This last quarter of 2020 has been crazy for graphics cards. And while there have been a lot of great new GPU releases this year, stock shortages are likely to continue clear until February of 2021.
The fault lies with a global shortage of DDR6 memory as well as current shipment delays.
Looking for a graphics card you can actually purchase? Here's a look at MSRP vs what's available.
Best Graphics Cards for The Money (2020 Update)
Need a graphics card but not sure what to purchase or what you're giving up? We'll take you through what's available right now.
From Under $100 to $200
I used to take a look at graphics cards in the under $100 space to give you an idea of what you could expect. But, with current pricing, I don't recommend anything in that category. The GT 1030 and RX 550 are OK but don't do a great job at even 1080p. And if you're tempted, I'd recommend you go with a better CPU with integrated graphics.
The RX 560 and GTX 1050 are the minimum I'd recommend; however, for $130 to $150 it doesn't really feel like you're getting what you pay for.
In terms of performance, I'd put the NVIDIA GTX 1050 ahead on most games with the RX 560 having a solid lead in most Direct X 12 titles. In terms of energy efficiency, the1050 has a slight lead.
The 1050 Ti is available for around $20 more and it gives a significant boost over all of these options; however, if you can find the newer and better performing GTX 1650 at around the same price, you'll want to go with that.
GTX 1650? Go Super.
While the MSRP of the GTX 1650 is $150, you'll be lucky to find one under $170. At that price, you might even find the GTX 1650 Super.
What you get now with the GTX 1650 and 1650 Super
- Low Profile and wattage makes it easy to slip into that pre-built at home or work PC you've got.
- Handle 1080p games pretty well.
What You're Missing:
It can be hard to find a GTX 1650 Super or right now but it is possible.
If you can't, the XFX RX 5500XT should technically be around the same price as the GTX 1650 Super and give you similar albeit less consistent performance. Overall, the market isn't too bad In this space.
Expected GPU Prices Vs Reality
|GPU||Expected MSRP||Reality (New)|
RX 6900 XT
RX 6800 XT
RX 5700 XT
RTX 2060 Super
RX 5600 XT
From $200 to $300
The PowerColor AMD Radeon RX 5600XT has been in stock as of late for around $280. And while you can get an RX 580 right now for around $250, I highly recommend you wait stay in line for the RX 5600XT which has substantial performance increases.
For reference, the 5600XT gives you better than 1660 Ti performance and very similar to RTX 2060 performance. And while the RTX 2060 (non-super) would be a great card at around $300, it simply isn't available for that.
PowerColor AXRX Specs:
- 14Gbps Memory speed
- 6GB GDDR6
- Boost 1620MHz
- 3 HDMI and a single DisplayPort
- 2304 Stream Processors
- PCIe 4.0
Cards like this have been my bread and butter. This price range offers great 1080p to 1440p performance. And as I like to trade my card out every few years, getting a mid-range card like this seems to make more sense.
How to Purchase the RX 5600XT?
There are a lot of buy and wait options available online and you'll want to skip the easy-to-purchase RX 580 at this price range.
While playing the waiting game may take up to a month, I think it's worth the wait. So, hop in line, and you'll get your card before you know it.
Not willing to wait? Consider auction sites for an option available right now for around $400.
From $300 to Under $400
In this price range, you should be able to find the likes of the RX 5700XT and the 3060 Ti.
And while I like the RX 5700 Xt Thicc III Ultra card here for around $440, the 3060 Ti is nowhere near this price range to be found sporting a price tag in the $700 range.
In terms of performance, the 3060Ti is the better all-around card as you'll see in the benchmarks below. That being said, the difference in price makes the RX 5700 Xt a lot more appealing right now.
Specs for the XFX RX 5700 Xt Thicc III
- 1935 MHz Game Clock, Boost 20205 MHz
- 8GB GDDR6
- 14 GBPS Memory Clock Speed
- PCIe 4.0
- Stream Processors 2560
Like the 5600Xt, the 5700Xt is available if you're willing to wait. I could order one now and get one 2 to 3 weeks later. All things considered, I'm pretty sure this is the best result you can hope for in today's current market. It's also a great option for your photo editing PC.
RX 3060 Ti vs RX 5700XT
GPUs From $400 to $600
This year, it seems like the higher up you go on the GPU ladder the more likely something is to be out of stock.
Maybe that's just me.
Anyway, if you're in this category, your aim should be the RTX 3070 or the RX 6800.
If you're wanting to know which of these is better, you can take a look at the video below for benchmarks. That being said I think you'll ultimately decide they trade blows in a lot of different games.
If we were looking at the MSRP of the RTX 3070 at $499 and the RX 6800 at $579, I'd recommend the RTX 3070. However, with the current stock issues we have, you'll probably be happy to find either of these at this price range.
Final Thoughts - 1440p Mastery
If you're looking to play AAA titles at maximum settings in 1440p and get above 60FPS these two cards will do it for you on most games. Minor adjustments in a few titles may be necessary to maintain that average.
Future Proofing your Gaming PC
I receive a lot of questions from gamers wanting to know exactly what they should spend on their graphics card in order to future-proof their rigs. The truth is you can never future proof your rig entirely. The best thing you can do is understand when you'll need to upgrade and set aside money to get there.
Can you future-proof your graphics card?
Sometimes the best way to future-proof is to simply not go with the highest-end graphics card each time and then upgrade every few years. This has worked well for me going with the GTX 770 years ago and now going with a GTX 1070 for just about the same price. Selling off the old card recouped me some of the cost and allowed me to stay current.
What about the CPU?
My typical strategy for the CPU is to stretch a little right away so that I have a processor that's more than adequate for many years to come. For example, if you purchased the Sandy Bridge i7-3770k a few years ago, you'd probably still be more than happy with what you had. Upgrading to the Skylake i7-7700k from there would net you little in terms of frames even today and especially if you're willing to overclock it.
In other words, I'd be one to recommend you go with a lesser performing graphics card today in favor of a better CPU that won't bottleneck you down the road. Doing so you'll be able to avoid upgrading your motherboard as well.
Those are my thoughts on the current state of the graphics card market. Have a differing opinion? I'd love to hear it below. Also be sure to check out my YouTube channel and facebook page for more information.
When will product shortages end? Hopefully once the holiday season is over and demand goes back down, typical supplies will be available.
Current Graphics Card Discussion for PC Gaming
sam on April 07, 2018:
the advice offered in this article is rock solid
Brandon Hart (author) from The Game on March 19, 2018:
Right now you don't. The article is based on MSRP and doesn't take into account inflated Crypto-trend pricing.
Annoymous on March 19, 2018:
Just wondering, where did you find an rx 470 for about $150?