The 7 Best PC Video Cards for Under $250 in 2020

Buying a PC video card doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg

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The Rundown
"Offers excellent performance for the price."
"With two HDMI inputs, a display port, and DVI input, this card can support up to four displays."
Runner Up, Best AMD:
Sapphire RX580 at Amazon
"The Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 580 delivers an excellent balance between price and power."

GPUs can be an incredibly expensive investment, but the best PC video cards for under $250 should still reliably deliver solid performance in modern games. You may not hit 4K 60 in the most graphically intense triple-A titles, but FHD should definitely be in reach for even the most demanding games. There are plenty of cards still on the market from the last generation, especially in Nvidia's product stack, that you can find at huge discounts but that will still deliver the performance you need to stay competitive.

So what should you prioritize when you're looking at budget GPUs? As with the best PC video cards higher up the stack, you first you need to consider what type of games you'll be playing; if you're primarily going to be playing lightweight titles like Minecraft or League of Legends, you can save yourself even more money and buy one of the least expensive options on our list. Your monitor also plays a role, so if you're still rocking an older model that can only deliver lower resolutions and frame rates (without extras like HDR support), you won't need a monster graphics card outputting to it.

Best Budget: EVGA GeForce GTX 1060

What We Like
  • Great performance for the price

  • VR ready

  • Energy efficient

What We Don't Like
  • Struggles at 1440p

EVGA’s GeForce GTX 1060 gaming card has new and innovative technology that makes it the best you're able to get the sub $250 price point. Utilizing NVIDIA’s Pascal GPU architecture, the GTX 1060 offers excellent performance for the price (and even enough power to run virtual reality software and beyond). The 1060 consumes very little power; the likely gaming load is just 120-135W. Thanks to additional energy efficient designs, the card only requires a 400-watt power supply and a single six-pin power connector, which leads to less heat production overall. 

At just under seven inches long, the 1060 can more than handle games at Full HD scaling of 1920 x 1080 with details close to or at maximum settings for a frame rate of 60fps. It’s likely that you’ll also get the opportunity to utilize scaling at 2560 x 1440 for some games, but doing so would require a reduction in quality settings. Beyond scaling, the 1060 offers more than enough juice to power through VR games on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, opening the door to a whole new world of gaming. Additionally, the inclusion of 6GB of DDR5 memory and overclocking the boost speed from 1.7GHz to over 2GHz promises the average PC gamer a 15 percent faster performance than similar gaming cards.

Best low-profile: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050Ti Low Profile 4GB

What We Like
  • OC and Gaming modes

  • 1-click overclocking

  • Nvidia G Sync

What We Don't Like
  • No 4K

  • No VR

  • No RGB

The phrase "ultra-budget" doesn't have to mean terrible quality. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1050Ti video card may use an older Nvidia Pascal chipset and GDDR5 RAM, but it still packs enough power to tackle popular AAA games featuring an overclocked and game mode that lets you boost it to up to 1442MHz and the included Xtreme Engine utility software lets you switch between these modes and adjust clock settings with a single click. 

With two HDMI inputs, a display port, and DVI input, this card can support up to four displays. With Nvidia G Sync technology, you'll get buttery smooth motion and prevent screen stutter and tearing during chase scenes and intense firefights. The short length and low profile makes this card perfect for slim cases or smaller builds.

Runner Up, Best AMD: Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX580

What We Like
  • VR ready

  • Multi-GPU support

  • External GPU support

What We Don't Like
  • Not 4K ready

  • No RGB lighting

The Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 580 delivers an excellent balance between price and power. This video card uses a fourth-generation AMD Radeon graphics core and 8GB of VRAM to let you play the latest AAA games without any issues. It also includes a suite of AMD programming and technologies, including AMD Eyefinity to display game footage across multiple monitors, AMD XConnect to utilize external graphics cards, AMD LiquidVR for virtual reality gaming, and Crossfire to support multi-GPU setups. 

With frame rate control target technology, this card can play games in 1440p at 60 fps without any issues. The dual fans feature dual ball bearing construction for smoother action and longer life. With two HDMI inputs, two display ports, and DVI input, this card can support up to five displays. It also features AMD FreeSync technology to prevent screen tearing and stuttering as well as provide enhanced contrast and detailing.

Final Verdict

If you're looking to game on a budget, EVGA's version of the GeForce GTX 1060 is a fantastic choice, offering a great balance of price and performance. If you're looking for a little more horsepower but still don't want to spend a bundle, consider the MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1070.

How We Tested

We haven't had a chance to put this collection of video cards through their paces quite yet, but our testers will be running benchmarks with a variety of resolutions on AAA titles like Doom Eternal and Division 2 as well as stress testing using free tools like 3DMark and Heaven to push these cards to their absolute limit. We'll also be weighing the performance of particular cards against their typical MSRP to make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck.

About Our Trusted Experts

Taylor Clemons has over three years of experience writing about games and consumer technology. She has written for IndieHangover, GameSkinny, TechRadar and her own publication, Steam Shovelers.

David Beren is a tech writer with more than 10 years of experience, with a background in PC hardware, mobile devices and consumer tech. He's previously written for tech companies like T-Mobile, Sprint, and TracFone Wireless.

What to Look for in a PC Video Card

Memory - When comparing two similar cards, look at the onboard VRAM. You can get by with 2GB for many games, but you’ll have a better experience with 4GB. Some cards on our list even come with 8GB of VRAM. If it comes down to a choice between a faster GPU or more memory, go with the faster GPU as long as it has at least 2 or 3GB of VRAM.

Size - If you built your own gaming rig in a full-sized tower case, you don’t need to worry about the physical size of your video card. If you’re upgrading a pre-built system that’s in a smaller case, look for a low-profile card that pulls under 75 watts of power.

VR support - If it’s time to upgrade your video card, why not go with one that’s powerful enough to run a VR headset? Oculus, Vive, and Windows Mixed Reality all have different minimum requirements, but each one has a variety of compatible options.