For playing games at medium or high settings, you don’t need a >$200 graphics card. There are some decent graphics cards both from Nvidia and AMD that will make you able to play the latest games at 768p or even at 1080p on at least medium settings.
If you own a computer where you have a low end or a mid-end CPU like Pentium G4560 or AMD x4 860k, these graphics cards will give you the best performance for your money and these cards are best suited for a budget gaming PC that costs from around $300 to $400. I have listed these cards in ascending order according to the power each card has. So the slowest one is on the top and the fastest one is at the bottom of this article.
Now this year and the last year 2017 is not been good for graphics card since the miners got into the business. Two of the best graphics cards that used to come under $100 are nowhere near it. They are now too expensive. So, you have to settle for some slower ones. But still, these GPU’s will be fine for basic gaming.
Note: If you want the best graphics card for $100 then the last two in the list are fit for you. All the other graphics cards have frequent changes in price and the best value for price can only be achieved with last two GPU’s on the list.
Sapphire Radeon R7 240 2GB DDR3
AMD’s R7 240 is the cheapest and best choice if you really don’t want to spend up to $100 on a graphics card. This graphics card is best for 720p and 768p. There are two versions of this graphics cards: one is the 2gb ddr3 version and one is 1gb gddr5 version. As this is an older generation card, it may or may not be at the stock when you read this article.
With 2gb of ddr3 memory, you can play most of the casual games on 720p and probably at 768p. This card is not meant for 1080p high settings. Remember that it can only run casual games and that too at 720p medium settings if you want smoother frame rates. CSGO, Minecraft, Rocket League will run on this card just perfectly and if you don’t have a good budget then consider starting your gaming experience from here.
Gigabyte RX 550 D5 2GB
RX 550 is the starting point of the RX series of AMD. It’s based on the latest Polaris architecture and is made for the gamers who are really on a very tight budget. People who want to invest $300 in a gaming PC that can run games at 1080p can now have their dreams come true. For around $100, this card is what a $250-$300 gaming build needs.
It has two versions: one is 2gb and the other is 4gb which is a little expensive. I don’t recommend going with a 4gb version because at that price you can buy a better graphics card which is RX 460. But the 2gb version of this card is ideal for people who just want to start gaming at 1080p. If you don’t mind medium settings and some aliasing in the games, then this one is the best thing to go with.
It doesn’t have a PCI connector, so it will draw the power from the motherboard PCI-Ex16 slot and will make your PC much power efficient also making your expense lower by not needing a hefty power supply. You can run it on a cheap power supply easily but I still recommend going at least with a 400 Watts power supply from EVGA or Cooler Master.
This card runs on 128-bit memory interface, has core clock above 1100Mhz and can be overclocked more than 1200Mhz. It can run all the latest games on medium settings at 1080p with 40+fps but it can run some games on high settings with 50+ fps like GTA V, Bioshock Infinite and Battlefield 4. This card is not meant for too much graphical intensive games like The Witcher 3 or Mass effect but you can surely run those at 1080p medium settings with constant 30+fps or even more. For me at a budget of $300 for a gaming PC, I would not mind playing at 40fps on medium settings. It will still be smoother than a lot of games on PS4.
Gigabyte GT 1030 OC 2GB
Nvidia GT 1030 is a low profile card and replaces the previous generation 700 series graphics cards that used to come in this category. As the older cards were no better than the Intel HD graphics, they were just a waste of money. Although, the price of this card is just around $70 but the performance is somewhat equal or near to GTX 750 Ti which was the most popular budget graphics card in previous years.
This card has 2GB of VRAM and most of its versions are low profile. They either have a very basic heatsink and fan or some of them don’t even have a fan because it consumes very less power and generates very less heat. Although, Gigabyte OC edition is a little step up in terms of design so you will get somewhat better temperatures.
This card can play any game at 1080p medium settings. But don’t think that it can give you 60fps. It can give you an average of 40fps in most of the games according to the settings you use and that’s totally playable if you are on a tight budget.