Best Graphics Card Under $200
2022 Best Graphics Card Under $200 - how to choose?
If we are talking about modern gaming video cards that are REALLY capable of running gaming novelties at high and maximum settings at least in FullHD, 6 or 8 gigabytes of memory on board will be required.
So how much video memory do you really need?
And for QuadHD and 4K, this is a necessary minimum, if you do not lower the settings to medium. But if you do not chase the maximum settings, or even prefer the good old games from the era until the mid-2010s to new products, then 4 gigabytes will be enough for you.
As for entry-level video cards, memory above 2 gigabytes is rather redundant for them: this is enough to play media content, browser hardware acceleration and OS interface effects, and their GPU is no longer designed for AAA-class games.
Should I choose cards with a bus of 256 bits instead of 128 bits
Comparing video cards by memory bus "width" is just another attempt to choose one prime number from an incomprehensible and extensive set of parameters. Yes, a 256-bit bus can provide more bandwidth than a 128-bit bus, but you can only compare them if all other parameters are the same. Different types of memory - for example, GDDR5 and GDDR6 - have completely different read and write speeds and even different operating frequency ranges, which already makes a direct comparison meaningless.
But even here everything is not so simple! The point is not only in the memory itself, but also in the characteristics of the GPU: how much data it actually operates on, and most importantly, how efficiently it compresses this data.
In this case, the opposite is true: the difference in frames is small, despite the fact that the cards belong to two different generations and use different memory. Yes, a more modern model is faster, but it wins only 2-3 frames.
The temptation to reduce everything to a simple explanation "here the numbers are higher - this card is better" is understandable. But in practice, there will be no benefit from such an explanation: rather, on the contrary, as a result, you will buy a video card that in reality will turn out to be worse than the one that could be purchased for the same budget.
If you really want to simplify everything and compare video cards by only one simple parameter, let this parameter be the number of frames in games.
Do I need to choose video cards with GDDR6 memory?
And again - no.
By itself, the gddr6 standard memory provides a higher data exchange rate with lower power consumption compared to gddr5 - this is an absolute fact. But, as mentioned above, one parameter cannot determine all the characteristics of a video card.
The first card turns out to be faster: it has a more powerful GPU and a larger amount of on-board memory on its side. Although the latter is not so important here: the benchmark uses only a little over 3.5 gigabytes. The type of onboard memory can be decisive only if all other parameters of the video card are the same. And this happens very rarely.
In this case, of course, the second version is noticeably faster in games. But apart from the memory, these cards are absolutely no different, and therefore this result is natural.
If we compare cards of different models, and even more so - of different generations, then the type of on-board memory again turns into a single value taken out of context, from which no conclusions can be drawn.
And what about PCI-e 5.0 then?
The interface of the fifth version is implemented on the Intel LGA 1700 platform with Core 12 series processors and motherboards based on 600 series chipsets.
Despite other specifications, externally PCI-e x16 slots have not changed in any way. And moreover, absolutely no one and nothing forbids installing the latest video cards using the PCI-e 4.0 slot in them! Well, if so, the issue of backward compatibility of PCI-e 5.0 connectors with video cards for earlier versions of the interface, in principle, should not be raised.
But there are no video cards designed specifically for the version 5.0 interface on sale (as of the beginning of 2022), so there is no need to talk about their real characteristics. Everything is still only at the stage of rumors and speculation.
Naturally, PCI-e 5.0 provides a huge increase in bandwidth, but how much it will be used in reality is still a mystery. Now even the flagship video cards in the face of the Radeon RX 6900 XT and GeForce RTX 3090 are not limited by the bandwidth of 16 lanes of PCI-e version 4.0. Will the next generation handle orders of magnitude more data? Without access to next generation cards, it's hard to say.
A more or less real cause for concern may be the transition of video cards for PCI-e 5.0 to a new additional power connector.
The new standard assumes the possibility of transmitting power up to 600 watts. But, again, without knowing the real power consumption of video cards of the next generations, it is difficult to say how much such power will be in demand. It is possible that only flagship models will be equipped with such connectors, while junior solutions will continue to use the usual 8- and 6-pin headers.
One way or another, you should start worrying about next-generation video cards only when they are introduced to the market in the form of real products.
So should you choose graphics cards that support ray tracing?
If we are talking about the current generation, the question makes no sense, since both the Radeon RX 6000 and the GeForce RTX 3000 support it anyway. It is not a fact that the video card you have chosen will provide comfortable FPS with beams enabled at the same graphics settings as without them, but the fundamental possibility will still remain.
And what is this DLSS that increases FPS?
An image quality enhancement algorithm supported by GeForce cards with the RTX suffix. That is, for the 2000 and 3000 series. The algorithm requires the video card to have tensor cores, so the GTX 16 ** and earlier generations, alas, pass by.
The essence of the algorithm is to obtain a better picture from a low-resolution image. In other words, in upscale.
Yes, in fact, everything is much more complicated, and the algorithm is most directly related to AI and neural networks, but from the user’s point of view, the work of DLSS looks exactly like this: performance will approximately correspond to 720p resolution, and image quality will approximately correspond to FullHD. Well, or the original FullHD resolution can turn into something like 4K.
Of course, this does not mean that the technology itself is bad: you cannot create a universal tool that will be equally good in all tasks. On the contrary, the emergence of such technology is to be welcomed: the massive transition to gaming in native 4K resolution, apparently, is being postponed at least until the release of next-generation video cards. And if you are interested not just in high resolution, but also in realistic lighting, then even longer. And the ability to increase performance in new games in the absence of more powerful video cards and money for them is just great!
DLSS has exactly one minus: it is a rigid binding to Nvidia technologies and the need for GPUs to have hardware cores. That is, if you have at least an RTX 2060 installed, and even better an RTX 3060, you yourself can enable DLSS and check the picture quality in games that support this technology. But with the GTX 1650 or GTX 1050, alas, nothing will come of it.
Alternative to DLSS
AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution technology does not use AI to fill in the missing parts of the image, but does not require specialized hardware solutions, and works on a much larger number of video cards, even on Nvidia products.
Like DLSS, FSR was designed to improve performance at high resolutions by upscaling a less pixelated image.
So FSR literally leaves you no choice. No need to look for cards that support this technology - it is possible that you already have them.
Is it worth choosing a video card for a processor
No, the video card is selected for games - or for work tasks that are supposed to be solved with its help.
The dependence of games on the processor, firstly, in most cases, is exaggerated, and secondly, it is absolutely never linear and does not come down to the simple formula “more expensive processor - more FPS”, which is offered to you by “openers”.
Yes, this is an exceptionally special case, due to the fact that Hyper Threading technology, which distinguishes Core i9 from Core i7, does not always work correctly in games, and the performance of the older (!!!) CPU model, under otherwise identical conditions, is lower than that of junior.
Somewhere on the contrary - the number of cores does not matter, only the clock frequency and performance in a single-threaded load are important. Some games, due to the peculiarities of the engine, in principle, are little dependent on the processor and are more demanding on the video card. And the very "dependence" on the characteristics of the processor in the same game can change with a change in screen resolution and graphics settings: the higher they are, the higher the influence of the video card, and the difference between more and less fast CPUs is less noticeable.
Openers ignore these facts and reduce everything to one simple thesis: “a more expensive and newer processor is better.” But for whom it is better - usually they are silent. Therefore, if you decide to upgrade your video card, you should not ask yourself the question “Will it cut it?” - a lot of people ask them even without you.
Your question is how much performance of the current processor is enough for the games you plan to play. If the answer to it is yes, take a new video card. If negative, consider possible upgrade options, even if within the framework of the current platform.
So what should you pay attention to when choosing a video card?
Paradoxically, this is at the same time the most obvious and the most ... ambiguous parameter. On the one hand, having planned a purchase, you already know how much you are theoretically ready to spend, and within what limits this amount can change, if necessary.
On the other hand, the price does not always reflect the actual performance of the graphics card. Incidents are possible when a card of an old and less productive model costs the same as a faster modern analogue.
Best Graphics Card Under $200
That is why you should never rest on the only option - there can always be more profitable options to buy the Best Graphics Card Under 0.
Even if it seems to you that the option you have chosen is optimal in all respects, even if “Internet experts” vying with each other advise it, even if you have reviewed a bunch of reviews on this particular model, in the realities of the market, the price-to-performance ratio may not be the most profitable.
Be sure to follow the discounts and promotions of the store, and also be interested in the release dates of new products - with the advent of even just new models based on current-generation chips, the vendor's pricing policy may noticeably change, and competitors will definitely react to the actions of one manufacturer.
Also, feel free to find out how much your current graphics card costs in the used parts market. It is possible that its sale will add a significant amount to the budget for the purchase of a new one.
This aspect is quite obvious, and moreover, it determines the final choice. For whatever price you choose a video card, it should more than work out every ruble invested.
But don't judge performance based on reviews and comments like "<game_name> is running on ultras!". They can be written about any device. And as a rule, the only thing users can compare their purchase with is their old video card, which can be several generations older at once. Naturally, this will not make it clear how the video card looks against the background of direct competitors.
Your option is direct comparative testing conducted by reputable publications with the participation of if not all, then most of the competing solutions. After reviewing them, you will imagine how much the selected video card is faster or slower than the closest analogues, and therefore, you will make a reasoned choice.
Read also: What is Graphics Card