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The Best Graphics Cards Money Can Buy

The GPU line-up for 2023 is a feast for the senses. Our guide will help you navigate the landscape for value and performance.

 

The Best Graphics Cards Money Can Buy

 

Buying a dedicated graphics card can make all the difference to your gaming. It can elevate your experience completely, allowing you to enjoy higher resolutions and framerates, as well as a raft of vendor-specific features like Ray Tracing and FSR. As the market continues to evolve, eye-wateringly expensive silicon, aluminium and plastic like the GeForce RTX 40-Series and Radeon RX 7000 -Series GPUs are constantly vying for the top spot. And for the budget-conscious gamers, there are alternatives from NVIDIA and AMD, with Intel's Arc Alchemist range bringing up the rear in the gaming stakes. With the driver situation in hand, and Battlemage around the corner, watch this space, though.

What Makes the Best GPU?

When it comes to selecting the best GPU for your gaming needs, there are a few things to consider. I bet you wish you had a pound for every time you read that in a blog article?

But seriously, it's true. If you already have a high-spec rig, but lack in the GPU department, you'll probably want a card that can utilise the hardware and handle the latest games at 4K resolution and still maintain high framerates. Of course, these premium options come with a premium price tag. For example, the flagship RTX 4090 can cost more than an entire mid-tier gaming PC, GPU included.

Don't let the high cost of the top-of-the-line options discourage you. You don't need a monster GPU to build or upgrade the best gaming PC. There are plenty of options from NVIDIA and AMD that offer great performance at a more affordable price, and we've proven that in this guide.

To help you navigate the ever-changing GPU landscape, we've put together a list of some of the best graphics card choices on the market right now (and beyond 2023). What we have tried to do here is offer some light and shade. From the A-list celebrities to the dogged and determined TV stars, we're rolling out a virtual red carpet to hand out our version of the Oscars for GPUs.

The Top Graphics Cards for 2023

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
  • AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090

The NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti: A Premium GPU Disguised as Midrange

The NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti is the latest addition to the graphics card market, and it's a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, it's going to cost you less than the RTX 3080 Ti but lands more punches in the performance stakes. On the other hand, it's still fairly expensive and not quite a true midrange graphics card. Despite its name, the RTX 4070 Ti is actually a premium card in terms of price and performance.

The RTX 4070 Ti is the one to beat in RTX 40-Series Top Trumps, with excellent raw performance, and FPS boosts in the latest PC games at 4K at ultra settings. However, the card's DLSS 3 capabilities make it seriously attractive, as party tricks like Frame Generation will help you blitz triple-digit framerates in AAA+ titles. When it comes to energy efficiency, the 4070 Ti truly shines against its cousins in the Lovelace line-up. It boasts a maximum power consumption of just 285W - which is pretty darn impressive. When you compare that to the RTX 3070 Ti (290W) and the RTX 4080 (320W), the 4070 Ti really stands out as the clear winner in terms of power efficiency.

 

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ASUS GeForce RTX 4070 Ti ROG Strix 12GB OC GPU
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CCL Code: VGA6623|
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Unfortunately, those looking for a Founder's Edition of the NVIDIA RTX 4070 Ti will be out of luck. Instead, you'll have to settle for a custom version that has an OC tagged on the end. While you can still find one for around the manufacturer's suggested retail price at the moment, be prepared to pay more for factory-overclocked options such as the ASUS GeForce RTX 4070 Ti TUF 12GB OC GPU.

Look out for the release of the RTX 4060 Ti and RTX 4070 in the near future, which should muddy the waters at this price/performance level and give us some good benchmark comparisons. These new cards could be more budget-friendly options for consumers, but, as of now, the RTX 4070 Ti is still a strong choice for those in need of a high-performing graphics card.

 

  • 12GB Graphics Memory
  • PCI Express 4.0 x16 Interface
  • Cooler Type - WINDFORCE
  • Nvidia GPU Boost Technology
  • Overclocked Edition
  • Outputs - HDMI and Display Port
CCL Code: VGA6656|
Part Number: GV-N407TEAGLE OC-12GD
|Manufacturer: Gigabyte

 

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 - A Budget-Friendly Option

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 is a budget-friendly graphics card that offers a lot of bang for your buck. Priced affordably, it's a great option for those looking to upgrade their gaming PC without breaking the piggy bank open altogether.

One of the biggest selling points of the RTX 3050 is that it doesn't skimp on features, even at its lower price point. It still has access to NVIDIA DLSS, which is a technology that can significantly boost fps in demanding games without sacrificing image quality. Additionally, it offers solid Ray Tracing performance, making it a great option for those who like to play games that support the feature.

 

  • 8GB Graphics Memory
  • PCI Express 4.0 x16 Interface
  • Cooler Type - Dynamic Fan
  • Nvidia GPU Boost Technology
  • Overclocked Edition
  • Outputs - HDMI and Display Port
CCL Code: VGA6430|
Part Number: GV-N3050GAMING OC-8GD
|Manufacturer: Gigabyte
 

 

Another major plus is the RTX 3050's support for NVIDIA Reflex, which can help improve your performance in popular Esports titles.

It's worth noting, however, that the GPU market is a bit unpredictable at the moment. Some custom RTX 3050 models are priced almost as high as an RTX 3060, which could make it difficult for this budget-friendly option to remain competitive in the long run. But if you can snag one at or near the MSRP, the RTX 3050 is a great choice for a modern gaming experience at a fraction of the cost of higher-end alternatives.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 - Still a Winner at Entry Level

If you have been around the CCL blog for long enough, you will have seen me write about its virtues more than once. The RTX 3060 is such a great card that it is hard not to mention it in any mid-tier or even entry level comparisons. With the right combination of CPU and memory, an RTX 3060 is a wonderful experience for most gamers. We're talking creative and gaming headroom, as well as Ray Tracing, DLSS and NVIDIA's other peripheral features that are quite frankly the best in the industry.

The RTX 3060 uses the GA106-300 GPU chip made using the 8nm process from Samsung, with 12 billion resistors inside a compact 276mm² package.

When you take a look inside the chassis (which is not actually recommended), you'll find impressive specs for the price. The chip has 3,584 CUDA cores, 28 RT cores, 112 TMUs, 48 ROPs, and 128 KB of L1 cache per SM. This affords a base clock of 1,360 MHz and a boost clock of 1,777 MHz, but most benchmarks of OC cards are seeing over 1,800 MHz in games.

Even though the RTX 3060 has been on the market for a few years, it's still a great option for anyone looking to build a budget-friendly PC. It's now considered an entry-level GPU and offers great performance if you spent up on the CPU and motherboard aspect. Overall, the RTX 3060 is a great representation of how price and performance can go hand in hand; a no-frills gamer's card that just wants to play good games at 1080p with you.

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX - Next-Gen AMD Performance

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is the company's flagship RDNA 3 graphics card, which aims to compete with NVIDIA's next-gen GeForce GPUs. While it's not quite as powerful as NVIDIA's RTX 4090, it still provides an honest-to-goodness next generation experience that will help your rig run the latest AAA releases with no real downside.

Similar to the RTX 40-Series, the RX 7900 XTX uses AI to ramp up FPS. The technology, called 'Fluid Motion Frames', is not available at launch but it is expected to be released later this year. We have to keep an open chapter on how it compares to NVIDIA's DLSS 3 and Frame Generation technology, but most signs point to a performance boost, especially when used in conjunction with FSR. Additionally, it has the potential to handle native 8K output in the future with its included DisplayPort 2.1 support, which combined with the similar DLSS tech, makes for an excellent feature-set.

 

  • 24GB GDDR6 Graphics Memory
  • PCI Express 4.0 x16 Interface
  • Cooler Type - Waterblock
  • Outputs - HDMI and Display Port
CCL Code: VGA6647|
Part Number: 90-GA40ZZ-00UANF
|Manufacturer: ASRock

 

The RX 7900 XTX is an excellent choice for loyal AMD enthusiasts looking for the best graphics card the company has to offer. It's priced competitively against NVIDIA's options and provides a robust next-gen experience. If you're looking to save some money, the RX 7900 XT is a decent alternative, but for the best performance, it's worth spending the extra cash. Keep an eye out for the Radeon RX 7800 XT, which may arrive with a lower MSRP in the near future.

RTX 3080 - Price vs Performance Hero

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is still a top-of-the-line graphics card that offers a great balance of cost and performance, even though currently in the shadow of the RTX 40-Series. The RTX 3080 is a fully paid-up member of the GA102 fraternity, and though it's not as powerful as the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090, but it's certainly much more budget-friendly.

 

  • 10GB Graphics Memory
  • PCI Express 4.0 x16 Interface
  • Cooler Type - Dynamic Fan
  • Nvidia GPU Boost Technology
  • Outputs - HDMI and Display Port
CCL Code: VGA5883|
Part Number: NED3080019IA-132AA
|Manufacturer: Palit

 

One of the standout features of the RTX 3080 is its impressive framerates, which are a significant improvement even over the already-great NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, RTX 3060 and older RTX 2080 Ti. And, like most people playing games on Steam right now, if you're still thrashing around with a GTX 10-Series card, you're in for a sensory blast. The RTX 3080 comes with a host of NVIDIA features like NVIDIA DLSS, NVIDIA Studio, NVIDIA Reflex and ShadowPlay, giving you a powerful set of tools to enhance your creative, gaming and streaming experiences. This alone is worth the price tag.

It's important to note that the RTX 3080 isn't exactly a budget option and you will of course have to pay more than the suggested retail price for overclocked variants. However, it's still a more affordable option than the RTX 4080, which is priced out for many gamers.

The RTX 3080 is a more practical investment for most people, but if you're willing to wait, the RTX 4070 may offer even better value for your money.

RTX 4090 - Staggering Gaming Performance

This monster of a card has officially dethroned the RTX 3090 Ti, and it's going to take something special to knock it off its perch. If this graphics card was a person, it would be 90% muscle, have no neck, consume protein from dawn to dusk, punch holes in concrete for fun, and ride a lion to work. Every tech journalist in the world has had a lot of fun with the RTX 4090 analogies, and this author is no exception. That's not to say the RTX 4090 is a joke, though. And if it is listening, I'd like to retract my previous statement.

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The AD102 GPU's raw power alone is enough to make any tech enthusiast drool, but when you add in the additional DLSS 3.0 capabilities, it's a game-changer. When it comes to gaming performance, the RTX 4090 is in a league of its own. Reviews and benchmarks have put this behemoth to the test and it has come out on top time and time again. It makes light work of even the most demanding games, such as Cyberpunk 2077, even when running with Ray Tracing and settings ramped up to Ultra. It also adds an extra layer of smoothness to games like Marvel's Spider-Man: Remastered, where the Frame Generation technology was tested early on by Digital Foundry.

In a neat little segue, with great power comes great responsibility, and the RTX 4090 is no exception. To get the most out of this GPU, you'll need to pair it with a high-quality power supply. Older PSUs will also require a PCIe 5.0 adapter to keep up with the power demands of the RTX 4090, and ensure it has enough juice flowing.

The RTX 4090 does come with a premium price tag, which may be a sore spot for some gamers. It's a fair bit more expensive than the RTX 3090 was at launch. However, there's a vast difference in performance between this King Kong of the GPU world and the RTX 4080, and both cost over £1,000.

Okay, so power isn't everything, but if you're looking for a PC that provides ridiculous framerates with no strings attached, the RTX 4090 is your best option; nothing can beat it in overall performance. It's not without its faults, but the experience it delivers is second to none.

And the winner is...

Right now, your money should be on the RTX 4070 Ti. There's little sense in going with the RTX 30-Series when you can spend a wee bit more and attain greatness. With the power efficiencies and raft of inherent features, not to mention gaming and creative strengths, the RTX 4070 Ti is our winner for overall value, price and performance.