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5 Best Graphics Cards Under $500: Reviews For Laptops & More

Whether you want to enjoy gaming at ultra-high settings or to edit graphically-rich videos and images – getting the best graphics card under 500 for your system is an excellent idea as it augments image and video quality for an outstanding experience. 

But deciding on what to buy is no less than a challenge as graphics cards under 500 dollars come in different shapes, sizes, and specifications. On top of that, you have to consider the type of monitor in use, the size of the system’s casing, and any other requirements.

For your ease, we took it upon ourselves to simplify the GPU buying process. We have highlighted everything you need to watch out for when in the market for top graphics cards.

Image

Model

Base Clock

Boost Clock

Memory Bandwidth

GPU Cores

Fans

Check Price

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G...

1,500 MHz

1,845 MHz

288 GB/s

1,536

Two

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 XC GAMING, 6GB GDDR6,...

1,365 MHz

1,755 MHz

336 GB/s

1,920

One

Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060 6G REV...

OC Mode:

1,645 MHz
Gaming Mode:

1,620 MHz

OC Mode:

1,873 MHz
Gaming Mode:

1,847 MHz

192 GB/s

1,280

Two

MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 256-bit 8GB GDRR5...

1,257 MHz

1,353 MHz

256 GB/s

2,304

Two

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini 8GB...

1,605 MHz

1,770 MHz

448 GB/s

2,560

Two


Quick Guide to Graphics Card Pricing Points

Budget $50-$150

For casual gaming, random surfing, document handling, and decent video quality — graphics cards under $50 to $150 are a safe bet. They are a leg up to a random integrated video card and require a maximum of 400-watts to operate.

See our guide: Best Graphics Cards Under $150

Entry Level $150-$250

If you want to videos to playback at 1080p, you’ll need to buy graphics card in this price range. You can depend on these for gaming at medium to high graphics and streaming videos on 4K, Blu-ray, or FHD. These’ll also require up to 400-watts power to operate.

Mid-Range $250-$500

These graphics cards can run the latest games at high settings; you can get max results of 1440p, and they also allow you to play at medium settings on 4K. These cards may require 400-450 watts to run. These graphics cards under $500 are the focus of this piece, so we’ll discuss these in detail a little later.

Top-Range $500+

Video cards that cost more than $500 can handle the most demanding gamers or animators.

From handling highly graphic intensive tasks such as editing videos and images with quick and detailed renders to playing games in 4K at high settings with outstanding refresh rate, they can do it all and a lot more.

Many of the available variants on the market also support VR usage, and they require 500-watts to run.


Choosing A Quality GPU Under $500

Intended Application

If you want something for casual gaming and standard graphics work, go for a graphics card under $200.

However, for uninterrupted experiences, such as when gaming at high settings or using software like Maya, 3D, Solidworks, AutoCAD, etc., you will have to buy a graphic card under $500 or above.

In other words, a mid to high-range graphics card is best for intensive gaming and 3D modeling. In contrast, for standard usage, a budget to the entry-level unit would be just fine.

CPU and GPU Balance

The fact of the matter is that the more expensive a graphics card, the better its performance. Still, it’s essential to consider if your CPU can even accommodate a high-end graphics card.

If you get a graphics card that isn’t appropriate for your machine – you will experience a bottleneck in operations when FPS drops because of unprecedented change in text and graphics. That makes it necessary to strike a balance.

In other words, a bottleneck happens when there is a difference in what needs to be processed and how much of it is allowed to be processed.

Use this bottleneck calculator to help you get the right graphics card.

Graphics Card Features

  • Brand
    Graphics cards under $500 have an NVIDIA or AMD GPU chip; both are highly-reputed and used by leading card manufacturers. Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, Sapphire, Zotac, etc. are some of the many top brands that are allowed to use AMD and NVIDIA graphical processing units.
  • GPU Cores
    There are two cores on the market. The ones made by NVIDIA are known as CUDA cores, whereas AMD cores are called stream processors. Both have different architectures, and stream processors are smaller. They operate on low frequencies, and CUDA cores are bigger and work at high rates.
  • Clock Speed
    Clock speed tells you how swift your GPU performance would be; it highlights the number of processors each core uses per second. So for exceptional performance, buy a graphics card with a broad set of cores and a high clock speed, i.e., if your system allows for it.
  • Memory & Bandwidth
    Good graphics cards have dedicated memory known as video memory AKA VRAM – the current options on the market come with DDR3, GDDR5, GDDR5X, HBM, and HBM2 VRAM.

    DDR3 is the slowest of all, whereas GDDR5 is the most widely used video memory and is seen in budget, mid-range, and high-end units.  As you move up the ladder, VRAMs also become better.

    Typically, VRAM is sized 1 to 16GB, and if you want a decent gaming experience with medium to high settings, a graphics card with a 3 to 4GB of video memory will be good enough. However, if you seek excellent performance and gameplay at high resolutions with no lags, choose a graphics card with at least 6 GB VRAM.
  • Thermal Design Power
    GPUs tend to heat up after prolonged usage — it’s important to manage the right temperatures to ensure that you get to use it for years to come.

    TDP readings let you know precisely how much power would be required by your chosen graphics card to run on stock or higher settings. Ideally, buying a GPU with a low TDP value is excellent, as it can accommodate machines with lower power supplies.
  • Design
    An aftermarket cooler recycles the heat, but only if proper ventilation exists. Another option is a reference cooler that rids all heat from your computer by driving it out of the casing, but it creates noticeable noise while doing so.

    Remember to make sure that the selected graphic card under 500 has the right connection ports, either a 6-pin port or a 2x9-pin port, to fit your PC.
  • Form Factor
    Whether you are designing a new PC or want to upgrade your system with a new video card, make sure the selected unit can fit since graphics cards come in different shapes and sizes.We suggest buying a low profile card for a slim computer or a low profile casing.

    A small form factor or a compact card will be acceptable for small form factor and mini-ITX casings. On the other hand, bigger cards would work just fine with a full-tower case.

    Remember, if your PC does not have the right slot size to accommodate the card, you may need to buy half-height brackets or regular brackets.Check out this piece to know more about low profile graphics cards.

Warranty

Warranty plays an essential role in narrowing down to the best graphics card under 500 dollars for you!

It makes the investment more practical as you that incase assurance that if something goes wrong, the card will be repaired or replaced for no charge.

A warranty also signifies that you are buying a high-quality product and that the manufacturers have complete faith in what they are selling.

However, always remember to check the fine print, i.e., know when the warranty is applicable and when it may go void.


5 Best Graphics Cards Under $500 Reviewed

1. GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G...
  • Powered by GeForce GTX 1660 Ti integrated...
  • Windforce 2x cooling system with alternate...
  • Intuitive controls with AORUS engine
  • 6GB 192 bit GDDR6

Our Top Pick!

Base Clock

1,500 MHz

Boost Clock

1,845 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

288 GB/s

GPU Cores

1,536

Fans

Two

Whether you are a seasoned gamer or a newbie — having a powerful graphics card is undoubtedly the best thing you can do to ensure that you excel.  There is no better option than the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti; it has all the features needed to enhance your gaming experience.

That’s why it is our top pick as the best graphics card under 500!

The GTX 1660 TI processes graphics at a record speed of 1,830 MHz at the rate of 12 Gigabytes per second, and to add to that, it features a 6 Gigabyte DDR with a 192-bit bandwidth.

The unit has a single HDMI port and three display ports, which also allows you to connect it to other display devices such as laptops seamlessly. To ensure the temperature remains suitable, it has dual fans with curved blades that rotate simultaneously to drive away all accumulated heat.

Furthermore, the device allows for wireless control – download the app Google Play or Apple App Store to control the settings and even record your experience.

The gaming experience is lag-free as the HD resolution is set at a rate of 244 MHz; the featured processor is NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, and there is a PCI-E graphic card interface. Plus, the hardware interface has an 8x PCI express, and the memory clock speed is 800 MHz — a combination that leads to a brilliant visual experience.

Good
  • Cost-effective
  • Good-sized memory
  • Seamless connectivity to various systems
  • Dual fans
Bad
  • Not the best looking unit
  • Low bandwidth

2. EVGA GeForce RTX 2060

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 XC GAMING, 6GB GDDR6,...
  • Real Boost Clock: 1755 MHz; Memory Detail:...
  • Real-time Ray tracing in games for...
  • Single HDB fan offers higher performance...
  • Built for EVGA Precision x1 - EVGA all-new...

Best Value For Money

Base Clock

1,365 MHz

Boost Clock

1,755 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

336 GB/s

GPU Cores

1,920

Fans

One

If you want to get the most out of your dollar without breaking the bank, look no further than the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060. It offers the best value for money.

This graphics card under 500 is perfect for gamers who want an affordable card that allows for real-time ray tracing; imagine how vibrant the display will be!

The EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 has an NVIDIA TU106 Turing graphics processing unit and has 30 RT cores, 240 tensor cores, and 1,920 CUDA cores. Also, it has 6 Gigabytes of the most-recent GDDR6 video memory.

The unit also comes with a base clock of 1,365 MHZ that can be boosted up to 1,755 MHZ, whereas a single HDB, i.e., hydrodynamic fan with a 2.75 slot GPU cooler helps control the temperature.

The EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 is 7.5 inches long and requires up to three slots, so it may not fit mini-ITX cases that only accommodate up to two slots. Also, there is a single 8-pin power connector at the top of the card and six different power phases that are quite sufficient for decent overclocking.

Good
  • 920 CUDA cores
  • GDDR6 VRAM
  • 1,755 MHz boost clock
  • Can play games at 1,440p at high settings
  • Decent price-tag
Bad
  • Not meant for all cases, especially mini-ITX cases

3. Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060

Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060 6G REV...
  • Core Clock (MHz): 1873 in OC Mode and 1847 in...
  • WINDFORCE 3X with Blade Fan Design
  • Integrated with 6GB GDDR5 192bit memory
  • RGB fusion – 16.7M customizable color...

Best For Gamers

Base Clock

OC Mode 1,645 MHz
Gaming Mode 1,620 MHZ

Boost Clock

OC Mode 1,873 MHz
Gaming Mode 1,847 MHZ

Memory Bandwidth

192 GB/s

GPU Cores

1,280

Fans

Two

Next in our best graphics card under 500 dollars reviews is another powerful graphics card for gaming — the Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060, and this unit is best for gamers.

This exceptional gaming experience is made possible by NVIDIA® Pascal™ GPU architecture that holds a 6 GB GDDR5 VRAM with a 192-bit memory and a 16.7M customizable color lighting RGB fusion.

Install this, and you’ll be able to play for hours without worrying about the Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060 heating up thanks to the WINDGORCE 2X cooling system. This system has heat pipes made from pure copper, dual 100-millimeter fans, a significant-sized copper plate with direct touch technology, protection back plate, and semi-passive 3D fans.

They function together to lower temperatures by driving away accumulated heat from the cores to the heatsink.

Additionally, the Gigabyte AORUS Xtreme GeForce GTX 1060 has three display ports and three native HDMI ports, which is uncommon for graphics cards. This allows you to connect up to four monitors at once, and you can also connect VR gears.

It is plug-and-play, so no need to install any additional drivers or software.

Good
  • Three HDMI ports
  • Allow for VR usage
  • Boost Clock 1873 MHz
  • ATX form factor
Bad
  • Not easy to configure it with the provided software

4. MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 ARMOR MK2

MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 256-bit 8GB GDRR5...
  • Brand MSI, Model RX580ARMORMK2 8GOC
  • Interface PCI Express x16, Chipset...
  • Effective Memory Clock 8000 MHz, Memory Size...
  • HDMI 2 x HDMI, Multi-Monitor Support 4,...

Best AMD Graphics Card Under $500

Base Clock

1,257 MHz

Boost Clock

1,353 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

256 GB/s

GPU Cores

2,304

Fans

Two

If you are fond of AMD graphics cards and want a graphics card under $500, look no further than the MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 ARMOR MK2, which the best AMD graphics card in this price range.

Whether you depend on multiple monitors for gaming or work, use your VR gear now and then, and love to play at ultra-high settings, this graphics card is right up your alley.

The MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 ARMOR MK2 has up to 1,380 MHz boost clock in OC mode, up to 1,366 MHz boost clock in gaming mode, and up to 1,340 MHz boost clock in silent mode. All modes have a memory frequency of 8,000 MHz, and there is a 256-bit 8 GB GDDR5 video memory.

Regardless of the selected frame rate per second, the display will be clear, crisp, and lag-free with no glitches courtesy of the featured AMD FreeSync.

Furthermore, to ensure that temperatures remain at an acceptable level, the MSI Gaming Radeon RX 580 ARMOR MK2 has two MSI TORX fans for swift cooling. One fan that has dispersion fan blades brings in more air for adequate cooling – and one has a traditional fan blade purposed to optimize downward airflow.

Above all, overclocking this graphics card is easy as it comes with an Afterburner Overclocking Utility.

Good
  • Allows for VR usage
  • Works well at all FPS
  • Two MSI TORX fans
  • 256-bit 8 GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • Easy Overclocking
Bad
  • The fan tends to be noisy

5. ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini 8GB...
  • Turing architecture, ray tracing cores,...
  • 8gb 256-bit gddr6, 14gbps
  • Ice storm 2. 0, our strongest cooling, metal...
  • 4k ready, 4 display ready, super compACt 8....

Best High-End Option Under $500

Base Clock

1,605 MHz

Boost Clock

1,770 MHz

Memory Bandwidth

448 GB/s

GPU Cores

2,560

Fans

Two

Last but not least, we sum up our best graphics card under 500 dollars reviews with the ever so popular ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini. It is unanimously agreed that this is the best high-end option under $500.

This card lets you use the power of AI and Real-time ray tracing thanks to the featured Turing architecture of the graphics card.

At the front of the ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini has a few outputs, including an HDMI 2.0 output and three display ports. Apart from gaming, if you are running graphic intensive programs or juggle between a lot of work — this unit is for you as it has 2,560 CUDA cores and secure- API connectivity for a multitude of operations.

To ensure that the graphics card does not get heated up, the GeForce RTX 2070 Super Mini features IceStorm 2.0 cooling technology with twin 90-millimeter fans to increase airflow, two eight-millimeter broad copper heat pipes, and an aluminum fin array.  The heat pipes drive away heat from the core, and the aluminum fin array removes it from the system.

The graphics card has a 1,770 MHz boost clock and allows for streaming videos and playing games at 4K settings, and it is just 8.3-inches in length, making it compatible with 99% of systems.

Good
  • IceStorm 2.0 cooling system
  • Real-time ray tracing
  • Compatible with 99% of systems
  • 1,770 MHz boost clock
  • 2,560 CUDA cores
Bad
  • Possible rendering issues

Common Applications for Mid to High Range Graphics Cards

Get a graphics card under 500 dollars to avail the following benefits:

  • Uncompromised video steaming that is high-definition and high in resolution
  • Never miss out on details when editing photos or videos
  • Gaming at 1080p, 1440p, and even at 4K on high-settings
  • Option to use high-end graphics designing and 3D modeling software such as Maya, 3D, Solidworks, AutoCAD, etc.
  • Swift rendering, which leads to less rouse utilization and an efficient workflow
  • Cryptocurrency mining
  • Ability to use OpenGL
  • Ability to use a few monitors at once
  • Allow for using VR gear
  • Lag-free experience in gaming as well as other graphical intensive software
  • Real-time ray tracing
  • Fantastic refresh rates, etc.

For cards meant for specific functionalities, check these detailed reviews


How To Boost Performance with GPU Overclocking

Your graphics card under 500 dollars has a set clock speed known as the base clock, but it’s possible to raise this. Here are the steps for overclocking your video card:

  1. 1
    Download MSI Afterburner, and a stress test tool such as Heaven Stress Testing, 3DMArk, or any tool of your choice
  2. 2
    The MSI burner will show the base clock speed, memory clock, and current temperature — remember these figures
  3. 3
    The core clock should be raised by 5%, and see if anything gets ill-effected
  4. 4
    Raise memory clock by a max of 100 MHz and notice if all is fine
  5. 5
    Boost the GPU clock by 10MHz and run a test.
  6. 6
    IF all seems fine, keep raising the clock by 10 MHz and keep testing it by either playing a game or by using stress tool software.
  7. 7
    A point may come when the PC may crash – this is the benchmark – so reduce the clock by 10 MHz
  8. 8
    Increase the temperature in MSI Afterburner, and notice if things are still stable
  9. 9
    Once the temperature has been raised, overclock the GPU core by another 10 MHZ, and now the system may not crash

Here is a detailed video on how to overclock your graphics card.


Video Card Maintenance & Troubleshooting

Your PC works hard to give you an uncompromised experience. To maintain this performance, you have to ensure that everything inside the casing is maintained very well.

This is especially important for a graphics card, as, over time, you may notice rising temperatures, slower fans, screen glitches, etc. If something like this happens, follow these steps to rectify the problem:

  • Install new drivers for the motherboard and graphics card
  • Switch off the sound system, if the problem goes away, download and install new sound drivers
  • If that resolves the issue, decrease the speed of AGP port
  • Consider installing fast wires for efficient data transfer
  • Reduce the clock speed of the graphics card
  • To further lower temperatures, keep a stand fan near the casing
  • Test the RAM with MemTest86 and the CPU with Prime95

Here is how you take care of the card so it can function at its full potential for years to follow:

  • Take it out of the system without damaging the ports and connectors
  • Use a brush and compressed air to remove all dirt and dust from the fans and heatsink
  • Also, remove any residual thermal tape
  • Clean the slot where you house the graphics card
  • Install the newest drivers, etc.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How Can I Make My Graphics Cards Quieter?

If your video card heats up frequently, the fan will have to work harder and create more noise as a result. A quick fix would be to pull it apart and clean the fans and any other components that have accumulated dust.

How Can I Check The Temp Of My GPU? What Happens If Video Cards Overheat?

You can use dedicated software like MSI afterburner, or you can use the task manager to figure out if your GPU needs a break. Simply, press Shift + Ctrl + Esc to open the task manager.

Go to the Performance tab to see the GPU temperature. When the temperature goes over the acceptable level, you will notice a significant loss in performance.

Is It OK To Buy Refurbished Video Cards Under $500? What Are The Risks?

Yes, you can buy a refurbished graphic card under 500 RS, the price would be significantly low. But there is a catch — you get a reduced warranty or no warranty at all.

What Are The Differences Between Integrated Vs. Dedicated Graphics?

The video card that comes pre-attached with the motherboard is known as an integrated unit, whereas a dedicated card is added to the system. The former can run at low power and may not work with high graphics settings, whereas it’s vice versa for the latter.

Where Is The Best Place To Buy These Graphics Cards Under $500?

You may find the best graphics card under 500 at any local computer shop near you, or you can buy it online from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer’s website. Buying online will give you more freedom of choice as well as better pricing.


Conclusion

We tested, reviewed, and compared some of the best graphics cards in the market. If you ask us the best graphics card under 500 dollars is the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti; is the clear winner thanks to its many features and capabilities.