The best graphics cards for upgrading your system from Mashable

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Are you building a gaming PC from scratch? Or upgrading your current set-up? Gaming PC experts will know that after the bare bones hardware — the PC itself, monitor, and keyboard — you can’t overlook the importance of the graphics card.

But getting the right graphics card is sometimes easier said than done. There is just so much tech available — all with the rapidly-accelerating specifications and capabilities — so it’s easy to get blinded by science and muddled by jargon.

Fear not, PC gamers. We can help put you in the picture with the best graphics cards on the market. And just in case you’re new to the world of PC gaming, or you need a refresher, we’ve put together a quick guide on everything you need to know.

What is a graphics card?

A graphics card — also known as a GPU — is one of the most important parts of any PC. It works alongside the CPU (or processor) to turn data into images. The best graphics cards process data at a faster rate and make those images sharper and more realistic. Modern graphics cards are capable of processing incredible 3D images with an almost non-existent lag between the commands you physically input with your controller or keyboard and the resulting action on the monitor.

Do you really need a graphics card?

If you’re a reasonably enthusiastic PC gamer, then yes. Games are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with ever improving 4K and ray tracing, so you’ll need the hardware to keep up with the pace. Gamers are familiar with upgrading their machines regularly and the graphics card is the key component in next gen-level gaming.

Are graphics cards only for gamers?

Graphics cards are widely associated with gaming and that’s where most of the power lies. However, graphics cards can be important for creative professionals and designers too, with processing capabilities for video editing and decoding, 3D rendering, and graphic design-based apps. If you’re upgrading your GPU for creative design work, check that it’s made to handle those tasks. Some graphics cards are for gaming only.

How much does a graphics card cost?

If you’re new to building a gaming PC, prepare yourself for a serious hit to your wallet. If you’re a veteran, you’ll know the cost of a good GPU already. Indeed, graphics cards — at least, very good quality graphics cards — do not come cheap. Prepare to pay anything from £500 upwards (and we do mean upwards) for a decent option. However, don’t despair if you’re a newbie and want to get started by spending less. There’s a GPU on this list that costs under £275. Just don’t expect it to be a long-term option if you’re serious about gaming.

Does Nvidia make the best graphics cards?

A cursory glance at online reviews would suggest that to be the case. Nvidia GeForce GPUs lead the pack, certainly in the mid-range and premium end of the market. That doesn’t mean you have to pay big bucks for the best Nvidia GeForce. AMD offer good options, particularly at lower price points.

What are third party graphics cards?

This is when another manufacturer uses the GPU of a top brand — such as Nvidia and AMD — to create its own version. These are perfectly acceptable and in some cases more readily available. When Nvidia drops a new product, for instance, they can be like graphics card gold dust. In which case it’s easier to get a third party version.

What is the best graphics card?

That’s really for you to decide, based on the specifications and requirements of your PC setup. What we can tell you, however, is that we’ve done the work of researching for you. We’ve scanned the internet and reviews to find the best options for every gamer.

These are the best graphics cards in 2024.

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