TOP FIVE VIDEO CARDS FOR 2021
Alternatively known as a display adapter, graphics card, video adapter, video board, or video controller, a video card is an expansion card that connects to a computer motherboard. Video cards are mostly used by gamers and other visual creatives in place of integrated graphics due to their extra processing power and video ram.
A video card and graphic card are considered the different names for the same thing depending on the places where they are used. A video card is used to display the visual items on the computer screen the way they are, but a graphic card shows the picture with a better resolution and even supports 3D animation.
Video cards come in three different connector types: PCI, AGP, and PCI Express. The slots all look different and are easily identifiable from each other. PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) and AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) are two different technologies used to connect expansion cards – such as video, sound, and graphics cards – to your PC. The main difference between the two is speed, particularly when it comes to processing graphics.
A video card works along the same principles. The CPU, working in conjunction with software applications, sends information about the image to the graphics card. The graphics (video) card decides how to use the pixels on the screen to create the image. It then sends that information to the monitor through a cable.
So, should you buy a video card? The Graphics Card is responsible for rendering an image to your monitor, it does this by converting data into a signal your monitor can understand. The better your graphics card the better and smoother an image can be produced. This is naturally very important for gamers and video editors.
Not all computers need a graphics card and it’s completely 100% possible to get by without one – especially if you’re not gaming. But, there are some stipulations. Since you still need a way to render what you see on your monitor, you’ll need a processor with an Integrated Graphics Processing Unit (or iGPU for short).
Your computer’s video card isn’t just for gaming. Although the primary application is running more powerful games at a better image quality, upgrading your graphics also helps with image modification, video editing, and playing high-resolution video like Netflix in 4K. So yes, you’re right on track if you’re considering investing in a new video card. In this article, you’ll learn what you should look out for while shopping for a video card. By the time you’re done reading this piece, you will be made all ready with the top five video (graphics) cards up to 2021.
A CHECKLIST FOR VIDEO CARD SHOPPING
There is hardly a general consensus on how much gigabytes of RAM a video card must have for optimum performance in a computer system. However, graphics cards basically come with 2 to an upward of 12 GB of video RAM.
Noteably, the size of the video memory determines the image quality and resolution of computer games and related applications. Remember that the video memory is responsible for smoothing out the jagged edges on objects through its anti-aliasing operations. So yes, video card memory size matters. In fact, I recommend divvying up your system memory by two. For example, if you have 8GB system memory, you’ll need at least a 4GB graphics card for optimum performance.
SPACE & COOLING
GPUs produce a lot of heat. While the GPU is not the same as the video/graphics card, the GPU is integrated into the video card. The graphics card is the hardware as a whole, while the GPU is a chip, part of the graphics card or an onboard similar, which stands for “Graphics Processing Unit.”
This heat output of the GPU is displayed in the TDP value, which plays a large role in deciding on a suitable GPU. If your TDP value is high, your computer will require more fans to properly distribute heat. Since fans require additional space and power, TDP value makes a difference.
So yes, you should consider space and cooling as important factors when shopping for a video card because GPUs need coolers. Liquid cooling is not necessary unless you want to overclock a lot. However, cooling your GPU is essential but usually that’s taken care of by the card cooler. You just need to make sure you have airflow through your case to move the hot air out.
It is important to determine if your power supply has enough 8-pin or 6-pin connectors for your graphics card. You can easily ensure this happens by purchasing a decent power supply of at least 80 Plus Bronze. The Thermal Design Power or TDP in short, is the maximum power consumed by a device (video card for example) under normal / regular use. In other words, the TDP is the max power a device can dissipate when running real applications.
When a video card is underpowered it will drop the performance levels and display graphics at a lower quality. The graphics downgrade will usually trigger if you run a graphics-heavy game or application that pushes the card to its limits.
Video card bandwidth appears to be undoubtedly the most important factor in this checklist. This is so because the video graphics are better and clearer when data are fed to the shader cores at a faster rate. This can only happen when the video card GPU have more bandwidth. The combination of bus width and memory speed determines the bandwidth.
LINEUP OF THE TOP FIVE VIDEO CARDS:
VIDEO CARD MODEL
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
CUDA Cores: 4,352
Base Clock: 1,350MHz
Boost Clock: 1,545MHz
Memory: 11GB GDDR6
Memory Clock: 14 GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 616GB/s
|BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON|
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
||CUDA Cores: 2,560 | Base Clock: 1,605MHz | Boost Clock: 1,770MHz | TFLOPS: 9.06 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14 GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s||BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON|
|AMD Radeon RX 5700
|RDNA Cores: 2,304 | Base Clock: 1,465MHz | Boost Clock: 1,725MHz | TFLOPS: 7.95 | Memory: 8GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 14 GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s||BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON|
|AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
||RDNA Cores: 2,048 | Base Clock: 1,375MHz | Boost Clock: 1,750MHz | TFLOPS: 8.07 | Memory: 6GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 12 – 14GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 288 – 336GB/s||BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON|
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super
CUDA Cores: 1,280 | Base Clock: 1,530MHz | Boost Clock: 1,725MHz | TFLOPS: 4.42 | Memory: 4GB GDDR6 | Memory Clock: 12GT/s | Memory Bandwidth: 192GB/s
|BUY IT NOW ON AMAZON|
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the ultimate successor to the same brand’s 1080 Ti champion. Though it costs almost twice as much as the 1080 Ti video card, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti does deliver some breathtaking specs with 11GB of GDDR6 VRAM, 4,352 CUDA cores and a boost clock of 1,635MHz. It’s all thanks to Nvidia’s first ever self-implemented 90MHz factory overclock.
The RTX 2080 general performance is impressive, and the jump from the GTX 1080 is noticeable and worth the investment, especially for demanding games. But the only viable option for 4K gaming is the RTX 2080 Ti. If you’re looking to play all the latest AAA games at 4K 60 fps without compromising on quality, you might want to go for the RTX 2080 Ti, even if the price is difficult to swallow. But, if you’re looking for QHD gaming, maybe at a high refresh rate, the RTX 2080 is going to work just fine.
Some may argue that the high cost of this video card is not justified, but it goes without been said that the RTX 2080 have no serious competitor. No one really knows why the RTX 2080 Ti is so expensive in comparison to its predecessor, but the huge 754mm^2 die of the 2080 Ti means that yields are going to be lower than the 1080 Ti which was a 471mm^2 die.
The 2080 Ti is the ultimate video card future-proofing you could ask for right now if you’re just concerned with high frame rates and resolutions, and less about what another generation of RTX cards might bring for newer rendering features. In other words, this video card is bound to be a big contender if not the biggest when it comes to the best video cards of 2021.
|Fastest single GPU
Built for the future
4k and HDR become achievable
|Big price jump from 1080 Ti
Waiting for games that use RTX
Needs a beefy system
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 Super may not be the perfect video card for 4K gaming, but it should make for an excellent graphics card for 1440p gaming. This video card occupies a lofty spot up there among the high-end GPU market. It’s not as bank-breaking expensive as the 2080 Super/Ti, but still offers a level of performance that even surpasses the GTX 1080 Ti in some games. Plus, you get all the ray-tracing and DLSS goodness.
The recommended power need of the RTX 2070 Super video card on an average computer system is 550 watts. The GeForce RTX 2080 has a 105 MHz higher core clock speed and 40 more Texture Mapping Units than the GeForce RTX 2070. This results in the GeForce RTX 2080 providing 75.8 GTexel/s better texturing performance. The GeForce RTX 2070 has 2304 Shader Processing Units and the GeForce RTX 2080 has 2944.
In all, the RTX 2070 Super is a future-proof video card in a sense that it would be future proof enough to run AAA games at near max settings at for the next 3–4 years at 1440p and 1080p resolutions. Also, take the term AAA games with a grain of salt as some are more CPU intensive than others, so pairing a 2070 with a powerful CPU is also a must. This is a video card that will still be biting-good in 2021.
|Close to a 2080 for less money
No more Founders Edition premium
All the same Turing features
|Only slightly faster than RTX 2070 FE
Nothing new to see here
Needs a killer RTX game
AMD Radeon RX 5700
AMD’s Radeon X 5700 is considerably the best 1440p video card available today due to its performance to price ratio of 60Hz displays. The RX 5700 video card avails a no-compromises 1440p gaming. If, however, you have a high refresh rate 1440p monitor, you should probably go for AMD’s Radeon RX 5700 XT instead.
The Radeon RX 5700 and the 5700 XT are excellent video cards of choice that delivers noticeably better performance than Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 Super which share similar price range. Also worthy of note is that as far as noise development is concerned, it is now much more moderate in the Radeon RX 5700. From 44.4 dB(A), which is quite loud, the whole thing drops to only 35.7 dB(A), which is not only bearable, but now also quiet!
The Radeon RX 5700 provides strong results at 1080p and 1440p for a video card that is under $400. Overall, the Radeon RX 5700 is still a great card and belongs on the list of potential GPU upgrades. If you’re looking for the best video card under $400, I recommend the RX 5700. I may not guarantee this card as your best bet three years from now but this is a video card of choice even in 2021.
|Efficient and fast
Beats Vega 64 and RTX 2060
|No ray tracing support
I’d rather have the 5700 XT
The RX 5600 XT is probably not a recommended buy at its current price, but it’s worth a look for 1080p gamers that want to save a bit of money compared to other (usually more expensive) alternatives. Given the RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 both share the same core GPU specs, just with different amounts of VRAM, but one has to wonder if they’ll both stick around long-term.
The RTX 2060 has hardware accelerated ray tracing with its RT cores that the RX 5600 XT simply can’t do. The 1660 Ti can display ray tracing, but it doesn’t have the performance to make it comfortably playable, even at 1080p.
SAPPHIRE PULSE RX 5600 XT is unarguably the best Radeon RX 5600 XT card you can buy. The card has got it all, whether it is performance, build quality, cooling, silent operation, or the features. It has got Game Clock of 1615 MHz and Boost Clock up to 1750 MHz.
|Nearly as fast as the RX 5700
Great for 1080p
|Pricing a bit high
Can struggle at 1440p
No ray tracing support
Where core specifications are concerned, the GTX 1650 Super video card is an impressive leap in performance from the existing GTX 1650. It has 42 percent more GPU cores, and while it sticks with a 128-bit memory interface, the move to 12Gbps GDDR6 means it has 50 percent more bandwidth than the 1650.
The Zotac GTX 1650 Super is a solid performer able to reach 60 fps or more in many game titles when running 1080p resolutions and at a customer-friendly price. It’s SFF-friendly at just over six inches long.
The attractive price of this video card may make it ideal for applications like the Battle Royale video game, but unfortunately, the GeForce GTX 1650 Super is less than ideal for Virtual Reality (VA) games. It is recommended that users stick with the 1660 Ti or higher for VR performance on the 16-series GPUs.
All the same, the GTX 1650 is a faster video card than the previous generation GTX 1050 Ti, but it’s also roughly the same performance as a high-end GPU from nearly five years ago. The GTX 1650 isn’t a bad GPU by any means. It can hit 60fps at 1080p medium to high quality in most games, and it’s affordable.
|Great overall value
Much faster than the 1650
Includes Turing NVENC
|Only 4GB VRAM
Requires 6-pin power
In a nutshell, Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Super is best-value GPU around today with impressive 1080p gaming performance that isn’t bad at 1440p either. The AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT trumps as the ultimate 1080p graphics card, great base price, and RTX 2060-level performance. As for the Radeon RX 5700, the ease to unlock the full power of the video card is a big plus. And the GeForce RTX 2070 Super delivers more performance than a GTX 1080 Ti at a lesser price too with an impressive 4k gaming excellence.
But if you ask me, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2080 Ti is the all-wining video/graphics card of today, 2021 and beyond. This is evidently the fastest video card you can lay your hand on with ray tracing and deep learning technology to match.