Photographers, gamers or video producers need the right graphics card for smooth work. Because many applications distribute the workload not only to the CPU but also to the GPU. Accordingly, a powerful graphics processor ensures fast and smooth working. In this test we present the most suitable models from AMD and Nvidia for the resolutions Full-HD, WQHD and UHD.
Not only gamers need a strong graphics card in their PC – but also professional users like photographers and video cutters. The most important thing is the right graphics processor, the GPU. AMD and Nvidia make these GPUs. The complete graphics cards then come from different board partners, who decide on power supply, fans and equipment.
We arrange this purchasing advice according to desktop resolutions – Full-HD, WQHD up to UHD – and recommend suitable graphics card series. From the respective series of the manufacturers AMD and Nvidia, we then recommend a recommendable graphics card from our tests. And finally, if you are looking for a GPU that should support less technically demanding gaming, such as games like Fortnite or Overwatch, we will give you recommendations.
AMD GPU for Full HD: Radeon 5500 XT
- Performs in line with price
- Fast GDDR6 VRAM, PCIe 4.0 support
- Low temperatures
- Great price-performance ratio
- No hardware-accelerated raytracing
Great Option for 1080p (Full HD)
AMDs entry-level maps for Full HD resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels) use the so-called Navi-14-GPU. It is intended to appeal to users who care about their money and want to get as much performance as possible at a low price. Under the Radeon 5500 XT there is still the Radeon 5500, but we consider the price difference to be too small with a too big performance loss. Accordingly, we recommend the XT variant.
The temperature development is kept within limits in cards with this GPU, so that the cooling usually also turns out correspondingly quiet. Additionally, there is a low power consumption both in idle and under full load. A 5500 XT can therefore fail quite short and fits into smaller cases.
The graphic cards equipped with this chip are delivered with either 4 GByte or 8 GByte. If you are faced with a choice when buying, then you should definitely opt for the larger memory, especially since the version with the larger memory is only slightly more expensive. The 4 GByte version already shows strong judder in some games in Full-HD resolution. With the larger version you can play many current games in Full-HD resolution at high detail level.
If you want a bit more power, you should take a look at an AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT, for example. It builds on the larger Navi-10-GPU and delivers more graphic power – but for that you’ll have to dig deeper into your pocket.
Nvidia GPU for Full HD: GTX 1660Ti
- Great performance at 1920 x 1080
- Latest architecture and NVENC engine
- Outstanding features and build quality
- Reasonably priced
- No RTX ray tracing capabilities
Best Option for 1080p (Full HD)
For cheap gaming in Full HD resolution, we recommend a graphics card from Nvidia that relies on the TU116 GPU, which is used in the entire GTX 1660 series, among others. With this GPU, Nvidia has brought an interesting entry-level variant onto the market that wants to appeal to price-conscious users.
As the name GTX in comparison to the more expensive RTX series suggests, Nvidia does without features like raytracing or DLSS in these graphic cards. In return, the GPU features a high efficiency in typical rendering. The power consumption is unobtrusive under full load as well as in idle. The same also applies to the temperature development.
In addition to the GTX 1660, there is also the GTX 1660 Ti. The GTX 1660 uses GDDR5 RAM, while the GTX 1660 Ti relies on the faster GDDR6 RAM. The number of shaders, i.e. the computing units, is also higher in the Ti models. All in all, the 1660 Ti provides a noticeable performance plus, which Nvidia can also afford. You get more for your money with the usual 1660, but have to turn down the details a bit in more current games.
AMD GPU for WQHD: RX 5700 XT
- Great mid-range 1440p graphics performance
- Large performance improvement, beats RTX 2070 and is nearly as fast as the Radeon VII
- Good design
- Best price-performance ratio
- No real-time ray tracing
Best Option for 1440p (WQHD)
In the mid-range graphics card segment and for gaming in WQHD resolution (2,560 by 1,440 pixels), AMD offers the Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT series. The Navi-10-GPU is installed in these cards. If you want to play it safe and want to play all games in the highest detail level, you should definitely go for the Radeon 5700 XT. It is currently also the most powerful graphics card that AMD has placed on the market.
The Navi-10 graphics chipset is based on a completely new architecture called RDNA, which offers a significant performance gain per watt over AMD’s previous generations. But if the card is fully loaded, the power consumption of our test system can still reach around 370 watts, depending on the model. We partly measured similar rates in the stronger Nvidia models RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti.
Despite the new architecture, this GPU does not include features like ray tracing and DLSS technology. If you can do that, you get a powerful graphics card at a fair price, with which UHD gaming is also possible. But then you should be prepared to reduce the detail level depending on the game.
Nvidia GPU for WQHD: RTX 2060 Super
- Better value than other RTX cards
- More, faster memory than before
- DVI port for legacy monitors
- Well overclocked
- Ray traced games make the 2060 Super work louder
Great Option for 1440p (WQHD)
Nvidia relies on a TU106 GPU in the RTX 2060 Super. Thus the 2060 Super works faster than its predecessor and only a little slower than the RTX 2070, so you can easily gamble in WQHD resolution – even more demanding video projects can be realized well with the graphics chipset. This is also due to the fact that the RTX 2060 Super is now also supplied with 8 GByte GDDR6 VRAM, thus removing the previous limitation of the RTX 2060 to 6 GByte.
Who attaches great importance to graphics should be pleased that the GPU also supports raytracing and DLSS. Ray tracing gives developers the possibility to display light and shadow effects beautifully, while DLSS (Deep-Learning Super Sampling) is a method of smoothing edges using artificial intelligence in a resource-saving way.
Our system power consumption is around 60 watts in idle mode with the RTX 2060 Super and under full load the power consumption increases to around 290 watts. The volume of most models is within limits.
If you’re a bit lucky, you might find a slightly better alternative to the RTX 2060 Super: the RTX 2070 without the “Super” add-on. This one is in the sale. Often this means that the prices rise into the exaggeration, but in one or the other shop you might find the older generation with more shaders at a price of or even below a 2060 Super.
Those who prefer to install the new generation in their desktop PC and want a bit more performance can also choose the RTX 2070 Super. This is more expensive, but also more powerful, so you can play games in WQHD resolution with high detail level without any problems.
GPU for UHD: RTX 2080 Super
- Capable of 4K gaming at 60fps
- DLSS is another exciting feature with a ton of potential
- Sets a new bar for single-GPU performance
- Great connectivity
Best GPU by far, very well suited for 4K Gaming
AMD still has some catching up to do in the upper class segment and also for high-end GPUs. Here you have to wait for the expected graphics cards with the so-called Big-Navi-GPU at the moment. These should also have a raytracing option. But they don’t exist yet and until then Nvidia is rather unrivaled in the gaming segment of the UHD resolution with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels.
Our recommendation, also in terms of performance for the money: The RTX 2080 Super uses a fully developed TU104 graphics chipset and at least 8 GByte fast GDDR6 RAM. Thus, it brings all kinds of content like photos, games or videos to the screen in 4K resolution without any problems. It’s worth taking a closer look at the custom boards here, as some are already offered fully overclocked and thus provide a small performance plus. The power consumption makes you sit up and take notice both in idle and under full load, so that our system often needs around 400 watts under heavy use. These cards also support raytracing and DLSS.
However, you can also save a few Dollar here if you don’t want to buy the latest generation. Because even the RTX-2080 cards are sometimes sold as a previous version in various online shops. If you want even more performance, you have to dig very deep into your pocket and invest well over 1,000 Dollar either in a RTX 2080Ti or a Titan RTX.
Processor GPU or 100 Dollar GPU?
If you don’t attach great importance to performance and can do without elaborate graphics, you can buy an absolute beginner’s card, for example, with the EVGA GeForce GT 1030 Zone Edition, which costs less than 100 Dollar. However, the demands on performance and equipment should then be correspondingly low. Power consumption and noise can be convincing, but otherwise you shouldn’t expect miracles. This card merely serves as an upgrade of a pure office PC without a dedicated graphics solution.
Instead of such a card, a CPU with a strong, built-in graphics unit could also be worthwhile. For example, with the AMD Ryzen 5 3400G, which has an integrated Vega-11 unit, you can play League of Legends or Overwatch quite fluently.
How Techtestreport tests graphics cards
There are scores of current graphics cards on the market, as the board partners offer many different cooling solutions per GPU for different budgets. We can’t test every single one, so we try to test every currently available GPU at least as a standard version and once as an overclocked version. Of course our test center tries to consider as many manufacturers as possible.
In such a case, however, it must be taken into account that we would like to have the test devices tested by the manufacturers as close as possible to the launch. Therefore, it is possible that models of certain brands appear more frequently in our list of best sellers than others. Furthermore, you will only find graphics cards that you can also buy here. Of course we also test pre-series or reference models from Nvidia and AMD. However, you won’t be included in the best list, but will receive a detailed practical test.
Our overall score is made up of four components, each of which is included in the result in percentage terms:
- The performance with 80 percent
- The loudness with 10 percent
- The equipment and power consumption with 5 percent each
This is how the performance score is composed
Performance is the all-decisive criterion for a graphics card. Whoever wants to purchase a graphics card will focus first and foremost on performance. The performance evaluation is made up of various benchmarks, whereby we test the most popular resolution Full-HD as well as the future-oriented UHD. The benchmarks include, for example, Futuremarks 3DMark-Suite and Valley, but also practical tests like the benchmark modes of large games. Thus, we test among others with GTA V, Total War: Warhammer II as well as Far Cry V. Overall, we note the results of 19 performance tests in our best list. From the gaming tests, we also create sub-ratings for both Full HD and UHD performance, with Full HD results accounting for 60 percent of the final rating and UHD results for 40 percent.
We also test various new benchmarks at all times so that we can integrate the results into our scores in the future. It is therefore possible that we may occasionally include benchmark results in individual tests that are not included in our list of best.
Quiet as a whisper or rather a vacuum cleaner: Noise
The cooling system used is responsible for the volume of a graphics card – and if the GPU is not exactly a heat sink, an efficient fan is the responsibility of the board partners. There are many types of fans, which is why on the one hand, high-frequency rotating compact fans of small graphics cards can cause a lot of noise, and on the other hand, there are passively cooled models that are whisper quiet. But also potent high-end graphics cards work almost inaudibly, if the manufacturer, for example, installs a water cooling or a very high-quality axial air cooling. You should distance yourself from so-called blower models: These models are intended for computers with poor case cooling, because blower graphics cards blow the air out of the case themselves – and are often very loud. If that doesn’t bother you, blower graphics cards are usually the cheapest option.
The final result of the loudness evaluation is the result of three single measurements:
- 2D operation (desktop)
- Average gaming operation
- Maximum capacity
The decider: Equipment and power consumption
5 percent of the equipment is included in the overall standings. This includes connection cables or adapters as well as free software and games. Furthermore, the connection options and their number are also included.
Like the equipment, the power consumption is also 5 percent of the final score. This is where we determine how much power a test device consumes in the most diverse scenarios. The evaluation is made up of two measurements:
- Once in idle mode
- Once under full load of the entire system
Gaming in 4K – worth it?
4K gaming was on everyone’s lips even before the launch of Playstation 4 and Xbox One. But very little was left of the promise made by Microsoft and Sony back then. There was no “real” 4K even on the two pro consoles – they used tricks like upscaling. Moreover, only selected games for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X supported the aforementioned resolution. You don’t even have to talk about 60 frames per second here.
After 4K there is already 8K coming
But now the PS5 and Xbox Series X are on the doorstep, and they’re going to deliver a decent performance – that much is certain. Months before the release, there is already talk of an 8K resolution, which the two gaming devices should support. A TV that makes this possible, however, should not be bought, as already PS4 and Xbox One have shown in the topic of 4K gaming. But how does it feel now to play with “real” 3,840 x 2,160 pixels? THE STANDARD has dared to try it with a PC.
Still no really cheap fun
First of all, 4K gaming is still not cheap fun. On the one hand, you need a powerful graphics card and then a display that offers the aforementioned resolution. If you want to achieve a refresh rate beyond 60 FPS, you’ll quickly reach well over 1,000 DOllar for the two products alone. The STANDARD was given a 27 inch screen with 4K resolution and up to 144 Hertz (Predator XB3) by Acer and an RTX 2080 Super by MSI for testing – both together come at a price of about 1,800 Dollar.
Office work and media consumption in sharp focus
As a 4K newcomer, even the first use of the desktop is a feast for the eyes. In a direct comparison with a Full-HD screen, the difference is very clear. The 1080p display appears clouded, almost blurred in direct comparison. The upgrade is also very positive in office work and media consumption of 4K films or series. Once you get used to the resolution, you don’t really want to go back.
Sobering gaming result
When it comes to gaming, the “wow-effect” is no longer too great. But you have to go back a bit for that. As already mentioned, gaming in 4K resolution requires very powerful hardware. Even this hardware reaches its limits, if you also aim for a high refresh rate. With hardware-hungry control, an average of 60 FPS is reached with activated raytracing – but often the value oscillates below that. If the improved light display is deactivated, the value fluctuates between 80 and 100 FPS.
Focus on resolution or FPS
Even with Doom Eternal, the refresh rate oscillates between 60 and 80 FPS at 4K resolution with maximum graphics settings. Especially in fast shooters, however, the frames per second do have an influence on the gaming experience and – from a certain level on – also on the result. Even with one of the strongest and most expensive graphics cards currently available for the consumer market, you have to decide between resolution and FPS – if you want to play new and hardware-hungry games with the highest possible settings.
Change from 60 Hz to 144 Hz is more significant
For older and less complex games such as League of Legends, GTA 5, Overwatch and Rocket League, the full 144 Hz of the screen is used. This raises the question, however, why bring such expensive hardware into the house at all, if you only use games that are not too hardware-hungry anyway and where the differences between 4K and Full-HD are not too big in normal use. The change from a 60 Hz to 144 Hz screen is however very noticeable.
In a way, a question of taste
So what about 4K gaming in 2020? To play with said resolution and a refresh rate of more than 60 FPS still requires a lot of money. Is it worth the high investment? Yes and no. In a way, it’s a question of faith whether you want the highest possible resolution or refresh rate. In the second case, a greater “wow-effect” came about during gaming, at least for the author. On the other hand, 4K was a boon at work and media consumption – but you don’t need potent gaming hardware in your PC for that.
How to continue with 4K gaming
It will be exciting to see how PS5 and Xbox Series X will advance this topic. A new generation of consoles has always been a pioneer of technical progress for the masses. It is probably to be expected that the new gaming devices will actually enable 4K resolution and 60 FPS. Whether this will also work with activated raytracing, however, is another matter.
GPU & CPU – Bottleneck?
The close coupling in the interaction of CPU and GPU has direct consequences for the combination or coordination of both components, i.e. of processor and graphics card. What you should absolutely avoid is that the CPU cannot “tell” the GPU fast enough what to render next.
If this is the case, the GPU regularly goes into an idle state, i.e. it does not calculate a new frame although it has free capacity and could already calculate the next frame. If this situation occurs that the CPU cannot tell the GPU fast enough what to calculate next, it is called a CPU bottleneck.
The (insufficient) performance of the CPU thus throttles the actual performance of the GPU and fewer frames per time unit can be calculated.
The frame rate per second (frames per second) often quoted in games decreases and the gaming experience literally falters and the game jerks.
So make sure that you have an adequately powerful CPU at your side, otherwise you will simply waste money on a graphics card whose full potential you cannot use.
What CPU power is appropriate for the graphics card?
Which CPU is appropriate in terms of performance depends on the graphics card you are aiming for. Basically, the stronger the graphics card, the more powerful the CPU should be to avoid the risk of the graphics card being limited by the bottleneck problem described above.
On the other hand, however, it doesn’t make sense to pair an overly strong CPU (e.g. a Core i7 8700K) with a relatively(!) weak GTX1050, since you are spending a lot of money on a processor that is never exhausted, at least in games, because the graphics card can’t keep up with the generation of the single frames (at least at higher resolutions and high graphics quality) in this case.
An interesting tool to find out how CPU and GPU fit together is the “Bottlenecker”, which can be found at http://thebottlenecker.com/
With the help of the tool, a so-called bottleneck percentage can be determined for a combination of CPU, GPU and RAM, which gives a rough indication of how well the system or its components are matched to each other. A high bottleneck percentage thus indicates that a component slows down the performance of the system above average (and thus unnecessarily).
It’s worth experimenting a little bit to get a feeling for the performance classes of the different CPUs and GPUs.
As a guideline for reasonable CPU/graphics card combinations that are performance-wise reasonable or not so reasonable, you can use this table, which was created with the bottleneck calculator as an example. Of course, such results should always be considered with caution, but the tendency of the tool’s results is surprisingly good and often matches actual experiences.
|CPU||GPU||Bottleneck percentage||Note / classification|
|Intel Core i5 8400||GTX 1070 TI||6%||Well coordinated|
|Intel Core i5 8400||GTX 1050||55%||CPU significantly oversized (waste of money)|
|Intel Core i5 8400||GTX 1080 TI||9%||Well coordinated|
|Intel Core i7 8700||GTX 1080 TI||1%||Very well coordinated|
|Intel Core i3 8100||GTX 1080 TI||18%||CPU undersized|
|Ryzen 7 1800X||GTX 1080 TI||1%||Very well coordinated|
|Ryzen 7 1800X||GTX 970||25%||CPU significantly oversized (waste of money)|
There is a tendency to underestimate the performance of processors and therefore one often uses a model that is actually a bit too powerful (or too expensive). Basically, however, a modern Core i3 8100 with 3.6 Ghz and 4 cores already has enough power to drive most games without problems, especially when gaming in higher resolutions and the graphics card gets a bit busy.
Resolution especially relevant for power requirements and CPU/GPU combination
Surely it is obvious that the CPU limits the graphics card only as long as the graphics card is in principle faster in calculating an image (a frame) than the CPU needs for preparing the next render instruction.
With graphically demanding games and high resolutions (e.g. 3840 × 2160 pixels) with high details, the most powerful graphics chips will of course at some point reach their limits and have to “plough” properly to calculate the respective frame, so that with increasing resolution the probability of a CPU bottleneck becomes less and less.
The connection is obvious when you think about how an image is actually composed: of thousands of colored pixels, which together make up the actual image.
The higher the resolution, the more pixels and their color values the graphics card has to calculate to display the image, so the generation of the output becomes more complex.
Basically, the higher the resolution in which you want to play your games, the more powerful your graphics card has to be, because more pixels have to be calculated.
The following table illustrates the relationship between resolution and pixel count for some popular resolutions:
|Resolution||Width (in pixels)||Height (in pixels)||Total number of pixels (pixels)|
|Ultra HD (4k)||3840||2160||8,294,400|
What determines the performance of graphics cards?
The performance of a graphics card is essentially determined by the chip architecture, the number of computing cores, their clock speed and the size and speed of the GDDR RAM (graphics memory).
Similar to multi-core CPUs (which, however, only have a few computing cores), modern graphics cards consist of many hundreds or thousands of individual computing cores, which can be used to work on different tasks in parallel. Basically, more computing cores can perform more operations per time unit.
The following table shows the relationship between the performance class of a graphics chip (GTX1080 TI as the most powerful graphics chip in the list, GTX 1050 as the weakest) and the technical specification or equipment.
As can be easily seen, the more powerful graphics chips are equipped with more computing cores or higher clock rates of the cores, more and faster GDDR memory.