Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming
Among the best 1080p graphics cards available in 2023, most gamers are sure to be satisfied. While most GPUs available today are capable of that 1080p resolution, it’s important to make sure you get one with enough power so you can have a seamless gaming experience without paying a fortune. The Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming are characteristically fast and have the lasted memory module to give you the best gaming performance
It is also possible to find quite a few solid graphics cards on offer if you don’t want to spend a fortune on graphics cards designed specifically for 1440p and 4K gaming setups. The Nvidia RTX 3060, for instance, is a great option for anyone who is looking for an Nvidia RTX 3000 card at an affordable price, but it also has plenty of power to handle 1080p games.
We have compiled a list of our top 1080p GPUs for your PC build or to replace an aging graphics card. Read on to find out which card is best suited for you so you can build your PC right away, starting with the RTX 3060 Ti. This card fulfills all your gaming needs without breaking the bank.
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti~The best graphics card for 1080p gaming
Compute Units: 4,864Core Clock: 1.41 GHz (1.67 GHz boost)Memory: 8 GB GDDR6Clock: 14GbpsOutputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a Power Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)
REASONS TO BUY
Performance is excellent at 1080p
It performs well when it comes to ray tracing
REASONS TO AVOID
Performance only at entry-level 4K
AMD is no longer the king of great value GPUs, but Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti certainly challenges that claim. With its impressive performance that could rival that of the RTX 2080 Super, this graphics card is one of the most affordable graphics cards in the RTX 3000 line. Its price tag is incredibly affordable for most people, and that’s with impressive ray tracing included. 1080p gaming has never been better or cheaper. Read more on Best 1440p graphics cards
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AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT`~The top of the 1080p world
Stream Processors: 2,304Core Clock: 1,355MHz (1,560MHz boost)Memory: 6GB GDDR6Memory Clock: 14GbpsPower Connectors: 1 x 8-pinOutputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
There is no ray tracing
AMD’s GPUs have been aimed at the lower end of the market for the last few years, but Nvidia has continued to adapt, so if you are looking for an AMD equivalent to the GTX 1660 Super, the RX 5600 XT is the card for you. With its lower price, the RX 5600 XT can match or even beat the RTX 2060, retailing for $279.
In addition to having iffy drivers and VBIOS, AMD’s reputation for unstable GPUs might turn some buyers off of the RX 5600 XT. AMD’s reputation for unstable GPUs has already caused some controversy with the RX 5600 XT’s VBIOS. However, if you are willing to take that risk, you won’t find a card with a better performance-to-value ratio at 1080p than the RX 5600 XT.
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070~The best 1440p graphics card right now
Compute Units: 5,888Core Clock: 1.50 GHz (1.73 GHz boost)Memory: 8 GB GDDR6Memory Clock: 14GbpsPower Connectors: 1x PCIe 8-pin (adapter to 1x 12-pin included)Outputs: HDMI 2.1, 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
REASONS TO BUY
Performance of a lifetime
Graphics card with the best value
Raytracing performance is excellent
REASONS TO AVOID
Prices are the same as Turing’s
Power connector with 12 pins is required
A graphics card that delivers excellent 1440p gaming performance – even on par with the RTX 2080 Ti – without spending an arm and a leg, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 is the best on the market. Not only is this card capable of delivering smooth 1440p gaming, it is also capable of bringing 4K gaming to the mainstream for the first time ever. It is also a stunning 1080p GPU. And did we mention that this GPU is also inexpensive? Playing at 1080p doesn’t require a powerful GPU, so you won’t overpay.
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Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super~For when you need to go overkill
CUDA Cores: 2,560Core clock: 1,605Memory: 8GB GDDR6Memory clock: 14GbpsPower connectors: 6 pin + 8 pinOutputs: 1 x DisplayPort, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DVI-DL
REASONS TO BUY
Performer of the year
It’s amazing what ray tracing can do
REASONS TO AVOID
For 1080p, it’s expensive
For you want triple-digit frame rates while gaming at 144Hz or 240Hz, even at 1080p, you will need a powerful GPU. If you need high frame rates while gaming, but do not wish to compromise on fidelity, you will need a powerful GPU. If you have a 1080p monitor that supports high frame rates, the RTX 2070 Super represents the best value.
In games at ultra settings, the RTX 2080 Super or RTX 2080 Ti can deliver even more frames, but if you’re playing at 1080p, the extra money isn’t really worth it. If you run games like Overwatch and CS:GO at 1080p with the RTX 2070 Super, you shouldn’t have any problems reaching 144 frames per second. With this card, most other games won’t dip below 100 frames per second at 1080p.
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AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT~Entry level, but worth it
Stream Processors: 1,408Core Clock: 1,717MHz (1,845MHz boost)Memory: 4/8GB GDDR6Memory Clock: 14GbpsPower Connectors: 1 x 8-pinOutputs: 3 x DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x HDMI 2.0
REASONS TO BUY
Performance that is solid
REASONS TO AVOID
A little slow
With four or eight gigabytes of RAM, the RX 5500 XT offers decent 1080p performance at an incredible price. There are two versions of this card, one with four gigabytes of RAM for $169 and one with eight gigabytes of RAM for $199. There’s always room for improvement in VRAM, but if you are looking for a budget card like this, it’s nice to have the option of saving even more. If you plan to play modern games, 4GB of VRAM is at the extreme low end.
In addition to its low price, the RX 5500 XT can play many games at 1080p/60fps. However, it will struggle to run demanding games at ultra settings. For people who don’t want to spend four figures on a PC gaming setup, this card is a great entry point – particularly if you enjoy esports such as Overwatch or Fortnite.
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Buying Guide: The Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming in 2023
You’ll see lots of buzz about “4K gaming” on high-end monitors, and the rise of 1440p (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) displays if you frequent gaming or hardware sites. You might assume that PC-gaming is dominated by high-resolution gaming and expensive video cards if you spend enough time in those parts.
The answer is no! Yes, those devices are important, and yes, they will take over when they are cheaper, much cheaper, but for the time being, most PC gamers will continue to play in 1080p resolution (full HD).
It is now affordable for PC gamers to purchase 1080p monitors—you can find many of them for around $100—and you can run all sorts of games with silky-smooth frame rates on one of these screens. As a matter of fact, according to Steam Hardware Survey results (Opens in a new window), 1080p is the most popular native resolution for PC gamers.
Despite the fact that most gamers would love to play at the highest resolution possible, purchasing both a 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) or 1440p display, as well as a video card capable of playing at those high resolutions, will be pricey. It’s much cheaper to achieve the mainstream resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 than to achieve the higher resolution.) Most of us just want our games to look good and run smoothly.
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Nvidia graphics card
Since 1440p monitors have become more common in recent years, and 4K-capable graphics cards have become more affordable, this resolution has been the de facto gaming standard for some time. With a video card costing less than $400, it was hard to play leading PC games at 4K resolution without dialing back the detail settings. So it is a good idea to purchase a video card capable of running 1080p games smoothly, one that should last you at least a few years if not longer.
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1080p Gaming Cards: A Competitive Field
Just one problem: As a result of the popularity of 1080p resolution, a lot of video cards compete for the top spot. With nearly a dozen different classes of 1080p graphics cards (categorized by their different core graphics processors), the market for 1080p graphics cards is more granular than it has ever been. But that is where we come in. In this article, we will explain which features you should look for when shopping for a 1080p-optimal video card, and we will highlight the best cards, based on your budget, that we have tested.
Nvidia’s Turing-generation video cards launched in 2018 and 2019 paired with AMD’s Navi video cards, which offer better 1080p performance at under $300 MSRP than ever before. Additionally, Nvidia introduced the GeForce RTX cards in mid-to-late 2018, including the GeForce RTX 2080 and GeForce RTX 2070, as well as an elite-level GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, in mid-to-late 2018.
The RTX 3070 starts at $499, and the RTX 3080 cards start around $700, which is a little overkill for this resolution, and will run any game at 1080p very nicely. Due to silicon shortages and scalpers, there’s price pandemonium out there right now; these are MSRPs or list prices, and not the going rate. However, even with higher prices in 2022, you won’t need to spend much in order to play 1080p…in most cases.
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Buying Basics: What to Look for in the Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming
As of this writing, most 1080p gaming cards are priced between $100 and $300 (MSRP, not current street prices). You can certainly use pricier cards if you want, but the more you go above $300 MSRP, the more you’re in overkill territory with most games. Here’s what to watch out for.
How Much Video Memory Is Enough?
In addition to the resolution at which you are able to play games smoothly, the amount of graphics memory (or video RAM) on your video card directly affects the detail settings available. You can also run a specific game at a certain setting based on how well your graphics processing unit (GPU) is powered. It’s like a freeway where the GPU can work its magic without getting congested.
Unless the video card has enough memory, it will not be able to work to its fullest potential. The reason: while pixels are in memory, the video card actually crunches all of them. It is therefore necessary to have more memory to handle more data, whether it is in order to display more detail in a game or maintain a certain resolution. In high-end video cards, there is more on-board memory because higher resolutions and more detail settings create more pixels that need to be managed.
It is generally considered that two gigabytes of video memory is the absolute absolute minimum for 1080p gaming, and four gigabytes is the absolute minimum for high-detail 1080p gameplay in 2023.
The graphics memory in cards under $300 (MSRP) can range from 1GB to 8GB. Some of the key 1080p gaming cards come in 3GB/6GB and 4GB/8GB variants. Don’t spend more money than you need on RAM or GPU. In the case of most 1080p gaming, choosing a 6GB or 8GB card should make you futureproof, especially if you plan on upgrading to a 1440p or 4K monitor soon. In that case, however, you will also want a card with a more powerful GPU.
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Which Ports Does My Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming Need?
Although VGA and DVI ports have practically disappeared from late-model graphics cards worth mentioning, most of them support 1080p resolutions through their standard outputs (VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort). Most of the time, you just need to pick a card with a port that matches your monitor’s port. When you go above 1080p, you don’t start exceeding the capabilities of some interfaces, such as VGA or older HDMI versions.
The majority of cards and most monitors these days come with multiple ports, so you shouldn’t have much concern or confusion if you stick to 1080p. Most likely, you’ll just need a cable or an adapter if you’re upgrading from an old system or card; at worst, if you’re upgrading from an old system or card, you may need a new cable. So keep this in mind when you’re shopping.
When choosing a card and a cable, make sure you pick up one that supports 1080p resolution at a 240Hz refresh rate, since both DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 can support this specification. The Asus ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN monitor, for example, doesn’t support HDMI 2.0 or HDMI 2.1 (only DisplayPort 1.4b and above are capable of 360Hz), so you have to ensure you have the right GPU and cable if you plan to buy an elite, cutting-edge monitor like the Asus ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN. The HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces can also carry audio signals, which can simplify cabling if your display has built-in speakers (or is an HDTV).
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How Much Should My Graphics Card Cost (at MSRP)?
Note: Here we are talking about list prices (MSRP); see our warnings earlier around out-of-control street prices for video cards.
It’s difficult to say what a 1080p video card will cost in 2022, but if you choose to run your games at the highest settings or on medium settings, you can expect to spend between $100 and $300 on it. In order to enable anti-aliasing (AA), which smooths jagged lines from in-game objects, you’ll have to spend towards the top end of the range, especially if you plan on adjusting the settings as high as possible.
The budget can be kept if you only want average detail settings and frame rates. However, if you want maximum detail and AA at 1080p, you’ll probably need to spend $200-300. Despite not going as bananas over list price as with higher-end Nvidia GeForce RTX and AMD Radeon RX 6000 series cards, mainstream, 1080p-capable mainstream graphics cards do still see a premium over list prices, in many cases.
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Should I Get an AMD or an Nvidia Graphics Card?
We give Nvidia an edge for hitting more price points in the $100-400 MSRP range with solid offerings as 2022 kicks into gear, even though AMD has strong offerings between $100 and $400 MSRP. It’s hard to find a bad 1080p card in that price range as long as you stick to the latest-gen cards from both companies.
Our supporting software award goes to Nvidia as well, but it’s a near-run deal nowadays. With Nvidia’s GeForce Experience software, you can record in-game video easily with Shadowplay, and you get automatic driver updates (only when they’re ready to be installed). Co-op games can also be joined quickly and easily with Nvidia’s software. There is less daylight between Team Green (NVIDIA) and Team Red (AMD) on this score as there once was. AMD’s Radeon Software boasts similar capabilities, and its driver software has improved dramatically from days gone by.
A new monitor that supports one or the other image-smoothing technology, such as FreeSync (AMD) or G-Sync (Nvidia), is another vital reason to pick one chip company over another. The Nvidia G-Sync image-smoothing tech is incorporated into a subset of monitors(Opens in a new window) branded as FreeSync, but also supported by Nvidia with these displays, dubbed “G-Sync Compatible.”
It is also possible to sharpen your card with sharpening technology. With this addition, gamers can squeeze every last bit of performance they can from their cards. They reduce a game’s resolution (thereby increasing performance by up to 30% on the same card), while maintaining visual fidelity. Nvidia Image Scaling and Radeon Super Resolution are currently the competing technologies from Nvidia and AMD.
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Should I Get an Overclocked Card, or a Reference Card?
Graphics chip manufacturers (AMD or Nvidia) design GPUs as well as (usually) cooling mechanisms for video cards. As the name implies, this is a “reference design,” a card that runs at a safe speed with no fancy features added. It is the chip makers’ responsibility to design these basic packages and then pass them along to their retail partners (such as MSI, EVGA, Asus, Gigabyte, or Sapphire) to be used as “reference” or “stock” designs.
There are often more expensive, higher-performance cards based on this basic design that these companies produce, as well as overclocked versions. Compared to more aggressive designs with larger fans, exotic shrouds, and the manufacturer’s own branding more prominent than Nvidia’s or AMD’s, the reference cards usually have AMD or Nvidia branding somewhere on them and appear reserved. This latter type of card may run cooler due to the larger, more complex cooling hardware on the board, giving room for overclocking, resulting in a small performance boost.
While these upgraded cards are impressive, they can also be more noisy and more expensive than stock versions. The best thing to do when shopping is to do some research unless you really like the aesthetics of a particular model (for display in a PC case with a window), or you know from a review that one is particularly impressive. Even if the card is a stock design, it’s usually better to step up to a higher-end card based around a higher-end GPU rather than a similar-priced overclocked card based around a lower-end (or previous-generation) graphics processor.
What Is My Monitor’s Refresh Rate, and Why Does It Matter?
You should be aware that all of our advice about 1080p cards is based on assuming that you will be using a 60Hz monitor. You’ll likely need a higher-end card to take full advantage of a display panel with a higher refresh rate (or soon upgrade to one) if you intend to use one of the deluxe 120Hz, 144Hz, 240Hz, or even 360Hz panels on the market. Frame rates higher than 60 frames per second will be evident on these monitors. You may want to check gaming test results for an estimate of how many sustained frames you can expect.
Although some 4K monitors can deliver a refresh rate of 144Hz, they are not comparable to your typical Subaru versus a Ferrari. For the vast majority of players, 1080p is the world of high-refresh-rate gaming. A 1080p display that runs at 144Hz, 165Hz, or 240Hz is typically priced between $150 and $700, and depending on your game, you may need a higher or lower GPU to match its output. A high-refresh monitor can display all the frames per second a card can produce, up to its refresh rate limit, which makes for smoother gaming in many cases and is a big improvement over conventional monitors that can only display 60Hz.
240Hz, 300Hz, or 360Hz refresh rates are highly beneficial to mega-popular online games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and DOTA 2, and these games are optimized so that with an under-$300 (MSRP) video card at 1080p, you can likely achieve that frame rate. Apex Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Rocket League, and Rainbow Six: Siege can all run at 144Hz 1080p with GPUs in the $150-to-$300 MSRP range.
Final thoughts on Best Graphics Cards for 1080p Gaming
So, Which Graphics Card to Buy for 1080p Play? See our roundup of the best video cards for our picks for the best overall video cards; the best graphics cards for 4K gaming (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) is the one you need; and the best graphics cards for compact PCs are the ones you need if you have a small-form-factor desktop. Our expert guide to the best PC games, along with our picks for the best gaming laptops and desktops, can help you build your own gaming system.