When it comes to gaming PCs, you doubtlessly would know the importance of a good Graphics Card (GC). Regardless of whether you are purchasing a gaming PC or putting one together yourself, you definitely want to look at the best cheap graphics cards for gaming.
However, before choosing a GPU, there are multiple factors you must pay attention to. These include the size of the computer case, the monitor type, the budget and the performance you require from your PC. If you are constructing a gaming PC yourself with high-quality components suited for your gaming requirements, you will need to pay attention to the ventilation available to the GPU in the chosen computer chassis as well. Our informative guide will tell you everything you need to know about purchasing the best cheap gaming graphics cards.
Graphics Card Buying Guide
NVIDIA or AMD?
Before you decide to buy a graphics card, the one thing you should know is that although the market is filled with loads of options for you to choose from, all graphics cards consist of components that are made by either AMD or Nvidia. Both companies have their own merits, such as AMD offers upper and mid-range cards at an affordable rate. However, their GPUs are less power efficient than the new Nvidia graphics cards.
If you are looking for a superior quality graphics card, then you will find that Nvidia is undisputedly the better option. Therefore, choosing between either company will ultimately depend on three factors – your preference, your budget, and what technology your gaming PC monitor supports, AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync.
This is important for you to know because the wrong graphics card will affect the refreshing rate between your GPU and the display, and may result in tearing. However, if your gaming PC monitor does not support either of the two technologies, then you can go with your own preference according to your budget.
Talking about the budget, you will find graphics cards prices ranging from $100 to $1,200+ in the market. The low-end graphics cards will not render a quality image, so better to go for a mid-range GPU. If you are on a tight budget, you can still find satisfactory quality cheap gaming graphics cards for a few hundred dollars.
If you are building your own gaming PC, you must also keep in mind that though a graphics card is more important than the CPU in terms of visual performance, if you buy an expensive card with a low-end CPU, it will impact your gaming sessions negatively because the system will deliver lower frame rates.
What To Keep In Mind When Choosing A Graphics Card
You will find many cheap graphics cards producers in the market such as EVGA, Gigabyte, and Asus. All these different companies use either AMD or Nvidia components to put together their cards. However, this does not mean that all graphics cards are ultimately the same since they may have similar parts.
In fact, these all differ from each other on the basis of the type of heat sink used, the memory type, bandwidth, speed and other factors that can either enhance or diminish your gaming experience. Thus, you must carefully look at each factor mentioned below before buying a graphics card.
1. Graphic Card Compatibility
Before buying cheap graphics cards, there are three factors you must pay attention to.
- Space Available in the Computer Chassis – Measure and write down the space available for your graphics card in the chassis. This will make sure you do not run into a situation where you buy graphics card that ends up being longer, wider or thicker as per space available in your computer case. That said, you can easily find one that fits into the space accessible in the case. Graphics cards are present in slim, single slot, dual slot, and triple slot versions. If you have two slots available in your computer chassis, a full-size graphics card will fit. However, make sure that the GC you buy does not have a very big heatsink and fan. It may require a third slot to fit as well. In case your motherboard is a small Mini ITX one, you will have to buy a small sized graphics card, around 8 inches long.
- Power Supply Unit Compatibility – Take a look at the power supply unit too. Make sure you know, how many amps it can deliver on 12V rails, what is the power output rating, and the number of six and eight-pin PCIe connectors. Most good quality graphics cards require more than 75 watts delivered by the PCIe connectors, which is why multiple supplementary connectors are important. If the power supply unit does not have supplementary PCIe connectors, you will need to either upgrade or buy an adapter that will provide the required additional power supply through SATA or Molex connectors.
- Type of Ports Available – Note the type of ports available on your Monitor such as DisplayPort, HDMI, or DVI. When you buy graphics card, ensure that it has the same type of ports; else, you will have to buy an adapter to link the two together for an additional cost. Write this information down on a piece of paper, and remember to keep it with you when you go shopping for cheap graphics cards for your gaming PC. If the requirements of the GC do not match with the available specifications, you may have to choose another or decide on upgrading either your power supply unit or your computer chassis.
2. System Platform
The system available on your computer plays an important role in the choice of a GC. For instance, if you are working with an earlier, dual-core CPU such as Pentium or Celeron, it will not be able to perform optimally with an expensive, superior quality graphics card such as Nvidia RTX.
Thus, in such a case, it will be preferable for you to stick to the mid-range graphics card, which will allow for better performance and experience. Your computer hardware must also be compatible with the cheap graphics cards you want to buy. For instance, if your display has a maximum resolution of 1280 x 1024, you should not go for an expensive graphics card.
On the other hand, if you want to set up a gaming station with three 1080p resolution monitors, an intermediate range card will not supply the required framerates for a 3D gaming experience. The same is true if you are using a 4K resolution monitor. Additionally, if the monitor you are using cranks out triple-digit refresh rates, you have to pair it with a high-quality graphics card to perform at its optimum potential.
3. Memory Amount of The Graphics Card
When you go to buy graphics card, you may be under the impression that the more memory a video card has, the better performance it will deliver. However, that is only true for high -resolution displays such as 4K, which require 8GB memory graphics cards. For 1080p resolution, a card with a memory of 3 to 4 GB is enough to provide a good gaming experience.
4. The Graphics Card Bandwidth
The GC’s bandwidth is more important than the memory. The reason is the data that requires processing by the GC is stored on the card’s separate memory such as the GDDR3 and the GDDR5. The rate at which the data is read or stored into this secondary memory is called the memory bandwidth. The GDDR5 is capable of delivering double the bandwidth compared to the GDDR3 at the same clocking rate.
5. Nvidia CUDA Cores or AMD Stream Processors
CUDA is a parallel computing platform Nvidia uses to program its CUDA cores that enhance the GPU’s performance. The CUDA cores work same as the AMD Stream Processors do. Higher the number of processing units in the GPU, the better is the visual performance.
6. TDP Values
The graphics card also generates heat while working, the same way the CPU does. This heat must have a mechanism to dissipate, otherwise, it affects the working of the GC. The TDP value signifies the power required to maintain the temperature of the graphics processing unit at the optimum level. The lower the TDP value, the less heat the GPU creates. When you buy graphics card, choose the one with the lower TDP value.
7. Clocking Speed Of The Graphics Card
Although all GCs are made with components from the two big companies, even cards made with exactly the same components can differ in clocking speed. This is because some manufacturers choose to overclock the GPU to a marginally higher clocking speed. However, this only makes a little difference in the frame rate. Therefore, if you desire better performance, you must opt for a high-quality cheap graphics card.
8. Whether The Graphics Card Supports VR Or Not?
If you plan to use a PC VR platform such as HTC Vive or Oculus Rift for gaming, you will require an intermediate to high-quality GC to support your VR gaming.
9. Dual Graphics Cards Or Single?
If you install multiple graphics cards in your gaming PC, it will result in enhanced gaming performance and visuals as compared to one graphics card. However, in order to game with multiple graphics cards, you must have either AMD’s Crossfire graphics solution or Nvidia’s SLI, as well as a suitable motherboard with the required PCIe slots.
The main advantage of using two or more graphics cards is better gaming performance. When multiple video cards share the processing duties between themselves, this increases the frame rate as well as allows the GPUs to work at a higher resolution than either GPU alone. This will enable you to game at a 4K resolution or game on multiple monitors in surround.
Another advantage of using multiple GCs is that it allows you to enhance the gaming performance of your current graphics card with another same range card without upgrading to a more expensive one.
On the other hand, instead of spending money on a second cheap graphics card, you can just choose to buy a better quality single GC that could provide you with better performance than two low quality graphics cards. Additionally, not all games show an improvement when processed by multiple GCs. Some games may even show decreased performance or even start stuttering. Thus, if you want to fit dual cheap graphics cards in your gaming PC, make sure to consider the pros and cons beforehand.
6 Cheap Graphics Cards For Gaming
Regardless of whether you are building your own gaming PC or looking to buy just a graphics card to enhance your gaming sessions, you would want to buy cheap gaming graphics card that delivers the best performance. Well, below you can find our list of the 6 cheap graphics cards for gaming. We have reviewed the performance of each to help you make an informed decision.
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC
The EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC is one of the best cheap graphics cards for gaming since it is an entry-level product from the GTX 10 line. Priced at $189.99, it comes with Nvidia’s Pascal technology and has a 75W graphics processing unit, which does not require a secondary power connection. This means that this cheap graphics card, which is factory overclocked, can deliver medium to high-quality images at 1080p resolution. Physically, it is compact and does not generate a lot of noise. This cheap graphics card comes with a three-year warranty as well.
Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC
Gigabyte introduces another entry-level graphics card into the market with its GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC. Listed on second of our cheap graphics cards list for gaming, it costs $169.99. The price makes it an affordable video card providing good image quality. With 4GB RAM, the card is capable of supplying an immersive gaming session with 1080p resolution.
The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti OC is available in a custom design PCB and uses a Windforce 2X cooler to keep its temperature at 65 degrees Celsius, which is a reasonable level. The cooling fan does not generate any noise at around 33 dBA. With a TDP of 75W at full working, it does not produce much heat either.
ASUS Cerberus GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Priced at $164.99, the Asus Cerberus GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is one of the cheap graphics cards for gaming. With 4GB of RAM Physically, it is 17 cm long with a monoblock aluminum heatsink.
This heatsink is provided with ventilation by two IP5X certified, dust-resistant fans measuring 80mm. The Cerberus GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is powered by a 3+1 phase VRM and Asus Super Alloy Power II choke coils. The card also requires only the PCIe slots for power and is factory overclocked.
MSI Computer Video Graphic Cards GeForce GTX 1050 TI
Produced with Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, the MSI GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is an intermediate range video card, which provides you with one of the best image qualities in the best cheap gaming graphics cards category. It can support a 1080p G-Sync display monitor and is capable of supporting VR technology including Multi-Res Shading. It does not require PCIe connectors for power. In fact, it obtains its 75W from the PCIe x16 port on the PC motherboard. If the GC was overclocked, it would have required one additional PCIe power connector.
The Msi GeForce GTX 1050 Ti generates very little heat, and the Twin Frozr cooling technology fans only work to cool it down and maintain a temperature of 63 degrees Celsius during intense gaming sessions. This means that it produces almost no noise. With this technology, the GC is priced slightly higher than all other cheap graphics cards on this list. However, it is still within the affordable range, at $199.00.
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
Produced with the brand new Polaris architecture, the XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX is equipped with 4th generation GCN graphics core, a contemporary display engine, advanced multimedia cores, and Next FinFET 14 process technology. This, coupled with the $218.95 price tag, puts this video card into the upper range of best cheap graphics cards for gaming.
It is kept at an optimum temperature during processing by the XFX Double Dissipation Cooling Technology. The GC requires a minimum of 500W to power it and can also support smooth VR gaming when combined with the AMD LiquidVR technology. It also has a higher RAM memory than all other cheap graphics cards for gaming on this list.
Sapphire 11265-07-20G Radeon Nitro+ RX 580
The Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 580, priced at $189.99, is one of the most affordable and cheap gaming graphics cards available in the market for gamers looking to enhance their gaming experience. It has improved performance as compared to the Radeon RX 480, however, the latter is overclocked as well as more efficiently cooled. However, if you have an older graphics card and want to upgrade, you should go ahead and buy the RX 580 Nitro+. Sapphire also added a 6+8 pin PCIe power connector to accommodate for the increased performance. These connectors are placed above the video card, behind the larger heat pipes. This puts them in a slightly awkward position due to reduced accessibility.
This AMD Radeon graphics card works well for 1080p resolution as well as 1440p resolution and supplies 60FPS on both resolutions. The Radeon Chill integrated graphics card thus delivers an immersive gaming session without using too much power and results in an overall performance that rivals some of the more expensive cards in the $300 range. The graphics card also supports VR gaming.