There are just certain days where we’re running tight on budget – shout out to the college students out there. But it doesn’t mean it should deprive you of getting your adrenaline pumped up.
Although the search was a bit challenging, I managed to find some of the best budget gaming video cards. We’ve hit the goldmine for cheapskates everywhere.
Table of Contents
ASUS ROG Strix Radeon RX 570 O4G Gaming OC Edition
EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti SC Gaming
ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1060 Mini
MSI R7 370 GAMING 4G Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce GT 730 2GB GDDR5
EVGA GeForce GT 740 2GB Super Clocked GDDR5
ASUS AMD Radeon R7 250 2 GB 128-Bit DDR5
Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 D5 2GB
Gigabyte AMD Radeon R7 240 DDR3-2GB
When it comes to EVGA, there’s no joking around with this company. It comes in at VERY reasonable price – honestly, I feel like EVGA knows how it feels like to be on a thrift budget.
What’s amazing about it is that it still manages to offer some pretty solid features that pack a heavy impact.
I’m talking about giving GTX 1050 Ti SC GAMING the latest architecture. It’s an amazing feat how EVGA always delivers with finesse and class despite having little to work with (the price tag is a bit too friendly.)
However, despite the odds against them, GTX 1050 is still being powered by the one and only, NVIDIA Pascal. It actually IS the real deal.
As of today, it’s being considered as the most technologically progressive GPU in the world. It runs a solid stream of high-definition games and incredible performance levels.
More on the great gaming performance, it offers an easy-to-access feature. This boasts a NVIDIA Game Ready drivers, so that you can transform your trusted PC to handle a number of the biggest gaming titles flawlessly.
You can hit the setting up to 1080p, and you’ll be mesmerized by how it’s able to take it on right away. I have tested it on with some of my favorite titles – like, GTA V, The Witcher 3, and other games. Naturally, these games need more VRAM than simpler titles (CSGO and Overwatch.)
This makes it all the more understandable that it stands at 4GB. It lets you enjoy the games without having to ruin the graphics quality. This card is actually the upgraded version of gtx 1050, my buddies at EVGA were kind enough to make it 20% faster.
Also, they were pretty smart to use Pascal architecture. It gives us a break as it doesn’t require the usual power connector – whether it may be 6 pins or 8. You can say they have dealt with its power efficiency well.
It’s a pretty decent card to purchase in this day and age. The reason is because it’s in-between gtx 1050 and Rx 470. I admit, I know that the latter is way faster, but the gap has been filled perfectly – considering it’s a couple of bucks in difference.
There isn’t much of a difference between its forerunners, EVGA gtx 1050. Just like the old-time, this isn’t built to be bulky. As a matter of fact, it’s an ideal fit for most cases.
Looking at the RX 570, it doesn’t really scream “AWESOME” right away. But for something that can be bought below 200 bucks, I don’t really expect it to be. It generally feels like a mainstream card, more than anything.
Looking at ROG Strix Radeon closer, there’s a black plastic that works to cover the heat sink beneath. The design is average, I can still see the metal fins though. Then again, with the budget in concern, there’s no room for any gaudy extras.
Let’s take a look at the fins, it has been designed horizontally. There’s quite a small space for an opening at the ends of the card, this is where the airway passage is.
Both sides don’t call for any unhindered flow. You might want to check out its slot bracket. Correspondingly, it doesn’t just have just one connector, but it carries two DVI-D outputs.
But if you’re going to ask me, one DVI output would have been more than enough. In fact, it’s able to handle gamers who are still rocking them older monitors. I’d say it would have been better is ASUS had more exhaust for the second port.
In addition, this has an added HDMI 2.0 and a DisplayPort 1.4-ready connector. Another thing to point out, while it’s true that it has rather large fans, it seems that its thermal solution is the exact opposite.
The fans, which have a total of 13 blades, have the measurement of 95mm. If you’re going to crank it up at its highest speed, it can go at 2500 RPM. These fans have clearly been made in order to deliver both static and direct pressure.
It’s able to do a lot of things – it doesn’t not only have the role to act as the cooler of the main body, but it is also responsible for the airflow of components beneath the surface.
The fans have been programmed to target the VRM’s heat sink first. You’ll notice this as a back strip of extruded aluminum. In order to spate it from the MOSFETs, this has a thermal pad to differentiate the two. To secure it, it’s been held in place by the screws.
There’s more to it than just that, this has a great way of showing love to the users with its limitless spectrum of colors. This gem has the power to synchronize various effects across AURA Sync enabled products.
I know what you’re thinking – the size doesn’t exactly leave a positive first impression to people. It’s quite understandable why: back in the day, cards with size like this have been underpowered.
Usually, it has been dictated by the use of thermals just within their trim dimensions. And of course, it calls for a small case of PC. Here’s the thing, GPUs which are considered to be powerful tends to create incredible amounts of heat.
For the cards that’s supposed to be a perfect fit compact PCs, they need to run cool and quiet. Historically speaking, that only meant that it’s weak in the areas of design and power output.
Now, what makes this different? It has THE ever-popular NVIDIA "Pascal" architecture. This has led the company to be on the upper hand as it comes in with incredible gains in performance-per-watt.
Yes, you know where this is going – it makes GeForce GTX 1060 on a different league of its own. It consumes lesser power than the grandpa cards. At the same time, it gives you the thrill of your life with its 1080p performance.
In addition, it has been made with a thermal-design-power of 120 watts. Let’s do the math, shall we? If you’re going to compare it with the usual GTX 970 card, it has the difference of 25 watts.
Although it showcases a rather shorter length than what’s average, this GTX 1060 Mini is noticeably chunky. It also has the feature of a two-slot-wide card.
Its 90mm fan caught my attention. It doesn’t only beat the heat, but it carries a unique characteristic.
Commonly, most cards I’ve tried requires me to use an eight-pin PCI Express power-supply connector. In case you don’t know, this is what GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G needs. But this is different, it makes everything easier for you as it only needs a six-pin connector. After which, it’ll have the juice that’s required.
If you want a recommendation from the people at ZOTAC themselves, the power supply should at least be of 400 watts.
Its wide design has some pretty good advantages to pinpoint. For one, this offers a lot of room for ports. Let’s add it to the rear spine of the card, you’ll have an incredible number of connectors.
In total, it has five. Namely, three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, an HDMI 2.0b port, and a dual-link DVI connector.
Let’s talk more about numbers and performance. Actually, it’ pretty basic. This has the usual specs of GTX 1060. For starters, it starts off with 1,506MHz as its base clock. Now, if you want to make everything in full-gear, it’s at 1,708MHz. Of course, this has 1,280 CUDA cores as its partner.
Moving on to the card’s memory, it isn’t anything special. But then again, given the circumstances, I can say that it’s slightly above average. This one has a GDDR5 RAM.
Letting it run at the speed of 8Gbps is darn effective for GTX 1060 Mini. There’s another similarity to its brother (GTX 1060) – it doesn’t support any multi-card SLI installations.
You already know how it is – newer generations ALWAYS kick butt! Just like how our generation is evidently cooler than the previous ones, this new line of GPUs are cooler.
MSI has made a promise to make every newly released generation to be better than the oldies. And boy, did they keep the promise all throughout the years.
Generally, it gives you the two most important things you look for in a graphics card: noise-free and cool.
In this area, it outclasses the rest of the crew. One thing that I like about MSI is that it cares about customer’s satisfaction,
Surprisingly, the peeps at MSI are pretty chill people. They even went as far as to listen to our requests – I know how annoying some of us can be. But they handled it pretty well, they did all of the changes we deemed as necessary.
It has been heavily upgraded – this is smaller and more compact. It’ll also blow you away with its stronger fans (figuratively speaking, of course) and it doesn’t create as much ruckus as before.
MSI R7 370 has earned itself an additional star all because the noise is no longer distracting. I’m quite particular of audible sounds, and I’m happy with what MSI has done.
Since only cool people would appreciate this beauty, the makers made sure that its component stays cool as well. You don’t have to worry about the heat from your card and components – they’re all being kept under control.
Looks and design can’t be ignored, right? The goal here it to crush our enemies, but it doesn’t mean we can’t do it in style. This baby is a perfect partner with your MSI GAMING motherboard. Also, there’s some funky (Sorry, I just had to say it) LED lighting that makes it more enjoyable.
It has been engineered for 18 months just so that MSI could get their masterpiece done. This process includes the crucial field testing that took place in various gaming cafés. As a result, this has both quality and stability that’ll satisfy your chosen FPS.
There’s a lot of fancy stuff that’s going around here, MSI referred to it as “Enhanced dissipation efficiency.” It’s just a longer term that says its Airflow Control technology has greatly evolved.
We can’t be satisfied, that’s why everything about it has an added twist. Due to its advanced features, airflow is being guided accordingly. This means it goes straight to the heat pipes. It has the needed deflectors on the heat sink to make it work.
MSI has also made the design of the heat sink special. It has the capacity of increasing the heat sink area – in other words, enhancing dissipation efficiency.
There’s no time to waste in the world of gaming, that’s why everything is given with the blink of an eye. This gem has a quick adjust setting that would cater to your desired visual needs. If you want to check out the tab better, just simply click the “eyecon” – and there you go.
We’re always looking forward to an EVGA product. It has been producing high-quality cards for as long as we can remember, and there’s not a single product that they didn’t put as much effort as the last one.
GT 730 is simply one of the best budget gaming rig available in the market today.
As a matter of fact, it has one of the greatest specs to offer (considering the price point it offers.)
When it comes to performance, you can bet all of you cash that it’s better than the DDR3. It’s indeed faster and it works perfectly on my ACER. If you’re wondering, it’s a 19.5 inch with a resolution of 1600x900. It’s an evident upgrade with its integrated graphics.
If you occasionally do video or photo editing as a sideline – you know, when you’re not kicking butts in the virtual realm – you’ll satisfactorily find this low-priced card to be one hell of a kicker.
In addition, it’s great for a fast experience in photo editing. Pictures and videos are all in HD resolution, it’d be great for movie marathons with a tub of ice cream.
What I’ve mentioned are all bonuses of you’re really getting. You’re going to thank your lucky stars as this entails a faster gaming performance. Generally, you’ll be seeing a richer and smoother gameplay altogether.
You have the power to do it all. If you fancy changing your setup to the latest drivers, then so be it. You’re free to optimize the settings of the game as you will. You can control everything with a single click of a button, it allows the ultimate GeForce Experience at a reasonable amount.
Of course, there’s more. You’ll be enjoying the support it has given for HDMI. For example, this comes in with an incredible GPU-accelerated Blu-ray 3D support. But there’s a downside to that, you’re going to need to buy a partner of a software player.
Also, there’s a NVIDIA 3D vision to go around with. However, this is only for displays which are already vision-ready. At the same time, it won’t work without a 3D vision glasses.
Alright, we have another one that’s coming from EVGA – just chill folks, we’ll start talking about another brand for the next one. As expected, its quality is off-the-charts for the price you’re getting.
Although I do want to emphasize that this is an entry-level graphics card, so don’t expect that you’ll be getting the moon and stars with its level.
This has been built more as an onboard replacement.
Or you can use this baby to get your decent dual monitor setup at home. However, it doesn’t mean that it won’t exceed its counterparts. This model’s cooler is remarkably impressive, it isn’t something I’d expect from something that’s under a hundred bucks.
Moreover, I’ve grown attached to its extra power plug. This is the perfect solution for the people out there who want to beef up some power connections. You can say that its overall build is at the top of its game.
It’s time to talk about what this baby is capable of for gaming. The answer: It’s average. It would be a surprise if it manages to outclass the expensive models. We are on a tight budget here.
But it does a better job than my old NX8600GT. It’s able to take on the newer game titles, too. On the other hand, you have to lower down the play settings. Like I said earlier, it’s an entry-level graphics card.
This doesn’t produce a pretty sight for an open-world game, you can clearly see that the card has been pushed to its limits.
From what I’ve experienced, when multiple enemies attack me at once, it becomes lag and unresponsive. That’s not always the case though, the lag highly depends on the complexity of the background design.
I’ve noticed some not-so-pretty things about it. One of which is its power consumption, it uses too much power and does not give it back in return. I wouldn’t recommend this for an application that’s silent. Especially so that it gives off way too much heat.
On the bright side, it works wonderful for Photoshop. If you’re more of an editor than a gamer, then this would be to your advantage. Surprisingly, it rarely – or never – lags on Photoshop, so it’s an awesome deal.
We’re always fond of AMD graphics cards. They have never failed us to impress us with its compatibility features.
It makes a great deal for Windows users as its performance is highly commendable.
If you’re a Linux user, you’ll love the fact that ASUS made their graphic drivers open sourced. Honestly, it’s pretty hard not to like R7. It offers a better gaming experience than the older cards.
Since it doesn’t cost much, this is considered to be an entry-level card from Radeon. The reason why it has caught the attention of the masses is because it doesn’t need any extra power connections to get it running.
This is a great feat as people would always try to avoid doing extra work. All you have to do to get it started is to plug it in into a PCI Express X16 bus, and you’re already done. This is great news for people who have PCs that only has the basic power supplies and lacks power connectors.
Let’s move on to its display outputs. For starters, this baby has three connections. Namely, HDMI, DVI, and even VGA connections. It gives you an easier time of connecting this gem to your display.
As for its performance, I wouldn’t say that this is a hotshot for fast-paced games. You can use this if you fancy slower-paced ones. This isn’t much of a step to be on par with the best integrated cards.
This graphics card has 384 stream processors. In addition, this has the capacity to run at a clock speed of 1.05GHz. At the same time, it boasts of a 1GB graphics memory that runs at 1.15GHz.
Okay, I know that this isn’t anything special. The specs are average, but this is meant to be a general-purpose card for your everyday tasks. Sure, you won’t be playing games at the best of quality, but it delivers.
It has a decent frame rate of a mere 27.1fps. Yeah, it doesn’t offer a great gameplay, but it’s still playable. You can just reduce the graphics to have a better chance of gaming.
Let’s welcome another product from my boy Gigabyte. This offers an interesting 8 compute units as its kicker. In addition, this comes in at 512 stream processors.
Don’t worry though, you don’t have to get an off-the-chart horsepower so you could drive e-sports.
Just like there’s no need to have a huge horsepower for home theater PCs.
This has tied the knot to a 2GB of GDDR5 memory. There’s also more to that, it has a whopping 128-bit bus. By the way, if you’re interested, the peeps at Gigabyte made 4GB models. However, it’s only limited.
Although it won’t win any awards anytime soon, its modest internals, do not require overbearing power as well. It’s a fair deal as we’re in a give and take situation here. Another feature to like about RX 550 D5 is that it doesn’t need any extra power cables – just like with R7 250.
You can automatically power it through your motherboard’s PC slot. This makes it a deal to get for people who want to experience the extra oomph that’s coming from a present Pcs.
As much as we love its gaming capabilities, there’s more to expect coming Gigabyte. There are other things which RX 550 is geared for. It offers a relatively reasonable priced FreeSync variable refresh rate displays.
It lets you have a go at modern media technologies, which is always a plus point for me. You can enjoy its HDMI 2.0b and DisplayPort 1.4 connections. Now, it isn’t just for the hell of it, it has the capacity of taking on a 4K resolution.
Also, it gets you riled up for its high-dynamic-range video. But wait, there’s more to get from its GPU, it has the power of HEVC encoding and decoding.
It’s important to know that the makers made its cooling solution as with the RX 460. There’s a single fan which you can find and a plastic shroud as well. Overall, it’s a great card for the money.
By now, you might have already been aware that when it comes to digging the low-cost market, AMD is simply killing it. You know how awesome they can be with its APUs.
In any case, it’s quite a mystery how they’re able to create such a kickass card with a price on a low-end spectrum.
For one, AMD is quite popular for rebranding their cards. They specialize in enhancing the performance while serving up some fresh technologies to the people worldwide.
These days, they have upgraded its game and now allows features like VSR, Mantle, Freesync, and Trueaudio. Truly, they have turned the tables around with its smart approach to the market.
So when they have launched the popular R7 240 back in 2013 in the month of November, people were already expecting great things to come. For starters, Radeon R7 has a 28mm process. This has been inspired by Oland XT graphics processor.
You can actually say that this model is specifically a locked down version of HD 8570 OEM. Okay, before you go haywire, despite its rebranding status, they have decided to give it 320 stream processors. It has been programmed to run at a base clock of 730 MHz.
If you want to change the a game, you can get a total boost up to an incredible 780Mhz. There’s more to love than what you think, it has been GCN Architecture Primed.
This has been done on purpose so it could give you an overall impact of a breathtaking image quality. For something that can be bought under a hundred bucks, gamers can actually expect something more compared to the others.
Another feature that it has been blessed with is its AMD FreeSync™ technology. Apparently, the engineers at Gigabyte know just how irritating it is to tolerate a choppy gameplay.
You’ll experience less broken frames with R7 240 and an artifact-free experience. Yes, no matter what framerate you have chosen.
Moreover, they have made its performance optimized for the next-gen APIs. It basically means you have the advantage of time as it’s geared for the gaming titles of tomorrow.
If you’re still not sure whether to invest in a new graphics card, then you’re obviously missing the point here. No, you aren’t just missing a “point” but you’re missing the whole EXPERIENCE!
Let’s look at it this way – it can turn your normal computer to a SUPER computer. It has the power to hugely impact your PC’s performance in a good way.
Of course, you wouldn’t be seeing any changes if you’re getting the same level of a card that’s installed in your PC. It should be a notch higher, and that’s when you’ll learn to appreciate it more.
You can check the increase of its performance by loading up some new game titles, there’s a noticeable change in your gaming experience. And you’ll start seeing your PC in a different light – no need to hate your PC because it sucks, sometimes it just needs a little bit of installation to make it better.
It doesn’t only limit to the improvement of your gaming experience, but it has the effect of changing the ways of how you would normally compute. This has been made possible as it plays vids better and by freeing up memory.
Just for your information (just in case you haven’t been informed yet) ALL PCs have already its own built-in graphics card. It can either be one of two things – in the motherboard or it has been preinstalled. The best part is that it can be possible get a new card.
This would also mean that you don’t have to get a new PC if you’re saving up cash. Yeah, your old computer isn’t as useless as you think it is. In fact, it can play games fairly well. ALMOST of the same level of a modern PC.
All in all, I would encourage you to get a new graphics card instead of purchasing a new PC. By doing it this way, you’re not breaking the bank (as what you can see, there are even Graphics Card under $200) and you’re STILL getting a great gaming experience.
Although I’m pretty sure that we all have a common interest – which is gaming – but there’s more to it than just games.
For the people out there who are into making quality videos, and want to become the next YouTube Sensation, this can help you out.
Uh, the next PewDiePie, perhaps?
In any case, by getting yourself an awesome, high-performing graphics card, you’ll be able to edit videos better. Your time editing will be cut short (as your PC is going to smoothly operate) and it’ll play videos more efficiently as well.
You see, a graphics card has its stuff going on. I’m talking about having its personal memory and resources. This gives you an edge in the quality of a video playback.
What’s more important is that it makes watching videos in HD possible, and if you want to multitask, streaming multiple videos simultaneously has been made possible. Minus, the lag of course.
Getting your PC a new graphics card sure has a lot of advantages for video-related tasks. These cards have been made to make processing and compressing video fuse faster.
Depending on the graphics card you’ve bought, it can either have its own dedicated memory OR it shared with the PC’s memory.
In the occasion that it does share with the computer’s memory, you get to enjoy the additional space for your PC. This is where the fun begins – you get to use it on other “important things.”
Although I have mentioned earlier that I would recommend getting a graphics card that’s a higher level, you can actually still notice a difference in your computer’s performance even if it’s the same with your PC’s built-in card. But I would still go for getting a card that’s a notch better.
In addition, it’s common knowledge that a graphics card works A LOT faster than what the computer has. Well, at least that’s the case MOST of the time. It has a role of contributing to the overall performance boost.
Let’s just say that you’re not interested in upgrading – that’s actually fine. There are people who do not need to go through the trouble of scouting, buying, and installing a new graphics card as their daily tasks (and games) only demand so much.
But that doesn’t mean it should stop them from having a smoother experience, right?
As what you can see, competition in the technology industry is only getting tougher and tougher.
With that being said, changes and a constant need to upgrade will always be around for as long as humans are here. That doesn’t exclude operating systems, to say the least.
There’ll be newer versions of Windows, MAC OS X, and etc. As part of their upgrade, they’ll be adding in innovative graphical features.
Naturally, they just simply want to enhance user experience (while raking in a lot of cash by doing so) and if you’re going to stick around with your ancient graphics card, you won’t be able to get the best of these latest versions.
We’ve finally done the review, and it’s time to ask pop in the question – is it the worth it? Well, it actually is. It took us a lot of time to research products that comes in at an above-average performance with a price that’s below a hundred bucks.
However, I don’t want you to expect anything special. Although there are brands and models on the list which I would recommend, it still won’t give you the time of your life.
If you’re okay with changing it to low settings, then it would be fine. There’ll always instances where it’s going to lag from time to time – some occurs more than others – but hey, what can you expect from a card that’s priced this low?
On the occasion you want to get something to satisfy your gaming needs, and you consider yourself to be a hardcore gamer, then it’s better to save your money to get something better. You can check the site, I have reviews better gaming cards right here.
It’s finally time to give the crown to the one that’s deserving the most. Honestly, it’s a pretty hard choice since they’re all built in almost the same manner.
I mean, if you’re the manufacturer, it’s going to be impossible to equip it with something out of this world. On the bright side, I have especially taken a liking to a certain product.
Have you ever heard of the saying “Save the best for last?” Well, here’s one: Gigabyte AMD Radeon R7 240 DDR3-2GB! Now, I have a couple of reasons why I’ve made this one as the winner.
I have looked at every possible flaw on each product – the major ones, at least – and of all the things I’ve studied, its “loud fan” has the less impact.
Here’s why: I usually use my headphones when I’m in-game, so I can barely hear the fan struggling. If you ask me, it’s a simple solution to what you’re getting.
As for its features, it has been given a lot of overkill add-ons that greatly outshines the rest of the crew. I like how Gigabyte emphasized in the importance of having a great image quality – if not, everything would look like a potato.
Its AMD FreeSync™ technology has got me the most, unlike the others on the list, it resolves the concern of having to deal with choppy gameplay.
And don’t forget, it doesn’t eat up as much power as you’d think it would. It’s actually friendly in that area. All in all, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, you can hang on to R7 to help you out.
In today’s era, companies have taken a liking to progressive advancements in technology. With that being said, graphics cards aren’t any different. They have been built with the latest technology despite how expensive or cheap they are.
However, it’s always important to read reviews first over the internet by different people so there will be no regrets. It may take time, but once you have it down, you’ll have a partner for life – or until you’ve saved up enough cash to get a new one.