Updated on August 14, 2022
The focus of this article is on single-GPU gaming solutions at a range of price points. From $100 to $600, we search for GPUs for PC builders of all levels, from budget to high-end. In light of the recent flurry of game debuts, we’ve done comprehensive testing on the cards below. For the most part, these cards have been tried out in recent games like Battlefront II, The Witcher 3, and Grand Theft Auto V.
There are some great graphics cards on sale right now for a considerable discount, thanks to the onset of Black Friday. Below you’ll discover the GTX 970 for $290, the R9 380 for $143 and the GTX 980 for $400.
Other Recent Buyer’s Guides
Some of our other recent buyer’s guides include sale items through the holiday season, particularly Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Check these out for additional buying assistance:
- Budget Gaming PC Build with i3-6100 & GTX 950 for $490
- Best Intel Motherboards for Gaming 2015 – Black Friday Edition
- Best Monitors for Gaming 2015 – Black Friday Guide for 1080, 1440, & 4K Displays
- Best Gaming CPUs 2015 – Black Friday Guide
|ASUS R7 370 2GB||($130 – $20 MIR)||$110|
|MSI GTX 950 2GB||($160 – $30 MIR)||$130|
|XFX R9 380 2GB||($173 – $30 MIR)||$143|
|(Alternative) MSI GTX 960 2GB||($205 – $25 instant – $30 MIR)||$150|
|EVGA GTX 970 4GB||($350 – $60 instant + Prime)||$290|
|ASUS R9 390X 8GB||($440 – $50 instant – $20 MIR)||$370|
|MSI GTX 980 4GB||($500 – $70 instant – $30 MIR)||$400|
|EVGA GTX 980 Ti 6GB||($680 – $50 instant – $20 MIR)||$600|
Recent Gaming Benchmarks for Graphics Cards
Before talking about each card independently, let’s scrub through some GPU benchmarks for the most recent games:
- Overwatch Benchmark – Best Video Card for Blizzard’s Team Shooter
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Video Card Benchmark – Big 2GB vs. 4GB Deltas
- Star Wars Battlefront Graphics Card Benchmark
- Fallout 4 PC Video Card Benchmark
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III GPU Benchmark
Best Black Friday Sale on an Ultra-Budget Graphics Card – R7 370 ($110)
If you want to get the most out of your AMD R7 370, you’ll have to shell out $110 for ASUS’s 2GB version. It’s hard to argue with the R7 370’s performance at its pricing point, beating the GTX 750 Ti ($120) in many games. Even while you won’t be playing AC Syndicate or Battlefront (even on low settings), the R7 370 is an excellent choice for games like Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
This is the real deal when it comes to managing a tight financial situation. It is strongly recommended that you spend the extra $30 to play games that aren’t on the list. However, this isn’t always practicable, in which case the R7 370 is a good option.
Best Black Friday Price on an Entry-Level GTX 950 ($130)
When the MSI GTX 950 2GB went on sale, it was positioned slightly below the then-$200 GTX 960 in terms of pricing. Because to the maturation of the industry and the stabilisation of AMD/price nVidia’s hierarchy, the GTX 950 is now a competitively priced GPU. If you buy it at today’s $130 post-MIR price, that’s mostly accurate. Compared to the 750 Ti, you get a card that outperforms the R9 380 and GTX 960 by double-digit percentages (depending on the game) for $130. It’s possible that the R9 380 ($142) is too expensive for you, but if you like nVidia’s lower power consumption and thermals, the GTX 950 is an excellent option.
Best Black Friday Deal on an Entry-Level AMD Video Card
graphics card with 2GB of RAM for $142, XFX R9 380 2GB: In GTA V, GRID: Autosport, and Metro: Last Light, the R9 380 surpasses the GTX 950 by an average of 20%. But some games with heavy Nvidia optimization (AC Syndicate and Witcher 3’s 0.1 percent and 1 percent lows) will benefit from the GTX 960, while the 380 is normally ahead. The 960 can, on occasion, maintain higher framerates for longer periods of time (1 percent and 0.1 percent lows), while the R9 380 has the ability to achieve better overall averages.
For $142 you can get a 2GB version of the R9 380 and a 4GB version of the GTX 960. Games are generally going toward 4GB usage, especially with the highest quality textures, but most games still run well on 2GB (to include Battlefront, BLOPS, and GTA).
The R9 380 is our go-to, but the $150 GTX 960 2GB is a viable choice for those that need CUDA or nVidia capabilities. Many of our tested games will run at 60FPS on ‘high’ settings with these two GPUs, but games that are more demanding on the framebuffer will require a reduction in texture quality (due to limited VRAM capacity).
The R9 380X 4GB ($230) is a better upgrade at that point, but there are 4GB variants of these cards available. A few weeks ago, our crew gave the 380X a positive evaluation.
Best All-Around Video Card at the Mid-Range: GTX 970 for $290
With the exception of higher resolutions or multi-monitor setups, the EVGA GTX 970 4GB ($290) remains one of the top all-around performance. The GTX 970 can run 1440p on more than a couple of the games we tested (links above). Normally, the 970 costs anywhere between $330 and $350, but at $290, it was an easy choice for our list. In Fallout 4, the GTX 970 is roughly 22% faster than the R9 380X (about 40.6 percent faster than the GTX 960 4GB) and about 4% slower than the GTX 980 at 1080p/ultra. However, we observe the GTX 970 about 13% slower in Assassin’s Creed and about 29% faster in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate than the GTX 980.
With 1080p, the GTX 970 can play most games on our benchmark at “ultra” or “near-max” settings with a high degree of confidence. In our Battlefront benchmark, the GTX 970 achieved 68FPS at 1440/ultra on a 1440p display.
Moving to the High-End: R9 390X for $370, GTX 980 for $400, GTX 980 Ti for $600
The ASUS R9 390X 8GB is a strangely positioned card at this time. Some newer games, such as AC Syndicate, actually play better on the GTX 970 because of nVidia’s hardware improvements. Also, the GTX 970 surpasses the R9 390X by 5.1 percent in Fallout 4, as a result of its tessellation capabilities.
In some games, though, the R9 390X has a significant advantage over the competition. At 1080p, the R9 390X is just behind the GTX 980 (-5.8 percent) and equalises as the resolution increases, as seen in GTA V. While playing Metro: Last Light, the R9 390X barely (+3.6 percent) edges out the GTX 980 in terms of overall performance. In Shadow of Mordor, the 390X (at 1080p) has a 1.2 percent advantage over the GTX 980. Unfortunately, we can’t just advise you to “purchase this” because it’s dependent on the games you’ve played. The GTX 980 and GTX 970 are excellent graphics cards for games like The Witcher 3, AC Syndicate, and Fallout 4. When it comes to other titles, the R9 390X is on par with, if not better than, the GTX 970. Find out more by visiting this website.
MSI GTX 980 4GB ($400): The GTX 980, then, is the next obvious pick for the list of sales. Looking around, we found MSI’s 980 retailing for $400 after rebates and immediate discounts, a whole $100 lower than the current SRP. For a card that originally shipped for $550, it’s fallen a long way down with the advent of higher-tier cards (such the 980 Ti and AMD’s Fury series). The GTX 980 can successfully play any game – or almost so, with proper tuning – at high settings with 1080p. The card is also a solid 1440p performer, falling behind only at 4K with higher settings. As we’ve consistently found, 4K still isn’t playable on a wider scale without some sort of multi-GPU setup. That, or heavy compromise on the settings, which lessens the impact of 4K resolution.
It costs $600 for EVGA’s GTX 980 Ti 6GB. EVGA’s GTX 980 Ti ACX card is presently on sale for $50 less than its list price, but approximately $70 less than its regular price point. Since the 980 Ti’s release, EVGA’s liquid-cooled “Hybrid” model has taken the top spot in our rankings. If you have a high-end graphics card, the 980 Ti can run several games at 4K with high settings, such as Overwatch and Battlefront, as well as GTA V (if you lower the settings to ‘high’). Currently, this is the only solution we have for a high-end, single-card solution.
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– Steve Burke, known as “Lelldorianx.”