Gaming without spending hundreds of dollars is very possible in 2022, thanks to the budget graphics cards we have this year from AMD, Nvidia, and Intel joining the market soon.
A budget graphics card for some people falls in the range of $80-$120 while for some, it may be above $150. We currently have a lot of Budget GPUs from both manufacturers ranging from $80 up to $300. This provides good flexibility to build gaming PCs with a wide range of budgets.
Here is a list of the top 8 best budget graphics cards in 2022 which provide excellent value per dollar spent and are capable of playing most of the games at 1080p with smooth frame rates on medium to ultra settings.
MSI Geforce GT 1030 AERO ITX 2G OC
There are currently two versions of the GT 1030. One is with the GDDR5 memory and the other one is with GDDR4. Make sure you don’t buy the second one as it is way slower. The MSI GT 1030 Aero is an excellent budget graphics card that easily fits in most mini-ITX cases and won’t pose a problem like the two fan cards.
It is made with 384 Cuda Cores and features 2GB of VRAM that has a bandwidth of 48GB/s which is almost 4 times the one with the GDDR4 memory. As a very cheap card, you can’t expect it to max out the settings at 1080p resolution. Somewhat between 720p and 900p is recommended for gaming with it and you can put the settings on medium for fairly good graphics.
If you want to play at 1080p, then remember to put all the settings to the low otherwise you won’t be able to play most games. Currently, it’s the only sub $100 card which is meant for playing games. Going below it is not recommended as they are not meant for gaming, but rather for providing display only.
PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 550 Low Profile
From AMD’s side, we have the RX 550 which is a little more powerful GPU than the GT 1030. It features 4GB of GDDR5 memory that is clocked at 7Gbps and has 640 stream processors to execute the graphics operations. It’s roughly 5% faster than the GT 1030 and due to the higher VRAM, it can allow you to increase some graphics settings such as Textures, Anti-Aliasing, shadows, foliage, etc. depending upon the game you play.
While not a great deal-breaker, it’s still a good starter for those who never had a hands-on gaming PC and want to start with something that fits the budget and gets the job done.
PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 6400 ITX
Finding a good budget GPU under $200 is right now the most difficult task until AMD launched the RX 6400. It might look just like any other entry-level GPU for gaming but it is currently the only best card for $160. Not only you can buy it for MSRP but you can play games at 1080p medium-high settings.
This GPU, however, suffers the same fate as its elder sibling, the RX 6500 XT, but despite that, it beats the GTX 1650 for the same price. It features 768 Stream Processors and clock speeds that start at 2039MHz up to 2321MHz. With 4GB of GDDR6 memory, you can ensure up to high settings in most AAA titles without the fear of bottlenecking on the VRAM’s part lastly, it is super power-efficient and can fit in almost any compact case due to being a single-slot GPU.
PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT ITX
Before you freak out, let me just clear a few things. Indeed, the RX 6500 XT is one of the worst graphics cards but currently, we have no other option for around $200-$220 except for the 6500 XT. RX 580/590, and GTX 1650 Super are no longer available for less than $200. The RX 6500 XT despite its big limitations is faster than the GTX 1650 and Super edition and therefore, under some conditions it is a good choice.
It can provide 60 fps in most games at 1080p on high settings. The problem here is the PCI-E lanes bandwidth which is limited to only 4. This makes it only better on motherboards that come with PCI-E Gen 4.0 support and therefore if you have a motherboard that doesn’t have this feature, it’s better to avoid this card.
It comes with 4GB of GDDR6 VRAM, 1024 Stream processors, and a boost clock of more than 2800MHz. It is power-efficient and requires a single 6-pin power connector. This will be a fine choice for $200 with any budget gaming processor like the i3 12100F or any latest Ryzen CPU under $150.
Related- Best Budget Gaming Motherboards
Asus TUF Gaming GeForce GTX 1650
The GTX 1650 is one of the best choices if you can get it for around $150. Surely, it is slower than the RX 6500 XT but at least it is not limited by the PCI-E lanes bandwidth. It is based on the Turing architecture and for a few years, it has been very successful in the budget gaming segment.
It can play almost any game at 1080p high settings but not every game can reach 60 fps. I prefer it for eSports games more than AAA titles and it can do a really good job in those less graphically intensive games. It comes with 896 Cuda Cores and 4GB of GDDR6 memory that is sufficient for most graphics settings at 1080p but may not be adequate for every game you play.
The great thing about this card is that it doesn’t require any external power supply as it comes with a TDP of only 75W which can be supplied by the PCI-E x16 slot on the motherboard itself. So, go ahead with this card if you can get it for $150.
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super
GTX 1660 Super is one of the best addition to Nvidia’s catalog that is faster than the GTX 1660 and provides much more than 60 fps at 1080p. I previously listed down GTX 1660 Ti as a recommendation but GTX 1660 Super is only a little bit behind it and the price difference is significant.
GTX 1660 Super features 6GB of GDDR6 memory with 1408 Cuda Cores and a boost clock of 1785MHz on the reference edition. This card is significantly faster than the RX 6500 XT giving around 10-30% better performance depending upon the title. It can easily max out any game at 1080p and still give you consistent 60 fps.
This card can also play most of the games at 1440p with high settings with around 60 fps. If it’s available for around $250 in your region, then there is no other better budget graphics card for this price and you should combine it with something like i3 12100F or i5 12400F for getting the most out of your money.
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3050 Twin Edge OC
The Geforce RTX 3050 is the latest addition to the Ampere family. Nvidia launched this for 1080p gamers, which is faster than the GTX 1650. However, the pricing is higher than it should be. Initially launched for $250, this card is not available for less than $300 anywhere and the performance is very similar to GTX 1660 Super.
However, as of today, both the GPUs can’t be found for $250 and it is recommended that you buy the RTX 3050 if it is only a few more bucks costlier than the 1660 Super in your region. It is faster in a lot of things than the 1660 Super like Ray Tracing. It is the cheapest GPU that can perform Ray Tracing and thankfully, the card is not crappy like the Turing series.
It can provide you with 40-60 fps in most titles with DLSS On at 1080p with Ray Tracing. It comes with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM that is more than sufficient for 1080p as well as 1440p resolutions and is made up of 2560 Cuda Cores that rapidly execute graphical operations. It is definitely a top choice for budget gaming CPUs if you can get one under $300.
XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600 CORE Gaming
Last but not the least, the Radeon RX 6600 can be crowned as the best budget graphics card for $300. Not only it is priced well but it beats the GTX 1660 Super and RTX 3050 for almost the same or less price. It straight away puts the RTX 3050 to shame in gaming by providing 30-40% higher performance in most games. It can max out games at 1080p resolution and is capable of handling AAA titles even at 1440p.
Not only that but it is also capable of Ray Tracing, thanks to RDNA 2 architecture, the RX 6600 is a beast card with low power consumption with just 132W of TDP. It comes with 1792 SPs and clock speeds ranging from 2.0-2.5GHz. It gives you a good 8GB of GDDR6 VRAM that is adequate for ultra settings in graphically intensive games and thus, you don’t need to look further if you are trying to settle down with a $300 card.
Things To Know Before Buying A GPU
Determine your budget and need
Make sure before you buy a graphics card, you know your budget. You can have $100 or even $500 for buying a GPU but if you are going to build a completely new PC then defining and distributing the expenditure between different components is a little difficult. If you are buying a new PC, then make sure you don’t buy an overkill graphics card for your CPU. A Pentium processor can’t handle RTX 3070 or GTX 2080 Ti. Similarly, a GT 1030 is too weak for an i7 10700K.
Another important thing is to define your requirements. Without knowing what you want, you can either overspend or underspend on your graphics card. If you are just starting and want to enjoy some eSports or Casual games then a budget graphics card will be enough for the job. But in case you want to enjoy the games on ultra textures at 1080p or higher resolution then you will need to buy higher-end graphics cards like GTX 2060 or RTX 3060 Ti etc.
How much VRAM you will need?
VRAM is the memory that is different from the main system RAM and is only dedicated to providing the horsepower your graphics need. Every dedicated Graphics card has some dedicated VRAM which now in modern GPUs can vary from 1GB up to 16GB. To play games on higher settings at 1080p at least, you need to have at least around 3-4GB VRAM on your Graphics card. If you go lower than that, then you may have to lower down some of the settings in your games for getting good frames per second.
If you want to max out textures, anti-aliasing, foliage, shadows, etc. in a AAA game, then you will need at least 6GB of VRAM that is present in GTX 1660 and higher-end Graphics cards. Right now, I don’t know of any game that utilizes more than that except in the case of higher resolution like 4K.
Cooling is essential for graphics cards
Low Profile graphics cards have smaller heatsinks and therefore aren’t efficient in maintaining good temperatures if you overclock them but graphics cards with bigger aluminum heatsinks with copper heat pipes with 2 or more fans are extremely important for maintaining good temperature even while overclocking to the full potential. If you are not doing any type of overclocking, you should still make sure that your PC chassis has enough ventilation for proper air intake and exhaust.
How much wattage you will need?
Different graphics cards have different TDPs and their power consumption varies. So, you need to check the graphics card’s TDP before buying it. Make sure your power supply is having enough wattage capacity to run your whole system without any bottleneck.
A system that uses low-end or budget components will have no problem running on a 400 watts reliable power supply but when it comes to running an RTX 3080, i7 12700K, Multiple Fans, AIO coolers, and several storage devices, then you will need a higher wattage power supply. Make sure you check the TDP of all of your components and see if your PSU still has enough wattage capacity to power your Graphics card.
Another important thing to note is the graphics card power ports. Make sure your Power supply has those power connectors that your graphics card requires. A GPU with a 6-pin port will use a 6-pin power connector from the power supply. Generally, almost all the budget power supplies in the modern day have a 6-pin power connector at the minimum. If your graphics card has 2x 8-pin power ports, your PSU must have those to run the graphics card with stability.
GPU should be compatible with the monitor
Sometimes a particular graphics card from a different manufacturer will not have the I/O ports for connectivity as your monitor requires to show the display. Check the I/O ports at the back of your monitor and also the I/O ports of the graphics card you are buying.
If your monitor is a 144Hz gaming monitor, then you must have a DVI port or a DP port on your monitor/GPU to get those 144Hz refresh rate smoothness. Make sure both your graphics card and monitor have these ports to avoid mishappening.