One of the best parts about using a PC is the ability to upgrade certain parts without getting a whole new system. If you are looking to make things look better, upgrading your graphics card is just the trick, and we've reviewed the best cards between $200-$300.
A graphics card, or graphics processing unit (GPU), translates the code sent by a program and creates the display on your PC. Many factors can indicate the performance of a GPU, but the resolution and efficiency of the GPU are the most important specifications to look at.
Mid-range graphics cards are ideal for those who play video games as a hobby or those who edit videos. With any individual PC part, it is also important to pay attention to the compatibility of the part with your particular PC build.
Graphics Cards Under $300 Compared
1500 MHz/ 1800 MHz
1530 MHz/ 1845 MHz
1607 MHz/ 1835 MHz
1272 MHz/ 1575 MHz
1500 MHz/ 1860 MHz
Buying Guide: Choosing A Quality GPU Under $300
When replacing your existing graphics card, it is essential to note the size available within your PC. Most graphics cards are around ten inches. However, if there are additional features on the graphics card (like fans), they may be a bit larger and require more space to install.
During installation, make sure that the graphics card is connected securely and has appropriate space around it.
Consider what you intend to use your graphics card before purchasing an upgrade, as some are going to be better suited for different purposes.
Gaming is a common use that is graphically demanding, so some cards are designed to handle gaming graphics better than others. Other graphically intense processes like image or video editing can benefit from a more powerful card as well.
CPU and GPU Balance
Your CPU and GPU will need to work together to get the highest quality graphics, but if the CPU or GPU is significantly more powerful than the other, you will run into bottlenecking issues.
You want to have a proper balance so when the CPU attempts to offload the intense processing to the GPU that they are both able to handle the process. Try PC build’s Bottleneck Calculator to see what GPU works best with your CPU.
Graphics Card Features
NVIDIA tends to focus a bit more on more powerful hardware, while AMD strikes a bit better balance between value and performance. NVIDIA and AMD both use their own software with a variety of features to enhance your experience.
Most recently, the OpenCL platform has become one of the most popular graphics processing development platforms. Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA support OpenCL.
A GPU utilizes a multitude of smaller cores relative to a CPU to break down the data being processed into the smallest piece possible and work together to provide a smooth, clean image. CUDA processors are typically used by NVIDIA and are larger cores that are more general-purpose than the Stream processors used by AMD.
GPU Clock Speed
The GPU clock speed is a measure of how fast the cores can process information and is measured in megahertz. A GPU can be overclocked to help with more intense graphic demands.
Memory & Bandwidth
Similar to the GPU clock speed, the memory bandwidth is a measure of the speed of the GPU's video RAM (VRAM). VRAM is measured in gigabytes per second, and there are a number of sizes available.
Thermal Design Power
Thermal design power (TDP) is the maximum power the device will use during normal circumstances. Measured in watts, the max power draw of your device does not cover what is being used while overclocking.
Reference cooling forces all air out of the back of the PC and comes natively on the GPU. Aftermarket cooling solutions can help the GPU run quieter and cooler but require installation.
Many more powerful graphics cards are considered dual slot cards as they require two slots on the motherboard and PC case for mounting. Single slot and low-profile graphics cards can work well for those using smaller cases and are typically less powerful but more affordable.
Price & Warranty
Like with any electronics purchase, review available warranties and conditions. As graphics cards will typically be installed by the user, that will have an impact on elements of the warranty. There are graphics cards to meet any budget, but some of the strongest graphics cards on the market can run well into the thousands of dollars.
5 Best Graphics Cards Under $300 Reviewed
1. GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 N166TOC-6GD
Best Graphics Card Under $300
Base Clock/Boost Clock
1500 MHz/1800 MHz
Every graphics card on this list is going to be worth the investment, but when it comes down to the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 takes home the title of best graphics card under $300 thanks to the suite of features and control you get with this card in your build.
The GeForce Experience software from NVIDIA will make sure that managing and optimizing your GPU is as seamless and easy as possible. Capture, share, or live-stream your highlights to friends and the world straight from the GeForce Experience program.
You can rest easy knowing that the GeForce Experience is keeping your GeForce drivers on the latest version automatically and optimizing game settings for optimal performance.
What gives the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 N166TOC-6GD the edge on captures is the NVIDIA Ansel technology that offers an unparalleled photo mode. With the ability to capture max resolution, 360-degree HDR photos, you can create the perfect background, poster, or still from your favorite game.
This graphics card will give you the definitive edge in content creation and make the most of all the breathtaking worlds you find yourself in. To achieve the best visuals possible with this card, NVIDIA uses Turing Shader technology to create true to life adaptive shading with double the cache capacity of its predecessor to optimize your visuals even more.
2. ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660
- Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1408 CUDA Cores...
- Supports up-to 4 Monitors with DisplayPort 1....
- Full Cooling Control with DirectCU II with...
- ASUS Aura Sync RGB lighting features a nearly...
Best NVIDIA Graphics Card Under $300
Base Clock/Boost Clock
1530 MHz/1845 MHz
ASUS Aura Sync RGB Lighting
NVIDIA has a number of cards on our list, but the best NVIDIA graphics card under $300 goes to the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660. There are a few things that set the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 apart, but the most defining feature has to be the ASUS Aura Sync RGB Lighting.
Not content with just a brilliant display on the screen, with ASUS Aura Sync, you can control the lighting effects on your graphics card and other compatible devices to react and enhance media playback with a light show of their own.
Similar to other cards, the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1660 does come with an automated process to further enhance reliability by providing extra power or running at a lower power depending on the need.
The GPU Tweak II technology not only allows for performance adjustments but monitors your system and thermal controls to help keep down fan noise when not necessary. From the hardware side, a wing-blade fan design helps reduce the drag on each blade and further reduces noise and temperature.
This card is also built with IP5X dust resistant parts to better protect against particles getting into the heart of the card.
3. EVGA GeForce 03G-P4-6162-KR
- Real Base Clock: 1607 MHz Real Boost Clock:...
- EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 - Small size, huge...
- What you see is what you get – No...
- DX12 OSD Support with EVGA Precision XOC....
Best Graphics Card for Gaming Under $300
Base Clock/Boost Clock
1607 MHz/1835 MHz
NVIDIA GameStream Technology
No matter the game, smooth, clear graphics make the experience so much better, and a card designed specifically for games should be no surprise as our entry for the best graphics card for gaming under $300.
The EVGA GeForce 03G-P4-6162-KR is based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, making it a slightly older card than others on the list, but it is still capable of keeping up with the most graphically demanding games on the market and is VR ready.
Part of what makes this card such a gaming powerhouse is that it was built using NVIDIA Pascal, widely regarded as one of the top GPU architectures ever created.
One of the unique features that EVGA brings to this card is in the single fan's design. Instead of traditional sleeve bearing fans, the EVGA GeForce 03G-P4-6162-KR uses a double ball-bearing fan design that has been shown to last up to four times longer than sleeve bearing fans.
Since this card does not rely on the oil used in sleeve-bearing fans, there is no risk of that oil drying up and impacting the fan performance. The fan drive has been optimized to run as quiet as possible in most situations so you can keep your eyes and ears in the game.
Also Recommended: Best Graphics Cards for Fortnite
4. MSI Gaming Radeon RX 570
Best AMD Graphics Card Under $300
Base Clock/Boost Clock
1272 MHz/1575 MHz
When AMD deemed this design the ARMOR version, they took things to the next level with military-grade components for the hardware, and that is just one of the features that make this the best AMD graphics card under $300.
Designed not only to be durable but look good too, the eye-catching white on black gives this card an understated appeal, which is carried into the Zero Frozr fan technology that eliminates fan noise in low-load situations so you can focus in on the display.
The fans use two different fin designs to increase airflow while keeping things quiet. An aluminum core gives the card greater stability, which helps keep things stable for the fans to work at peak efficiency.
The companion program for the MSI Gaming Radeon RX 570 is MSI Afterburner, which allows you to monitor your hardware in real-time and make adjustments to overclocking and many other settings.
On top of settings, you can use the Predator in-game video recording to capture all the best moments and save them for later. AMD Eyefinity lets you play across multiple screens for full visual immersion, and the AMD FreeSync works to synchronize display refresh rates with the GPU for some of the smoothest graphics on the market.
5. ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
- New Turing architecture
- 6GB 192-bit GDDR6
- Super Compact 8.3-Inch card, fits 99% of...
- Dual slot, 4K ready, ice storm 2.0 cooling
Best Rated 6GB Graphics Card Under $300
Base Clock/Boost Clock
1500 MHz/1860 MHz
More available memory is going to produce cleaner, smoother images on screen, and in a mid-range budget, you can expect to find anywhere between four and six gigabyte models. The best rated 6GB graphics card we found for under $300 is the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB.
Boasting a "super compact" design, ZOTAC's card comes in at 8.3" and is listed as fitting 99% of systems, so for those who may be concerned with space, this is a great option. The card is VR and 4K ready out of the box and has plug-and-play compatibility with many headsets on the market.
The defining feature of the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB is the OC Scanner feature that allows you to simply press a button, let the process run and get automated recommendations on the best settings for your graphics card.
If you are swapping this card into a new build, simply run the process again, and you are ready to go. The simplicity of the set up for this card makes it an excellent addition for those who swap frequently, have not had much experience setting up a new graphics card or those who are looking at more compact builds.
Quick Guide to Graphics Card Pricing
There are as many graphics cards on the markets as there are budgets, which is great for the consumer to have options, but there are trade-offs.
Video Card Maintenance & Troubleshooting
Graphics cards can show their errors in a variety of ways. The most common is simply issues with displaying graphics on the screen. It is important to check the software first if you do not notice any noises or can see any issues with the card.
Update drivers for the card through your driver manager and confirm that the version you are using is compatible with what you are attempting to do.
If there is a hardware issue, you can start by powering down the PC (removing the power source is also a nice precaution) and then removing the graphics card from the slot in a clean area where static electricity is not a concern.
Look for any apparent issues like dust build-up or anything out of place. Compressed air is great for dusting the card and should be done as regular maintenance. After cleaning, reinsert the card and boot up your computer to see if the issue has been resolved.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
NVIDIA or AMD – Which is best?
As of the writing of this article, AMD and NVIDIA are fairly comparable in terms of hardware, so see which software is a better experience for you.
How can I make my graphics card quieter?
One common cause of a loud graphics card is dust build-up. Maintain your card by dusting with compressed air.
What graphics cards reviewed above can run 4k?
All of the cards on this list should be able to run 4K video; however, you will need to make sure you have the proper monitor and connection ports on the monitor. For games, it is best to see minimum system requirements to determine if the entire computer can run the game at 4K.
How can I check the temp of my GPU?
Many cards come with software that will allow you to monitor the temperature of the GPU, so be sure to consult with the included software first. When graphics cards overheat, the materials can start to degrade and begin to show wear and tear much earlier in their lifespan.
Is it good to buy refurbished video cards under $300? Are there any risks?
Be sure to pay close attention to the seller and any usage details on the video card. With any electronic device, buying used carries some inherent risk as how the previous owner cared for the device plays a significant factor in how long it will last when you use it.
Where is the best place to buy a good graphics card under $300?
Amazon has a wide selection of graphics cards under $300 and has many used and new options.
All of the cards on our list will be sure to bring your graphics to the next level and help you enjoy videos and games like never before. The GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 N166TOC-6GD is our pick for the best graphics card under $300 thanks to its balance of features, powerful hardware and software.
Holly Curell is a US-based freelance writer & editor extraordinaire. With over a decade of writing technical manuals, blog articles, & even company communications, Holly has a passion for providing value to readers on everything she knows about tech-related topics. When she’s not writing, Holly enjoys reading, hiking, wine, & wandering the aisles of Trader Joe’s. Holly is currently based out of North Carolina, where she lives with her husband Ken & their three children.