Graphics cards: General buying tips and current price-performance winners

The last reference models from Nvidia, here an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, have the nickname Founders Edition.

Today’s graphics card purchase advice is about current recommendations in terms of price-performance ratio. For this purpose, we will of course also take a close look at the performance of graphics cards and of course also take a look at the most modern model series from AMD and Nvidia, i.e. the Radeon RX 7900 XT and XTX as well as GeForce RTX 4070 Ti, 4080 and 4090. But it’s also about general tips on what to look out for when buying a graphics card. That’s what we want to start with.

The most important thing for a purchase decision is, of course, what performance you need. Of course, one could say that you can’t have enough power – but you certainly don’t have an unlimited budget. You have two possible approaches: Either you look at which types of graphics are suitable for your budget. After that you can see how they perform. If this performance is okay, you can start selecting a model. If the performance of the models you can afford is too weak for you, you must either increase your budget or postpone the purchase until the desired performance for your budget is available.

However, waiting a long time has the disadvantage that at some point there will come a point when powerful graphics cards have become cheaper, but new games are on the market that demand more from the hardware.

Search based on budget or performance

The second possibility: You set a certain minimum performance that you absolutely want to have. For example, at least 60 FPS (frames per second) with WQHD as resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels) in three to four specific games at high detail levels, and then look for tests in which it is clear which graphics cards can handle this.

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As a rule, editorial offices test graphics cards at maximum detail levels, with games with ray tracing usually having a measured value with and without activated ray tracing. If “high” details are enough for you, a graphics card that – to follow our example – only manages 40-50 FPS with WQHD, but this at maximum details.

The last reference models from Nvidia, here an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, have the nickname Founders Edition.
Source: PC games hardware

Once you have identified the graphics card series in question, take a look at what they cost. If they are too expensive for you, you have to consider whether you should wait or whether a slightly lower performance is enough for you. For those who do not know exactly what a graphics card “row” or “series” is, we will explain this briefly in the next section.

Definition question: graphics card series

AMD and Nvidia develop GPUs, i.e. CPUs for graphics calculations, and regularly launch new graphics cards based on the new GPUs. They specify a reference design for each GPU – if this is then officially published in the form of the first graphics cards produced, we’re talking about AMD or Nvidia having introduced “a new graphics card”, such as the GeForce RTX 4080 or Radeon RX 7900 XT.

Strictly speaking, these are entire graphics card rows or series, since the partner manufacturers have adapted models based on the respective reference design.

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These models are absolutely identical to the reference models in terms of performance – as long as the GPU is not overclocked. Therefore, one simply no longer speaks of series or series, but names the reference model as a representative – the RTX 4080 is therefore available from many manufacturers, who in turn offer it as a copy of the reference design or in their own variants.

For example, when we use a phrase like “The AMD Radeon RX 6650 XT is a mid-range graphics card,” we mean all graphics cards that use the GPU of AMD’s RX 6650 XT reference design. Next, we will clarify what differences there are between the individual models from the partner manufacturers of AMD and Nvidia, for example from Asus, Gigabyte, INNO3D, MSI, Sapphire, Palit or XFX.