So you have come here looking for the Best Graphics Card under 400 Dollars and guess what? You did the right thing visiting this post. Here, you will get to know a few new things about the GPUs and we will pick the best GPU under $400 among a list of GPUs so you don’t have to struggle to make a decision. Yeah, we try to make your life easier 😉
Before we come to our main agenda, let’s just shed some light on basic things. We usually use GPU (graphics processing unit) and graphics card interchangeably, which is wrong from the technical perspective. GPU is the chip which is attached in the motherboard along with CPU. However, a graphics card is a separate and additional motherboard which is dedicated to the GPU only, here you won’t find a CPU.
A motherboard with CPU and GPU is mandatory for any pc or laptop, while a graphics card is totally optional depending on your requirement. Gaming modern and high-end titles, crypto mining, high-resolution video editing and rendering, CAD drawing, etc. are some specialized purposes when you need an additional graphics card other than the already installed GPU in your motherboard.
In short, a graphics card is never essential if you’re using your pc/laptop for normal day-to-day things like browsing the internet, emailing, working in MS office, listening music and viewing videos, your preinstalled GPU on the main motherboard is enough to handle those tasks efficiently.
If you want a GPU for casual gaming, you should check out Best GPU under $100 and Best GPU under $200. But, if you are a serious gamer and care about those wins then keep reading because this is the page that contains the JUICE!
Best Graphics Card under 400 Dollars – Contestant #1
MSI Gaming Z GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDRR6 Review
There really hasn’t been a better time to buy a graphics card at least in the last several years than right now literally. This is MSI’s RTX 2060 Gaming Z and while this is the least expensive RTX card you can get; it is a highly capable card. However, the RTX 2060 does not support SLI.
This is a two and a half slot card with connectors for DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI, and there’s no USB C like you see on the founder’s edition and higher 2070 cards, which is done to cut costs as we can guess. There’s also only a single 8 pin power connector. The dual fan and heatsink on this card are truly impressive, and it allows some pretty good overclocks out of the box.
It comes as factory overclocked with an 1830 megahertz boosted clock speed which is pretty much 150 plus than the founder’s edition, and It has 6 GB of GDDR6 RAM (memory speed 14 GBPS) which is plenty for just about any title we have tested so far. The benchmarks are pretty impressive for a sub $400 card.
And before we dive into the results, let me summarize our experiences with this card – it’s stupid FAST, it really is. It is a substantial upgrade over the 1060, and it’s almost as fast as 2070 weirdly which sort of puts 2070 in an odd place. We have used this card in both of a 1080p, and another 1440p monitor and then here are some stats for you while playing the popular titles:
Shadow of the tomb raider (High):
- 1080p – min 58 FPS, Max 180 FPS, Average 93 FPS
- 1440p – min 52 FPS, Max 69 FPS, Average 62 FPS
GTA V (High, no anti-aliasing):
- 1080p – min 61 FPS, Max 268 FPS, Average 157 FPS
- 1440p – min 54 FPS, Max 147 FPS, Average 119 FPS
Best Graphics Card under $400 – Contestant #2
ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2060 OC Review (Author’s Choice)
The Asus GeForce RTX 2060 uses Nvidia’s latest addition and entry point to the RTX 20 series of GPU and features much talked about touring architecture that allows the ray tracing capabilities. It comes with 6 GB of GDDR6 RAM and operates on the boost speed of 1860 megahertz.
For cooling it comes with nickel-plated Direct-GPU contact heat pipes and is cooled by triple wing-blade fan configuration, namely Direct CU III. For connectivity, there’s a total of two display ports 1.4 and two HDMI 2.0 ports. This card is powered by two connectors, one 6 pin, and another 8 pin PCI connector.
There have been reports that the RTX 2060 can easily outperform the GTX 1070, GTX 970 and AMD Radeon RX 590. In our benchmark tests, this card scored an impressive number of 3820. This card is already overclocked at 1860 megahertz, therefore no need of overclocking it further. However, in case you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can try MSI afterburner to overclock it even more, but remember risk is upon you only.
Also, like the previous GTX 1060, there is no MV link connector which means you can’t run two these cards together in SLI mode. Performance wise, it’s a much capable card and easily beats all the previous generation cards with ease.
To show what I mean, let’s have a glimpse on the performance data below-
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (Very High): Average FPS 106.83
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Highest): Average FPS 81
- Rainbow Six Siege (Ultra): Average FPS 209.5
We have used a Ryzen 2600 CPU with 8 GB of system RAM, and for display, we used a 1080p monitor.
Best Graphics Cards under 400 Bucks – Contestant #3
ZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 AMP 6GB GDDR6 Review (Readers also like)
Okay, this card is very similar to the founder’s edition. Both the cards feature 920 CUDA cores, 6 GB of DDR6 RAM with 14 GBPS memory speed and 192-bit memory interface. However, the difference is in their look, cooling performance and obviously in clock speed.
First, let’s talk about the cooling performance of our ZOTAC Gaming RTX 2060. With 2 giant fans and their redesigned fins, it allows much more airflow for optimum cooling while the card is performing at its peak. Also, due to the “open” design of Zotac, the heat gets dissipate faster than the founder’s edition.
Now, the main difference between the Zotac and the founder’s version is the clock speed. The founder’s version features a clock speed of 1680 MHz, while Zotac features a boost clock speed of 1800 MHz which is factory-overclocked; a clean 120 plus gain over founders version. Zotac has no DVI connection whatsoever, has 3 DisplayPorts and a single HDMI port. You can hook up to 4 monitors, and as usual, it has no SLI mode like founders version and all other AIB partner versions of 2060.
We have tested the Zotac in our gaming rig (i7-8700K CPU, 32 GB RAM, and SSD boot) with 3 different monitors (4k, 1440p and 1080p), and the result speaks for itself –
- Cinebench OpenGL: 136.3 FPS
- Geekbench: Single core 5857, multi-core 27031
- Passmark: Overall score 7192, 3D graphics mark 15733.6
- PCMark 10: 6649
- 3Dmark: Ultra 4352, Extreme 8429, Fire strike 17225
What things to consider when you’re buying a Graphics Card?
If you’re building your own gaming rig or just want to convert your regular pc to a gaming pc, first thing comes to your mind is a graphics card, right? Now, figuring out which graphics card to buy is a daunting task, to say the least. While the budget is one of the most critical factors, but that’s just the start. In every budget range, you’ll find two leading manufacturers and dozens of different brands to choose from. Hence the question arises, how do you know which is the best graphics card for your particular purpose? Let’s dig deeper then.
This is the easiest part, I guess. Because if you’re out to buy a graphics card, you certainly do have a budget, correct? In this article, we will talk about the best graphics cards available within the range of $400, so if you fit in this range, please keep on reading.
When it comes to the graphics card, there are essentially two main manufacturers – Nvidia and AMD. There were few others too at one point, like ATI and IMG, but they weren’t able to stand the test of time and either got cannibalized by one of the two major manufacturers or totally stopped making graphics cards and focused to other businesses. Hence, you have to select from either Nvidia or AMD, and this is easy. Why? Because most people are fanboys of either manufacturer and most likely you’re too!
In extremely rare case, if you aren’t a fanboy and open to suggestion (again, that’s very unlikely), you can choose Nvidia if you prefer reliability over price and AMD if you’re looking for value-for-money. Having said that, it does not mean AMD is not reliable; in fact, it’s totally opposite. As of today, the differences between the two players are getting narrower every year in terms of price, reliability, and performance – so either one would be a great choice. In this post, we went with Nvidia when it came to choosing the Best Graphics Card under 400 bucks. There are some really cool AMD cards available in the market and we will cover them in some other post.
You should decide the model based on your requirement (not the desire), budget and the capacity of your pc build. For example, if you have an Nvidia 980 Ti already, you will feel a massive difference if you buy a 1080 Ti because it will be two times faster than the earlier. However, if you already have an Nvidia 1070 card, and you don’t own a 4K monitor (and/or don’t intend to play a 4K game), then upgrading from 1070 to 1080 Ti would be overkill and will add no noticeable value other than bragging rights.
Here comes the real dilemma – brands. Many brands produce the same card model with just a little bit different in clock speed, price, features, and warranties. Let me help you here. Not every brand is available everywhere, so first, you should select one of the brands available in your country and have a service center near your place. Because getting support available would be the most crucial thing in times of need. And then narrow your selection based on which brand offers better warranty terms.
Lastly, ask yourself which is more important to you, price or performance. Sometimes you can buy a graphics card which is $100 more expensive than its direct rival but provides only a 10% performance increase. You should think seriously that whether you can really make use of that tiny extra performance and does $100 additional cost justify that 10% performance gain? The choice is yours.
Reference vs Non-Reference
When major GPU manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD, build not only the GPU, but an entire graphics card from top to bottom and sell them via their own sales channel – it’s called a reference card, or more commonly known as, founders edition. And when the respective manufacturer makes only the GPU, but rest of the motherboard, i.e. full graphics card is designed and build by another company, like Asus, Gigabyte, EVGA, MSI, etc., that’s a non-reference card. Usually, people prefer the non-reference cards instead of references.
Because, reference cards often come as a barebone, look boring, offer less efficient cooling and lack additional useful features. Also, since Nvidia and AMD are mainly chip designer and supplier, they don’t have proper sales channel and adequate human resources to sell cards to end user directly. Hence, you won’t find a reference card easily, while you’ll find plenty of non-reference cards with the same manufacturer model, from multiple brands in any decent computer shop.
Non-reference cards offer better aftersales support and service too. Having said that, reference cards are usually cheaper than their non-reference cousins. So, unless you have only one agenda of buying as cheap as possible, non-reference cards should be the automatic choice. The little higher price is well justified by the additional features they offer.
Size, Cooling, and Noise
These are all vital factors when choosing a graphics card within the same price range. Usually, larger and heavier graphics cards offer better performance and generate less heat and noise. However, that does mean that you have to have a larger gaming rig to accommodate a larger card and due to its additional weight, it will be more troublesome if you want to move your rig to another place. Again, choose according to your specific requirement.
When it comes to Heating, the AMD cards usually generate more heat as compared to Nvidia cards so, that’s something you might want to consider if you live in a country where temperature rises a lot. In this post, we took that in mind and picked an Nvidia card as the Best GPU under 400 Dollars.
May not be much important for some or in practical terms, but gamers are usually fond of design and additional lighting when they build their rig. RGB keyboards, headphones with dynamic lightings, etc. have more demand compared with their non-flashy counterparts. The same thing applies to the graphics cards too.
Conclusion – Which one is the Best Graphics Card under 400 Dollars?
We hope that you have got a pretty good idea about the choices you have in a sub $400 price range. Honestly, all three of the cards are almost identical in terms of sheer performance and all three are capable of running buttery smooth without any hiccup no matter what game you throw at them.
However, if you ask our opinion, Asus ROG Strix RTX 2060 O6G is our favorite and is the best GPU under 400 Dollars range. Reason? Well, out of all the RTX 2060 variants, for that matter any card in the sub $400 range, this is the only one which beats the founder’s edition in temperature. Difference? Our tests showed a minimum of 11 degree Celsius less when playing Shadow of the tomb raider in the highest preset.
So, are you planning to upgrade your graphics card? If you have GTX 970, this is the right time to upgrade to one of these RTX 2060. But if you already own a GTX 1070, you can still squeeze more juice out of the same for few more days, cause in terms of performance gain, it will be minimal.
If your budget is lower than $400 then you can also check out some cheaper Graphics Cards on our blog.