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The thing about finding the best graphics card under $200 is that this is one of the most competitive price ranges on the GPU market, just behind the $200-$300 range. Despite all the marketing focusing on things like the latest, greatest, Super Saiyan RTX 2080 Ti most people don’t have a spare kidney to put down for a graphics card.
That makes shopping for the best GPU under $200 a smart move, especially for budget/mid-range gaming PC builds. Many GPUs in this price range can also be used to revive old office PCs and prebuilts to turn them into proper gaming PCs. You can also check out our guide to the best GPUs for under $100 right here.
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If you see any jargon or specs you’re unfamiliar with in the following article, don’t worry. We’ve included a buying guide at the bottom of the article that should help answer all of your questions. Leave a comment if you still have any after that.
Enough pretense, though. Let’s find the best video card under $200.
Buying The Best Graphics Card Under $200
In case you didn’t understand the specs thrown around in the reviews above, or still don’t know which card to choose, we have you covered. In this buying guide section, we’ll answer common questions and explain the key compatibility concerns in this price range.
What kind of performance can I expect in this price range?
When you’re buying a GPU for $200 or less, you’re primarily buying a graphics card for 1080p gaming. From $100 to $200, most cards are built to perform well at 1080p and high/max settings at 60 FPS in modern games. Compared to the lower-fidelity graphics on console (generally equivalent to mixed medium settings on PC) and common resolution/FPS compromises, you’re already getting a much better gaming experience.
AMD cards in this price range will perform better than Nvidia cards in most scenarios, but at the cost of a larger size and increased power consumption.
A few of the higher-end cards in this section– those straining against that self-imposed $200 cap and more VRAM– are also well-suited for gaming at higher resolutions. We’ll dive into that below. Find all our recommended budget graphics cards right here.
Does VRAM matter?
Quite a bit… under certain circumstances.
More VRAM doesn’t generally contribute to raw performance, in the same way that more RAM in your PC doesn’t. VRAM is used for streaming textures, managing post-processing effects, and managing high resolutions.
In short, the more VRAM you have, the better your card will be able to handle higher resolutions like 1440p, 1800p, and 4K. The rest of the card still needs to keep up, though, and GPUs in this price range generally aren’t suited for playing modern games at a native 4K, regardless of VRAM.
For this price range, though…
4GB of VRAM is ideal for 1080p gaming at max settings and 1440p games with reduced settings.
8GB of VRAM is ideal for 1080p gaming at max settings, VR games, and 1440p games with high-resolution textures. With higher-end GPUs, this amount of VRAM is also suitable for tackling 1800p and 4K gaming scenarios.
Length, width, power, and compatibility
Now, let’s talk compatibility. This is especially important in this budget price range, so we’ve actually added a power spec to our reviews for this article.
This will generally be the greatest barrier of entry. Length is measured in millimeters and is the most likely reason a graphics card won’t fit inside your PC. For users of prebuilt PCs and refurbished office PCs, this is especially a concern.
Be sure to compare our measurements to the dimensions inside your chassis before making any buying decisions. You should be fine with most standard ATX and Micro ATX cases, but it’s still better safe than sorry.
Less important but still relevant for prebuilt users specifically is width. This is measured in PCI Express slots in your chassis with 2-Slot being the standard for most graphics cards. This won’t be a concern for any user-built PC (except certain slimline HTPCs and SFF ITX builds), but it can be a problem for certain prebuilts.
As long as you have at least 2 slots open in your chassis, you should be fine.
This is the other big one for this price range.
While the RX 570 easily beats the GTX 1650 in raw performance, it consumes much more power and space than the GTX 1650. For many prebuilt PCs, the RX 570 is simply too large and power-hungry for their chassis and PSU to handle. Since you often can’t replace the power supply in a prebuilt office PC– or the PSU being used is nonstandard– this becomes even more problematic.
We’ve included both the required PSU wattage and the power connectors required in our GPU reviews above. Cards that don’t require a connector can be powered by the PCI Express lane, so long as the PSU requirement is still met.
Do I pick AMD or Nvidia?
Having difficulty choosing from our list above? This should help.
Pick AMD (aka, one of the RX cards) if:
- You want the most performance in this price range
- You have ample power and room to spare in your PC
- You want the best performance-per-dollar in this price range
Pick Nvidia (aka, one of the GTX cards) if:
- You need a smaller, more power-efficient GPU
- You don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of power to do it
- You’re playing mostly Nvidia-favored games (Fortnite and most modern emulators)