There’s never been a better time to get into PC gaming than 2021. With the advent of ray tracing, games are looking better than they ever have, and while the technology isn’t quite ready for the mainstream yet, it’s still worth investing in an RTX card now in order to be ready for games coming down the line. There are so many different options out there for graphics cards that it might be hard to know where to start if you’re building a new rig, or even if you’re getting one custom-built. Here are the best graphics cards we think you can buy in 2021.
Best overall – Nvidia RTX 3080
The RTX 3080 is, hands down, the best graphics card money can buy right now. Its price is significantly lower than the RTX 2080 Ti, which was the leader of the last generation, and its performance is scarily good. The only trouble you’re likely to have right now is getting your hands on one; the semiconductor shortage has meant that Nvidia hasn’t been able to fulfil as many orders as it would like. Still, if you’re a serious gamer, it might be worth hanging on for the RTX 3080 before you complete your build, because it is an absolute monster of a card.
Best budget card – Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti
The RTX 3060 Ti is basically the same machine as the RTX 2080 Super, but it’s going to set you back significantly less. This is a serious gaming card, but it’s also great for browsing platforms like www.casimba.com and having a flutter on some online casino gaming, too. Online casino games aren’t too taxing, so if you’re not going to be putting your rig through its paces, the RTX 3060 Ti will more than suffice. However, don’t let that make you think it’s not a solid gaming card; it’s an absolute beast, and will handle most games at 1080p on Ultra settings without an issue.
Best AMD card – AMD Radeon RX 6800
The AMD Radeon RX 6800 comes at a pretty eye-watering premium, but in exchange for that, you’re getting one of the first AMD cards capable of ray tracing. It’s also a beast of a card that consumes very little power, so if you don’t have a massive power supply in your PC, this might be the option for you. It’s not quite up to scratch with Nvidia’s alternatives – if you want a card with pure power and ray tracing behind it, the RTX range still beats AMD’s cards – but it’s an excellent step forward. If you’re on the Radeon bandwagon and you can’t stand the idea of Nvidia tech, this is the card for you. Just don’t expect it to come cheap.
Best 1080p card – Nvidia GTX 1660 Super
There’s no two ways about it – Nvidia really does rule the roost when it comes to graphics card tech, and the GTX 1660 Super solidifies the company’s reputation. It’s not going to trouble 4k any time soon, but for the vast majority of PC gamers, that’s unlikely to be a major issue. What you’re getting with the 1660 Super is an absolutely superb 1080p card that can also handle some games at 1440p. Playing the very latest titles may give your card a run for its money, but it can comfortably handle esports favourites like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Best when money is no object – Nvidia RTX 3090
If you never need to worry about the money that’s coming out of your account, then the RTX 3090 is the card you should plump for. Considering the price jump over the RTX 3080, the frame rate difference in major games is pretty minimal, but this is the perfect card for you if you love to use graphically intensive programs like Photoshop or Premiere. As a gamer, you might get diminishing returns from it, but again, if you don’t care how much money you’re dropping on a card, the 3090 is absolutely the best option on the market right now.
Best last-gen graphics card – Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti
If you aren’t wowed by the RTX 30 range, then Nvidia’s last-gen RTX 2080 Ti will handle pretty much every game on the market without an issue. Turning on ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077 can result in some pretty eye-watering frame rate drops at times, but the DLSS tech Nvidia pioneered has taken care of that to some extent, and even without ray tracing, most games are gorgeous with this card. Silky-smooth frame rates at 1440p and even 4k in many games should make this card a serious contender, even now. Just remember that you’re going to be breaking the bank for this one.
Best ultra-budget card – AMD Radeon RX 570
PC gamers on a super-tight budget should definitely check out the Radeon RX 570, which can be had for an absolute steal these days and can still comfortably deal with many high-spec games. You won’t be playing Grand Theft Auto V at 60fps on Ultra settings with this card, but you will be getting great value for money and a superb entry-level card if you only want to run games like Minecraft or Roblox. This is also an excellent card for MMO fans, as it’ll handle games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV with nary a complaint.