GPU Hierarchy 2020 & 2021: The Ultimate Graphic Cards Tier List

GPU Hierarchy 2019: The Ultimate Graphic Cards Tier List

It’s time for some GPU rankings!

This is our new graphics card hierarchy list, which sorts all currently-available graphics cards on the market into an easily-understandable GPU tier list. You can use this to compare graphics cards and how they perform in relation to each other, even across differing brands and architectures. We’ve worked really hard to make sure that each of our picks are accurate and available at the time of writing, so we hope you enjoy!

Tier 1: The Ultimate (The Best 4K and VR Experiences)

To kick off our GPU Hierarchy with a bang, we’re starting with Tier 1: The Ultimate.

The cards within this range are the strongest available on the market, and built to chew through even the beefiest modern games at maximum settings and 4K resolution. VR gamers opting for high-end headsets like the HTC Vive Pro, Valve Index, and the Oculus Rift S will also be able to take advantage of the greater GPU power here, especially for driving 120 Hz VR experiences.

This isn’t the range where you’re buying for performance-per-dollar, mind. This price range is for the most expensive, most absurdly powerful GPUs, and that does come with a price premium. However, buying these now should put off your upgrade cycle by at least another couple years on top of the typical 4-year cycle experienced in other price ranges.

#1. Nvidia Titan RTX

Nvidia Titan RTX

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 24 GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: N/A (succeeds Titan V)

  • Performance: Stellar. The best graphics card on the market, bar none. The extra heapings of VRAM also make the Titan RTX suited for more professional applications, like AI research. This is a pro, or pro-sumer graphics card, not really a consumer product.
  • Value: Very poor, at least for gaming performance. The 2080 Ti has most of the same performance, but at a much, much lower price. This is a pure vanity item for gamers.
  • Built for a very, very specific audience. Not recommended at all for those outside of it. Gamers who want the best of the best would still be better off with the RTX 2080 Ti.
  • Benchmarks! (GamersNexus)

#2. Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 11GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: None (succeeds 1080 Ti by large margin)

  • Performance: Also stellar. In fact, the RTX 2080 Ti comes within spitting range of the Titan RTX in pretty much every gaming scenario, despite being several times cheaper. This is because the 2080 Ti is actually, well… built for gaming, whereas the Titan RTX has a different audience in mind.
  • Value: Great, when compared to the Titan RTX, but still poor compared to cheaper options due to diminishing performance-per-dollar on the high end.
  • If you want the best gaming experience but also don’t want to sell both of your kidneys, the RTX 2080 Ti is a great pick.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RTX 2080 Ti Graphics Card

#3. Nvidia RTX 2080 Super

Nvidia RTX 2080 Super

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: 1080 Ti, 2080

  • Performance: Also, also stellar. Just barely fits into this range, though, with performance nearly 25% lower than that of an RTX 2080 Ti. For the vast majority of gaming scenarios, though, this is still more than good enough for great experiences in VR and 4K.
  • Value: Good, for a high-end GPU… but somewhat poor in performance-per-dollar, like most high-end graphics cards.
  • Ray-tracing aside, this is pretty much just another GTX 1080 Ti.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RTX 2080 Super Graphics Card

Tier 2: High-End (4K and High-End VR Gaming)

High-End provides proper high-end gaming experiences as it provides great 4K and VR gaming performance. If playing at 1440p, this is also where you’ll find the graphical power to more comfortably push games to 120 Hz and beyond, providing ultra-smooth experiences that console gamers could never dream of.

#4. AMD RX 5700 XT

AMD RX 5700 XT

Architecture: Navi | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: Radeon VII

#5. Nvidia RTX 2070 Super

Nvidia RTX 2070 Super

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: 2070 (slightly better), 2080 (slightly worse)

  • Performance: The second-best performer in this price range, albeit by a thin margin. Truthfully, the 2070 S and 5700 XT trade blows frequently.
  • Value: Much more expensive than the 5700 XT, and only better in a few select instances.
  • Ray-tracing support makes this card a bit more future-proof than the competition.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RTX 2070 Super Graphics Card

Tier 3: Midrange Powerhouses (1440p and Mid-Range VR Gaming)

Now for Tier 3: Midrange Powerhouses. This is one of the most popular ranges to buy a graphics card in, and for good reason: this is where you get some of the best performance-per-dollar while still futureproofing your system!

In addition to playing in 1440p and VR at high-to-max settings and 60 FPS, the high VRAM capacity and general power offered by the cards in this category will allow for some 4K gaming. You may need to downscale resolution to 1800p or turn down other settings in order to maintain 60 FPS, though.

For gamers on 1080p and 144/240 Hz monitors, this Tier may also appeal.

#6. Nvidia RTX 2060 Super

Nvidia RTX 2060 Super

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: 2070

  • Performance: Superb, the best in this price range for driving 1440p and midrange VR experiences.
  • Value: Decent. Only barely better than the cheaper RX 5700.
  • Ray-tracing support! The Super RTX 2060 is pretty much just a last-gen RTX 2070, which is quite the leap. Were it not for the 5700’s release, this would be the best value in this category by far.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RTX 2060 Super Graphics Card

#7. AMD RX 5700

AMD RX 5700

Architecture: Navi | VRAM: 8GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: None

  • Performance: The second-best in this price range, and not too far behind. Superb for 1080p. 1440p, and VR gaming alike.
  • Value: Great! A good bit better than the RTX 2060 and competitive with the 2060 Super for a fair bit cheaper.
  • No ray-tracing, which sucks if you want that feature.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RX 5700 Graphics Card

#8. AMD RX Vega 64

AMD RX Vega 64

Architecture: Vega | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 (sometimes HBM2) | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: None

  • Performance: Not too far behind #2, despite being a much older GPU. Pretty solid.
  • Value: Decent, if it’s cheaper than the RX 5700. Value will get better the longer you wait, as this is slowly beginning to be replaced by the 5700 and 5700 XT.
  • Slowly getting phased out, as mentioned above. Also, still no ray-tracing.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)

#9. AMD RX Vega 56

AMD RX Vega 56

Architecture: Vega | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 (sometimes HBM2) | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: None

  • Performance: Fairly solid, especially if you can find it for cheaper than an RTX 2060.
  • Value: Decent, if it’s cheaper than both the Vega 64 and 5700. This will get better the longer you wait, as it’s slowly being replaced by the 5700…but very slowly.
  • Like its older RX Vega sibling, slowly getting phased out. Also like the Vega 64, no ray-tracing.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)

#10. Nvidia RTX 2060

Nvidia RTX 2060

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: 1070, but a fair bit better

  • Performance: Good. Significantly better than the 1660 Ti for not much more money, and unlocks a whole new featureset via ray-tracing.
  • Value: Good. Serves as a nice entryway into the midrange for cheap, as well as ray-tracing graphical features. The cheapest GPU built for the next generation of gaming.
  • The cheapest card on the market offering ray-tracing support. Still a fairly compelling pick for those who can’t afford to spend more than $400 on a graphics card.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RTX 2060 Graphics Card

Tier 4: Midrange Value (1080p and Entry-Level VR Gaming)

Now for Tier 4: Midrange Value.

Most of the cards in this range perform pretty close to each other, and none of them provide real-time ray-tracing support. At best, expect a 15-to-20 FPS boost jumping from card to card here.

#11. Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti

Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 6GB GDDR6 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: GTX 1070

  • Performance: The best in this price range.
  • Value: Just okay. Not as big of a performance boost from 1660 as the price may indicate, and far surpassed by the RTX 2060, which isn’t much more expensive.
  • If you can afford this, you may want to save just a little extra for a 2060.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best GTX 1660 Ti Graphics Card

#12. Nvidia GTX 1660

Nvidia GTX 1660

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 6GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: GTX 1060 (but a fair bit better)

#13. AMD RX 590

AMD RX 590

Architecture: Polaris | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: None

  • Performance: A small bump over the 580, which is still very good.
  • Value: So-so. Performance-per-dollar is vastly outstripped by the GTX 1660.
  • Unless you’re getting an AMD Game Bundle, you’d probably be better off with the 1660.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)

#14. AMD RX 580

AMD RX 580

Architecture: Polaris | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: RX 480, but a fair bit better

  • Performance: Great performance for 1080p gaming, even today, despite its age. However, its crown as value king has been lost.
  • Value: Strong, and not much weaker than the RX 590. Important to keep to the 8GB variant, though, especially if you want to dabble in VR or resolutions higher than 1080p.
  • Make sure you buy 8GB, and compare prices with the 590!
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best RX 580 Graphics Card

#15. AMD RX 570

AMD RX 570

Architecture: Polaris | VRAM: 8GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: RX 470, but a fair bit better

  • Performance: Strong performance for 1080p gaming. Considerably better than anything in Tier 5, despite generally being available for the same price.
  • Value: Very strong, especially when it’s on one of its frequent discounts. Not too much weaker than its older brothers, as long as you get an 8GB variant.
  • Make sure you buy 8GB, and monitor the other RX 500 series cards prices. These three can get swapped around a lot.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)

Tier 5: Low-End (720p Gaming)

Now for Tier 5: Low End. We won’t sugarcoat it: unless you specifically need low-profile cards for old and weak systems, then these cards are not great for performance-per-dollar. If you can save for a Tier 4 card, make sure you do.

Regardless, the best options in this range are:

#16. Nvidia GTX 1650

Nvidia GTX 1650

Architecture: Turing | VRAM: 4GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: GTX 1050 Ti, but a good bit better

  • Performance: A significant improvement over the 560. Capable of some 1080p gaming in modern titles, and breezes through older games.
  • Value: Somewhat poor, but if you can’t afford anything more…this works as an entry-level GPU, especially for last-gen games.
  • Beaten in value by the RX 570, which usually costs about the same.
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)
  • Further Reading: Best GTX 1650 Graphics Card

#17. AMD RX 560

AMD RX 560

Architecture: Polaris | VRAM: 4GB GDDR5 | Last-Gen Equivalent GPUs: RX 460, but a little bit better

  • Performance: Capable of 720p gaming in modern titles, and 1080p in older games, with settings adjustments.
  • Value: Fairly poor, only recommended for the most severely budget-constrained gamers. And even then…you may have a better experience getting a used GPU instead.
  • Are you sure about this?
  • Benchmarks! (Digital Foundry @ Eurogamer)

FAQs

Where is [X graphics card]?

To keep things simple and up-to-date, we’ve streamlined our graphics card tier list to cards that are still being manufactured and are widely-available on retailers like Amazon and Newegg. But for those who want to buy secondhand on eBay or just see where their last-gen cards compare, we’ve also listed last-gen equivalent GPUs for each of the individual cards listed above.

What is VRAM, and why does it matter?

VRAM, or Video RAM, is the pool of memory used by your graphics card. While VRAM doesn’t have the biggest direct impact on your in-game performance, the amount and speed of your VRAM will determine the maximum resolution that your graphics card can handle. It may also impact things like texture resolution, the performance impact of post-processing effects, and more.

For some professional workloads, having lots of high-speed VRAM can also come in handy. For consumer purposes, though, you’re generally set with 8 GB.

VRAM Capacities

  • 4 GB VRAM – The target for 1080p gaming with high-resolution texture settings, at least in most scenarios.
  • 6 GB VRAM – The minimum for 1440p and VR gaming with high-resolution textures.
  • 8 GB VRAM – The ideal for 1440p, VR, and 4K gaming with high-resolution textures. Very, very few games can actually fill a frame buffer of this size, but it’s still nice to have wherever possible.

VRAM Types

  • GDDR5 – The bare minimum standard for modern cards- decently fast, too. The VRAM numbers above are based around this as a metric.
  • GDDR6 – The much faster successor to GDDR5, which also means (in some scenarios) that less GDDR6 VRAM is required to match the performance of GDDR5. Seen in Navi and Turing GPUs.
  • HBM2 – A rarer spec, used only by a few high-end/prosumer GPUs from AMD and Nvidia. Technically faster than GDDR6, but also much more expensive- prohibitively so.

What is RTX?

RTX is the new product line from Nvidia that adds “RT cores” to their graphics cards. As of the time of writing, RTX cards only come in the Turing architecture with the RTX 20- Series. RT cores allow for real-time ray-tracing, DLSS, and other Nvidia-exclusive features designed to amp up visuals.

The biggest feature offered by RTX is definitely the real-time ray-tracing, which essentially allows for far more realistic reflections and light ray simulation than previously possible in games. Unfortunately, this also comes at a great performance penalty with modern games, though this will get better over time, as the technology evolves.

At the time of writing, very few games on the market support ray-tracing, and using it comes at a great cost to framerate and resolution. This is more of a future-facing feature than anything else, for now.

Is there an AMD equivalent?

Not yet. AMD’s latest Navi architecture doesn’t support ray-tracing, since the feature is currently very niche and doing so would drive up costs significantly. AMD is unlikely to release a ray-tracing enabled card until 2021, and the overwhelming majority of games on the market still do not support the feature.

If you want ray-tracing today, or you don’t plan on upgrading any time within the next 3 or so years, then you may want to opt for an Nvidia RTX card. Otherwise, AMD’s offerings in all price ranges are superb for price-to-performance.

Are these rankings accurate?

Yes. Each of our rankings is backed with reputable third-party benchmarks from Digital Foundry, as well as our own additional research and experience. There may be some cases where cards in the same tier swap places depending on the specific game or application, but by and large these graphics card rankings are accurate to the experience you’ll have as a consumer.