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 (opens in new tab), what about AMD vs Intel CPUs (opens in new tab), and do you have a sufficiently large SSD for gaming (opens in new tab)?
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.
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.