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Looking for the best graphics card for PC gaming to complete your custom build? This guide covers the top five graphics cards for budget gaming PCs in 2023. All of the GPUs on this list are under $500 but still deliver great gaming performance!
Make sure to check out our complete gaming PC building guide to get your PC assembly started on the right track.
Best Graphics Cards for PC Gaming on a Budget
Shopping for a graphics card for PC gaming on a tight budget can be a real challenge. Luckily, the GPU shortage from 2020 and 2021 is finally subsiding, so graphics cards are becoming more affordable again. It’s easier than you might think to find a great GPU under $500 today. These are the top five to choose from, plus an honorable mention option for those on an extra tight budget!
1. A Classic GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super
The GeForce GTX 1660 Super is a staple of budget gaming and for good reason. This GPU has been around for a while now, but it holds up well. It can handle pretty much any game you throw at it, even in 2023. While you may miss out some premium features, like ray tracing and 4K, you can still get a fun and playable experience on modern games.
The GTX 1660 Super can usually be found for around $250 or less, making it one of the most affordable (yet still usable) GPUs on the market today. Make sure to select a model with at least 6GB of memory, though.
2. Best AMD Budget GPU: AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT
NVIDIA graphics cards aren’t for everyone. AMD’s GPUs often manage power more efficiently and tend to offer better value for your money. If you’re looking for a good budget AMD graphics card, the Radeon RX 6600 XT is the way to go. It’s not perfect – it could have more memory and more ports. However, it’s a very energy-efficient GPU and delivers a good value experience for budget gamers. Plus, AMD’s graphics cards are often easier to find in stock than NVIDIA’s.
The RX 6600 XT is usually priced around $380, putting it at the more expensive end of the budget range of GPUs. It does significantly outperform the GTX 1660 Super, though, and even the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050. So, if you have a bit more money available, it is worth considering the RX 6600 XT.
3. Upgrade Budget Pick: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050
The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 is a great GPU that isn’t going to break the bank. It is a more recent graphics card than other budget candidates, like the 1660 Super, so it will likely hold up better year-over-year with modern games.
The RTX 3050 is designed mainly for 1080p resolution, where it can run games on ultra settings with ease. At higher resolutions, FPS begins to drop, but it still delivers a consistently playable experience. This GPU is a significant step up from the 1660 Super, with higher FPS and higher graphics settings. It does have its limits, though – for example, you won’t get a good 4K experience on this card. All around, though, the RTX 3050 is great value for your money, typically found around $300.
4. Mid-Range Pick: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
If you have a bit more money available and want a more powerful GPU, go for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. This is arguably the best GPU you can get under $400 today. In fact, you can often find it new for less than $300. It’s an upgrade from the RTX 3050, offering more memory and faster performance.
The RTX 2060 is NVIDIA’s equivalent to the AMD RX 6600 XT mentioned above, although the RTX 2060 is usually less expensive. It can easily achieve over 100 FPS on high or ultra graphics settings and it’s capable of ray tracing. The RTX 2060 is overall a highly capable, good value GPU that’s a great fit for budget or mid-range builds.
5. King of Mid-Range GPUs: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
Finally, the best graphics card for PC gaming under $500 is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti. This GPU was nearly impossible to find in stock when it came out in 2020, but it is widely available for around $450 to $500 today.
The RTX 3060 Ti is a fantastic choice, delivering the fastest performance you’ll find in this price range, including ray tracing and 4K resolution support. It also manages temperature well, which is always a great feature to have, especially for those who like graphics-intensive games. You’ll be able to play any game you want on high or ultra settings in at least 1080p resolution without worrying about lag or freezing.
Just make sure you confirm that the RTX 3060 Ti is compatible with the rest of your PC build – a weak CPU or lack of adequate RAM could bottleneck a GPU like this and cripple your performance.
Honorable Mention Alternative: Ryzen 5 5600G APU
If the best budget graphics cards for PC gaming mentioned above are a little too pricey for your budget, you can still have a great gaming experience! You don’t need a GPU to build a good gaming PC today. If you’re gaming on a budget, consider skipping a dedicated GPU altogether and opting for a CPU with strong integrated graphics performance.
The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G APU is the king of integrated graphics today. Priced at only $130, this CPU is surprisingly powerful. It can handle most games on medium or higher graphics settings. You might not get 4K, 120 FPS performance, but the 5600G is able to deliver performance similar to a GTX 1650 GPU. It can run popular titles like Jedi: Fallen Order, Skyrim, and the Halo series without any lag or freezing.
Plus, if you do decide to invest in a dedicated GPU later on, the 5600G can function as a normal CPU. Just plug in your new GPU and you’re good to go! As a CPU, the 5600G performs similarly to a Ryzen 5 3600 or Intel Core i5.
The Best Graphics Cards for PC Gaming on a Budget
There are a lot of great graphics cards for PC gaming on the market today. It can be tricky finding one that gives you the performance you need without running up the cost of your custom PC build. These top five GPUs are the best options out there today for $500 or less. There are even super affordable alternatives to buying a dedicated graphics card if you have a tight budget. Any of the GPUs on this list will give you an awesome gaming experience without emptying your wallet!
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