Updated on August 14, 2022
As you can see from the Amazon prices above, the current state of the GPU market is anything but “normal” at this time. This buying-strategies guide will help you locate a good deal on a card if you’re thinking about making a purchase soon. Alternatively, you can learn how to maximise the performance of the GPU you already own if you’re willing to wait a little longer.
High-end monitors are becoming increasingly popular for “4K gaming,” while 1440p (2,560-by-1,440-pixel) monitors are becoming more widely available. If you spend enough time in that region, you may come to believe that PC gaming is ruled by high-resolution games and pricey, monster video cards.
Not at all! In the long run, when they become significantly less expensive, they will play a significant role in our lives. Most PC gamers will continue to want to play their games at 1080p (or “full HD”), which is 1,920 by 1,080 pixels.
Even a midrange video card can handle the most recent games on a 1080p display with a smooth frame rate today—you can find lots of ’em for less than $100. According to the most recent Steam Hardware Survey results, 1080p is still the most prevalent native display resolution for PC players on the site.
A 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) or 1440p monitor and an excellent video card capable of playing at that resolution will set you back a lot of money, even though most gamers would want to play at the highest possible res. As a result of the other’s actions, We all want our games to look well and function smoothly, and achieving those goals at a standard resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 is far less expensive.
The Best Graphics Card Deals This Week*
*Deals are selected by our partner, TechBargains
- MSI GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Gaming X Trio 8G OC Graphics Card — $819.99
- Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC 12G Graphics Card — $1,049.99 (List Price $1,349.99)
- Asus TUF Gaming RTX 3080 12GB OC Graphics Card — $1,283.87
- EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming Graphics Card — $829.99
- ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC 12GB Graphics Card — $529.99 (List Price $569.99)
Until cheap 1440p monitors become more prevalent or 4K-capable graphics cards become relatively reasonable, this resolution will remain the de facto norm for gaming. As of this writing, playing high-end PC games at 4K resolution required lowering the graphics card’s detail settings, which was not possible with cards costing less than $400.) So buying a video card that can run games smoothly at 1080p resolution is a smart purchase that should keep you pleased for at least a few years, if not longer.
1080p Gaming Cards: A Competitive Field
Because 1080p is so popular, there are a lot of video cards vying for first place in their respective categories. It’s never been easier to narrow down your choice of 1080p graphics cards with nearly a dozen separate card classes (each characterised by its own unique core graphics processor) when 2022 begins. Fortunately, we can help. Here, we’ll go over the aspects you should keep an eye on when purchasing a 1080p-optimal video card, and we’ll recommend some of our favourite options according on your budget.
We have good news! AMD’s “Navi” series of cards, introduced in 2018, and Nvidia’s “Turing” generation video cards, introduced in 2018, have brought better 1080p power than before for around $300 MSRP. To round out its GeForce RTX lineup, Nvidia unveiled the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and GeForce RTX 2080 and 2070 graphics cards in mid- to late-2018. Newer, mid-2019 “RTX Super” variants as well as the RTX 30 Series cards like RTX 3070, 3080, and 3080 Ti were added to or replaced in some situations. Despite the fact that these high-end cards can run any game at 1080p extremely well, they are overkill at this resolution, which starts at $499 for cards based on the RTX 3070 and around $700 for RTX 3080 cards. (Those are MSRPs or list prices, and are rarely the current market cost; due to silicon shortages and the activity of scalpers, it’s pricing pandemonium out there right now.) ‘ You don’t need to spend anything like that for 1080p play, even in 2022, even if the costs are a little higher than typical.
Buying Basics: What to Look for in a 1080p Card
For 1080p gaming, most cards cost between $100 and $300 (MSRP, not current street prices) at this time. Even the most expensive cards will work. For most games, though, anything beyond the suggested retail price of $300 marks the threshold of excess…. The following are the most important factors at play.
How Much Video Memory Is Enough?
Graphics memory (or video RAM) directly impacts the resolution at which you can play smoothly, as well as the detail settings that are available. How effectively a specific game runs at a given resolution and other settings depends on how powerful your graphics processing unit (often known as the “GPU”) is. Video memory can be like a motorway, letting the GPU do its thing without being clogged up.
The GPU will be unable to work at its full capability if it does not have enough video memory. There’s a simple reason for this: The video card crunches every single pixel on the screen when it’s being stored in the memory. This means that the higher a resolution or the more information a game requires, the more RAM is needed to effectively manage it. With more pixels to manage, high-end video cards require a lot of on-card RAM to keep up with the demands of high-definition games.
In general, 2GB of video memory is required for 1080p gaming, but 4GB will be required in 2022 for high-detail 1080p gaming.
Today, you can get a graphics card for less than $300 (MSRP) with a range of 1GB to 8GB of memory. 3GB/6GB and 4GB/8GB versions of some 1080p gaming cards are available. Don’t overspend on memory or graphics processing power. If you plan to upgrade your gaming monitor to a 1440p or 4K screen in the near future, a 6GB or 8GB graphics card is a good bet for future-proofing your PC. But if that’s the case, you’ll need a higher powerful graphics card as well.
Which Ports Does My Graphics Card Need?
Even though VGA and DVI ports have virtually disappeared from late-model graphics cards worth mentioning, 1080p resolution is supported by all standard outputs on today’s graphics cards (VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort). Just pick a card that has a port that matches the port on your monitor in most circumstances. Higher than 1080p video resolutions are the only ones where some interfaces, including VGA and early HDMI versions, can’t handle them.
As long as you’re using a 1080p monitor, you shouldn’t be concerned about the lack of ports on modern graphics cards and monitors. If you’re upgrading from an older system or card, you may need a new cable or adapter, but that’s about the worst that may happen. So, keep them in mind when you’re out and about.
If playing games at a high refresh rate is important to you (we’ll get to that in a moment), make sure you get a video card and a video cable that are compatible with 1080p resolution and 240Hz refresh rate. So make sure you have the correct cable and the right GPU for a cutting-edge monitor like the Asus ROG Swift 360Hz PG259QN if you want to get the most out of your gaming experience.
Remember that HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces can convey an audio signal if your display has built-in speakers (or is an HDTV) if you’re making the switch from DVI or VGA for the first time.
How Much Should My Graphics Card Cost (at MSRP)?
Note that we’re talking about MSRP costs here, not street prices, which have remained out of control into 2022.
A 1080p video card in 2022 will cost between $100 and $300, depending on whether or not you want to play games at their top settings or something more in the middle. To get the best results from AA, which removes jagged edges from in-game objects, you’ll need to pay more money, especially if you want to set your AA settings as high as possible. (AA can be a rigorous organisation.)
By all means stick to a budget if you’re happy with simply average detail settings and frame rates. However, if you’re looking for the most detail and AA at 1080p, you’ll likely need a $200-to-$300 card. Compared to the more expensive Nvidia GeForce RTX and AMD Radeon RX 6000 series cards, mainstream, 1080p-capable mainstream graphics cards haven’t gone quite as wild, but you’ll still see a premium over list price in many situations.
Should I Get an AMD or an Nvidia Graphics Card?
We give an edge to Nvidia since it is able to hit more price points in the $100-to-$400 MSRP range with strong offerings when 2022 gets under way. But as long as you stick to the latest generation of cards from both vendors, it’s hard to go wrong with a 1080p card in this price range.
It’s a toss-up between Nvidia and AMD these days, but we still give Nvidia the nod for best supporting software. When it comes to recording in-game footage, Nvidia’s GeForce Experience programme is smooth and easy to use thanks to its Shadowplay feature. Nvidia’s software also makes it easier to join co-op games. Additionally, Radeon Software from AMD claims similar features; it is a vast upgrade over AMD’s previous Catalyst driver software release. Team Green (NVIDIA) and Team Red (AMD) no longer have as large of a lead as they had in past years.
In addition, the FreeSync (AMD) and G-Sync (Nvidia) image-smoothing technologies should also be taken into account (Nvidia). An important factor in deciding between two chip manufacturers would be whether your new monitor supports one or the other. Nvidia’s G-Sync image-smoothing technology is also supported on a subset of FreeSync-branded monitors, which are referred to as “G-Sync Compatible.”
Then there’s sharpening technology. With this addition to gamers’ arsenals, you can squeeze every ounce of performance from your graphics card possible. What they accomplish, in a nutshell, is to reduce the resolution of a game without sacrificing visual fidelity (improving performance by up to 30% on the same GPU). Nvidia Image Scaling and Radeon Super Resolution are the current names of the two competing technologies from Nvidia and AMD.
Finally, DLSS is here. If you’re looking to get the most out of your graphics card’s performance in 1080p gaming, the frame rate boosts (which can range anywhere from 5 percent to 40 percent) may be intriguing. Since 1440p and 4K are the most likely to benefit from DLSS, the technology is often tailored and tweaked for these resolutions on the engine side. But the benefits at 1080p are significantly less obvious and generally don’t do enough to justify the price difference between a “GTX”-branded card and a “RTX”-branded card in terms of performance improvement. There are only RTX models with the Tensor cores needed to perform all of the magic. In the event that Nvidia adds DLSS support to the games you enjoy playing, we recommend going with a high-end GTX model rather than a lower-end RTX one, which is more expensive.
Should I Get an Overclocked Card, or a Reference Card?
An AMD or Nvidia graphics chip includes a GPU and, more often than not, a cooling system as part of the overall package. A “reference design” is a standard form of the card that has no additional features and runs at a moderate pace. There are a number of companies (such as MSI, EVGA and Asus) who work with the chip vendor to create “reference” designs for their retail cards based on this basic package design.
When these businesses produce cards based on this fundamental architecture, they may also provide overclocked variants of the same card for a premium price. When compared to the more-aggressive designs with larger fans, exotic shrouds, and more obvious Nvidia or AMD branding, the reference design looks more modest. Additionally, because of their larger, more complex cooling circuitry on the board, these cards may also be able to operate cooler, which could result in a slight performance improvement. In some cases, the graphics cards are already overclocked when they are sent.)
Even though these customised cards look great, they can be more distracting and more expensive than the standard issue. In most cases, unless you have a specific interest in a certain model’s aesthetics (say, in a windowed PC case), we recommend conducting some research before purchasing. In most cases, you’ll get more bang for your buck by upgrading your graphics card, even if it’s just a stock design, than you will by purchasing an overclocked version of a lower-end card.
What Is My Monitor’s Refresh Rate, and Why Does It Matter?
Please be aware that all of our 1080p-card recommendations assume that you’ll be utilising a regular 60Hz display. In order to get the most out of a 120Hz, 144Hz, or even 360Hz screen that’s currently on the market you’ll likely need a higher-end graphics card than these. (Check out our top gaming monitor options.) These panels will readily display frame rates greater than 60 frames per second (fps), and gaming test results will give you a sense of the potential sustained frame rates you will receive with any given card.
Despite the fact that some 4K monitors may theoretically achieve a refresh rate of 144Hz at 4K resolution, these displays are more like a Ferrari than a Subaru. 1080p is the most common resolution for high-refresh-rate gaming among most gamers. When it comes to 1080p screens, whether it’s 144Hz, 165, or 240Hz, you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of $150 to $700 for one of these displays, depending on the game you’re playing. It is possible to display as many frames per second as a card can produce, up to the monitor’s refresh rate limit, which is a significant improvement over the 60Hz limit of most traditional monitors.
Online games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and DOTA 2 benefit greatly from a refresh rate of between 240 and 360 Hz, and these games are also optimised to the point where you can likely approach that frame rate at a resolution of 1080p with a video card priced under $300 (MSRP). Games like Apex Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Rocket League, and Rainbow Six: Siege can run at 144 Hz in 1080p on GPUs priced between $150 and $300. (Check out our guide to the top Apex Legends video cards.)
For competitive 1080p gaming, you’ll need a graphics card rated for the games you’ll be playing at that refresh rate, otherwise you’ll end up having a high-end monitor and a weak GPU to go with it, which isn’t ideal. In this case, paying close attention to the 1080p test results for a particular video card or class of cards is critical.
So, Which Graphics Card to Buy for 1080p Play?
You may get a fair notion of what kind of frame rates you can expect in games by reading our in-depth reviews of particular cards. We use a mix of new and established titles in our testing. The finest graphics cards for 4K gaming (3,840 by 2,160 pixels) can be found in our roundup of the best graphics cards, while the best graphics cards for compact PCs may be found if you have a small-form-factor desktop. A complete gaming system is available for anyone who are interested.) As well as the greatest gaming laptop and desktop computers, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the finest PC games.)