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.
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!
Best Graphics Card for Under $100 in 2020
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 13 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 560
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 4 GB 128-bit GDDR5 SDRAM / Max Resolution: 4096 x 2160 / Interface Type: PCI Express 3.0 / Interfaces: HDMI, DVI-D, DisplayPort / Core Clock Speed: 1196 MHz
The XFX Radeon RX 560 is easily the best graphics card you can get at this price point. If you play eSports titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League, this card can deliver high frame rates for a smooth gaming experience. It can even run the latest AAA titles at very playable settings. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about manually tweaking this card as it is factory-overclocked to let you enjoy the best possible performance out of the box.
The XFX RX 560 comes with integrated support for HDR technology to provide a vivid viewing experience for gamers and cinephiles alike. It also supports AMD FreeSync technology to ensure stutter-free gaming if you have a compatible monitor.
In terms of power consumption, the XFX RX 560 requires a 6-pin power connector and draws around 100W under load, so you will need a 400W power supply or 550W if you intend to upgrade in the future.
The single fan design of the XFX RX 560 manages to keep the temperatures down when gaming, but it can get loud at times. Nevertheless, it is easy to recommend since it offers the best gaming performance at a meager budget. Whether you’re upgrading an old computer with a decent quad-core processor, or building an entry-level gaming rig, this card is an excellent option.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Biostar Radeon RX 550 Gaming Edition
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 4GB DDR5 / Max Resolution: Digital at 4096 x 2160 or VGA at 2048 x 1536 / Interface Type: PCI-Express 3.0 / Interfaces: 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort 1.4 and 1xDVI / Boost Clock Speed: 1183 MHz
The RX 550 is a fairly large graphics card and requires a PSU minimum of 400W to operate. Its 4GB of RAM gives it a lot of graphics-processing power and thus is a fairly robust device. You can run games at max or ultra settings comfortably without having to make too many adjustments.
This card takes up a sizable amount of space and is not meant to be installed on smaller computers. You’re going to need a large motherboard to be able to mount this card and get the most out of it.
EVGA GT 710 Single Slot Graphics Card
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2GB 64-bit DDR3 / Max Resolution: 4096 x 2160 / Interface Type: PCI-E / Interfaces: 1x DVI-D, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA / Core Clock Speed: 1800 MHz / Boost Clock Speed: N/A
The EVGA GT 710 is another graphics card that is low-profile in a similar vein to the GeForce 210 with a little extra power packed into it. Even though it has some Nvidia technology equipped, it is more ideal to use for graphical display than it is for intensive gaming.
It can support multiple displays (up to three); so if you happen to be working a job where you need to view multiple documents or web pages at large resolutions (up to 4096 x 2160) this card can help accomplish that. On top of that, this card is ideal for server use, specifically Dell servers, since it’s a small form factor card that doesn’t take up a lot of real estate within the computer casing.
Keep in mind that you’ll need a fairly large power supply to be able to run this card and get the most value out of it.
MSI GeForce 210
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 1GB 64-bit DDR3 / Max Resolution:2560 x 1600 / Interface Type: PCI-Express 2.0 / Interfaces: 1x DVIiI Dual Link, 1x HDMI, 1x VGA / Core Clock Speed: 1000 MHz / Boost Clock Speed: Variable with MSI Afterburner and has no cap
MSI’s GeForce 210 is a relatively small card with an Nvidia graphics co-processor built for small machines. It doesn’t pack much in terms of power compared to high-tier graphics cards, but it does get the job done. If you’re looking for a video card that’s basic in terms of functionality and low-profile, the GeForce 210 is good for desktop computers that have office applications installed to handle basic workloads.
The card does have an overclocking capability, but it should be emphasized that this is for low-end gaming since this is a very basic video card. You won’t be blown away when playing games on this card, as you’ll end up playing them on the lowest settings possible.
While it supports three interface connections, it can only be used in dual monitor setup, so if you’re looking to set up additional monitors, you’ll need a more robust card that supplies additional graphics power.
Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 GV-N1030D5
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2GB 64-Bit GDDR5 / Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320 / Interface Type: PCI-E / Interfaces:1x HDMI and 1x DVI-D / Core Clock Speed: 6008 MHz / Boost Clock Speed: 1468 MHz Gaming Mode and 1506 MHz Overclock Mode
This iteration of Gigabyte’s 1030 graphics card is a low profile version of the original 1030 from Gigabyte. It is different from the standard version in that it comes in a smaller form factor and takes up less space inside of your computer. This is an ideal card to have if you need room for other peripherals within the PC chassis. For the most part, it handles video playback and gaming just fine and plays many legacy titles such as Borderlands 2 at max settings at a healthy frame rate of 60-75fps. You can run two different overclocking speeds on the card but in the case of games in can be a bit overkill unless you want to push frame rates past their limit.
ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030
Memory Size/Bus Width/Technology: 2GB 64-bit GDDR5 / Max Resolution: 7680 x 4320 / Interface Type: PCI-E 3.0 / Interfaces: 1x HDMI and 1x / Core Clock Speed:
Boost Clock Speed: N/A
ZOTAC’s GeForce GT 1030 is based on Nvidia’s Pascal architecture and comes with many other things users love from Nvidia. The onboard 2GB on the card gives it enough of a punch to run older games such as Borderlands and Fable at max settings with steady frame rates. When running gaming applications, the fan that’s built into the card runs silently and never gave off any noise emissions during long periods of play.
Installation of the card was simple and is a low-profile card that fits snugly into the motherboard. Despite the punch it packs, what proved to be disappointing was the fact that it was only capable of handling two monitors, which can be a dealbreaker for users that love to run multiple monitors for their computer setup.
Graphics: Why Do They Matter?
Graphics dictate how immersive the viewing experience is for your computer, regardless if it’s for streaming video content from YouTube or playing your favorite shooter in high resolution. If you’re looking to build a gaming PC or purchase a laptop that is gaming-capable, you’ll want to check out the specs of the graphics cards. Games that are listed in online stores such as Steam, Blizzard or Activision will have specs listing the minimum requirements necessary to run their games on your system. Ideally, you will want to have a card that satisfies the minimum requirements so that you’ll be able to experience playing games without any issues.
Computer vendors such as Razer, Alienware and ASUS Republic of Gamers have both desktop and laptop machines that have high-end specs capable of running games in insane resolution. When you run the games at max settings, you can see the extreme level of detail provided due to the cards’ innate processing power.
Gaming laptops are good solutions if you want to be able to game on the go. They are often referred to as desktop replacements since they tend to weigh more than three pounds on average, compared to ultralight tablets. The caveat to their portability is that the video cards built into gaming laptops possess almost as much graphics-processing power as their desktop brethren, so choosing between the two ultimately boils down to what kind of machine you’re looking for along with how much your budget can support.
Your displays will also dictate what kind of video cards you need for your system. You won’t truly reap the benefits of the kind of graphics power these cards have to offer unless you’re using a 1440p or 4K monitor as part of your computer setup.
Graphics Cards Specs Explained: How to Choose a Graphics Card
The past few decades saw significant advancements in computing technology, and the trend will continue to grow in the graphics department. Systems such as the PS4 and Xbox will feature 8K resolution and ray tracing, which shows how light behaving more realistically as it does in real life. Below is a guideline to help you choose the best graphics card for your system and aid you in creating the best gaming machine:
Manufacturer: Graphics cards typically come from two major vendors: Nvidia and Radeon. Nvidia is the more predominant of the two as their graphics cards are coupled with computers that have Intel processors mounted onboard the chassis, but Radeon is slowly catching back up to where it was alongside its rival vendor in the early 2000s.
Connection: The connection for the card refers to the slot available on the motherboard that can accommodate the graphics card.
VGA/Video Graphics Array: VGA connections are the oldest video connections still in use by servers and found in video cards from the low to mid-tiers. It’s a blue connector that contains three rows of five pins, totaling up to fifteen. It is the last analog connectors still used today and thus has the lowest resolutions of all connection types available.
DVI/Digital Visual Interface: DVI connections are still in use today and come in five variants: DVI-A, DVI-I (single link), DVI-I (dual-link), DVI-D (single link) and DVI-D (dual-link). DVI-A is used exclusively for analog signals and is rare compared to DVI-I and DVI-D connectors.
DVI-D is the opposite of DVI-A where it sends digital signals only, whereas DVI-I can send both digital and analog signals. DVI-I is very useful if you want to be able to connect to older VGA-based monitors.
HDMI/High Definition Media Interface: The most advanced of the video connection types, HDMI connections offer between 1920×1080 up to 4096×2160 as the maximum resolution on display.
DisplayPort: DisplayPort is a newer flavor of HDMI and comes via the standard DisplayPort connection or Mini-DisplayPort Connection. The difference between DisplayPort and HDMI differs based on how data is transmitted. In the case of the former, it uses packetized data transmissions in the same vein as Ethernet, SATA, or USB connections. One neat feature about DisplayPort is that multiple monitors can run through one DisplayPort connection.
Core Speed: The core speed is a fancy term for the frequency of the video card. It is the operating speed of the GPU and is annotated in either GHz or MHz. Since architecture for graphics cards varies, two cards that have identical clock speeds won’t necessarily perform the same job within the same time frame. Differences involved include the number of cores, architecture, as well as memory speed/size/type, will be variable as well.
Boost Speed: This feature is a relatively new feature. Basically, it is a temporary overclocking of the video card’s core frequency to supply additional graphics power as needed.
Video Memory: Video memory is similar to a computer’s RAM where is used as temporary storage for data. Video cards use the amount of RAM based on the output of the card itself. Machines that have more video RAM available will be able to use software or multiple monitors where graphics cards that have greater processing power.
Recap: The Best Graphics Cards Under $200
- XFX Radeon RX 560 Graphics Card
- XFX RX 550 PCI-Express Video Card
- Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 Graphics Card
- MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 2GB GDRR3
- ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Zone Edition
- ASUS 2GB Graphics Cards R7240-2GD3-L
- ASUS Graphics Cards R5230-SL-2GD3-L
- Gigabyte 210 DDR3-1GB DVI/D-Sub/HDMI LP
- MSI Geforce 210 1024 MB DDR3
- EVGA GT 710 2GB DDR3
- Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 GV-N1030D5-2GL
- ZOTAC GeForce GT 1030
- Biostar Radeon RX 550 4GB
That sums up our picks for the 13 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!