abril 16, 2017

The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

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The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

Gaming on PCs is a serious business. Geeks all over crow about complex shaders, the ability of their system to manage smooth frame rates at higher resolution, and eye-candy settings involving anti-aliasing, shadow rendering, and tessellation. To get any sort of bragging rights, you’re going to need the right graphics card. Luckily, we have our top picks right here.

For the purposes of this story, there are three levels of gaming graphics card we want to highlight: Mainstream Enthusiast, High-End Enthusiast, and Insanity. As you’d expect, Mainstream Enthusiast is where much of the sales happen. This category is where you’ll find the card that you’d want to buy if you’re looking to get worlds-better graphics quality than integrated graphics, but you don’t want to pay a lot of money for it. High-End Enthusiast cards are for those who want to spend more money for more quality, but don’t want to pay the equivalent of a mortgage payment for the privilege. Insanity is where each manufacturer’s flagship graphics card resides, and that’s where the newest, most esoteric features show up first.

There are Budget Enthusiast graphics cards, but we’ve already covered those in another article. since they merit their own closer look. Thus, we’re going to skip them here, since most are either built on older technology, or are so close to the performance of the latest integrated graphics that the only benefit to them would be their inherent multi-monitor support.

Mainstream Enthusiast Cards
Mainstream Enthusiast graphics cards will help you play current AAA titles like Bioshock Infinite, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Titanfall, and older 3D games like Aliens vs. Predator and Half Life 2. Basically, you want a Mainstream Enthusiast card if you want to play at the full resolution of your monitor (likely 1,920 by 1,080) with some, but not all the eye candy turned on, or you want to play smoothly at a lower resolution (such as 1,600 by 900 or 1,366 by 768) with all the eye candy turned on.

High-End Enthusiast Cards
This category is where things get interesting. These used to be the flagship models for each manufacturer, but thanks to improved quality control and experimentation, the cards that used to be the highest of high end are now categorized as merely high end. These are the cards you’d be expected to pay over $300 and up to $600 for. They are based on the latest GPU technology, but might not be the ultimate expression of each manufacturer’s fabrication plants. These are the cards to get if you want to play at 1,920-by-1,080 or 2,560-by-1,600 resolution with all the bells and whistles turned on.

Cards of Insanity
These are the cards that gamers dream of. They are made from cherry-picked GPU samples that are tested to make sure they can achieve the massive throughput and calculations that gamers ask of them. You’ll find the highest performance, fastest graphics memory, and most display ports in these cards. The utmost flagship cards from each manufacturer are expected to sell in the hundreds to low thousands, but they do their job by enticing gamers into buying the high-end and mainstream graphics cards “built on the same silicon” as these insane specimens. For example, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti is built using the same GK110 GPU found in the EVGA GTX Titan Black graphics card. These are the cards to use if you want to do that surround-gaming thing. You know, the gaming rigs on which people use three to six monitors to play a game at insane resolutions like 5,760 by 2,160 or 6,000 by 1,920. And of course, the eye candy is ramped way up on these cards. If you feel like playing games on the virtual equivalent of an IMAX screen, these are the cards to get.

Thanks to the market economy, you can often find these cards online for a lot less than list price. We also recommend that you use these reviews as a basis for narrowing down your choices, then check online for which card best suits your desires and budget. Game on!

FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP

MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G

$299
%displayPrice% at %seller% The MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G is for gamers who want more muscle in their game play than what entry-level graphics cards can provide. It’s the best choice for those looking to upgrade to a higher-end GPU. Read the full review ››

AMD Radeon R9 270X

$199 list
%displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 270X is a great GPU for those who can’t afford luxury models but want strong 1080p performance. Read the full review ››

AMD Radeon R9 290

$399
%displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 290 offers virtually the same features and performance of higher-end graphics cards for much less money. Read the full review ››

Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti

$699.99
%displayPrice% at %seller% If you’ve got the money to spend, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card offers a great overall experience in mainstream gaming. Read the full review ››

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290

$600
%displayPrice% at %seller% Users comfortable with water-cooling will find a lot to love in the VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290 graphics card. Read the full review ››

AMD Radeon R9 295X2

$1,499.99
%displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is an incredible high-end, multi-core GPU that will really come into its own when 4K gaming becomes more commonplace. Read the full review ››

EVGA GTX Titan Black

$1,019
%displayPrice% at %seller% The EVGA Titan Black’s features are aimed specifically at hardcore gamers and those who deal in high-performance computing applications—but within that small slice of the market, this is an excellent high-end graphics card. Read the full review ››

PCMag may earn affiliate commissions from the shopping links included on this page. These commissions do not affect how we test, rate or review products.
To find out more, read our complete terms of use .

Matthew Murray got his humble start leading a technology-sensitive life in elementary school, where he struggled to satisfy his ravenous hunger for computers, computer games, and writing book reports in Integer BASIC. He earned his B.A. in Dramatic Writing at Western Washington University, where he also minored in Web design and German. He has been building computers for himself and others for more than 20 years, and he spent several years working in IT and helpdesk capacities before escaping into the far more exciting world. More »

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    The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

    The Best Graphics Cards for Gaming

    Gaming on PCs is a serious business. Geeks all over crow about complex shaders, the ability of their system to manage smooth frame rates at higher resolution, and eye-candy settings involving anti-aliasing, shadow rendering, and tessellation. To get any sort of bragging rights, you’re going to need the right graphics card. Luckily, we have our top picks right here.

    For the purposes of this story, there are three levels of gaming graphics card we want to highlight: Mainstream Enthusiast, High-End Enthusiast, and Insanity. As you’d expect, Mainstream Enthusiast is where much of the sales happen. This category is where you’ll find the card that you’d want to buy if you’re looking to get worlds-better graphics quality than integrated graphics, but you don’t want to pay a lot of money for it. High-End Enthusiast cards are for those who want to spend more money for more quality, but don’t want to pay the equivalent of a mortgage payment for the privilege. Insanity is where each manufacturer’s flagship graphics card resides, and that’s where the newest, most esoteric features show up first.

    There are Budget Enthusiast graphics cards, but we’ve already covered those in another article. since they merit their own closer look. Thus, we’re going to skip them here, since most are either built on older technology, or are so close to the performance of the latest integrated graphics that the only benefit to them would be their inherent multi-monitor support.

    Mainstream Enthusiast Cards
    Mainstream Enthusiast graphics cards will help you play current AAA titles like Bioshock Infinite, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Titanfall, and older 3D games like Aliens vs. Predator and Half Life 2. Basically, you want a Mainstream Enthusiast card if you want to play at the full resolution of your monitor (likely 1,920 by 1,080) with some, but not all the eye candy turned on, or you want to play smoothly at a lower resolution (such as 1,600 by 900 or 1,366 by 768) with all the eye candy turned on.

    High-End Enthusiast Cards
    This category is where things get interesting. These used to be the flagship models for each manufacturer, but thanks to improved quality control and experimentation, the cards that used to be the highest of high end are now categorized as merely high end. These are the cards you’d be expected to pay over $300 and up to $600 for. They are based on the latest GPU technology, but might not be the ultimate expression of each manufacturer’s fabrication plants. These are the cards to get if you want to play at 1,920-by-1,080 or 2,560-by-1,600 resolution with all the bells and whistles turned on.

    Cards of Insanity
    These are the cards that gamers dream of. They are made from cherry-picked GPU samples that are tested to make sure they can achieve the massive throughput and calculations that gamers ask of them. You’ll find the highest performance, fastest graphics memory, and most display ports in these cards. The utmost flagship cards from each manufacturer are expected to sell in the hundreds to low thousands, but they do their job by enticing gamers into buying the high-end and mainstream graphics cards “built on the same silicon” as these insane specimens. For example, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti is built using the same GK110 GPU found in the EVGA GTX Titan Black graphics card. These are the cards to use if you want to do that surround-gaming thing. You know, the gaming rigs on which people use three to six monitors to play a game at insane resolutions like 5,760 by 2,160 or 6,000 by 1,920. And of course, the eye candy is ramped way up on these cards. If you feel like playing games on the virtual equivalent of an IMAX screen, these are the cards to get.

    Thanks to the market economy, you can often find these cards online for a lot less than list price. We also recommend that you use these reviews as a basis for narrowing down your choices, then check online for which card best suits your desires and budget. Game on!

    FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP

    MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G

    $299
    %displayPrice% at %seller% The MSI R9 280X Gaming 3G is for gamers who want more muscle in their game play than what entry-level graphics cards can provide. It’s the best choice for those looking to upgrade to a higher-end GPU. Read the full review ››

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    AMD Radeon R9 270X

    $199 list
    %displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 270X is a great GPU for those who can’t afford luxury models but want strong 1080p performance. Read the full review ››

    AMD Radeon R9 290

    $399
    %displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 290 offers virtually the same features and performance of higher-end graphics cards for much less money. Read the full review ››

    Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti

    $699.99
    %displayPrice% at %seller% If you’ve got the money to spend, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card offers a great overall experience in mainstream gaming. Read the full review ››

    VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290

    $600
    %displayPrice% at %seller% Users comfortable with water-cooling will find a lot to love in the VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290 graphics card. Read the full review ››

    AMD Radeon R9 295X2

    $1,499.99
    %displayPrice% at %seller% The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 is an incredible high-end, multi-core GPU that will really come into its own when 4K gaming becomes more commonplace. Read the full review ››

    EVGA GTX Titan Black

    $1,019
    %displayPrice% at %seller% The EVGA Titan Black’s features are aimed specifically at hardcore gamers and those who deal in high-performance computing applications—but within that small slice of the market, this is an excellent high-end graphics card. Read the full review ››

    PCMag may earn affiliate commissions from the shopping links included on this page. These commissions do not affect how we test, rate or review products.
    To find out more, read our complete terms of use .

    Matthew Murray got his humble start leading a technology-sensitive life in elementary school, where he struggled to satisfy his ravenous hunger for computers, computer games, and writing book reports in Integer BASIC. He earned his B.A. in Dramatic Writing at Western Washington University, where he also minored in Web design and German. He has been building computers for himself and others for more than 20 years, and he spent several years working in IT and helpdesk capacities before escaping into the far more exciting world. More »

    More Stories by Matthew

    The Lenovo Ideapad 110S is a frill-free $200 laptop that’s good enough for basic use, but not much m. More »

  • AMD’s new flagship desktop processor, the Ryzen 7 1800X, brings highly multithreaded performance int. More »

  • Loaded with AMD’s new flagship Ryzen 7 1800X CPU, the CyberPower Gamer Master Ultra is a compelling. More »

    Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology. More »

    More Stories by Joel

    The latest Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a very thin, light, and powerful laptop that lasts nearly 16. More »

  • The Lenovo IdeaCentre Y710 is a compact gaming desktop that’s ready for full HD and VR gaming. It’s. More »

  • With its brilliant 4K screen and updated components, Dell’s latest XPS 15 Touch (9560) is a powerful. More »

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