Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Graphics Card Buyer’s Guide December 2020

For the longest time, NVIDIA has absolutely dominated the graphics card segment of PC hardware especially with their RTX 3000 series. The 3000 series offers an unparalleled performance increase with respect to both gaming and productivity. Behemoths such as the RTX 3090 delve into the unknown realm of 8K gaming while the RTX 3080 crushes 4K gaming. The RTX 3070 is no slouch either with regards to 1440p gaming.

However, the newly released Radeon 6000 series from AMD is giving NVIDIA a run for its money. The new RX 6800XT matches up very well against the RTX 3080 and the RX 6900 XT may rival the RTX 3090. That’s not to mention the RX 6800 as well, which offers very competitive performance and pricing.

With that said, the Christmas season is looming and it’s becoming increasingly tempting to spend our hard-earned money or use our Christmas wishes on brand new computer hardware. Of course, AMD and NVIDIA aren’t making things any easier for us with their salvo of graphics card releases.

We here at Back2Gaming understand how difficult it is to choose a graphics card right now and we have prepared a guide for you on which graphics cards are the most compelling options at specific resolutions.  We mainly focused on price and performance because the aesthetic of the graphics card will depend on the partner company you choose (e.g. MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte, etc.).

This list will be a quick guide on which cards should on the top of your mind when making purchases. Its not focusing on the actual cards, regardless of the photos we show: you can choose from whichever brand you want. The main goal here is if the card is still relevant.

Budget

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • 14 Gb/s GDDR6 memory
  • Excellent performance at 1080p
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Only 3 ports
  • No RT cores but that’s to be expected at this price point

For bang-for-the-buck 1080p gaming the 1660 super is an excellent no-nonsense choice. This compact graphics card features 6 GB of GDDR6 memory, which is actually faster than that of the more expensive GTX 1660 Ti. The former’s memory comes in at 14 Gb/s while the latter stands at 12 Gb/s. It also utilizes the TU116 GPU which is shared with the 1650 series as well.  This card will have no problems handling most 1080p games, but it may struggle to handle 1440p ones.

Value wise, the GTX 1660 Super retails for about P13-15,000 and this is a very attractive option if your budget only allows for P15,000 maximum. It will suit any entry-level or budget oriented build perfectly.

The GTX 1660 Super is an ideal purchase for those who primarily game at 1080p and want to upgrade from their previous 900 series or older graphics cards without paying for any ray tracing features. This works well particularly for gamers who are into e-sports but are not too savvy with mainstream or high-end parts.

Read our review of the GTX 1660 SUPER here.

AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • Beats RTX 2060 in performance at a cheaper price
  • Capable of high level 1080p gaming and entry level 1440p gaming
  • Power-efficient

Cons

  • No ray tracing capabilities
  • Likely to be outperformed by upcoming graphics cards at its current price range

For “ultra” 1080p performance, look no further than AMD’s RX 5600 XT. The card has the same 6 GB of GDDR6 VRAM as the GTX 1660 Super as well as similar clock speeds.  The RX 5600 XT carries more graphics processing cores than its NVIDIA counterpart and this contributes to its superior 1080p performance.

This card is positioned right in between the RTX 2060 and GTX 1660 Super in terms of price but beats both NVIDIA cards in terms of performance. Due to recent price drops following the Radeon 6000 series launch, the RX 5600 XT is now in the P14-P16,000 price range and is only a hair more expensive than the GTX 1660 Super.

The RX 5600 XT will suit anyone who wants to pump “ultra” settings on their 1080p monitors without ray tracing in mind. Also, given the decrease in price, the RX 5600 XT becomes almost a no-brainer purchase for budget gamers who want the best bang for their buck.

Read our review of the Radeon RX 5600 XT here

High-end

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • RTX 2080 Super performance
  • Same VRAM and bandwidth as an RTX 3070
  • Huge performance leap from its RTX 2060 Super predecessor

Cons

  • Some variants are priced a bit too close to the RTX 3070
  • Generally better availability than previous 3000 series cards but still pretty low overall

The RTX 3060 Ti, the latest NVIDIA card to launch this year, completely redefines the beloved 60-class cards we’re accustomed to. It’s on the edges of being an 80-class card with its 4864 CUDA cores, 38 2nd generation RT cores and 8 GB of DDR6 VRAM. It’s practically a toned down RTX 3070 with the same GPU dye but make no mistake, the RTX 3060 Ti performs nearly 30% faster than its RTX 2060 Super predecessor (at the same price). It’s on-par with the RTX 2080 Super in performance and will perform especially well in 1440p.

The RTX 3060 Ti retails for about P28-32,000 depending on the company and cooling style you choose with the cards having 3 fans being the more expensive option. At this price, and with RTX 2080 Super-like performance which is a card worth upwards of P50,000, its hard to argue the excellent price to performance ratio the RTX 3060 Ti brings to the table.

Considering it could potentially be P10,000 cheaper than an RTX 3070 without sacrificing much performance, the RTX 3060 Ti will fulfill your 1080p or 1440p needs with ease. If you’re looking for less than P30,000 graphics cards, then this is the card for you.

Read our review of the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti here

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • Can do entry level 4K gaming and has no problems with 1440p
  • Amazing price to performance ratio
  • Good thermals

Cons

  • Only 8 GB of VRAM
  • Uses GDDR6 instead of GDDR6X
  • Scarce supply

The third-tier card in the 3000 series line-up shouldn’t be this good. But it is, and the RTX 3070 is in a league of its own in terms of price and performance. The Ampere based RTX 3070 features a whooping 5888 CUDA cores ,which is quite literally double the number of CUDA cores an RTX 2080 has. It has the same 8 GB of GDDR6 VRAM as the RTX 2070 Super and RTX 2080 and packs 2nd generation RT cores to boot. With that much firepower, the RTX 3070 crushes any 1080p games and handles 1440p ones with ease. It can even do decent 4K gaming if you push it to do so.

This card was slated as the “RTX 2080-Ti killer”, but gaming benchmarks have shown that it performs roughly the same as the previous Turing flagship model. Where it does kill the RTX 2080 Ti is in value. The RTX 3070 retails for about P37-P43,000 compared to the P65,000+ for the RTX 2080 Ti. Objectively, the RTX 3070 still commands a steep price, but its price to performance ratio is simply amazing.

The RTX 3070 is perfect if you want to enjoy high quality 1440p gaming with ray tracing enabled or even entry level 4K gaming. If you’re coming from an RTX 2070 Super or weaker, you’ll definitely see substantial performance gains especially with ray tracing enabled.

Read our review of the GeForce RTX 3070 here

AMD Radeon RX 6800

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • 16 GB of VRAM
  • Good for either 1440p or mid-range 4K gaming
  • Amazing overclocking potential

Cons

  • Poor ray tracing capabilities
  • No DLSS equivalent
  • Scarce supply

AMD’s RX 6800 finally gives NVIDIA a worthy competitor in the graphics card market. It features 3840 graphics processing cores and 60 ray accelerator cores, which are equivalent to NVIDIA’s CUDA cores and RT cores respectively. Its biggest advantage lies in its massive 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM that has 512 Gb/s of bandwidth. The RX 6800 has double the memory of an RTX 3070 although the RX 6800 is priced a bit higher. In terms of performance, it beats the RTX 3070 in 1440p and 4K by about 10-15% and the RX 6800’s huge memory advantage certainly plays a big role in this.

However, the performance of the RX 6800 takes a sharp U-turn once ray tracing is in the picture. It falls behind the RTX 3070 in most games and this is likely due to NVIDIA’s more mature 2nd generation RT cores. DLSS also boosts the 3070’s performance and AMD has no answer to this as well.

Overall, this card certainly packs a punch and is perfect for you if you want to game at 1440p or 4K without using ray tracing. It comes at a more expensive price than the RTX 3070 but is cheaper than both the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT. The performance gains from the RX 6800 are certainly higher than those of the RTX 3070 (without ray tracing).

Enthusiast

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • 16 GB of VRAM
  • Excellent performance at 4K
  • High clock speeds with good overclocking capabilities
  • Cheaper than RTX 3080

Cons

  • Poor ray tracing capabilities
  • Uses GDDR6 compared to RTX 3080’s GDDR6X memory
  • No DLSS equivalent
  • Scarce supply

The RX 6800 XT is the stronger version of the RX 6800 and has 4608 graphics processing cores along with 72 ray accelerator cores. It comes with the same 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM and 512 Gb/s of bandwidth as the RX 6800. Its closest to the RTX 3080 in terms of price with the RX 6800 XT being about P3-4,000 cheaper. Performance-wise, the RX 6800 XT more or less matches the RTX 3080 in 1440p and is slightly behind it in 4K. Give or take, the performance difference is about 5% or so favoring NVIDIA but most users won’t really notice such slight differences.

Like with the RX 6800, the XT version falls significantly behind the RTX 3080 when ray tracing is in the picture. Given how many games support ray tracing, which isn’t much at all, it’s hard to really justify putting the RTX 3080 over the RX 6800 XT despite the latter having poor ray tracing performance. The RX 6800 XT is cheaper than the RTX 3080 and features 16 GB of VRAM as opposed to the RTX 3080’s 10 GB, so AMD’s card has compelling advantages as well.

We recommend the RX 6800 XT if you want RTX 3080-like performance and don’t care about ray tracing whatsoever. This card will excel at 4K and of course 1440p, all while having more VRAM and a cheaper price tag. Also consider that games in the future may utilize more VRAM and 16 GB of it will undoubtedly come in handy.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • Can produce high frame rates at 4K resolution
  • GDDR6X memory
  • Smooth frame rates even with ray tracing enabled

Cons

  • 10 GB of VRAM is a bit lacking at this price
  • High power consumption
  • Lacks supply

The RTX 3080 is the powerhouse of high-end gaming without breaking the bank. The RTX 3080 shreds its RTX 2080 Super and RTX 2080 Ti predecessors thanks to 8704 CUDA cores and 10 GB of GDDR6X memory which has 760 Gb/s of memory bandwidth. It outperforms its RTX 2000 series counterparts in all games and can still push high frame rates even with ray tracing enabled. This momentous leap in performance should come at a steep cost, right? Well, the RTX 3080 does sell for at least P50,000, but when you consider its performance, the asking price does seem quite fair. The 3080 is capable of pushing upwards of 60 frames in most modern games at 4K resolution.

4K gaming was often an after-thought in most people’s minds prior to the RTX 3080. Only those with RTX 2080 Ti’s could push moderate frames at 4K and even that wasn’t the best experience. Needless to say, it previously cost a small fortune to get a rig capable of 4K, but the RTX 3080 is slowly making mainstream 4K gaming a very realistic possibility in the near future.

The RTX 3080 is geared towards those that want to enjoy 4K gaming without paying a P30,000 or more premium for the RTX 3090. This card will handle almost anything thrown at it. Those that have any RTX 2000 series cards or lower and want to push for 4K gaming, should strongly consider this card if supply (and money) permits.

Read our review of the GeForce RTX 3080 here

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • 24 GB of GDDR6X VRAM
  • Can handle 4K gaming with ease and do entry level 8K gaming
  • Strongest gaming graphics card at the moment
  • Excellent creative work performance

Cons

  • Insanely expensive
  • Requires beefy power supply
  • Large size may cause issues with clearance
  • Barely any stock available for purchase

Usually, NVIDIA doesn’t release a “Titan” variant to start a new series of graphics cards, but the RTX 3090, despite not having the “Titan” moniker, is a God in its own right. This 3090 features an insane 24 GB of GDDR6X VRAM to go with 10,496 CUDA cores. It is easily the most powerful gaming graphics card today and it doesn’t even break a sweat in 4K gaming. The RTX 3090 is so strong it can even delve into 8K gaming should you have a display that supports it. This card will also handle any creative work you might need without much trouble as well thanks to the abundant VRAM.

Value is probably this card’s main weakness. The RTX 3090 retails for at least P90,000 which will cost most of us an arm if not a leg. Yes, it is undoubtedly the best graphics card for gaming that money can buy, but an RTX 3080 will suit most if not all people just fine. If you must have the best of the best, then don’t hesitate to purchase this.

With that said, the RTX 3090 is perfect for those who want to push gaming to its absolute highest limits and the RTX 3090’s performance in creative work is just the cherry on top. If you want maximum graphics settings at 4K with any ray tracing option under the sun enabled, all while maintaining high frame rates, then this is the graphics card for you. Regardless of whichever graphics card you own in the present, the RTX 3090 will give you unprecedented performance gains.

Final Words and Recommendations

To wrap things up, at 1080p you could really go either way with the GTX 1660 Super or RX 5600 XT. Both will perform well at this resolution but do consider your CPU as well. At lower resolutions, the CPU plays a bigger role in determining frame rates and using a slow CPU may cap them. When it comes to 1440p without ray tracing, we recommend the RX 6800 for its large VRAM and overall performance compared to the RTX 3070. At 4K, both the RTX 3080 and RX 6800 XT are very close in terms of performance and both will serve your needs just fine. If ray tracing is of importance to you, then the AMD graphics cards are definitely out of the equation and you should opt for their NVIDIA counterparts instead.

It’s not an easy task to pick a graphics card given how integral it is to your system, not to mention the price it commands. With the lackluster supply of both the RTX 3000 series from NVIDIA and RX 6000 series from AMD, you’ll be hard pressed to find any that are fairly priced. However, should you find supply at SRP or are willing to fork out extra at an after-market price, we hope this guide has helped you pick the right graphics card.

Honorable Mention

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super

Graphics Card Buyer's Guide December 2020 -

Pros

  • RTX 2080-like performance for a cheaper price
  • Powerful enough for smooth 1440p gaming
  • Good overclocking headroom

Cons

  • Superseded by the RTX 3070
  • Still a bit pricey considering the RTX 3000 series release

The Turing-based RTX 2070 Super, with its 8 GB of DDR6 memory and 2560 CUDA cores, is still a very compelling option in 2020 despite the RTX 3000 series launch. The RTX 2070 Super packs a bigger punch than the original RTX 2070 thanks its increased CUDA core count and boost clocks and is almost on par with the RTX 2080. This means the RTX 2070 Super won’t have any trouble handling 1440p games on medium to high settings.

The RTX 2070 Super’s price has dropped since the release of the RTX 3000 series and it falls anywhere between P27-33,000 depending on the partner brand you choose. Supply aside, a brand new RTX 2070 Super doesn’t make a very good case against an RTX 3060 Ti that massively outperforms it at practically the same price point.

The RTX 2070 Super suits gamers who want to push their graphics settings at 1440p or enjoy some of the ray tracing goodness without sacrificing too many frames. Those who currently have a GTX 1070 or lower will see a noticeable performance increase. If you can find a good deal for a used RTX 2070 Super that cost less than P23,000 don’t be afraid to pull the trigger. Value-wise though, it is the better deal versus the now-price reduced 5700 XT but in case you can live without the NVIDIA features, you can alternate with a 5700 XT.

Read our review of the GeForce RTX 2070 Super here