Don’t you just HATE it when there are so many options of the graphics card under 500 available that you can’t even tell anymore what you want to buy? Our everyday gamers cower in fear of the complex, number-laden, and long nomenclature of the Graphic processing units being sold at computer shops but are too nervous to ask for help. Trust me we’ve all been there. Well, look no further as this is exactly what you’ve been waiting for because after reading this you’ll never be confused about upgrading or choosing your GPU again.
We live in a fast-moving electronic age. With the development of better technology separated by a period of weeks if not days, competing suppliers are offering variants with slightly different performances. These performance marks are tweaked to meet the needs of specific buyers, in an attempt to get more out of an ever-growing market. I am going to list the best graphics cards under $500 available in the market.
Best Graphics Cards Under $500 in 2021
- EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black
- MSI Gaming Geforce RTX 2070
- ASUS Geforce GTX 1070
- Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 Windforce OC
- MSI Gaming Geforce GTX 1070
- Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 Founders Edition
- EVGA Geforce GTX 1070 Gaming ACX 3.0
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1
- Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme
- Gigabyte Radeon RX VEGA
Also Read: Best Graphics Card Reviews.
Choosing a Best Graphics Card Uunder $500
Now it is important to know that most of the CPUs (Central processing units) available today in the market have an integrated GPU (Graphics processing unit). This essentially means that the small graphics card is housed within the CPU. These integrated GPUs have upgraded the performance quite a lot and are good for 2D graphics and everyday operating systems displays. So what more could you possibly need right?
Think again, these integrated GPUs are not well suited for extensive visual data processing which is required by the user while playing high-resolution video games or developing graphics, etc. For such strenuous visual data tasks dedicated to GPUs (Also known as discrete GPUs) are used. This guide is meant for the latter products as the former is housed within the CPU and is generally not meant for onerous data processing.
So what exactly should you look for while making a choice? We have eight points that need to be considered before throwing hard-earned dollars at a GPU. For those interested in the whys and how this guide will explain briefly about the importance of each one for you to make the best choice. But for those with a shortage of time, at the last of each detailed explanation, a small conclusion has been drawn, which should nonetheless give you a good overall picture.
Budget and nature of work
Now for the gamers and designers out, as a general guide, a good suited GPU for your computer should cost around 30% of your whole system. I know what you’re thinking
30 PERCENT on just one component???
But the truth is that A GPU is the most part of your entire CPU and it could cost much more than what I’m telling here. So as a thumb rule, anything over that estimate probably means that you’re spending too much money on a product well exceeding your requirements. To put it another way, you wouldn’t buy a formula one exhaust and cooling system for your Prius, right? I mean it causes no harm but the Prius is not generating enough heat to need that cooling. And overall a budget of under $500 for graphics cards is an extremely good deal. In conclusion, know your requirements well and analyze your budget before starting to search for a viable GPU. As spending too much on a product that has specs that are higher than your actual requirement is just money down the drain.
First of all, we’ll attempt to give you a general idea of what TDP, short for Thermal Design Power, is the max power that is dissipated by the device while running on max clock speed (will be described separately in a later part).
This Thermal design power is important to see because your system might not have enough power to give to the GPU for running it smoothly. In simple terms, High TDP usually means higher processing power so it is logical to go for the highest available but the catch here is the power that your system can provide to the GPU. Simply put, more TDP does mean more powerful processing available to you, so what were these two paragraphs about am I right? But there is, if your system cannot provide enough power to support the high TDP, it is, basically, useless.
Space and Cooling (TDP)
This TDP is technically the power that the GPU will dissipate as well. What does that mean? Well, expressed in terms of watts, in simple words, it is the value of heat that will be generated by your GPU while it is operating at its max capacity. So you need to see whether you have the required number of fans running at the required speed to keep your system cool enough for efficient performance while you push your GPU to its limits. If you need extra fans you’ll need extra space, simple enough right? Generally, large tower systems are better at accommodating GPUs with higher TDPs and thus have more potential as gaming systems. In conclusion, never buy a GPU with a higher TDP than your system can manage even if it meets other requirements, it might just end up heating your system up which could cause partial or complete loss of data and in extreme cases, the entire motherboard.
So what is this new thing that you should be keeping in mind?
The clock speed is one of the two main specifications which will determine the speed of the GPU in question.
The core clock speed is the number of oscillations that the silicon used in the processor is going to make in to render the data stored on the GPU into visual information on your desktop. Naturally, gamers prefer a GPU that has a faster core clock for getting a smoothly operated gaming system. It is essentially one of the most relevant specs that are used to decide on the product that you are going to buy.
In conclusion, a faster Core clock speed for any GPU I a better choice to have but it should be viewed along with all the previous points mentioned, power supply, heating and cooling and most importantly, the requirement of the game or software that you are running.
Memory and Hardware Specs
A higher memory is always great as it would remaining inside the budget limits of course. Also, do make sure it can be connected to your motherboard physically. One more extra useful tip is to always connect the GPU in the first connector slot available on your motherboard as some motherboards may have multiple connectors for parallel processing.
It is essentially the amount of space that the processor can access at any given time at once. The more bandwidth that a GPU has the more data which can be fed to the Shader Cores (Bear with us here, we’ll get right to it).
Bandwidth could act as a limiter on your GPU performance. As explained by the garage door example. Even if you can carry scores of things together from your huge garage (the simile is being used to talk about the core clock speed). The door would be limiting your performance. In much the same way having a bigger memory reserve, say 8-12 gigabytes, and an equivalent core clock speed could amount to nothing if you do not have the bandwidth available to access more information at the same time. But there is a little more to consider. It is a combination of two factors. One is the core clock speed, already explained above; the second one is the bus width available to transfer that data.
It is the bus that takes the stored bits of information saved in your GPUs memory down to the graphics processor. It is measured quite simply, the actual number of bits that can be on the bus per clock cycle e.g. 128 bits, 256 bits, etc.
Another easy way to visualize this is to think of the bus width as actual traffic lanes on a road. Moreover, lanes mean more traffic can flow at any particular amount of time. So you’re thinking this is the hardware part what do we have to do with this right? You just need to crosscheck whether the bus width provided is actually required for the memory of the GPU that you’re using. If this doesn’t make sense just leave it. It doesn’t exactly hurt to have more lanes available for less data, it’ll only be running smoothly.
Shader Cores are actually called different things by the market’s top producers. NVidia calls them CUDA cores whereas AMD calls them steam processors but they’re just shaders. See, I told you I had a point.
These CUDAs or steam processors are one of the 2 top performance parameters that are judged for selecting a GPU, the first being clock speed which has already been explained. These are the processors that will decide how cool the graphics you display on your screen look. These act like processors and use parallel processing to render the information into visual data. It’s simple to understand right. The more processors you have the better your performance would be. This should be crosschecked with bandwidth and memory as well. Usually, the manufacturer gives you a suitable combination of all peripheral components in a GPU with the number of shader cores so there is nothing to worry about. The main concern should be picking a processor that does not under or overshoot your requirements.
To make it short, the higher this number is the better your performance would be, but keep in mind not to spend on anything more than your requirement.
So, as far as the listed products are concerned they are based on 2 GPUs, both manufactured by NVidia. But the prices of NVidia GPUs are off the charts. Other companies base their models off the same GPUs and they come in a very affordable range of under $500. These are the market’s best 4k graphics cards. They are also the best graphics cards for video editing.
Also Read: Best Graphics Card Under 200.
Best Graphics Cards Under 500 in 2021 (Reviews)
1. EVGA Geforce RTX 2070 Black
EVGA has manufactured a 2070 graphics card under $500. It has the best listed specs. The EVGA Geforce RTX 2070 Black Edition has an 8 Gigabyte all new DDR6 VRAM technology. Whereas, it offers a memory clock speed of 14000 MHz and boosts the core clock speed. The boost clock is 1620 MHz as mentioned in the specs and it can support 4 monitors with a staggering max digital capacity of 7680 x 4320. On the other hand, it uses a sink heat system and employs 2 fans to cool the GPU. The GPU has a thermal design power of 550 watts which is quite high and needs quite a bit of cooling for good operation. But the necessity is given the bandwidth and the memory clock speed is needed to support the real-time ray tracing technology.
Also Read: Best Gaming PC Under $500.
2. MSI Gaming Geforce RTX 2070
The MSI gaming version of the GeForce RTX 2070 is based on the same GPU tech of NVidia and boasts almost the same specifications as well. From the same number of CUDA cores to the memory available and even the base memory clock speed is the same. It also has a max digital capacity of 7680 x 4320. The only difference is the boost clock speed available. MSI’s variant offers a boost clock speed which is 120 Mhz higher than the EVGA variant. Also, they claim to have a better thermally efficient design with their fan’s shapes being more aerodynamic and armor designed to dissipate heat better. The requirements of the system are also the same.
Talking of the specs, the only thing MSI has better than EVGA is the boost clock speed limit. With the EVGA GPU available well below $500 from most of the sellers but the MSI variant sometimes exceeding well beyond $550, EVGA is the better option if you want to buy an RTX 2070. From our list, it is the best 2070 graphics card.
3. ASUS Geforce GTX 1070
Asus uses the GDDR5 technology for its VRAM like the standard 1070 GPUs. It has the same capacity as the 2070s in our list, i.e. 8 Gigabytes and a memory bandwidth of 256 bits. In the overview, ASUS does boast its very own patented style of fans which creates an air pressure of 105% and keeps the GPU cool for smooth operations. The ASUS 1070 comes optimized for the ASUS – X99 A II motherboard, which is good news for the ASUS users as well. The other good news is that it is an affordable graphics card for gaming if you’re planning to get one.
The GPU supports VR gaming and has VR friendly HDMI ports and for all the pros out there who like showing off what they can do. It uses Nvidia Ansel tech for capturing screenshots while playing the game. It uses XSplit Gamecaster for those of you who like tweaking their GPU’s performance according to their liking. It gives simplified options for beginners and much more advanced and personalized tweaking for the experienced overclockers.
4. Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 Windforce OC
In terms of overview, Gigabyte is not giving anything too different from the standard GTX 1070 models. The Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1070 Windforce OC is Pascal architecture and the card is VR ready. In the cooling system, it uses 2 x 90 mm fans to keep the GPU cool with its heat pipes made from pure copper and directly in contact with the processor it allows efficient dissipation. The fan blades have a triangular edge and it slits the airflow on contact with the 3d stripes on the surface. It allows more enhanced cooling.
The fan stops when it is not necessary to cool allowing a semblance of silence to our gamers who need absolute concentration. It also has a simplified graphics engine software that allows you to adjust the modes of the GPU with just a click without worrying about the technical details or processes going on behind the walls. It makes safe overclocking extremely easy, with just one click.
Also Read: Best Gaming PC Reviews.
5. MSI Gaming Geforce GTX 1070
MSI has also manufactured its own version based on the best gaming GPU available, i.e. 1070. It has the standard 1920 CUDA cores and has a slightly higher max memory clock speed of 8108 MHz instead of the standard 8008 MHz. Again, nothing out of the ordinary about this one either, the specs and technical details are almost an exact match.
MSI is also giving one of the best overclocking software available in the market. The MSI Afterburner is a simple software that gives an easy to understand the way of boosting your GPUs performance. It also comes with a stress testing software called which can test your GPU at your recommended settings and offers you a good idea about whether your GPU can sustain the settings that you want it to run on. It also has a built-in temperature monitor so you can easily keep an eye on your GPU core’s temperature.
6. Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 Founders Edition
Nvidia is the main company that is producing the 1070 Pascal architecture which is one of the best GPU for gaming and it can also be the best GPU for video editing and graphics rendering. With 1920 CUDA Cores and a memory bandwidth of 256 GB/sec it has the very standard specs of a 1070 GPU. The Founder’s edition of the actual NVidia 1070 series does not have any different specs. It is actually the processor of GTX 1080 with 25% of its CUDA Cores disabled. Its performance is the same as a standard 1070. However, NVidia has used a more thermally efficient design which helps in managing the TDP of the GPU in a better way. It keeps the GPU cooler while giving its maximum performance-enhancing the overall efficiency of this GPU.
7. EVGA Geforce GTX 1070 Gaming ACX 3.0 Black Edition
EVGA has used one of the best GPUs for gaming available in the market for its graphics card as well. It has the standard 256 Bit width and a bandwidth of 256 GB/sec. The only difference in the EVGA’s black version adaptation of the NVidia’s 1070 GPU is that it employs the AC 3.0 cooling regime. The fans have been upsized to 10 cm instead of the traditional 9 cm. At such high performance, usually the most inconvenient thing about the GPU while gaming is the noise produced by the fans. Even though the fans of AC 3.0 are bigger in size they employ idling technology.
It means that the fans stop when the GPU does not require any cooling. So for example, if you play in a very chilled room your GPU might become totally silent not requiring any cooling at all.
8. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1070 G1
As we have seen another version of the GTX 1070 by Gigabyte already. Both of the GPUs are graphics cards under $500 and as I have mentioned already the 1070 Pascal architecture is one of the best GPUs for gaming
I’ll just draw a small comparison between the two different variants of 1070 produced by the same company Gigabyte. One of the variants is called G1 whereas the 2nd one is named Windforce.
It also has a 3 fan design for the cooling system. Logically, more number of fans means better cooling.
Bottom Line for the choice between the two Gigabyte variants, G1 offers slightly improved performance and cooling with a lower price and also has a 17mm smaller hardware size which can come in handy for those having a tighter space available in their system. Obviously not a hard decision to make if you have your mindset to gigabyte. Windforce is the better variant.
9. Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 AMP Extreme
Zotac also employs the three fan cooling system in the AMP extreme variant. In addition to all the technical specifications that come with a GTX 1070, Zotac gives some aesthetics as well. It employs a carbon fiber exoskeleton inside the outer casing and gives you adjustable LEDs around the outer casing which have adjustable colors. Zotac also offers special software made just for the company to help you easily configure the settings that you want to perform on including safe overclocking. The overclocking makes it the best GPU for gaming
The bottom line for the 1070 series is that almost all the companies are offering graphics cards with slight differences in performances in the under $500 range. These 1070s are one of the best GPUs for gaming and also the best 4k GPUs for video editing. The main thing a buyer needs to look for is compatibility with their system. For example if you have an ASUS X – 99 A II motherboard you should go for the Asus variant. The dimensions of these GPUs and the cooling systems are extremely important too. So you know whether the GPU will even fit inside your system Other than hardware compatibility and some GPUs having company made software available for better control, performance tweaking and overclocking, etc. The 1070s are going to give you near identical performance. The overall stats of 1070 and the overclocking capabilities easily make them one of the best GPUs in the market.
10. Gigabyte Radeon RX VEGA 56
Gigabyte also offers GPUs based on AMD Radeon’s Vega architecture. To put it all simply, Vega’s HBM2 has much higher bandwidth and gives a max performance at a very low power consumption compared to the DDR5. But this comes at a very high cost to build. The Vega 56 has almost double the number of Steam processors (CUDA cores for NVidia), has a very high bus width of 2048 bit at a memory clock of only 800 MHz which allows it to operate at a very low TDP.
This GPU is out of the topic’s range by almost 60% of the cost and much higher performance specs as well. The GPU was included to give our readers an idea about the technology of NVidia’s main competitor, AMD Radeon who is utilizing different tech to build more power-efficient GPUs. Radeon’s profit margins are very low with Vega architecture technology but they do provide extremely power-efficient GPUs. To put it in perspective, HBM2 will give a 100% increase in the memory bandwidth compared to DDR5. It also cuts the power consumption down to only 8% of the DDR5 technology.
In the conclusion of the whole article, I will try to give you an overview and a sense of the best option for you.
The 2070 is the latest tech with Turing architecture and supporting real-time ray tracing. It has a technological lead on the rest of the market and is simply, the best GPU for gaming in today’s world. The CUDA cores count along with the memory bandwidth and all-new Artificial intelligence processing makes it the most high powered graphics card. It is much more advanced than the 1070s or 1080s built with the Pascal architecture (Still rated NVidia’s 2nd best architecture). But with very few games actually making use of the futuristic tech, for now, 2070 can only be considered an investment for future tech. Present games available in the market are working fine with the 1070 or 1080 tech by NVidia. But both of these graphics cards are best for gaming and video editing, graphics rendering, etc.