As prices for Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs finally come down, it might still be ideal for some PC gamers to look into the budget graphics card market. With the new technology introduced by the next generation of hardware for PCs and game consoles, it’s easy to get carried away with the hype and the desire to have top-of-the-line gear.
However, different styles of play require different needs, and not all require the strength of an RTX 4080. At both Nvidia and AMD, there are several solid budget choices when it comes to graphics cards focused on Games.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Since Nvidia introduced its Ampere-era GPUs with the aforementioned RTX 30-series cards, the 3050 is by far the most “budget” of the lot, and even more so with the 40-series now available at a premium price. Video games of any quality can now deliver exceptional graphics, and ray tracing has been the buzzword for this generation of consoles and PCs to sell cutting-edge technology.
What it does do is enable more visually impressive lighting and shadow effects to add to the atmosphere of a gaming world, and the RTX 3050 is the cheapest card to enable such capabilities graphics. With it, gamers can also access machine learning upscaling DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) technology for maximum performance with minimum image quality degradation at 1080p.
AMD Radeon RX 6600XT
It can certainly get more expensive than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050, at least depending on the specific brand. But even so, GPU and CPU competitor AMD offers a low-end graphics card for those who want to get the most out of their budget. The AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT is another solid budget card to focus on 1080p PC gaming.
At this resolution, gamers should be able to crank their games up to Ultra settings while still enjoying a high and stable frame rate. And while gamers would do well to temper their expectations, there are a few instances where some 1440p gaming at modest settings might work. Along with ray tracing and AMD’s own upscaling technology, the less powerful but more accessible FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), there’s plenty of mileage to be gained with the 6600 XT.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660
While the $300 range isn’t a bad place if would-be gamers want to get some of the most powerful “budget” GPUs out there, there are reasonable alternatives to the RTX 3050. And if going under the power of Ampere cards is reasonable for some, then Nvidia’s GTX 1660 is among the next. With a PC monitor with a high refresh rate, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 really allows for quality gaming without breaking the bank.
With a low price of $200, the GTX 1660 comes with 6GB of VRAM and is more than capable of high-end frame rates when gaming at 1080p resolution. It’s a solid choice for those who don’t need the bells and whistles of ray tracing or DLSS.
AMD Radeon RX 6500XT
As for the more typical budget prices on the AMD side, there are some good selections opposite the equivalent range of Nvidia graphics cards. The AMD Radeon 6500 XT is a solid graphics card that sits pretty well in the $100 range.
Granted, it won’t beat some of those Nvidia cards, but for that price, it’s a respectable choice for gamers who only need a lower-tier gaming PC to meet their needs. This card will perform well at medium settings, making it a solid card for gamers who just want to play the best MOBA games available on PC, offering 1080p resolution.
AMD Radeon RX6600
As solid of a GPU as AMD’s Radeon RX 6600 XT is in terms of budget and good performance for the price, there’s a good alternative choice in the same line of cards. When it comes to power, the AMD Radeon RX 6600 isn’t too far behind its XT variant.
More importantly, potential buyers would get respectable power at a significantly lower price than some brands on the 6600 XT. As expected, 1080p is the ideal resolution for gaming, but there is technology available to give the 6600 an edge. Using AMD’s FSR software, the 6600 can achieve solid mid-to-high 1080p performance on some modern games.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
Outside of Nvidia’s DLSS capabilities, there are some good RTX 3050 alternatives available for those who want to be more specific on budget versus performance. And if gamers want to go half a level above the power of the 1660, then the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super should prove to be another satisfying performer.
It’s the ideal GPU between this one and the base version as long as it can be found and at a reasonable price. The 1660 Super is a top performer for the price if gamers are aiming for high-end 1080p gaming capable of high frame rates at Ultra settings on relatively modern games from the PS4 and XBO console generation.
AMD Radeon RX5700
More modern-era games are taking advantage of ray-tracing technology, including the recent next-gen update for the popular The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, but this feature is not decisive for most players. It’s certainly a nice visual bonus, but the AMD Radeon RX 5700 is a budget GPU for those who don’t want it.
And unlike other budget cards, the RX 5700 is in the “mid-range” in terms of power, so it’s not limited to 1080p gameplay. Thanks to the power of this card, gamers can enjoy 1440p resolutions at incredibly high graphics settings. Likewise, he can get an extra boost from FSR abilities. Aside from the lack of ray-tracing technology, buyers will need to be prepared to pay at least close to $300.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super
Nvidia has several graphics cards in the 16-series range and the AMD equivalent. And while it lags behind its contemporaries, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super is another good choice for the price, although the liveliest open-world games won’t run at maximum settings.
It’s a card that should probably be ditched if there’s a reasonably priced 1660 Super to be found, but staying in the low-mid $200 range, the 1650 Super delivers solid 1080p gaming performance. Just as well, it may also be the preferable – or at least competitive – choice when going pound-for-pound against the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
It is clear in this price range that there are bound to be clear compromises in terms of graphical fidelity. But if low cost is becoming more important than performance, then the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 is another budget price to consider.
Certainly, if possible, going for a 1660, 1660 Super, or even an RX 6500 XT would be better if the price is right. But, as always, it’s always important to keep your desired gaming specs in mind before building a PC. Still, the standard version of the GTX 1650 is good enough to get decent 1080p gaming performance at low to medium graphics settings, at least considering its sub-$200 price range.
Intel Arc A750
Not new to the PC gaming scene, but certainly new to the Intel GPU-specific scene. The company is best known for its processors, but it recently dipped into graphics cards for the first time, and those efforts have largely satisfied the more budget tier.
It certainly pushes the boundaries of what constitutes a “budget” card in terms of cost – like the RTX 3050 – but the Intel Arc A750 makes an admirable first impression for where it’s supposed to compete. It can even surpass the RTX 3050 in power, which means the Arc A750 will enable high-end 1080p gaming, ray-tracing capability, and at least a taste of 1440p.
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