The 8 Best Graphics Cards Under $100

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The 8 Best Graphics Cards Under $100
The 8 Best Graphics Cards Under $100

Graphic cards are among the principal components of desktop computers. Their primary function is to enhance the quality of images that are displayed by a monitor. They are necessary for graphics-intensive tasks like gaming and video editing. 

According to a study done by Jon Peddie Research, nearly 28% of the world’s population bought a GPU device in 2017. That number is a lot and just means that PC gaming is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, powerful graphics cards range from a couple hundred to a few thousand dollars. Thankfully, there are graphics cards under $100 that can handle gaming at low to medium settings and feature impressive rendering capabilities. A number of these cards can even run some games at 1080p resolution!

If you are looking for an affordable graphics card to upgrade your setup or build an entry-level gaming rig, you have come to the right place. We have listed eight of the best graphics cards under $100 to help you save money while boosting the performance of your computer. Don’t worry though, as these graphics cards require minimal wattage and are a good match for budget processors like AMD Athlon or even Intel Pentium!

XFX Radeon RX 550

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 128-bit GDDR5 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 7680×4320

Interface Type: PCI Express 3.0

Interfaces: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D

Core Clock Speed: 1195 MHz

Pros
  • Immense e-sports performance leap over integrated graphics
  • Offers useful media features
  • Runs cool and quiet
  • Power-efficient

Cons
  • Strikingly slower than the more expensive Radeon RX 460
  • Radeon has software issues with game developers
  • Noticeable fan noise

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The XFX Radeon RX 550 is at the top of our list for the best graphics cards under $100 for good reasons. It is a card based on the latest Polaris architecture that uses the App Accelerator Software from AMD to give it a boost in speed.

You can build around the XFX RX 550 to put together a $250-$300 beginner gaming rig. The 2 GB of GDDR5 SDRAM lets you run games like Overwatch and Fortnite at 1080p in medium to high settings with above 40 FPS. 

The XFX RX 550 is also power-efficient since it draws power from the PCI-Ex16 slot on the motherboard. It can run on a low-cost 300-400W power supply to help you save on electricity bills.

The only issue we have with this remarkable card is the fan noise which can be a letdown if you do not play with noise-canceling headphones.

Overall, the XFX RX 550 is an excellent option for entry-level gamers or those who are looking for a secondary graphics card.  

Unboxing Video for XFX RX 550:

 

GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 OC

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 64-bit GDDR5 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 4096×2160

Interface Type: PCI Express 3.0

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D

Core Clock Speed: 1290 MHz

Boost Clock Speed: 1544 MHz

Pros
  • Good for games based on DirectX 9/11 and e-sports games
  • Remarkably low TDP of only 30W

Cons
  • Trails the Radeon RX 550 when it comes to games based on DirectX 12
  • Runs cool and quiet

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The GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 OC is one of the most popular options at this price point. Compared to the XFX RX 550, it is 5-10% more powerful, but it is only a 64-bit card and has a lower max resolution. Nevertheless, it can play most games at 1080p medium settings at an average of 30 to 40 FPS. These numbers are impressive, considering the tight budget.

You can also expect features that are integrated into higher-end cards to come with the GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 OC. These include one-click overclocking, GDDR5 SDRAM, and high customizability using the GIGABYTE Command Center. Like the XFX 550, this card is run efficiently on a 300-400W power supply. 

The GIGABYTE GeForce GT 1030 OC has a powerful fan that runs silently to keep temperatures at a minimum while you play games. You will have no trouble running most non-AAA games at 60 FPS without having to reduce video settings. It can do a bit of everything and is truly one of the best graphics cards under $100.  

 

MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 4096×2160

Interface Type: PCI Express 2.0

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 954 MHz

Pros
  • Up to 10x better performance than integrated graphics
  • Good for less demanding games at low settings
  • Support for high display resolution

Cons
  • Not a sensible upgrade for gaming

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The MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 may only cost half of the budget we set for this list, but it deserves to be among the top picks. It is powered by the GT 710 chip which allows it to handle modern games at decent graphics settings. This card even has support for just over 1440p display resolution.

If you are into low-profile graphics cards, the MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 has a sleek and unpretentious design that makes it ideal for small stealth builds. The core clock speed of 954 MHz enables you to do design, engineering work, basic animation, and play games at respectable settings. 

Overall, the MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 is an inexpensive graphics card that will not leave you feeling disappointed. If you are looking to build an ultra-cheap gaming rig, this card is an excellent option. It is also great as a secondary card for gamers who are looking to boost the performance of their setup.

ZOTAC GeForce GT 730

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 4 GB 64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 3840×2160

Interface Type: PCI Express 2.0

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 902 MHz

Pros
  • Accelerates multimedia experience
  • Good for e-sports games
  • Great value

Cons
  • Not the most sensible upgrade for gaming

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The ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 is our choice for the best graphic card under $100 for animation mainly because of the decent graphics processor paired with 4 GB of VRAM. Although the GT 730 is slightly outdated, it still has some great features that make up for its lack of performance. These include support for triple-display and 4K resolution.

Depending on your preference, you may also appreciate the small form factor of the ZOTAC GeForce GT 730. The heatsink stands out in the design of the card. It is also worth noting that it does not have a fan. You must make sure that your case has adequate cooling to avoid the card overheating. 

The ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 only uses 25W of power, so you can easily get by with a 300W power supply. The card may be outdated, but it is a bargain if you are currently without a dedicated graphics card or using one with lower performance. Otherwise, we would recommend going with the other options mentioned earlier.

ASUS Radeon R7 240

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 128-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 1920×1200

Interface Type: PCI Express 3.0

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 730 MHz

Boost Clock Speed: 780 MHz

Pros
  • On par with GeForce GT 730 in terms of gaming capabilities
  • Durable dust-proof fan design
  • Support for multiple display setup

Cons
  • Outdated for modern games

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The ASUS Radeon R7 240 is an impressive graphics card that stands out compared to the other alternatives in its price range. This low-profile card performs similar to the ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 in terms of gaming for a significantly lower price. It comes with 2 GB of DDR3 which may be outdated but can get the job done for basic tasks and older games. It also features a dust-proof fan design that can help extend its lifespan by up to 25% longer.

With the ASUS Radeon R7 240, you can play games like Borderlands 2 and Skyrim at medium to high settings on 900p or 720p resolution. For more recent titles, you can run it on 720p resolution at low settings, which makes it a good option for players looking to transition to PC gaming.  

Another upside for the ASUS Radeon R7 240 is that it does not require external power connectors from the power supply. It is also ideal if you want a multiple monitor setup or for use in Hypertext Caching Protocol (HTPC) and video editing. 

ASUS Radeon R5 230

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 2560×1600

Interface Type: PCI Express 2.1

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 650 MHz

Pros
  • Comes with useful multimedia features
  • Runs cool and quiet

Cons
  • Not suitable for gaming

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The ASUS Radeon R5 230 is not precisely the ideal gaming graphics card. Although that might turn off gamers, this card is best for people who are looking to develop a home theater. It comes with 2 GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and it runs with no noise since it does not have a fan. 

You can watch HD movies and videos for extended periods without having to worry about its temperature since it is designed to dissipate heat silently. If you use a discrete case for your home theater setup, you will have no issue installing this card since it has a low-profile form factor.

This graphics card also comes with ASUS GPU Tweak II software. It lets you customize the performance of the card for high-resolution videos and other demanding tasks.

We would recommend the ASUS Radeon R5 230 to people who mostly use their computers to stream videos or watch movies. It also can support a dual-monitor setup as a bonus.

MSI Radeon HD 6450

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2 GB 64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 2560×1600

Interface Type: PCI Express 2.1

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 625 MHz

Pros
  • A remarkable step-up from integrated graphics
  • Most suitable for a home theatre setup
  • Discrete low-profile design
Cons
  • Struggles with games
  • Outdated hardware

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The MSI Radeon HD 6450 is a low-profile graphics card that is primarily designed as an upgrade from integrated graphics. This card may struggle with any gaming, but it is the least expensive alternative to get a basic discrete video card. 

If you are building a small system for your home theater, the MSI Radeon HD 6450 is a good pick. You cannot expect to run graphics-intensive games, but you will still notice a significant improvement from an integrated chip. 

The MSI Radeon HD 6450 is also ideal if power draw is a significant concern. The card only uses a maximum of 27W of power under load and 9W when idle. A complete system running this card only used a mere 155W of power under load. However, you may run into some trouble when installing the drivers since the manufacturer has stopped updating them.

Other than being a low-cost upgrade from integrated graphics, the MSI Radeon HD 6450 does not have features that make it a standout in this list of the best graphics cards under $100. 

GIGABYTE GeForce 210

Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 1 GB 64-bit DDR3 SDRAM

Max Resolution: 2560×1600

Interface Type: PCI Express 2.0

Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-I, VGA

Core Clock Speed: 520 MHz

Pros
  • Good for consumers who use their computers mainly for multimedia
  • A great upgrade from integrated graphics
  • Very inexpensive

Cons
  • Not designed for gaming

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The GIGABYTE GeForce 210 may be the least powerful card on this list, and it is certainly not meant for gaming. It can barely get over 30 FPS at the lowest settings for most modern games. However, it is still an excellent upgrade for people who primarily use their computers to watch videos and movies. The card is also a significant improvement from on-board or integrated graphics.

Since the GIGABYTE GeForce 210 is a single-slot card, you will not need an additional power connection from your power supply. You can use it on a monitor with built-in speakers to take advantage of the gold-plated HDMI interface. 

If you use your computer for photo and video editing, this card is a good alternative. You can even edit videos at 720p 30 FPS without a problem. Older games also run smoothly on this card.

Overall, the GIGABYTE GeForce 210 does everything but gaming well and is a substantial upgrade from integrated graphics. We would recommend the card for those looking to improve their home theater system or those who use their computers for light video editing.

Bottom Line

That sums up our picks for the eight best graphics cards under $100 available in the market right now. Some of these cards have gaming performance in mind while others are designed as a step up for on-board graphics. 

What you need is a thorough understanding of what you need in a graphics card and which features are most useful to you. With such a tight budget, it can be challenging to find a compromise that meets your demands. 

Fortunately, you now have an idea of what you should look for and what to avoid. We hope we have given you a good sense of what your next system upgrade will be and that you take full advantage of the boost in performance it provides. 

Do you have any questions for us? If you think that we missed a killer graphics card at the same price range, let us know in the comments section!

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