You don’t have to spend half a grand to play video games at 1080p. Sometimes it’s just not worth spending that much for video games, and sometimes it’s entirely redundant. In such cases, considering budget graphics cards for under $200 should be a priority.
Several budget graphics cards under $200 are able to play most games on high settings at 1080p around the standard 60 FPS mark. If you’re looking for such a setup, you’ve come to the right place.
Best Budget Graphics Cards Under $200
There aren’t many options available under $200 for GPUs, which consistently tend to be the most expensive component of most gaming rigs. If you’re looking for the latest graphics cards at a budget, we’ve reviewed 4 of them for you that you should seriously consider.
There’s also a buyer’s guide at the end detailing what considerations you should make before you finalize your purchase.
Our Top Pick
AMD RX 570 8GB
Great Performance at a Great Price
The AMD RX 570 offers 8 gigs of RAM, which is the highest you’ll find in any graphics card below $200. DX12 performance is great, and the game can run almost all games smoothly at full HD resolution.
If your budget is exactly $200, we highly recommend the RX 570 8GB over anything else.
Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB
Excellent Performance in a Small Size
The GTX 1060 was the most popular card in Nvidia’s previous lineup. It was so popular among mainstream and budget gamers that Nvidia decided to launch a tiny 3GB model. The GTX 1060 3GB is still an incredible graphics card for budget gamers and consumes less power than the RX 570.
If you don’t quite have the money or the power supply for the RX 570, your best bet is the Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB.
The AMD RX 570 is one of the best budget graphics cards you can buy for under $200 at the moment. Not only is it the only card in this price range that offers 8GB RAM, but it is also one of the fastest ones out there, beating the 1060 3GB, particularly in DirectX 12 games.
The AMD RX 570 has enough RAM to comfortably run high-resolution textures at 1080p resolution. Don’t expect to get smooth framerates at 1440p over anywhere higher though, as this card simply doesn’t have that kind of juice (you’ll find that more in higher-end graphics cards). You will, however, be able to enjoy many games at 1440p to some extent as well with this card, though you may have to turn a few settings down.
As far as budget graphics cards under $200 go, the GTX 1060 3GB can match the performance of the RX 570, but the latter has more VRAM and more shaders, resulting in superior performance in DX12 games. The one big downside to the RX 570 is that it consumes a lot more power than the Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB (and even 6GB). If you have a decent PSU though, you shouldn’t consider any other card if you’re limiting your budget to less than $200 for the graphics card.
- Best performance among budget graphics cards under $200
- Lots of video RAM
- Plays most games at 1080p and several at 1440p
- Draws more power than the Nvidia GTX 1060
If it weren’t for the additional RAM on the AMD RX 570, the Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB would’ve been our top pick. It’s a fantastic little budget graphics card that can rival the performance of the older generation GTX 980, which was regarded as a high-end GPU before 2016.
The GTX 1060 3GB can run most games smoothly at 1080p. You might have to turn the textures resolutions down though, as 3GB won’t be able to handle ultra-high resolution textures as well as the RX 570 or the 6GB version of the GTX 1060. Sadly, the latter at the moment costs well above $200, so it couldn’t make it on our list.
Nevertheless, you’ll be happy with this budget graphics card, both for its performance and form factor, as it is available in ultra-compact forms from many manufacturers. Moreover, if your PSU is a concern, the GTX 1060 3GB will consume less power than the RX 570.
- Available in a compact form factor
- Great performance for the price
- Power efficient when compared to competitors
- 3GB VRAM is limiting
If you can afford to spend a few bucks more than what the Nvidia GTX 1050, you can get yourself the GTX 1050 Ti which offers great performance for the price. This budget graphics card features 4GB RAM compared to its younger brother’s 2 gigs. This means you’ll be able to run higher texture resolutions better than what you’d get with even the superior GTX 1060 3GB.
The 1050 Ti is particularly popular among the eSports crowd for its mix of performance, small form factor, and low power consumption. Many professional eSports gamers use the 1050 Ti in their compact rigs for great performances on games like Fortnite, League of Legends, Overwatch, and more.
Like the small form factor of the GTX 1060 3GB, you can also find the 1050 Ti in a small form factor. It’s especially a great option if you have a weaker power supply.
- Great for eSports builds
- Excellent performance for the price
- Power efficient when compared to competitors
- Can’t run all games smoothly at 1080p
If even the 1050 Ti is beyond your budget, perhaps you should consider the RX 560. It’s the budget graphics card that we’d recommend to anyone who is a casual gamer who only plays videogames sparingly.
The RX 560 is inferior in performance to the 1050 Ti but offers great performance/price ratio. If you can spare the extra bucks, we’d always recommend the 1050 Ti over it, but that’s only if you can spare the extra bucks.
The Rx 560 will run most video games at well above 30 FPS at 1080p, which is considered acceptable for most gamers not looking for buttery-smooth performance. It offers comparable performance to the GTX 1050 but is available for better pricing, hence our preference over the regular 1050.
In DirectX 12 games, however, the RX 560 is superior to the GTX 105, a pattern that is consistent across all the RX series graphics cards when compared to their direct competition. Additionally, 4GB of RAM means the RX 560 can handle higher resolution textures than the regular GTX 1050, as the latter is limited to 2 gigs of VRAM only.
- Affordable offering
- 4GB RAM is better than its competitor
- Superior performance in DX12 games
- Comparable to GTX 1050 in overall performance despite higher power consumption
Even within the budget range of below $200, there are subcategories. Below this level, the pricing difference becomes lower and the increase in performance can also be dramatic. By investing only $20-30 more, you can get yourself up to 15 additional frame-rates. That’s a very noticeable difference.
For this reason, if you’re building a budget PC specifically for gaming, we highly recommend skimping in some other component (such as a monitor or one of the peripherals) and pool that money to get a slightly better graphics card. The closer you go to the $200 mark, the better the product and performance you’ll get.
If you absolutely can’t or don’t want to do this, you can simply opt for something as close to the $100 mark as possible. The 1050 Ti is the best option out there in such a case. We do not recommend considering any graphics card below the $100 price point.
Your other components should always dictate which graphics card you buy, budget or high-end. The most important consideration when buying a budget graphics card is the power supply unit. If you’re on a tight budget, chances are you’re not willing to invest in an extremely powerful PSU.
In that case, the power consumption of the graphics card becomes crucial. Nvidia trumps AMD in this category at every pricing level even within the budget range.
You should also consider if you need a graphics card in a small (single fan) form factor or if you can afford larger variants. Larger cards can feature more memory and overclock better as they have more fans to keep the card cool. However, they will require more space in your case as well.
When it comes to midrange and budget graphics cards, AMD has a slight upper hand over Nvidia as it offers such cards with better pricing and specs. This is especially true if you exclude all graphics cards above $300.
Nvidia however still currently has an excellent command in the budget range thanks to its GTX 1060 3GB and 1050 Ti. Both cards offer great performance for the price they demand and come with lower power consumption than their direct competition. Because individuals looking for budget graphics cards usually have smaller power supply units, power consumption becomes an important consideration when buying a budget card.
While investing in a secondhand high-end GPU instead of buying a budget graphics card may seem like a good idea, you should be careful. Many used high-end graphics cards are those used in Bitmining machines.
Bitmining is pernicious for graphics cards as the machines provide poor ventilation, run the card(s) continuously for months, and continuously run the card at high temperatures. Therefore, it’s better to buy a newer, cheap graphics card to be on the safe side.
Are budget graphics cards worth the price?
Budget graphics cards less than $200 are perhaps the only ones that haven’t been vastly influenced by the ridiculous GPU price bubble that was created a few years back.
How much RAM is “safe” for 1080p gaming?
Generally, for 1080p games, anything above 2GB should suffice for most games. Some games will have so many textures at medium to high resolution that 3GB won’t be enough, but most other games shouldn’t give problems with 3GB RAM.
Why are there such few budget graphics cards?
Because of the price bubble created by high-end GPUs, Nvidia, in particular, has put most of its focus on medium to high-end graphics cards. As a result, very few budget graphics cards exist that are worth buying, since companies don’t focus on them as the higher end ones return more profit. Cards like the AMD RX 540 and Nvidia GT 1030 simply don’t offer enough performance for anyone looking to play games at medium-to-high settings.