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When you’re buying all the components to build a custom desktop PC, one of the most expensive (if not the single most expensive) part is going to be the graphics card. A discrete GPU is a must-have for gamers and video editors, and thankfully, the graphics card shortage we saw a few years ago is today nothing more than a bitter memory. In 2020, there are GPUs suited for everything from full HD 1080p gaming at 60fps to multi-monitor 4K Ultra HD setups, but no matter what your budget is or what sort of battle station you’re putting together, we have all the best cheap GPU deals right here.
Today’s best GPU deals
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR6 GPU — $130 after rebate, was $160
- MSI Radeon RX 570 8GB GDDR5 GPU — $140 with code VGAQWMS27
- MSI Radeon RX 5500 XT 4GB GDDR6 GPU — $162 after rebate with code VGAQWMS34 + free copy of Godfall and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, was $240
- MSI Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 GPU — $250 with code VGAQWMS39 + free copy of Godfall and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, was $320
- MSI GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 GPU — $290 after rebate with code VGAMSIET228 + free copy of Rainbow Six Siege Gold Edition, was $395
- MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT 8GB GDDR6 GPU — $360 after rebate + free copy of Godfall and World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, was$440
How to choose a GPU
The cryptocurrency mining boom caused a crisis in GPU availability for several years (video cards being necessary to mine things like Bitcoin) causing prices to skyrocket, and if you remember that, then you know it was a dark time for PC builders for awhile. Thankfully, things have stabilized in recent years; on top of that, there are now plenty of surprisingly cheap GPUs that make 1080p/60 fps PC gaming more accessible than ever — and if you want to get into 1440p Quad HD or 4K Ultra HD gaming, you’ve got more than a few options there, too.
When shopping for GPU deals, the two big names you’re going to see are AMD Radeon and Nvidia GeForce. These are often sold under different brand names (such as XFX, MSI, Asus, and so on), but the GPU hardware itself — that is, the stuff that actually does the heavy lifting when it comes to graphics processing — is pretty much the same. The differences between card manufacturers will come down to details like heat sink efficiency and cooling capabilities. Be sure to read plenty of customer reviews, but generally speaking, you’re in safe waters sticking with a highly rated card from a reputable maker.
As far as choosing between AMD and Nvidia, you can’t really go wrong with either. Both companies make great graphics cards, and today, you can find cheap GPUs from either one that are capable of running modern games at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second (the standard for PC gaming). AMD Radeon cards are typically touted as the superior value, but Nvidia cards aren’t typically priced much higher and GPU deals mean you can often find the latest GeForce video cards for the same price you’d pay for an equivalent Radeon GPU. Also, don’t assume that because you have an AMD CPU that you need an AMD GPU. AMD CPUs pair perfectly well with Nvidia video cards.
Of all PC components, graphics cards cover perhaps the widest range of capabilities and price points. The AMD Radeon RX 500-series and 5500 cards deliver excellent 1080p performance and are a great value. In the same bracket are the Nvidia GeForce GTX 16-series cards (1650, 1650 Super, 1660, 1660 Ti, etc.). Expect to pay around $150-$250 for a cheap GPU in this category. On the higher end of the spectrum are the AMD Radeon RX 5600- and 5700-series cards and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 20-series cards. These are naturally pricier, but are a better choice for enthusiast PC builds where 1440p or 4K gaming are a priority. We generally advise against the last-generation Nvidia GTX 10-series cards unless your budget is tight and you find a really good GPU deal on one.
One final consideration (but one that’s no less important for a gaming PC setup) is your monitor. A proper gaming monitor will have built-in vertical sync technology — either AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync — that’s made to work with one of the two GPU brands. Generally speaking, a FreeSync monitor is made for AMD cards while G-Sync monitors work best with Nvidia cards, but this isn’t a hard rule. Nvidia has been offering more cross-compatibility support for its cards lately, and many FreeSync monitors work fine with Nvidia GPUs (although you may have to use a DisplayPort cable instead of HDMI for the best results, so make sure your monitor supports that). Again, be sure to do your research when shopping for monitor deals to ensure your display is fully compatible with your GPU and vice-versa.
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