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Graphics cards are more powerful than they’ve ever been. Nvidia and AMD have been at it for a long time, but Team Green has been constantly on top when it comes to high-end graphics cards. If you’re an enthusiast gamer, you’ll want to acquire the best of the best out there. You better be ready a big budget though, as a high-end GPU will undoubtedly be the most expensive part of your gaming rig.
Best High-end Graphics Cards Reviewed
It’s a strange time to build a PC at the moment. Nvidia has a monopoly in the graphics card industry, and their enthusiast level products are simply unmatched. There’s no real competition from AMD at the moment, and that’s encouraged Nvidia to hike the prices up to crazy levels.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that Nvidia makes sensational enthusiast graphics cards, constantly topping charts for the longest time. Their dominance has sustained for nearly a decade, and it’s because their products are indeed very high quality.
We look at the three best enthusiast level high-end graphics cards available right now and review them in this article.
If money isn’t an issue and you want the absolute best, there is simply no competition for the RTX 2080 Ti right now. It leaves every other card ever made miles behind.
Quick Review: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti
- Architecture: Turing
- (Boost) Clock Speed: 1665MHz
- Memory Speed: 14000MHz effective
- RAM: 11GB GDDR6
- TDP: 260 watts+
You might be on the fence about Nvidia’s newest, latest series of ray-tracing graphics cards. They’ve received much criticism for being too expensive and too weak in ray tracing performance to make it practical on higher resolutions. Additionally, ray tracing simply isn’t available in most videogames at the moment.
Yet it’s hard to deny the brilliance of the RTX 2080 Ti even if you are a big critic of Nvidia’s latest line of GPUs. The RTX 2080 Ti costs a ridiculous fortune and requires a powerful PSU to run, but it’s simply the best graphics card ever made for gaming. It’s arguably the only graphics card in the RTX line that doesn’t get severely affected when ray tracing is enabled in videogames that support it. The RTX 2080 Ti is also undoubtedly the only GPU that can run any game at 60fps on 4K resolution with all the settings maxed out.
Gaming at 4K with any graphics card at full settings was thought to be nearly impossible (if you wanted stable 60fps) until this card arrived on the market last November. Although Nvidia’s Ti suffix usually indicates a slight performance increase between the basic model and the Ti one, the difference in specs and performance between the 2080 Ti and the regular 2080 is huge.
Sure, perhaps it’s not prudent to invest an additional $400 for the 2080 Ti if the regular one meets most of your requirements, but the difference is there, and it’s especially evident when playing with ray tracing enabled or at 4K resolution. It’s thanks to a nearly double the amount of CUDA cores, roughly 180 more AI-driven tensor cores, and 12 more ray-tracing cores. All that combines with much larger memory capacity and bandwidth to deliver incredible performance in any kind of test, synthetic or real.
Having said all that, the price of admission for the RTX 2080 Ti is astronomical not just because of its own insane price tag, but because you’ll need to give it the required assistance with other components as well. There’s no point running this monstrous graphics card if you don’t own a 4K monitor, which themselves are extremely pricey. Additionally, you’ll want to pair this behemoth with at least a Core i7 8700K or 9700K, invest heavily on a high-quality PC case (these cards are long), and a powerful PSU around the 750 watts mark to make use of its raw power.
This heavy investment is the biggest negative with this graphics card. Board partners like ASUS, MSI, Zotac, Gigabyte, EVGA, and others further make things more complicated with their elevated prices due to custom cooler designs and factory overclocked specs.
Nevertheless, this is an undeniably powerful piece of tech that is streets ahead of anything else on the market right now. The RTX 2080 Ti is the top dog graphics card, and there is simply no competition to it.
Nvidia RTX 2070 Super
The best series of graphics cards just got a significant boost that it needed for the price point of the original. The Nvidia RTX 2070 Super fully utilizes the power of Turing architecture and provides the best graphics that competes with the next in line RTX 2080 on a $300 discount.
If you do not have enough for an RTX 2080, but want the same kind of performance as one, then the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super is the card for you.
A huge improvement on the vanilla RTX 2070, the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super, which was released alongside with the RTX 2060 Super, is a great graphics card. Although it does not increase the memory size of the GPU or the transfer rate, it has a 10-15% performance upgrade thanks to the increased number of CUDA cores.
When the original line of RTX cards was introduced, the gamers complained that the RTX 2060 and RTX 2070 fell very short in comparison with the RTX 2080. While Nvidia seems to have addressed the gaming community’s concern, it seems they were awfully late in doing so. However, better late than never as the RTX 2070 Super competes with the RTX 2080 when it comes to performance.
Though it is not a great card for 4K gaming, it significantly performs better than the previous card. Still does not mean it will support games in 4K on ultra-settings flawlessly, though it gives way better frames than the vanilla card did. You can play almost all games in the highest available setting on 1440p resolution and get stable 60 frames, of course with some exceptional games which are called the graphics card melters like the Metro: Exodus.
It will not be wrong if we say that this was the card that should have been released back when Turing technology was introduced. Not only does the card perform better than the vanilla RTX 2070, but it also supports better Ray Tracing – which was the only advantage it had over the AMD line of cards with Navi technology.
With the 2560 Cuda cores, an increase from the 2304 from the normal RTX 2070, it provides better clocking speeds. However, this does come at the cost of increased power consumption as well which is 215 Watts.
If you have not upgraded to the RTX series yet, you were lucky to have waited. Unless you bought the RTX 2080 Ti, the RTX 2070 Super is the best card you can buy on a budget. You can save almost an amount of $200-$300 on the RTX 2080 and get almost the same performance.
But if you have already bought the RTX 2070 ahead of the release of its super upgrade, then we suggest waiting a bit longer as Nvidia and AMD are planning to release an even better line of graphics cards in the coming days of 2020.
The AMD Radeon RX 5700 easily outperforms the Nvidia RTX 2060 for a lower price while it competes with the RTX 2060 Super. With AMD RDNA architecture, the RX 5700 truly focuses on gaming more than anything else.
When the 7 nm NAVI chip was unveiled, it created a huge uproar in the graphics tech sector. AMD had brought forth technology to overcome Nvidia, which was its competitor. AMD has yet to bring a card that can compete with the RTX 2080 Ti, but the new technology has the potential to beat even that in the future. Already it was outperforming some of the best cards released by Nvidia, the RX 5700 is the best affordable graphics card to be called a high end and that is why it sits in our list of top 5.
With 8 GB GDD6 and memory speed of 14 GBPS the card is as good as it comes with the price tag. It has a base clock speed of 1465 MHz which can be boosted up to a 1725 MHz. While the card is significantly better than the Vega 64, the Radeon VII still pulls up ahead of it. In benchmark tests, it beats the Nvidia RTX 2060 and is on par with the RTX 2060 Super while saving you $50-$100 on your budget.
Where the NAVI technology lacks the Ray-tracing technology that the RTX cards provide, it compensates with a huge boost in graphics while consuming way less power. The RDNA architecture introduced in the Radeon RX 5000 series also comes with some nifty features. The best one we like is the Radeon Anti-Lag which further reduces the click to response rate by 25-30%. This means that it would be the go-to card for competitive E-sports gamers as every millisecond counts in the competition.
Not only that the image-sharpening feature brought by the RDNA architecture means better visuals which deep and crisp textures. In other words, where the card lacks in one technology it makes up with many other useful features.
- Architecture: Vega-II
- (Boost) Clock Speed: 1800MHz
- Memory Speed: 4Gbps effective
- RAM: 16GB HBM2
- TDP: 295 watts
The recently released AMD Radeon VII promised a lot with its 7nm architecture and advanced features. The product is undoubtedly powerful, surpassing the performance of the RTX 2070 in many videogames and synthetic benchmarks. It is currently the most powerful graphics card from AMD’s lineup.
The Radeon VII utilizes HBM2 memory, which is theoretically more efficient than GDDR memory. However, the use of HBM2 is what makes the Radeon VII so expensive. Priced only $100 less than the RTX 2080, it struggles to compete with Nvidia’s card in most games on 4K resolution despite the higher and more efficient memory.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that Radeon VII is indeed powerful. AMD has restricted its board partners in designing custom coolers, so they have to use the reference cooler design. We’re not quite sure what the reasoning behind this idea was, but we do know it hasn’t worked too well in Radeon VII’s favor.
The base cooler is extremely loud, and the new (and perplexing) junction temperature and edge temperature readings make it unclear to many users of how to create a custom fan curve that provides a balance between cooling and noise levels. Recently though, there have been water blocks released for the Radeon VII for water cooling solutions for those seeking one.
The Radeon VII beats the RTX 2080 in synthetic tests, but in most videogames, it slightly lags behind the RTX 2080. Radeon VII also suffers from the power inefficiency that has plagued the Vega cards, consuming around 295 watts TDP.
That said, the card is perfectly viable for AMD builds, and the large memory will certainly aid those looking to play videogames on higher resolutions or conducting graphic memory-intensive tasks. It’s currently the third-most powerful graphics card you can easily buy right now (the GTX 1080 Ti is faster, but it is not easily available right now), and it gets the nod for us for offering some semblance of competition to Nvidia’s high-end RTX cards.
5. AMD Radeon Vega 64
- Architecture: Vega
- (Boost) Clock Speed: 1580MHz
- Memory Speed: 1.89Gbps effective
- RAM: 8GB HBM2
- TDP: 295 watts
AMD’s Vega cards have been a mixed bag. They run hot and noisy with their blower design, but they also have great (albeit expensive) HBM2 memory technology. Vega cards were touted to be the savior that would bring justice to the crazy pricing of high-end graphics cards thanks to Nvidia’s monopoly.
Unfortunately, the crypto-currency boom meant the Vega series only added to the problem. AMD recently announced to decrease the price of Radeon Vega 56 and Vega 64 cards after Nvidia launched the GTX 1660 Ti. The cards are now available at a more reasonable price.
The Vega 56 can be considered a mid-range card, but we still feel that the Vega 64 offers performance close enough to be considered a high-end card. We particularly like the Sapphire Nitro+ model – it’s stylish, classy, and has a great cooling system that manages the otherwise headache-inducing thermals of the Vega 64 quite well.
The AMD Radeon Vega 64 also consumes plenty of power, but if you’re looking for a graphics card that slightly edges the Nvidia RTX 2060 and one that can offer reasonable performance per dollar, the Vega 64 is not a bad option even nearly two years after its release.