ti—plus there are a whole range of low-mid range cards that don’t fit the naming convention like the 1650 and 1660. Meanwhile, AMD’s different card lines all have their own naming conventions. It’s easy to tell that a RX 590 is better than an RX 580, but how do those compare to a Vega 64? Or a Radeon VII!? There’s a roman numeral in there! How does that help anyone?

Our graphics card rankings are very clear and very simple. We start with the most powerful card on the market and work our way down the list of cards that are currently available new from retailers. The rankings are based on framerate tests on a series of popular games performed by our staff, as well as external market research. Also, it’s important to note that the ranking are based on stock first-party hardware from AMD and Nvidia. The specs may vary, depending on if you buy one of these or a variant made by GPU manufacturers like EVGA, MSI, or ASUS.

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti

Boost Clock: 1635MHz | Memory: 11GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 4352 | Memory Bandwidth: 616GB/s

Fastest graphics card around
Ray tracing and deep learning tech
Extremely expensive
Few games have ray-tracing

 

2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super

Boost Clock: 1815MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 3072 | Memory Bandwidth: 496GB/s

Slightly faster than the RTX 2080
Ray tracing and deep learning tech
Still expensive
Few games have ray-tracing

 

3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080

Boost Clock: 1710MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 2944 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

One of the fastest GPUs currently available for gaming
Ray tracing and deep learning tech
Replaced by RTX 2080 Super, usually not a good value compared to Super cards
Few ray-tracing games available

 

4. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Boost Clock: 1770MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 2560 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

The best high-end GPU for most people
Ray tracing and deep learning tech
Still expensive
Few games have ray-tracing

 

5. AMD Radeon VII

Boost Clock: 1750MHz | Memory: 16GB HMB2 | Stream Processors: 3840 | Memory Bandwidth: 1000GB/s

First 7nm graphics card
Good performance at 1440p and 4K
Runs hotter and draws more power than the RTX 2080
Similar pricing to the RTX 2080

 

6. AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT

Boost Clock: 1905MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Stream Processors: 2560 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Great gaming performance at 1080p and 1440p
Uses AMD's new efficient RDNA architecture
Runs hotter and draws more power than competing Nvidia graphics cards
No ray tracing support

 

7. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070

Boost Clock: 1620MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 2304 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Good performance at 1440p and 4K
Includes same features as 2080 and 2080 Ti
Still expensive
Few ray tracing or DLSS games

 

8. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super

Boost Clock: 1650MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 2176 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

The best RTX graphics card in terms of price vs performance
Ray tracing and deep learning tech
More expensive than the RTX 2060 it replaces
Few games have ray-tracing

 

9. AMD Radeon RX 5700

Boost Clock: 1725MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Stream Processors: 2304 | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s

Great gaming performance at 1080p and 1440p
Uses AMD's new efficient RDNA architecture
Runs hotter and draws more power than competing Nvidia graphics cards
No ray tracing support

 

10. AMD Radeon RX Vega 64

Boost Clock: 1546MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Steam Processors: 4096 | Memory Bandwidth: 484GB/s

Good performance at 1440p and 1080p
Far cheaper than the Radeon VII
Requires more power than similar Nvidia graphics cards

 

11. Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060

Boost Clock: 1680MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 1920 | Memory Bandwidth: 336GB/s

Good performance at 1080p and 1440p
Cheapest ray tracing graphics card
Questionable ray tracing performance
Few RT/DLSS games

 

12. AMD Radeon RX Vega 56

Boost Clock: 1471MHz | Memory: 8GB HBM2 | Stream Processors: 3,584 | Memory Bandwidth: 410GB/s

Good performance at 1080p and 1440p
Does well in DirectX 12 games
More power-hungry than comparable Nvidia cards
Not a good value compared to the GTX 1660 Ti

 

13. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Boost Clock: 1770MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 1536 | Memory Bandwidth: 288GB/s

Good performance at 1080p
Nvidia Turing architecture
No ray tracing or DLSS
Generational price increase

 

14. Nvidia GTX 1660 Super

Boost Clock: 1785MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 1408 | Memory Bandwidth: 336GB/s

Very good 1080p performance
Cheaper than the 1660 Ti
Very little difference between 1660s
Missing RTX features

15. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660

Boost Clock: 1785MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 1408 | Memory Bandwidth: 192GB/s

Good performance at 1080p
Efficient Turing design
No ray tracing or DLSS
No GDDR6 memory

 

16. AMD Radeon RX 590

Boost Clock: 1545MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR5 | Steam Processors: 2,304 | Memory Bandwidth: 256GB/s

Good choice for 1080p gaming
Great overall value
Modest improvement over RX 580 8GB
No real architectural improvements

 

17. AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB

Boost Clock: 1340MHz | Memory: 8GB GDDR5 | Stream processors: 2,304 | Memory Bandwidth: 256GB/s

One of the best bang-for your-buck graphics cards
Regularly sells for under $200
Less power-efficient than Nvidia cards
Older architecture

 

18. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB

Boost Clock: 1708MHz | Memory: 6GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 1280 | Memory Bandwidth: 192GB/s

A decent card for 1080p gaming
Replaced by the RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super
Uses Nvidia's last-gen architecture

 

19. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 3GB

Boost Clock: 1708MHz | Memory: 3GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 1152 | Memory Bandwidth: 192GB/s

Good enough for 1080p esports/lightweight games
Bad value compared to GTX 1660 and RX 580
Uses Nvidia's last-gen architecture

 

20. AMD Radeon RX 570 4GB

Boost Clock: 1244MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Stream Processors: 1328 | Memory Bandwidth: 224GB/s

Good for 1080p esports/lightweight games
Most models are around $100
4GB of VRAM isn't a lot to work with in 2020

 

21. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650

Boost Clock: 1665MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR6 | CUDA Cores: 896 | Memory Bandwidth: 128GB/s

Good enough for esports/lightweight games at 1080p, like Fortnite, Overwatch, and CS:GO
Most models don't require 6-pin PEG power
Struggles with more demanding AAA games, like modern open-world titles and some shooters
4GB of VRAM is the minimum requirement for most new games

 

22. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti

Boost Clock: 1392MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 768 | Memory Bandwidth: 112GB/s

Works fine for esports/lightweight games at 1080p, like Fortnite, Overwatch, and CS:GO
Most models don't require 6-pin PEG power
Struggles with more demanding AAA games, like modern open-world titles and some shooters
Replaced by GTX 1650

 

23. AMD Radeon RX 560 4GB

Boost Clock: 1275MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Steam Processors: 1024 | Memory Bandwidth: 112GB/s

Good enough for esports/lightweight games
Most models cost around $100
Struggles in more demanding games
Limited VRAM

 

24. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050

Boost Clock: 1455MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 640 | Memory Bandwidth: 112GB/s

Doesn't require 6-pin PEG power connection
Can still play lightweight games
RX 560 4GB is same or lower price
2GB is very restricting
Struggles in latest games

 

25. AMD Radeon RX 550

Boost Clock: 1883MHz | Memory: 4GB GDDR5 | Steam Processors: 512 | Memory Bandwidth: 112GB/s

Doesn't require 6-pin PEG power
Still provides 4GB of VRAM
Not much better than integrated graphics
Many modern games struggle

 

26. Nvidia GeForce GT 1030

Boost Clock: 1468MHz | Memory: 2GB GDDR5 | CUDA Cores: 384 | Memory Bandwidth: 48GB/s

Technically a graphics card
Can play CSGO and LoL at >60FPS
No PEG power connection
Only slightly faster than Intel UHD 630
Price isn't very compelling

 

27. AMD Radeon Vega 8 (Ryzen 3 2200G)

Boost Clock: 1100MHz | Memory: Shared system RAM | Stream Processors: 512 | Memory Bandwidth: 34.1-51.2GB/s (shared)

'Free' with Ryzen APU (cost about as much as GT 1030)
Can usually break 60fps in CSGO and LoL
Matches budget dedicated GPUs
Ryzen 3 2200G is relatively slow
Needs faster DDR4 RAM to reach potential

 

So there you have it—all the graphics cards you can buy right now, (roughly) ranked by performance. If you're interested in more detailed comparisons, check out our best graphics cards guide. We also have a frequently-updated list of cheap graphics cards deals.

If you have an older GPU and want to know where it sits in the list, here's the quick rundown of Nvidia's 10-series cards. The GTX 1080 Ti ranks just below the 2080, but ahead of the Radeon VII. The GTX 1080 comes in just ahead of the RX Vega 64, with the GTX 1070 Ti effectively tied with the Vega 64 (just a hair slower). The GTX 1070 meanwhile comes in about 5-8 percent below the RX Vega 56, a few percent ahead of the GTX 1660 Ti.

Going back another generation to Nvidia's 900-series and AMD's R9 series, things get a bit messier. The GTX 980 Ti is about 10 percent below the GTX 1070, and the R9 Fury X is about 5-10 percent slower than the 980 Ti. The R9 Fury and R9 Nano drop another 10-15 percent relative to the Fury X, with the Nano being very close to the GTX 980 in performance. The 980 also roughly matches the GTX 1060 6GB, along with the R9 390X. The R9 390 is a bit slower (5-10 percent), but thanks to its 8GB VRAM, it's 10-15 percent faster than the GTX 970. The even older R9 290X is basically a tie with the R9 390, with the R9 290 dropping 10 percent (basically tying the GTX 970). Finally, the R9 380 and 380X typically beat the GTX 1050 Ti, while Nvidia GTX 960 and 950 offer nearly the same performance as the GTX 1050 Ti and 1050, respectively. Anything below these cards is ripe for an upgrade.

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer living in Georgia. He plays a lot of Planet Coaster.