Updated on August 14, 2022
As a result, the Great GPU Shortage has continued into the year 2022. Despite recent improvements in availability, prices remain significantly higher than they were previously (or MSRPs).
To put it another way, as of early 2022, the top graphics cards under $300 are actually slower than what you would buy in the same price range last year.
Arc is expected to put pressure on the market later this year by Intel. Although AMD and Nvidia are still offering pricey budget models at this formerly mid-range price bracket, it’s not going to change anytime soon.
On this page:
NVIDIA Vs. AMD
Buy Now or Wait? Navigating the Shortage
Best GPU below $300: GeForce RTX 3050
Best AMD alternative: Radeon RX 6500 XT
CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements
In spite of the scarcity, AMD and Nvidia have maintained their delivery schedules. The GeForce RTX 3060 and AMD Radeon RX 6600XT were our top picks for GPUs in the $300-$350 price range.
AMD’s RX 6500 and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 are your only options if you want to spend less than $300 on a graphics card. Even though it was just launched a short time ago, finding it for a reasonable price is practically impossible at the time of this writing.
Last update on 2022-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
If you want the best graphics card, you’ll have to pay more than twice as much for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050.
It appears that the RX 6500 XT has been made in bigger quantities and is now available for less than $300 on the Internet (the initial launch price was $199). In PCIe Gen3 systems, it will perform significantly worse than it should because this is an entry-level GPU limited to PCIe 4.0 x4 bandwidth.
That is to say, this is an uninteresting GPU, but if you need a new GPU for under $300 in early 2022, it may be your best option.
With no ray tracing enabled, the current entry-level and mid-range graphics cards perform as follows:
In terms of performance, the GeForce RTX 3050 is comparable to a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, but it includes ray tracing and DirectX 12 capabilities. The Radeon RX 6500 XT isn’t inherently faster than the RX 5500 XT 4 GB or the previous Radeon RX 570/580/590, even if it has access to the entire PCIe Gen 4 bandwidth. In older Gen 3 systems, the card is sluggish and needs to be replaced.
A year ago, the fastest GPU under $300 was the significantly superior Radeon RX 5600 XT, which is a sad state of affairs.
Buy Now or Wait? Navigating the GPU Shortage
The most efficient (and least expensive) way to give your gaming PC a fresh lease on life is to upgrade your GPU. Even early adopters, on the other hand, rarely upgrade more than once every 1–2 full generations (as opposed to the annual’refresh,’ which is usually only a minor modification of the current architecture), i.e. every 2–4 years on average. However, the most popular reason for an upgrade is to alleviate the annoyance of stuttering in the most recent AAA title.
The most popular reason for delaying a purchase of a new graphics card is to wait for one of the main generational updates. An even more compelling reason to hold off until early 2022 is that the scarcity of GPUs has driven their prices through the ceiling.
There is virtually little chance of finding a card at MSRP unless you are lucky enough to get your hands on one on launch day. Nvidia’s RTX 30-series and AMD’s RDNA 2/Radeon RX 6000-series cards are both similarly scarce in terms of availability. Availability
If you can wait a few more months before purchasing a graphics card, you may want to do so. Even though Intel’s new Arc Alchemist GPU family is expected to be released in Q1 2022, there has been no word on pricing for these new cards.
Look into the second-hand market as another option. Some older mid-range GPUs, like AMD’s RX 5600 XT or Nvidia’s GT 1660 series, may be available for less than $300. Prices for used GPUs have also increased as a result of the scarcity.
Best GPU Under $300 (Theoretically): GeForce RTX 3050
Nvidia’s new GeForce RTX 3050 would have been a great value for the money if it had been sold at its theoretical MSRP of $249. Unfortunately, as of early February 2022, it is extremely difficult to locate in stores, let alone at MSRP.
The RTX 3050 would have been a popular entry-level model in the GeForce RTX series if it had been widely available. In terms of RTX features, it is the first of Nvidia’s low-cost XX50 cards to get hardware support. Nvidia’s DLSS super-sampling technique makes it more attractive, even if it can’t run AAA titles with ray tracing at resolutions higher than 1080p.
The RX 5600 XT and GTX 1660 Ti/Super compare favourably in terms of performance, however it is about 10% slower than the RTX 2060 on average.
The Newegg RTX 3050 and the Amazon RTX 3050
Best AMD GPU Under $300 (Unfortunately): Radeon RX 6500 XT
The RDNA 2 Navi 24 GPU powers the Radeon RX 6500 XT, which will be available in January 2022. The RX 6000 XT succeeds the RX 5500 XT as the entry-level model in the series.
Despite the RX 6500 XT’s superiority in some areas, the RX 5500 XT is still better overall. The GDDR6 VRAM and 64-bit memory bus on the RX 5500 XT deliver 143.9 GB/s of bandwidth (128-bit).
To make matters worse, the card’s performance is restricted when it is put in a PCIe 3.0-based machine since PCI-Express 4.0 x4 rather than PCIe 4.0 x8 interface bandwidth is being used.
AMD may have chosen not to provide an 8 GB VRAM option at launch in order to make the graphics card less appealing to cryptocurrency miners (4 GB being insufficient for Ethereum mining).
In terms of raw performance, the Radeon RX 6500 XT is on par with the previous Radeon RX 580 when connected over a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface. It’s possible that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super’s PCIe 3.0 x16 interface will enhance performance just a little.
Specs: RX 6500 XT Vs. RX 5500 XT Vs. GTX 1650S
Unlike many other graphics cards, RX 6500 XT-based cards have been available in somewhat greater numbers and often sell for less than $300.
Previous-Gen/Used Graphics Cards
It’s hard to change the current state of the market, but we can’t. Take a look at earlier models or the used market to find the most value for your GPU dollar. In comparison to the RTX 3050, these cards are on par, if not somewhat superior, in terms of performance.
Alternative #1: Radeon RX 5600 XT (Used)
RX 5600 XT is built on the first-generation Navi (RDNA) architecture, which replaces the less efficient Vega and Polaris designs. The GeForce GTX 1660 Ti was originally designed to be a direct competitor to this GPU. Nvidia, on the other hand, slashed the price of its GeForce RTX 2060 to compete directly with the RX 5600 XT’s performance and ray tracing capabilities.
To keep the 5600 XT competitive, AMD had to increase its specifications. Its performance is now almost on par with that of the RX 5700 and far faster than the GTX 1660 Ti with which it was designed to compete.
Since it can now compete with the GeForce RTX 2060 in terms of performance, the RX 5600 XT is one of the more intriguing graphics cards from the previous generation. A card with the best specs is what you’ll want to look for before you buy, especially faster memory (VRAM) running at an effective 14 Gbps rather than 12 Gbps, like these:
|Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT||XFX RX 5600 XT
THICC II PRO
RX 5600 XT
|Clock: Core /
Gaming / Boost
|1400 MHz /
1615 MHz /
|1465 MHz /
1560 MHz /
|1355 MHz /
1560 MHz /
|Memory Speed||14 Gbps||14 Gbps||14 Gbps|
|FP32 Theoretical Performance||8,064 GFLOPS||7,465 GFLOPS||7,465 GFLOPS|
|Memory Bandwidth||336 GB/s||336 GB/s||288 GB/s|
|350 W||350 W||350 W|
|Power Connectors||1x 8-pin||1x 8-pin||1x 8-pin|
|Display Outputs||1x HDMI
Alternative #2: GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Used)
Because it was designed to take on Nvidia’s former mid-range monarch, AMD’s RX 5600 XT was originally supposed to compete with the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. That didn’t happen, but the 1660 Ti is still approximately as fast as the current-generation RTX 3050 in terms of performance.
Although it lacks the ray-tracing features of the RTX series’ portfolio, this cad can easily run any recent AAA game at 1080p. The RTX 2060 and RX 5600 XT are around 15% quicker in terms of relative performance.
Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Super, which is only slightly slower than the GTX 1660 Ti, is also a serious competitor when it comes to price/performance.
Every possible size of the 1660 Ti was available, and many of them were factory overclocked. This rarely leads to a large increase in price.
Alternative #3: GeForce RTX 2060 (Used)
The RTX 3060 is the follow-up to the RTX 2060, which was first introduced in 2019. Because of the challenges with supply, Nvidia has decided to bring the RTX 2060 back to market in 2022 with a new 12 GB model.
Regardless, this card still has more than enough power for 1080p gaming, and it actually performs nicely at 1440p as well.
The Radeon RX 5600 XT has 6 GB of GDDR6 video RAM and a 192-bit memory bus, both of which are identical as the RTX 2060.
Alternative #4: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
As Nvidia released the less expensive GTX 1660 Super, the value of current GTX 1660 Ti cards dropped (or 1660S).
GTX 1660S contains the same GPU as a conventional GTX 1660, but the GDDR6 video memory has been enhanced to make it more powerful. Because of this, there was only a little performance difference between it and the 1660 Ti.
In most circumstances, the GTX 1660 Super is a better value than the GTX 1660 Ti or the ordinary 1660. In terms of value for money, the 1660S may be the best option.
RX 5600 XT Vs. RTX 2060 Vs. RX 5700
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Metro: Exodus, and Battlefield V are just few of the games that are included in this movie. That the resolution is 1440p, rather than the recommended 1080p for these graphics cards, is particularly intriguing.
Summary and Recommendations
A year ago, the $300 price point was a wonderful value and offered a wide choice of options. Rivalry between AMD’s Radeon 5500xt and Nvidia’s GTx 1660 and RTx 2060 was fierce.
In today’s market, it’s rare to find an RX 5600 XT for the original launch price of the card, while the RTX 3060 and RX 6600 XT are significantly more expensive.
We’ll have to settle for entry-level GPUs like the RX 6500 XT if we want to stay under $300. In contrast, the GeForce RTX 3050 would have been an appealing alternative at $249, but so far this card looks like a paper launch. If the RTX 3050 had been widely accessible and reasonably priced, the GTX 1660 Ti would have been a viable option.
It is possible that Intel’s Arc Alchemist lineup may arrive soon, preferably in huge quantities and with performance that is on par with current offerings. Unfortunately, none of these details will be available until well beyond the year 2022.
It’s possible that buying a used card instead of splurging for a new one will be more cost effective while you wait for the shortages to improve. If the price is correct, a used RX 5600 XT, GTX 1660 Ti/Super, or RTX 2060 might still be enticing. In this awful situation, even outdated graphics cards, such as the GeForce GTX 1070 or the Radeon 570/580/590, could provide a good return on investment..
CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements
Your new mid-range graphics card will perform to its full potential if the rest of your PC is designed to work with it. It doesn’t matter if you have a high-end CPU or not.
An AMD Ryzen 5 3600 or 5600X or an Intel Core i5-11600K CPU is an excellent starting point. In terms of video frame rates, a more powerful CPU has limited advantages. Invest in a better graphics card to speed up your gaming experience.
However, third-party manufacturers recommend that you use a power supply of at least 350W for the RX 5600 XT and at least 450W for the RX 2060. Two graphics cards with the same number of cores have the same TDP (Thermal Design Power). A 500W power supply is more than enough for most setups; a 350W unit would leave you with little room for overclocking and other components.
For connecting your GPU, every power supply on the market has a single 8-pin PCIe power connector (or, more commonly, two).
Were your options limited, what would you do? The best graphics cards around $200 are listed here.