Best Budget Graphics Cards of 2020 – Complete Round-up

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Since technology is perpetually improving by the day, we need to adapt to the changing trends accordingly. When it comes to gaming applications, they're evolving into something complex and highly realistic-looking. This progression comes at a price where we need to refashion our systems to ensure compatibility with the latest programs, driving the need for more powerful components and computers.

One such component is the GPU, which is absolutely essential when it comes to high graphics performance and a higher frame rate.

If you're looking for an upgrade when it comes to graphics cards, look no further. We've devised a list of options that are not only superior in terms of quality and performance but also go low on the price.

Our Top Picks for Budget Graphics Cards

  • Better graphics core
  • Enhanced cooling system
  • Virtual reality ready
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  • Faster GPU processing
  • High speed memory
  • Multiple display ports
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  • Best for the Money
  • Multiple display ports
  • Fast GPU support
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Comparison of the Best Budget Graphics Cards

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Features the latest polaris architecture graphics core
  • Comes with XFX double dissipation cooling technology
  • AMD VR premium ready for great experience
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  • Comes with the NVidia Gforce 1050 lt chipset
  • 4GB DDR4 video memory included
  • Supports 3 x video displays on the card
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  • Best Graphic Card for the Money
  • Supports 3 x video displays on the card
  • Comes with the NVidia Gforce 1050 lt chipset
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  • Comes with a 256-bit memory bus included
  • 1366 MHz clock boosting capability allowed
  • Comes with dual fan cooling technology included
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  • Includes 2x HDMI ports as well 1 DVI- dport
  • Comes with dual fan cooling technology included
  • 1366 MHz clock boosting capability allowed
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Are Graphics Cards Universal?

Graphic cards are not entirely universal, meaning that they're not compatible with all systems. Two aspects to consider here are the power supply and the type of slot configured into your motherboard. 

Your power supply should be enough to support your graphics card, while the slot on your motherboard needs to be compatible with the connector on your graphics card. Graphics cards can go into AGP, PCI-E, and PCI slots. Newer ones will typically be compatible with PCI-e slots.

Can You Really Find a Quality Graphics Card That's Affordable? 

Enhancing your system's components is no grueling task, but enhancing it when you have a budget to comply with is the real challenge. As mentioned already, technology has evolved, and, in this day and age, finding a good-quality GPU card that fits well within your budget is not a strenuous task. 

GPUs have evolved side by side, offering excellent frames per second while experimenting with manufacturing technologies to minimize costs as well. Companies are putting an intense focus on delivering products of the highest standards and value while staying low on the price.  

Hence, you don't need to fret if you intend to upgrade your GPU with a budget to meet. 

How to Choose a Budget Graphics Card

Choosing a good-quality budget graphics card is not all that hard; you just need the right guidance. Allow us to shed light on some of the core features to consider while purchasing.

Model Number

Each GPU card has a discrete model number that aids in identifying each its purpose and processing power. For instance, considering the Radeon RX 580X, the first X after R represents the card's performance level. Moving on, the next three numerical digits reflect the degree of power. The second X symbolizes clock speed showing it has a relatively higher clock speed.

Some models are designed for office work because they're low-end cards, while others are specifically designed for gaming, possessing the power needed for gaming machines. Choose a model depending on your everyday requirements from the processor in terms of performance. 

On the other hand, in models like the MSI GTX 1050 Ti, the GTX means it's a high-end card like mentioned earlier. If it were a GT, it would've been a low-end card. The first two digits signify the generation of the card while the next two digits signify performance. The Ti represents boost, meaning it has a higher power.  

Higher GPU Clock Speed

If you want to compare cards from a series, you should look at the GPU clock speed to choose one that best fits your requirements. Clock speed is a measure of speed concerned with the operations performed by the core. The higher the number, the higher the speed, and hence the faster the GPU. Do not use clock speed as a measure of comparison when contrasting GPUs with different architectures or brands.

Efficient GPU Cooling

The thing with high-end GPUs is that they have a special mechanism put into place that senses overheating issues. This mechanism, commonly known as 'thermal throttling,' slows down the GPU's speed when the machine heats up too much to prevent it from irreversible damage. 

When the speed is slowed down, it'll obviously affect performance; hence, you must choose a design featuring an appropriate cooling system.

Quick Take - Best Budget Graphics Cards

Just looking for the three best budget graphics cards? Here they are:

  1. XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX
  2. MSI GTX 1050 TI GAMING X 4G
  3. MSI GTX 1050 TI 4GT OC

Review of the Best Budget Graphics Cards

Go through our carefully formulated list of some of the best budget graphics cards available in the market today to pick the best one based on your needs. 

XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition 1386MHz OC+, 8GB GDDR5, VR Ready, Dual BIOS, 3xDP HDMI DVI, AMD Graphics Card (RX-580P8DFD6)

PROS

  • Features the latest Polaris architecture
  • Specially designed XL inductors to eliminate inductor noise
  • XFX double dissipation cooling technology for efficient cooling performance
  • Showcases the new FinFET 14 process technology, ensuring optimized performance
  • Offers multiple GPU overclocked settings, ranging from 1366 MHz true clock and 1386 MHz OC+

CONS

  • Creates a lot of heat 
  • Some might feel it uses more power

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers were pleased with their purchase because this card can efficiently handle heavy games at higher frames per second without any issues. They say the value they receive in terms of specs is excellent for the price they paid. Customer service is prompt and responsive, as well. Overall, users were happy with both the performance and the price.

Why it Stands Out to Us

A dual-fan system cools the XFX Radeon by featuring a double dissipation cooling technology with a minimum power requirement of 500 watts. If we talk about the device's overall construction, the card is embedded with the latest Polaris architecture, representing the 4th generation GCN graphics core and a FinFET 14 process technology for supreme performance.

Moreover, this model rocks brand new multimedia cores and a display engine. It's a pro when it comes to hardware-controlled clock speed performance optimization, enabling efficient performance at all times. 

The cooling technology has continuously been upgraded to introduce a model that reduces temperatures VRM up to 30-degree Celsius and GDDR temperatures by 20-degree Celsius. But it does not do so at the expense of a silent system; it cools down the processor by reducing the dB noise by about five percent.  

Bottom Line

With an efficient Radeon chill technology specially designed to lower GPU temperatures, increase performance, save power, and ensure longevity, you won't ever realize the fact that this device is cost-efficient. It will deliver you the same performance as a higher-priced GPU model but without breaking the bank.

MSI Computer Video Graphic Cards GeForce GTX 1050 TI GAMING X 4G, 4GB

PROS

  • Video memory of 4GB gddr5
  • Supports 3x display monitors
  • Digital maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320
  • Twin frozen cooling technology for efficient cooling 
  • Excellent to enhance the graphics power of your SFF or HTPC

CONS

  • Fan might be a little loud for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

Users noticed results after installing this card in their CPU instantly; it's a beast that's compact yet functional. It gives the same performance as a powerful full-sized GPU without taking up a ton of physical space, or high power is what buyers acclaimed most. It's easy to install and offers impressive performance.  

Why it Stands Out to Us

We're all probably familiar with the MSI gaming X series by now and hence, their twin frozr cooler design, whereby the cooling portion of this model is a bit more tamed. Alongside the aluminum heatsink, we have a thick heat pipe that goes all the way to the GPU, making direct contact in the middle and eventually cooled by 280-millimeter Torz 2.0 fans. 

Incorporating a custom PCB design, the company focused on improving the four-faced power design as well as other smaller components. The design comes with 768 CUDA cores, four gigabytes of gddr5 video memory by default, and a max resolution of 2560 x 1600.

Bottom Line

Enjoy more reality and more fun with the MSI GTX 1050 Ti graphics card. Supporting both VIVE and Oculus Rift Easy one-step on-screen setup, you won't feel like you're getting less because you paid less. It's specially designed with the latest technology so you can have the best graphics experience that's well under your budget.

Best Graphics Card for the Money:
MSI GTX 1050 TI 4GT OC

MSI Computer V809-2277R Video Card (GTX 1050 TI 4GT OC)

PROS

  • Perfect for 1080p gaming
  • Offers 4GB VRAM without any external power requirements
  • Four-phase PCB design for higher overclocking performance
  • Twin Frozr thermal design for elevated performance during gaming activities
  • i5 processor proves excellent for gaming at higher speeds, higher resolution, and numerous effects

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers were extremely satisfied with their purchase as they claimed the product delivered on all its promises. It handled all of the games users made it go through quite efficiently and conveyed premium performance. They say it's one of the best graphics cards in the market at this price point. It delivers highly sharp images and smooth gameplay on high graphics settings.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The MSI GTX 1050 TI OC features a four-gigabyte frame buffer. And like all cards, it is extremely easy to drop into an existing system. What takes the cake here is that you don't need a PCI Express power connector; it's completely competent in pulling out the required power from the PCI express slot.   

This card supports paramount leading-edge features like Nvidia's G-Sync, 8K output, and DirectX 12. It showcases an MSI afterburner utility, enabling you to actually monitor the clock speeds and temperatures. In terms of overclocking, it can top out to about 1,695 MHz, which is extremely impressive for the price you get it in. The twin Frozr VI thermal design really elevates the memory clock speeds and allows a higher core. 

Bottom Line

With such an attractive price point, faster processing, higher overclocking potential, and a binned chip, the MSI GTX is an all-rounder when we talk about budget-friendly cards. Being small, affordable, and not producing a lot of noise, you can't overlook this model.

MSI Gaming Radeon RX 570 256-bit 8GB GDRR5 DirectX 12 VR Ready CFX Graphcis Card (RX 570 ARMOR 8G OC)

PROS

  • Does not heat right away after enduring load
  • Showcases an aluminum core for higher stability
  • Afterburner overclocking utility makes it good for overclocking
  • Features all solid capacitors for lower temperatures and higher efficiency
  • 8GB GDDR5 VRAM makes it a beast for 1080p gaming, providing more headroom for higher quality visuals

CONS

  • Card becomes noisy at 100% fan speed

What Recent Buyers Report

People claimed that they bought this card after thorough research on the internet and were not disappointed. It's a cost-effective option that delivers a low price without compromising on quality or performance. It was easy to install and offered sharp images every time. It performs extremely well with customers' games of choice and runs cool even when overclocked.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The MSI RX 570 ARMOUR 8G OC comes with a giant heat sink and nickel-plated copper heat pipes. What's more is that this model incorporates two MSI TORX fans to keep your GPU system cool, no matter the load.

What we like about this design is the zero frozr attribute designed to eliminate any kind of fan noise (to an extent) due to the MSI TORX fans. It does this by ceasing the fan activity during low load conditions. You also have the ability to take advantage of a maximum of five displays utilizing AMD's Eyefinity technology. 

Furthermore, the card and the usuals also support AMD Radeon exclusive features, including AMD LiquidVR technology, the Radeon Chill technology, AMD Crossfire, FreeSync 2, etc.  

Bottom Line

This 8GB graphics card provides you with video memory that's highly efficient in bringing all your higher-end games to 1080p, all while maintaining a good frame per second rate. It's an excellent choice for someone looking for a decent-quality graphics card that strikes a balance between handling its own temperatures and delivering a noise-free graphics performance.

Sapphire Radeon 11265-05-20G Pulse RX 580 8GB GDDR5 Dual HDMI/ DVI-D/ Dual DP OC with Backplate (UEFI) PCI-E Graphics Card Graphic Cards

PROS

  • Backplate designed to minimize heating issues
  • Runs even the latest games in max graphics quite efficiently 
  • Uses an extra efficient cooling technology with a dual fan system
  • Features high capacity polymers constructed from aluminum to offer reliability
  • Offers a range of features like quick-connect fans, HDR, support for Radeon Chill, FreeSync 2, etc.

CONS

  • Might freeze up 

What Recent Buyers Report

Most consumers thought this card was a monster after using it. Moreover, they recommended it to potential buyers, saying it is perfect for if you're on a tight budget and want the most out of your dollar. It delivers zero hassles and 100% satisfactory performance. Users reported back saying it's easy to install and overclock.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This model comes with a boost clock of 1366Mhz, 2340 stream processors, 8000Mhz effective memory clock speed, and an 8GB frame buffer. The backplate is neatly designed and blends right into any white, black, or red theme. Moreover, it serves as a heat sink at the back of the VRMs. There's also a heating pad in between the back of the VRMs and the backplate. This helps in lowering the temperatures by about three to four degrees. 

It only requires a single eight-pin power connector. Sapphire has a TDP rating for this model that's under 225 watts. It runs pretty cool due to the heavy heat sink installed in the configuration. Also, in terms of noise, it's efficiently kept to a minimum.

Bottom Line

The Sapphire PULSE is a great graphics card for smooth gameplay, which stays well within your financial requirements. The company hits the nail right in the head with the aesthetics, acoustics, performance, and just about everything else.

Pros and Cons of a Mini-Sized Graphics Card

There are various reasons you may want to go for a mini-sized or a small form factor (SFF) graphics card, especially when you have the option to get the same GPU in a full-sized factor or the mini-sized one. Here's a list of a few of the advantages and disadvantages you might want to consider when coming to a final decision below.

Pros

The benefits of a mini-sized graphics card include:

Size

The most common reason might be the size of your PC case. A small-form-factor case might not have space for you to install a full-sized graphics card, not to mention the power supply and the heat sync systems for optimal performance. This is where a mini-sized graphics card can get you the performance you desire.

Consumption

A mini-sized graphics card will use less power consumption and will put a less overall strain on your system due to having one fan rather than two, for instance.

Performance

You will be able to get the same performance as its full-sized counterpart at a much lighter and sleeker design. It should be noted that prolonged sessions (for instance, professional gaming, etc.) may cause the mini-sized to heat up more, especially if it's cramped up in a small-form-factor case.  

Cons

On the other hand, some drawbacks include:

Heat 

Due to the smaller form factor and a smaller fan, this will generally mean more heat. This may hinder the performance of the graphics card (lower frame rates, for instance) over prolonged sessions. Especially, as previously stated above, in a cramped SFF case. A cooling system may offset this, but that may require an additional power supply and, of course, more space.

Noise

A smaller single fan would also translate to higher noise.

Graphics Card Slot Types

Graphic cards feature a range of slot types that differ based on their configuration. Let's look at some of these design variations below:

PCI Express

Peripheral Component Interconnect Express is the slot most latest and powerful graphics cards cater to. Though they are designed to accept only cards that match. There are four configurations the PCI Express is available in, namely; PCI-Ex1, PCI-Ex4, PCI-Ex8, and PCI-Ex16. The PCI-Ex1 had the peak transfer speed of read/write simultaneously at 250MB/s, whereas the PCI-Ex16 can simultaneously read/write at 4GB/s.  

PCI

These were the standard slots that were introduced in the early 1990s. Unlike the PCI Express slots, PCI has the need for bus or communication channel sharing. They were designed to bypass the CPU when addressing memory when performing graphics processes. The peak transfer speed was at a combined 132MB/s shared between read and write.

ISA

Like the name, Industry Standard Architecture, they were once the standard slot across all PCs. This slot no longer exists on modern motherboards. The peak transfer speed was at a maximum of 2MB/s to 3MB/s. Unlike the other slots mentioned here, it addressed memory through the CPU, which would lead to slower overall speed during higher graphic intensive processes.

AGP

Accelerated Graphics Port was the standard for most graphics cards before the PCI-Ex16. There are four different configuration speeds available, which are 1X, 2X, 4X, and 8X. The AGP 8X has the peak transfer speed of a combined 2.133GB/s, shared between read and write. 

Today, the best graphics card will not be available in this type. You do need to be careful when getting an older AGP card, as not all of them will be compatible with all AGP motherboards. Therefore, research if you're planning on buying these types.  

2GB vs. 4GB Graphics Card - Comparison Overview

On the surface, seeing the same graphics card with a 2GB and a 4GB variant might think of the 4GB one being better since it's bigger and more expensive. But in many cases, there might be other factors that might make you take a second look. That being said, it is not recommended for you to buy a 2GB card if you can go for a 4GB one.

VRAM

The most obvious difference is the additional 2GBs of Video RAM in a 4GB graphics card. This addition is enormous when it comes to gaming. You cannot play newer and better graphics-intensive games on higher or extreme settings on a 2GB graphics card. More GBs will drastically help with better graphics and higher frame rates.

Multiple Monitors

A 2GB graphics card will perform well with a single monitor on most games. But with multiple screens set up at higher resolution, you would require more VRAM for better and higher Frames Per Second (FPS).

Card Itself

Higher VRAM is only useful when you're gaming at 1080p or higher. Even then, a lower or mid-range graphics card with 4GB would not be able to render such high resolutions while simultaneously maintaining a decent frame rate. Therefore, that extra 4GBs might just go to waste, so there won't be any point in wasting the extra money for more VRAM in that situation.

How to Install a Graphics Card

Once you have your graphics card in hand, it's imperative that you have a sound understanding of how to install it properly. Take a look at the guide below to help you through the installation process!

  1. Unscrew and remove the front side panels of your CPU.

  2. Remove the cover off the teeth that's put in place to prevent damage. Avoid touching the teeth with your fingers.

  3. If there's a PCI-Ex16 slot switch, make sure it's disengaged. It will be disengaged if it's pushed down; if it's not, do so. This depends upon the type of motherboard your CPU has. If your motherboard does not require to push this slot down, skip this step.

  4. If you're setting up a new graphics card without removing an old one, remove the expansion slot plates by unscrewing them.

  5. Line up the teeth of the card with slots as well as the metal plates with the expansion slots of the case. Be gentle and careful while doing so.

  6. When it's in place, push it down to lock it in place. You will feel it click once it's installed correctly.

  7. Insert the expansion slots back in place. 

  8. Connect any additional power connectors if your card requires, line it up, and click it in. The best way to do this is by matching up the connector's unique pattern with the pattern of the slot; once you push it in and hear a click, you're good to go.

  9. Your card has been physically installed.

  10. Now you need to plug in all other components, turn your monitor on and install the driver.

  11. In order to install the driver, just open it up and click run, and your PC will do the rest.

  12. Now you're all set.

To get a better visual understanding of the installation of your graphics card, refer to the video below:

How to Update a Graphics Card

To update the drivers of an AMD graphics card, follow these instructions:

  1. Search up, device manager. 

  2. If your computer does not specify what graphic card there is and only its family, right-click the graphics card and select update driver software. Then select search automatically. Once it's done, you should now be able to see the graphics card model as well. If it was priorly visible, skip this step.

  3. Now that you know what model your graphics card is, log onto the AMD support page and select your particular model out of the options listed under 'search for your product.' Then click submit.

  4. Once you've landed on the next page, scroll down to your PC system and edition, e.g., 32 bit or 64 bit, etc.

  5. Select catalyst or crimson edition, depending upon your personal preference. A catalyst edition is generally suited since it's more lightweight.

  6. Select the catalyst edition and run the file.

  7. Next, select your language and click next.

  8. Choose custom from the 'select express or custom install.' Click next.

  9. Accept the terms and conditions. 

  10. By now, the system should install and proceed to completion on its own.

For a more in-depth and visual understanding of what we just penned down; and to see how to update your intel or Nvidia graphics card, refer to the following video:

Conclusion 

A graphics card is a fine piece of technology, facilitating your overall graphics experience. The myriad of features and benefits is what makes it such a popular choice among all PC users, and in this day and age, you just can't survive without one. 

Selecting the best out of the best is crucial because you can't just buy one every other day, especially when you have a budget to stick to. It's a decision that needs to be made by analyzing all available data and experience. 

Look for one that offers a higher fps rate, efficient cooling mechanism, more clock speed, and overall, an optimal performance. After reading this article, we hope you will be better positioned to arrive at an informed conclusion.

People Also Ask

These frequently asked questions have been formulated after a thought-out process, so we're sure these will help you out a step further.  

How Much Does a Budget Graphics Card Cost? 

For light 1080p gaming, a graphics card will cost you around $100-$180. Higher-end 1080p cards or entry-level ​1440p cards will have a price range of about $200-$300.

How Many GB Should a Graphics Card Have for GTA 5?

According to certain gaming experts, the minimum system requirement for video cards is using NVIDIA 9800 GT 1GB or AMD HD 4870 1GB (DX 10, 10.1, 11). In contrast, the recommended system requirements ask you to use NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB or AMD HD7870 2GB. 

Therefore, the minimum requirement of GB a graphics card should have is one, while for higher graphics performance using a card with 2GBs or more is suitable.

Do I Need a Graphics Card If I Don't Play Games?

If you're not a fan of hardcore gaming or gaming at all, you can get by without installing a GPU card to your unit. This is because PCs already have an integrated graphics processor unit (iGPU) installed in them. So if you use your computer to perform little tasks like surfing the web, doing homework, or performing office work, you don't need to spend money on a new graphics card. 

What Graphics Card Do I Have?

To detect what graphics card you have on your PC, run a DirectX diagnostic tool. Click on 'start,' next, select 'run,' write 'dxdiag' in the box that pops up and then select 'ok.' This will open up the DirectX Diagnostic tool; when it does, click 'display.' Once the tab labeled display has been reached, there will be a section with the name 'device,' which will have all the details like the name, memory, etc.

Why Are Graphics Cards So Expensive?

Every product ever invented features a load of variations based upon different attributes. One such attribute is the price; you will find a new product model in every price range. Along the same lines, GPU cards come in a variety of different price points. The higher the specifications, the higher the price. 

But not all GPU cards are expensive. Today, the market is filled with cost-efficient options without compromising on the overall quality and performance. 

How Do I Know If My GPU is Dying?

Shuttering is the most common sign of a graphics card that's on the verge of its death. In addition to this, screen glitches, noisy fans, blue screen of death, and strange visuals on the screen symbolize discrepancies. You need to troubleshoot in order to fix the issues or if the signs persist, replace it with a new one.  

Is A Graphics Card Required For an Autocad?

No, it is not. Autocad is CPU intensive and requires a VRAM of 128 MB. This amount is already pre-installed in most PCs, so there's no issue here.