The 8 Best PC Video Cards to Buy in 2018 for Under $250

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

While console gaming gets all the attention, PC gaming remains a tried and true experience for millions and millions of dedicated gamers. And the graphics card is an essential component to playing the latest and greatest games. Since new releases are more demanding, upgrading your graphics card could be a necessity. On a budget when it comes to buying a a new graphics card? Take a look at the best options that you can purchase for under $250.

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 new 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.

This graphics rig will clock speeds of 1,708 MHz including a pretty unique Super Alloy II delivery system. The ball bearing-equipped fan unit will stay true for a long time (and more importantly stay cooling your computer), while the dual HDMI 2.0 ports make it VR and 4K-ready. There’s a proprietary GPU Tweak II system that allows for more seamless overclocking with a single click (crucial for extended gaming), and at well under $300 you’d be hard-pressed to find a more full-featured unit, dollar for dollar.

Sipping just 75 watts of power, the MSI GTX 1050 TI 4G OC is a fantastic budget option for gamers looking to get the best performance-to-feature ratio. A minimum power supply of just 300 watts is needed to power the card from the PC itself. Fortunately, no additional power connectors are required and the GTX 1050 works with many OEM systems with nary an issue. With the included 4GB of ROM, the GTX has no problem handling Full HD resolution at 60fps.

Additionally, there’s a single DisplayPort, plus HDMI and Dual-Link DVI-D video connectors. Realistically, it’s a little disappointing there’s just one connector for each of the major digital video outputs, but that’s part of the tradeoff with the budget-friendly pricing. Still, the GTX 1050 offers enough power to support up to three monitors with a maximum refresh rate of 240Hz. Beyond monitor support, the GTX is just under seven inches long, with the card itself taking up six inches and the final inch composed of the cooler. This makes the GTX ideal for fitting into pre-built or compact systems.

The MSI GTX is by far the most wallet-friendly card on this list. But, it does not disappoint in performance, with a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 chipset, resolution support of up to 7680 x 4320 (with triple monitors), 2GB of video RAM and 128 bits of memory bus width. Add that to a dual-fan cooling system and a super-impressive Amazon review score and, as soon as you get this thing installed in your computer, you’ll forget all about that “Ultra-Budget” label.

Small enough to fit into compact PCs and lacking the need for any dedicated card power wires, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 SC offers one of the best ways to play classic and modern games. Part of the latest additions to Nvidia’s “Pascal” line of graphics cards, the GTX 1050 is one of the fastest, smoothest and power-efficient ways to game today on a budget. Moreover, it’s 5.7-inch compact size draws just 75 watts of maximum power and removes the need for a supplementary six-pin power connector. It also reduces the previously required 350-watt power supply down to 300-watts. Ultimately, this reduces the card’s support for older PC machines, but the tradeoff is the outstanding performance on more up-to-date computers.

The improved performance of the Pascal card leads to classic and modern games playing beautifully at 1080p and 60 fps. The base clock speed of 1417MHz pairs with an overlock boosted speed of 1531MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 ROM to help round out the specifications. Additionally, the Nvidia-based Ansel in-game photography and GameWorks offer an interactive and cinematic experience with today’s modern games.

The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card is everything you would want as a mainstream gamer, and it even includes support for virtual reality. Most notable about the design is the Windforce 2x cooling system with the 11-blade dual 100mm unique blade fans that alternate spin to effectively deliver heat dissipation. As the 3GB GDDR5 ROM variant, Gigabyte promotes clock speeds around 1,506MHz base and 1,708MHz overclocked, which offers more than fast enough performance for both classic and today’s games. Additionally, Gigabyte includes a six-ping PCI-express connector that uses just 120-watts of power.

At 8.8inches in length, it's definitively larger than most graphics cards, but you'll have little trouble fitting it into today’s PCs. Once inside a computer, the Gigabyte continues to impress with support for up to 8K display at 60Hz, which is impressive for this price range. It connects to the displays with two dual-link DVI-D connectors, one HDMI 2.0 and one DisplayPort 1.4 header. Power is handled through a single six-pin connector with a total maximum power of 150 watts, which shouldn’t limit overclocking the graphics card in any way.

This DirectX 12-friendly Gigbyte branded card, right out of the box, lets you rock games at full 1080p at 60fps. The design of the chipset comes straight from NVIDIA, which ensures smooth, lasting operation, with 128 bits of memory bus. The boost speeds clock in at a whopping 7,008 MHz and the card itself features 2GB of internal RAM, so it’ll handle whatever you throw at it. And, of course, the thing supports all the key features needed if you’re powering your rig with the DirectX 12 API.

The MSI Armor 1070 video card employs an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 chipset, supports 7680 x 4320 resolution and four separate displays and it clocks speeds 8008 MHz. But with all that performance this thing is going need a pretty advanced fan system, and that’s exactly what it has. The patented TORX 2.0 fan technology keeps things cool by generating 22 percent more air pressure than standard graphics cooling units, and the mechanism contains ball bearings at the core for stable, long-sustaining operation of the system. Its thermal system employs 8mm thick copper piping for better heat transfer (and ultimately better control of that heat transfer) and you can even customize the LED color to match your rig. Plus it offers a better bang for your buck than the 1080 equivalent.

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