Best Graphics Card under $500 – Best Gaming Experience ever!

A serious graphics card is what you need to build a serious gaming rig. But most of us can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars to buy the top of the line graphics cards. However, that doesn’t have to be the case always. Presenting, the Best Graphics Card under 500 Dollars to get you going!

To build a high-performance gaming pc on which you’ll be able to play most of the popular graphics-heavy titles with sufficient FPS, there’s no need to shell out top dollars. You just need to research thoroughly to choose the best card within your budget. And we just did the hard part, researched extensively and compiled a list of sub $500 graphics cards, which will take your gaming experience on a completely different level.

Here in this roundup we will discuss and compare those graphics cards in details for you to decide which one would suit you best. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

The new Nvidia RTX 2070 phenomenon: is this really worth upgrading?

Before we start reviewing the individual graphics cards, let’s first talk about the seemingly most popular and most recent release from the stable of Nvidia, RTX 2070. The cards we are going to review will be mostly from that series anyway; hence it will be better if we get some basics cleared about this particular series.

So, RTX is here, and it brings real-time ray tracing, deep learning, artificial intelligence and of course ever-increasing frame rates for superbly slick gameplay. We’ve already seen what the RTX 2080 TI can do, but what about this RTX 2070? Is this dramatic enough? Now, the concept is fascinating and extremely enticing with all the bells and whistles of its larger cousin, but without that extravagant cost. Though this cheaper card will still set you back about $500 (more or less, depending on the brand), so it’s clearly not a “bargain” in that sense.

While the whole point of these RTX cards is to bring new gaming experiences, the 2070 isn’t really a shining example of this technology it seems. Even after months of its release, there’s very limited material to actually test this with. We tried the RTX mode in Battlefield 5; the FPS numbers are frankly disappointing. How disappointing? Well, in our test gaming rig, we got 28, 30, 47, and 67 FPS on average with RTX modes ultra, high, low, and off respectively. Yes, it’s still an experimental feature, and Battlefield 5 is a very demanding game. But where is the FPS gone? We thought the point of the RTX cards must to have subsections on the GPU die, which will handle tasks in parallel without really affecting the performance and FPS. But clearly it does, with a gigantic hit even at the lowest RTX mode.

It doesn’t matter what so-called new technology it boasts if you’re losing this much performance, it’s just too big a compromise. We are sure that the performance will improve, and we don’t think it’s as optimized right now as it could be. But the fact remains that if you buy it right now expecting all of those fancy RTX stuff, we don’t think it’s there yet.

We’d be lying though if we say this is a bad performer or you shouldn’t buy this because the RTX 2070 is actually the best graphics card in its own price point. It’s a big step up from the 1070, and it does run quiet operation. It’s just such a shame that the RTX 2070 is unlikely to offer that much of a positive game-changing experience in its current state.

Now that we know a bit about the RTX 2040, let’s start reviewing some of the best GPUs under 500 bucks.

Best Graphics Card under 500 Dollars – Contestant #1

EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black Review

EVGA GeForce RTX 2070 Black Review - Best Graphics Card under 500 Dollars

This is a very capable GPU in sub $500 range, you can’t go wrong with this beast, period. It’s been a few months already since this card launched, so we won’t bore you with too much technical data most GPU-enthusiasts probably already know by now.

Out of the box, it comes with 1410 MHz base clock speed, 1620 MHz boost clock, 8 GB DDR6 VRAM, and 2304 CUDA cores. It has a 56-bit memory controller with 448 GB memory bandwidth. EVGA recommends a 550-watt power supply to make sure you’re getting enough power to the card, and if you’re wondering how much this card actually draws – it draws 175 watts.

The card is 10.6 inches long and 4.5 inches high, and it’s made on a two slots design like most other EVGA cards. And We do like the aesthetics of the card, it looks good – however it doesn’t come with the full back plate and RGB lighting.

Now, it’s time for the performance review, and we have done extensive benchmark testing to see how this 2070 card from EVGA holds up. To start with the synthetic benchmarks, we ran HEAVEN of UNIGENE for several hours on our 1440p monitor with every setting in ultra – and this card screamed an FPS number of 70.8, while GTX 1070 in the same system was able to do only 55.1.

We continued our test with SUPERPOSITION and GFXBench where this 2070 card scored 22.58 FPS (average) and 184.505 FPS respectively defeating 1070 card comfortably. Moving on to the games and GTA 5 is still a great benchmark to run. We maxed out all the settings, and the game looked beautifully smooth with our EVGA card at about 68.76 in-game framerate on average.

Ours next was FARCRY 5, where this card pumped out an average of 78 FPS with settings maxed. Lastly, we tried Battlefield 5, and we got three different numbers. First, we got 70.9 FPS without any special feature; however, the numbers went down once we turned RTX on – 43.7 FPS.

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Best Graphics Card under $500 – Contestant #2

MSI GeForce RTX 2070 ARMOR Review

MSI GeForce RTX 2070 ARMOR Review - Best Graphics Card under $500

We’ve got MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Armor OC card here for review as our third contender. Let’s start by taking a look at the card. There are two fans on the front, metal backplate with MSI logo on the back, and 8 and 6 pin power connectors on top. It’s worth noting the absence of NVlink here too, as the 2070 does not support SLI.

There’s also some RGB lighting on the top which shines through the MSI logo, and this can be controlled using MSI’s Mystic Light Sync software. For the I/O, there’s three DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, a single HDMI 2.0b output, and one USB Type-C port, allowing for up to 4 displays at once. The specs of this particular 2070 card are pretty impressive, as it’s the OC model, it comes overclocked out of the box. It’s got the same base clock as the reference model, but a 120MHz higher boost clock. Like other RTX cards, it also makes use of GDDR6 memory, and there’s 8GB available here.

Let’s start with Battlefield 5, a game that supports Nvidia’s new ray tracing, one of the key selling points of these RTX cards. Starting at 1080p we’ve got the RTX on results in green, and we’ve seen that the average frame rates were around half as much compared to running with RTX disabled. RTX was dropping the performance noticeably; however, despite this, it was still very playable at medium and low settings.

At 1440p with RTX on, it was still playable at the lower setting levels, with low settings still able to average 60 FPS with the 1% low – not too far behind the ave

rage. Meanwhile, with RTX off, the game was still playing fairly smoothly comparatively at ultra settings. 4K with RTX on is a straight write off with the 2070 in this game, but still playable without RTX at the lower levels, granted it depends on what frame rates you’re targeting. We can happily play with 60 FPS in this game, but I’m sure others would want higher.

Fortnite was tested using the replay feature, and at 1080p as expected, we’ve seen very high frame rates even at epic settings, which provided perfectly smooth gameplay. At 1440p we’re still able to average around 100 FPS at epic settings, which still played very well for me without issue. 4K was still playable, but you’ll want to use medium or low settings which were still able to average above 100 FPS in my test.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested using the built-in benchmark, and starting at 1080p; we’re getting excellent frame rates at all setting levels. Moving up to 1440p, FPS dropped back a bit, but we were still able to average above 60 FPS with the highest setting preset. At 4K, the frame rates dropped back quite a lot, although we were still able to get above 60 FPS in this test at the lowest settings.

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Best Graphics Card under 500 Bucks – Contestant #3

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2070 Review (Author’s Choice)

ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2070 Review - Best Graphics Card under 500 Bucks

Design wise it is classic ROG with that jet-black style which is almost identical to what we saw in the last generation. The beefy card will take up three expansion slots, and it uses three fans that can automatically shut off whenever the card is under 55 degrees (and resume again automatically as the temperature increases).

We’ve always quite liked the Strix cards as they fit almost any theme without clashing and you can, of course, alter the RGB to match your color palette accurately. It is a very long card though, so if you are in the market for a mini PC, even micro ATX, you should check the specifications to make sure that this will fit in your case.

Other changes to be aware of are, the I/O and port selection as the 2070 drops all support for that multi-GPU NVlink and the Strix card swaps the display port for a second HDMI. This brings our total to two display ports, two HDMI 2.0, and then a single USB type-c port. Non-issue for many and their individual use cases, but if you’re a triple g-sync user, you’ll need to find something else.

Anyway, let’s talk about the performance, which for the most part, is excellent. The 2070 Strix was pretty much silent across the board in our testing. Overclocked up to 1815 MHz, the in-game framerate was better than the highly overclocked 1080 Strix, by some margin in our comparison test.

There’s not really a resolution that the 2070 can’t be used for. Even in ultra settings 4k, it’s playable with most games offering well above 40 FPS. Obviously, this isn’t what most of us would choose. So, you can turn a few settings down from ultra to high, lower the screen scale near 90% and this will likely give you a perfect 60 FPS in most titles.

At lower resolutions, this change will, of course, be entirely unnecessary, as you’ll be saturating 60 Hertz monitors with ease and that will allow you to upgrade to a higher refresh rate panel. Keeping in mind all the features, build quality, and optimum cooling, this may be the Best GPU under $500 for us.

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Best Graphics Cards under 500 Dollars – Contestant #4

GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2070 White Review (Readers also like)

GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2070 White Review - Best Graphics Cards under 500 Dollars

This is our final RTX 2070 card in this roundup, and this one stands out in the crowd of 2070 cards hitting the market right now. What’s so special about it? Well, firstly, it turns head by its look. While all other similar cards come with black or some shade of black-grey color, this card is entirely white with matt finish tone. Not only on the front side, but the backside is also covered by a matt-white full black plate too. There’s another card with the same specification available from GIGABYTE which comes is a standard black color; however, we prefer this white version more due to its simple, clean, and elegant aesthetic appeal.

It’s a long card with three fans set up, on which the middle is designed to spin clockwise and the rest two spin anti-clockwise. RGB LED lighting in this card is at the gigabyte text and the GeForce RTX branding is barely visible and makes it a less flashy option than others.

Of course, it’s got plenty more to offer, such as a modest factory overclock for improved performance over the reference model. The card is boosted from 1620 MHz to 1725 MHz in Gaming Mode or 1740 MHz in the optional OC Mode. This is further helped by the inclusion of their triple fan cooler design. It’s not quite as over the top as the Gigabyte Aorus card series, but its price reflects that too, so no complaints here.

We have pitted this card against the GTX 1080, and the performance figures are quite satisfactory. In synthetic testing of “3DMark Time Spy”, we got 52 and 58 FPS (in graphics 1 and 2 respectively) compared with 41 and 46 FPS produced by GTX 1080. In “Unigine Superposition”, this card again held its ground strong with 40 FPS average, where our GTX 1080 averaged out at 30 FPS. Coming to real-world gaming, we have played two popular titles – Rise of Tomb Raider and DOTA 2. And in both cases, RTX 2070 outperformed 1080 card fair and square.

Based on our observation, the RTX 2070 gaming OC draws around 200 watts on load and as for the temperature stays at about 75 Celsius regardless of how we push it and the fan remains silent in operation. On the downside, for some reason we were neither unable to adjust the fan speed, nor see the RPM percentage indication on whatever software we used even with Gigabyte’s own software.

The fan idols when the temperature is low and spins once in a while to maintain the temperature. If you are looking for a card right now, this is probably the one considering that GTX 1080s are being phased out and it performs marginally faster than GTX 1080.

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So, Which one is the Best Graphics Card under $500? – Conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no clear winner. All four cards are capable of running quietly with envious performance numbers. However, with premium cooling optimization and durable build quality, ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2070 is our favorite here if we have to choose one.

It runs practically noiselessly, and the heat sink performance is exemplary. Having said that, the differences among all four cards are so slim that it’s extremely hard to notice any difference in regular gaming sessions; hence you can’t go wrong by choosing any one of them, especially if you prefer any brand over others.

If you have a lower budget and can compromise with the performance, you can check out these slightly cheaper cards. The performance gap may not be too much but the price gets lowered by a hundred dollars. There are some very cheap cards on the market too but they don’t provide enough performance for proper or serious gaming and they are good only for kids who like to play smaller and less heavy games!

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