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Nothing’s going to stop gamers from building a gaming machine, even if they only have $300 to their name and no electricity! If you find yourself in a similar situation, except maybe with access to electricity, then that’s probably why you’re looking for the best graphics card under $100.
We’ve rounded up all the graphics in this price range and did an intensive comparison to see which among these really are worth spending. You can also check out our overall budget graphics card guide to find the best GPU in the $100 – $300 price range.
How to Pick the Best Graphics Card Under $100 for Your Needs
To sum up, cards in this price range may not give you outstanding performance at 1080p but should give you decent performance at 900p or 720p. Of course, how it performs depends heavily on the type of game you’re playing, the specific graphics settings you’re using, and, perhaps most importantly, the specific card you actually end up buying. You can also check out our best graphics cards under $200 in our guide here.
Even though we laid out our top picks, you might still have a lot of questions. So, before you “cash out and regret later”, here are some of the most important things you should keep in mind when shopping for a graphics card under $100.
Graphics cards in this price range fit perfectly inside most cases. But if you’re planning to build a really small computer, go for the smallest ones we have on the list. Specifically, either the EVGA GeForce GT 1030 or the MSI AMD Radeon R7 240. These cards are small enough to fit inside small cases, even a mini-ITX motherboard.
Graphics cards have varying cooling solutions. Needless to say, more fans are more efficient at keeping the temperatures down and, since they are spreading the work out evenly, they don’t work as hard. In other words, they are quieter… and more expensive.
Well, at least usually. It depends on the capability of the card, specifically its TDP. For reference, TDP is the max amount of power the card needs to keep the temps below the maximum temperature.
On the flip side, cards with only 1 fan are louder since they need more power to keep the temperature down. And even with the fan curve adjusted, it still isn’t going to be as efficient as cards with 2 or 3 fans.
Ideally, you’ll want to avoid graphics cards with one fan. But considering this is a roundup of graphics cards under $100, it’s unlikely you can grab a card with 3 fans without sacrificing any performance.
Newer cards are designed to consume less power than older cards. However, this doesn’t change the fact that higher-end cards consume more power than mid-end cards.
Regardless, the graphics card must be paired with a reliable power supply. Otherwise, you’ll end up cashing out today and regretting later. To know how much wattage your card needs, check the card’s TDP (thermal design power), which can easily be found by heading over to the card’s website.
There are online resources like PCPARTPICKER that lets you check both compatibility and theoretical power consumption. Though it’s not 100% accurate, it’s still worth checking.
Take a look at the specs of the card. It’s a rule of thumb that you do your research prior to buying any computer component– not just graphics cards. In the case of graphics cards, you’ll want to check the clock speed, boost speed, the amount of– and type of– VRAM it has, and benchmark results online.
Ideally, you’ll want to choose according to what processor you have to eliminate bottlenecks. Bottlenecking occurs when you pair an old processor with a newer, higher-end graphics card (or vice-versa). However, if you’re planning to upgrade to a more powerful processor soon, buying the most powerful graphics card you can get your hands on in this price range is a no brainer.
Graphics cards have varying I/O ports; some support legacy ports, like VGA, but some don’t. As such, it’s vital you check the I/O ports at the back of the monitor first to make sure you’re getting a card that supports it.
Most of the graphics cards these days support DP and HDMI ports so it’s important that you opt for a monitor that supports these display inputs if you still haven’t got one. Although there are converter ports for those of you who already own a monitor but don’t have these inputs.
And that’s that, the best graphics cards under $100 from our own in-house testing. If your curious to know what the overall best graphics card is you can check out our buyer guide here.