The best budget graphics cards for gaming in 2021 need to play any of the current new games available. A Budget GPU 2020/2021 may not play all games in their full glory but it will play them. There is nothing worse than getting a new game, installing it and finding the game plays like a slide show even on minimum settings.
This price range of budget graphics cards that will play the latest games has always been around the $200-$330 (£150-£250) range. Anything less and you run the risk of games not working and so Gaming becomes disappointing. I would recommend selecting a Graphics Card in this range or above.
What are the best affordable budget graphics cards for gaming?
This actually depends on the budget but if we focus on available cards (2020/2021) that will play current games, we need to consider a few things. Some of the considerations are just personal preference, like Nvidia or AMD.
Here are my top-rated budget Graphics Cards in 2020/2021 that will play most of the top games at a good frame rate.
- Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER GAMING OC 6G
- MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Gaming X 6G
- Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER OC 4GB
- MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT MECH 8G OC
- XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition OC 8 GB GDDR5
- ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 OC Edition 8 GB
Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER GAMING OC 6G
My personal favourite and what i currently have in my Gaming Rig. The Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce 1660 Super is an amazing card for top of the budget graphics cards and will play most of the top games at decent detail on a good frame rate. It sports 3 fans and this made it my choice, 3 fans need to spin slower than 1 fan for the same cooling effect, this makes the card very quiet, but does make this card the largest in this range.
- Powered by GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER
- NVIDIA Turing architecture and GeForce Experience
- Integrated with 6GB GDDR6 192-bit memory interface
- WINDFORCE 3X Cooling System with alternate spinning fans
- RGB Fusion 2 0 – synchronize with other AORUS devices
MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Gaming X 6G
Here we have the MSI Nvidia GeForce 1660 version of the 1660 Gaming Card, but not the “Super” version. This time presented in a smaller sized card with just 2 fans as with lower clock frequencies creates less heat. This makes it easier to fit into medium computer cases but will be slightly louder when under full load. If playing high resolution games for extended periods of time, in hot weather, expect those fans start spinning fast!
- Boost Clock / Memory Speed : up to 1860 MHz / 8 Gbps / 6GB GDDR5
- TWIN FROZR 7 THERMAL DESIGN includes supremely silent TORX FAN 3.0
- Customise your graphics card's settings and RGB Mystic Light (support models with RGB)
- With MSI Afterburner Overclocking software, you can customise fan profiles, benchmarking and support video recording and sharing
- DisplayPort x 3 / HDMI x 1
Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER OC 4GB
This is an exellect choice from the list of budget graphics cards for a Gamer with a small case. It could even be used to convert your small form factor office PC into something to play games on then you can’t go wrong with this card. It will fit most of the popular office system PCs but please check with your manufacture before buying.
Due to the Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce 1650’s reduced spec over the 1660 Super it requires a smaller heatsink allowing it to fit into those smaller cases. This does however impact on performance, but not as much as you would think.
- Powered by GeForce GTX 1650 SUPER
- Integrated with 4GB GDDR6 128-bit memory interface
- 90mm unique blade fans
- 170mm compact card size
MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT MECH 8G OC
The MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT is a similar price and performance to the Nvidia 1650 Super model but boasts an increase to 8Gb RAM. 8GB is great if matched to a higher spec processing core but this extra RAM does nothing for you if you are running lower resolutions. If the card can’t run the higher resolution due to speed there is no need for the memory.
Given the choice at this price range i would be looking at the Nvidia 1650 range of budget graphics cards.
- TORX FAN 3 0 - Award-winning fan design combining two different blades for a cool quiet game
- SOLID BACKPLATE - Increases card strength to prevent bending while complementing the design
- OC PERFORMANCE - MSI OC graphics cards are equipped with higher clock speed out of the box to increase performance
- CUSTOM PCB - An optimized PCB designed to improve power supply provides the card with a solid base for high performance in-game
- MSI AFTERBURNER - The latest overclocking software with advanced control options and real-time hardware monitoring
XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition OC 8 GB GDDR5
The AMD Radeon RX 580 GTS is a hugely popular, readily available card that still does well on most of the new games. Its signifyingly older than the other cards here and this is reflected in the price. It is recommended that a 550w PSU is fitted as the card uses 185w, this is the highest running costs of all the cards here.
When looking at budget graphics cards I would always recommend buying the latest chipset models for your budget. This will more often than not support higher levels of DirectX, be more power efficient and will have newer features.
ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 OC Edition 8 GB
The ASUS ROG range are IMHO the pinnacle of Gaming kit and the Radeon RX 570, 580 etc where great cards closer to their launch date. Unfortunately, newer cards now yield more performance with less power requirements than this card.
- Wing-blade fan design incorporates drooped tips on each blade to reduce drag.
- 0dB Technology lets you enjoy light gaming in relative silence.
- IP5X dust resistance offers protection from particle ingress for better durability.
- DirectCU II brings copper heatpipes into direct contact with the die for better cooling.
- Auto-Extreme Technology uses automation to enhance reliability.
Comparing the Nvidia GeForce 1660 Super, 1650 Super vs AMD Radeon RX 5500, 580 GTS, RX570
Ultimately Nvidia’s GeForce and AMD’s Radeon series of cards are setting out to do the same thing, both display great graphics at a great price. They both do this in a slightly different way, Nvidia has what’s called CUDA Cores and Radeon uses Stream Processors, these in turn have a core frequency and the memory utilised by them has a type (GDDR) and speed (1500-2000Mhz) rating.
Both Nvidia GeForce and AMD Radeon cards render the picture you see on your display in a slightly different way. This always seems unfair to compare like for like on the hardware level (Cores vs Stream Processors etc) so I should always compare on real world results like playing actual games.
FPS are calculated by taking the average FPS from 100s of system test with game settings on Max detail at 1080p
|TDP (Watts)||Fortnite Effective|
Intel 9600K CPU
Nvidia 1660 Super
|1x HDMI 2.0b|
3x Dispaly Port 1.4
3x Dispaly Port
Nvidia 1650 Super
2x Dispaly Port
|MSI Radeon RX 5500||1x HDMI 2.0b|
3x Dispaly Port 1.4
|XFX Radeon 580 GTS||1x HDMI|
3x Dispaly Port
|ASUS ROG Radeon RX570||1x HDMI 2.0b|
1x Dispaly Port 1.4
What to consider when searching for the best budget graphics cards in 2020/2021?
There are so many choices when it comes to budget graphics cards (GPU) and not all cards are made equal, even on the same chipset. Here is a list of things you should consider when choosing a GPU.
- Nvidia or AMD
- RAM Size
- Power consumption and power connectors
- Noise level
- Display out puts
- Physical size of the card