Graphics cards are getting more and more expensive, with high-end cards easily breaking past the $1000 barrier. Given the eye-watering prices, you might be forgiven that there aren’t any decent deals to be had anymore. Well, that’s not entirely true, as this list of the best graphics cards under $500 shows.
The best graphics card under $500 will differ depending on your needs and preferences. But whether you’re aiming for 1440p gaming or high-refresh-rate 1080p gaming, our list will have something for you. Let’s get started.
- Best Graphics Card Under $500 Overall: XFX Speedster SWFT319 Radeon RX 6800 Core is excellent value at its new sub-$500 price, although ray tracing performance predictably suffers.
- Best Graphics Card Under $500 Alternative: Zotac GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Twin Edge OC doesn’t have the raw power of the AMD RX 6800 but has better performance in ray-traced games and access to Nvidia’s superior DLSS upscaling.
- Best Value Graphics Card Under $500: MSI Radeon RX 6750 XT Mech 2X 12G V1 has the raw power to compete with more expensive graphics cards, albeit with high power draw.
- Best 1080p Graphics Card Under $500: MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ventus 2X 8 G OC is an efficient 1080p gaming card with access to Nvidia’s AI-assisted technologies.
Our Favorite Graphics Cards Under $500
Before we start, it’s important to point out that we’ve restricted this list to cards available for between $300 and $500. If you’re shopping on a tighter budget, be sure to check out our list of the best graphics cards below $300 instead.
|Boost Clock||2105 MHz|
|Memory||16 GB GDDR6|
|Ports||• 3x DisplayPort 2.1
• 1x HDMI 2.1a
|Power Consumption||~250 watts|
|Dimensions||13.38 x 5.12 x 2.05 inches|
One of the best reasons to buy previous-generation cards is the sheer value for money you can get after price cuts and discounts. AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 is a great example: launched at just under $600, you can now buy 16-GB-equipped cards like the XFX Speedster SWFT319 Radeon RX 6800 Core for just about $450. That’s a deal and a half if you ask us!
The RX 6800 is capable of excellent 1440p gaming performance, primarily in rasterized (non-ray-traced) games. Borderlands 3, for example, blazes past at a 105 FPS average, with 86-FPS 1% lows, all at the game’s surprisingly demanding Badass settings.
Other impressive results include a 120 FPS average in Far Cry 6 and a 108 FPS average in Forza Horizon 5. The RX 6800 does a solid job in the ultra-demanding Microsoft Flight Simulator, too, with its 61 FPS 1% lows and 68.2 FPS averages ensuring a mostly locked 60 FPS experience at maxed-out settings.
Of course, the main issue with previous-generation AMD GPUs is the ray-tracing performance. The RX 6800 is not the card you want if you like enabling ray tracing (RT) in games, with AMD’s product offering less performance than the more affordable Nvidia RTX 4060 Ti in almost all scenarios.
Yes, you could gain some RT performance by dropping settings and enabling FSR, but we think it’s a fool’s errand on this generation of AMD GPUs. If you want to play games with ray tracing, Nvidia is still the way to go. For now, at least.
Beyond that minor drawback, however, the AMD Radeon RX 6800 is a great GPU that’s an excellent deal at its new sub-$500 price. With its great rasterized performance and 16-GB memory allocation, it’s a card that should last you a long time, important when you’re buying with value in mind.
|Boost Clock||2550 MHz|
|Memory||8 GB GDDR6X|
|Ports||• 3x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 1x HDMI 2.1a
|Power Consumption||~160 watts|
|Dimensions||8.88 x 4.85 x 1.58 inches|
Nvidia’s RTX 4060 Ti is a solid mid-range graphics processing unit capable of 1080p and 1440p gaming. It’s not the upgrade many of us were hoping for compared to the RTX 3060 Ti, but those of you who skipped the previous generation will likely find the RTX 4060 Ti to be a perfectly satisfactory card.
Zotac’s RTX 4060 Ti isn’t all that much different from Nvidia’s Founders Edition, although it does use the more traditional 8-pin PCIe power connector compared to the troublesome 12+4-pin 12VHPWR Nvidia has opted for. Given that the Zotac is rated for about 160 watts of power consumption, you’re not missing out on anything by Zotac’s decision to ditch the 600-watt rated 12VHPWR connector.
Tom’s Hardware put the new RTX 4060 Ti through its paces and recorded a 78.5 FPS average in Borderlands 3 at 1440p Badass settings, with 1% lows of 62 FPS. That’s a decent turnout in what continues to be a surprisingly demanding game. However, it’s worth noting that this is only a minor improvement over the 71.3 FPS of the RTX 3060 Ti and its Nvidia Ampere architecture.
The RTX 4060 Ti is also a capable performer in the open-world racing game Forza Horizon 5. It manages an average FPS of 93.5 in the in-game benchmark, which is a particularly demanding test. But again, it’s not a massive upgrade over the RTX 3060 Ti here, which manages an 85.8 FPS average in the same test.
However, the RTX 4060 Ti has access to Nvidia’s new DLSS Frame Generation, which can lift framerates significantly and widen the gap between it and the RTX 3060 Ti. Let’s use Cyberpunk 2077 as an example. The RTX 4060 Ti is a sub-30 FPS card at 1440p RT Ultra, broadly similar to the RTX 3060 Ti. But enable DLSS upscaling and frame generation, and you’re getting a 75.3 FPS average with 1% lows above 60 FPS.
The main issue is that DLSS Frame Generation alone isn’t quite a good enough reason to upgrade to the RTX 4060 Ti if you already have an RTX 3060 Ti or equivalent AMD card. Those still on RTX 2060s or older will enjoy it, but anyone with a midrange GPU from the past two years can safely skip this.
As far as the AMD competition goes, the RTX 4060 Ti has the typical Nvidia advantages, such as DLSS’s better image quality. But you can also use AI-assisted audio and video enhancements in Nvidia’s Broadcast software. The microphone noise reduction is impressive and a welcome value-add if you buy a modern Nvidia card.
Zotac’s RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB Twin Edge isn’t a card that massively improves on other RTX 4060 Tis such as the Founder’s Edition. But that’s broadly fine: the RTX 4060 Ti isn’t a hot GPU, so Zotac’s dual-fan cooling setup is more than enough to keep it running in the mid-70s.
Overall, the Zotac GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB Twin Edge OC is a decent mid-tier graphics card. It’s not always faster than similarly-priced AMD cards, but its better ray tracing prowess and access to higher-quality upscaling make it a compelling alternative depending on your desires.
|Boost Clock||2600 MHz|
|Memory||12 GB GDDR6|
|Ports||• 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 1 x HDMI 2.1
|Power Consumption||250 watts|
|Dimensions||9.80 x 5.20 x 2.05 inches|
AMD’s RX 6750 XT is Team Red’s best mid-range offering, often faster than Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti while offering more VRAM. MSI’s RX 6750 XT Mech 2X is a great version of the card, with its solid cooling and slightly lower price making it one of the best products using this GPU.
The MSI Radeon RX 6750 XT Mech 2X 12G V1, to give it its full name, is a relatively compact dual-fan version of the RX 6750 XT that will fit in almost any mid-range PC case. It ships with a relatively high boost clock of 2600 MHz, putting it in a similar ballpark to MSI’s triple-fan versions of the RX 6750 XT.
The upshot is that you’ll likely get similar, if not identical, performance out of the RX 6750 Mech 2X as you will the much pricier MSI RX 6750 XT Gaming X Trio. So we’ll use benchmark numbers from the latter, as it’s a much more widely reviewed card.
MSI’s RX 6750 XT ties the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti in Borderlands 3 at 1440p in TechPowerUp’s testing, logging an 85.3 FPS average compared to the 3060 Ti’s 84.2 FPS average. The two cards are neck and neck here, with the single-FPS difference well within the margin of error for framerate testing.
However, some games, such as Far Cry 6, will run faster on the AMD card. Far Cry 6 posts a 98.9 FPS average on the 6750 XT, compared to the 3060 Ti’s 90 FPS. The same goes for Dying Light 2, which posts a 73.9 FPS average on the AMD card vs. 65.0 FPS on the 3060 Ti.
Unfortunately, things change when you enable ray tracing (RT). Here, AMD’s poorer ray tracing performance means the 6750 XT lags behind the 3060 Ti in a game like Control. At 1440p, the 6750 XT only manages 30.4 FPS, which is a 58% drop from its non-RT framerate. In comparison, the 3060 Ti runs at 38 FPS in the same test. If you’re interested in ray tracing, the 6750 XT isn’t for you.
Of course, all these numbers are without using AMD’s FSR upscaling or Nvidia’s DLSS, both of which can (and will) boost framerates significantly in games that support them. But the RX 6750 XT’s weaker ray tracing means it’s not likely to hit 60 FPS even with upscaling, unlike the RTX 3060 Ti. We also think that Nvidia’s DLSS looks better than AMD’s FSR, which is a minor point against the RX 6750 XT.
You may be wondering: why not go for the new Radeon RX 7700 XT instead? While the new GPU offers some benefits, it’s simply not a big enough upgrade to justify the extra $100. You still get the same 12 GB of video memory and roughly 250-watt power consumption, too. So, while the RX 6750 XT is available, it’s easily the better-value purchase for mid-range buyers.
Buying previous-generation cards can be a great idea for budget-minded buyers, and the MSI Radeon RX 6750 XT Mech 2X 12G V1 is great proof of that. It’s a strong 1440p gaming card by any measure and offers excellent value at its sub-$400 price.
|Boost Clock||2535 MHz|
|Memory||8 GB GDDR6X|
|Ports||• 3 x DisplayPort 1.4a
• 1 x HDMI 2.1
|Power Consumption||~130 watts|
|Dimensions||8.94 x 4.85 x 1.95 inches|
If you’re more of a 1080p gamer and want access to Nvidia’s fancy AI tech, then the RTX 4060 is the graphics card for you. Sure, its reduced video memory allocation compared to its 12-GB predecessor strings, but it’s still a decent card for those building a new PC or upgrading from much older GPUs.
To be clear, if you’re looking for raw 1440p performance below $400, you’ll want a cheap AMD RX 6750 XT card, which will perform much better than even the fastest RTX 4060. But if you’re only playing at 1080p, you may find a card like the RX 6700 XT and its 650-watt PSU requirements a bit wasteful. That’s where a card like the Asus Dual GeForce RTX 4060 OC Edition comes into the picture.
At 1080p, expect RTX 4060s like this Asus card to run Borderlands 3 with an average framerate of just under 90 FPS at maxed-out settings, with 1% lows of 71 FPS. That’s more than playable, although you will want to drop to medium settings if you want to hit triple-digit framerates.
The RTX 4060 is capable of good performance in more demanding games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, too. Expect a locked 1080p and 60 FPS at ultra settings, with an average of 70 FPS and 1% lows of 62 FPS. Dropping down to medium brings the FPS up significantly, of course, with Flight Simulator hitting a 122 FPS average at reduced settings.
The RTX 4060’s ray-traced performance is decent for the price, but don’t expect anything amazing here. Native-resolution RT gameplay is mostly off the cards; you’ll need to enable DLSS to hit 60 FPS in most titles, at least with maxed-out ray-tracing settings. DLSS 3 frame generation is also an option, although you’ll still want to try and hit a roughly 60 FPS baseline before frame generation to minimize the latency penalty.
For example, enabling Frame Generation brings Cyberpunk 2077 at Ultra RT settings to an impressive 100 FPS average, with 82 FPS 1% lows. However, the latency penalty will be more noticeable considering the 64 and 50 FPS baseline numbers, respectively. That said, Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t a very fast-paced game, so it’s worth experimenting with the feature anyway.
Overall, the RTX 4060 is a decent card, albeit with a disappointing VRAM cutback compared to its predecessor. While we think 8 gigs is still acceptable—maxed-out texture quality is usually not worth it anyway—it’s still disappointing when the GeForce RTX 3060 shipped with 12 gigabytes. Beyond that, however, the RTX 4060 is a solid option worth considering, as long as you’re not adamant about playing with max settings all the time.
Before You Buy
Buying a graphics card is relatively straightforward, especially if you have a set budget: choose the card that performs best in the games you play (or are interested in playing). However, the past few years have added a wrench in the works in the form of vendor-exclusive technologies such as Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS).
So, is it worth going with an Nvidia card in your gaming PC just for DLSS? Or can you live with AMD’s open-source equivalent, FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR)? Let’s quickly compare the two.
AMD vs. Nvidia: Upscaling
DLSS and FSR are both “smart” upscaling technologies that can drastically improve performance. They render your games below native resolution before using temporal data to upscale and resize the image to fit your monitor’s native resolution. The result is an image that looks surprisingly close to (if not better than) native resolution but with noticeable performance benefits.
However, that’s where the similarities end. Nvidia’s DLSS is only available on RTX 20-series GPUs and newer as it relies on specialized hardware and machine learning to upscale images. In contrast, AMD’s FSR uses open-source algorithms without machine learning, so it’ll run on any modern GPU regardless of manufacturer.
Both are great technologies that turn in significantly better results than traditional upscaling. But Nvidia’s DLSS tends to have cleaner image quality, with fewer visual artifacts than FSR in motion. It’s not always a huge advantage, but it is often there and visible to the naked eye. Digital Foundry’s upscaling comparison in God of War showcases this quite well. Note the shimmering and flickering around moving elements such as enemies and Kratos in with FSR:
Are these game-breaking issues that make FSR unsuable? No, of course not. However, we think that these give DLSS a noticeable advantage when it comes to image quality in some games.
Given the importance of upscaling for high framerates, having access to both DLSS and FSR is ideal for giving you the most choice. And that’s something you’ll only get with an Nvidia card like the Zotac GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB Twin Edge.
AMD vs. Nvidia: Frame Generation
Frame generation is a technology that synthesizes an intermediate “artificial” frame between two “real” ones, improving smoothness and framerate at the cost of increased latency. AMD and Nvidia have their own takes on the feature, with AMD’s FSR 3 frame generation a hardware-agnostic technology and Nvidia’s DLSS 3 frame generation limited to the latest RTX 40-series graphics cards.
Frame generation can help boost framerates significantly, albeit not for free. There’s the aforementioned latency penalty, but there’s also a VRAM cost that can hinder frame generation performance at higher resolutions on 8-to-10-gigabyte GPUs.
Overall, however, the results are impressive. For example, the RTX 4060 Ti barely manages to hit 60 FPS in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1440p ultra. Enable DLSS 3 frame generation and DLSS Quality, however, and you’re hitting about 90 FPS in busy market areas. That’s a significant improvement for little visual cost.
AMD’s equivalent is only supported in two games at the moment, Forspoken and Immortals of Aveum, so it’s too early to have a definitive opinion on FSR 3 frame generation’s quality. However, initial signs are promising, bringing Forspoken from under 60 FPS at 4K native on an RTX 3080 to about 100 FPS with FSR 3 frame generation and FSR 2 upscaling.
However, AMD’s FSR 3 frame generation has some teething issues, so any real head-to-head comparisons with DLSS 3 frame generation will have to wait until FSR 3 matures. Issues such as non-working variable refresh rate and poor non-VSync performance are problematic, but likely to be resolved in the future.
Frame generation is definitely controversial, but we think it’s a great tool to have in the arsenal for gamers. We’re excited to see where things go from here.
High-end graphics may not show any signs of getting cheaper any time soon, but the mid-range has thankfully stabilized and looks more appealing than it did a few years ago. We’re long past the glory days of incredible-value GPUs like the Nvidia GTX 970, but the $300 to $500 range now offers decent graphics power for PC gamers that’s perfect for 1440p and 1080p gaming.
If you want as much raw power as possible under $500, an AMD Radeon RX 6800-based card like the XFX Speedster SWFT319 Radeon RX 6800 Core will be your best bet. But if you’re interested in technologies such as DLSS and other AI-powered luxuries, then the Zotac GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB Twin Edge is the card you want.
On a much tighter budget? Check out our list of the best graphics cards under $200 for budget-friendly options.