The Best Graphics Cards Under $500 in 2023
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The recent past hasn’t been a great time to go shopping for a $500 GPU, but it has improved a lot following several new mid-range GPU releases.
Both AMD and Nvidia now offer competing mid-range GPUs from the latest RX 4000 and RX 7000 generations, respectively. Even if they don’t deliver huge performance gains over their predecessors, the new cards are affecting GPU prices overall.
Previous-gen GeForce and Radeon graphics cards offer solid value, and Intel is applying some pressure with its Arc GPUs.
AMD Vs. Nvidia Vs. Intel GPUs Under $500
Mid-range graphics card prices have dropped substantially from their absurd pandemic- and crypto-fueled levels. Unfortunately, Nvidia and AMD seem to have kept them elevated by releasing very pricey high-end cards. However, lackluster sales have resulted in price cuts in time for the mid-range GPU launches.
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The GeForce RTX 4060 Ti 8 GB was launched in May 2023 with a $399 MSRP. Although it largely failed to impress the gamer community – mainly due to its underwhelming VRAM configuration – it is faster than its RTX 3060 Ti predecessor at resolutions up to 1440p and far more efficient. A 16 GB version has also been launched at $499, but this is a rather overpriced upgrade.
On the AMD side, the brand new Radeon RX 7800 XT just dropped with a $499 starting price for base AIB models. As you probably guessed from the name, it replaces the RX 6800 XT. Although it’s only marginally faster than its predecessor, the 7800 XT comes in at a much more competitive price point (the 6800 XT’s launch MSRP was $649).
Intel’s Arc A770 is also included here for comparison purposes. This GPU is significantly cheaper (usually under $300) and matches the competition in some games and benchmarks, but has been more inconsistent in terms of driver support so far..
Here’s how the currently best graphics cards under $500 perform in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark compared to a range of other GPUs.
Time Spy scores have been fairly good at predicting average gaming performance (without ray tracing) over the last few years. However, it should be pointed out that Time Spy is overly generous with the Intel A770, as real-world gaming performance is less impressive even with newer drivers.
The ray-tracing scores from Futuremark’s Port Royal benchmark, on the other hand, show that Nvidia is still a generation ahead of AMD in this area.
Bottom line: So, which is the best GPU under $500? If ray tracing is important to you, it might be Nvidia’s RTX 4060 Ti, although the GeForce RTX 3070 (or 3070 Ti) remains a better option at higher settings and resolutions. If ray tracing is less important, the Radeon RX 7800 XT offers at least 30% more raw performance on average.
There are some additional caveats here though. Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling tech is mostly ahead of its AMD counterpart FSR, even if the latter has improved substantially since the early days. And if your choice ultimately depends on the performance of a particular game, then your best bet is to look up individual GPU reviews that examine this game in combination with these cards.
Buy Now or Wait?
A graphics card upgrade is practically always the most effective way to improve your PC’s gaming performance. But what you probably want to consider first (other than getting the best frame rate for the money) is timing release cycles. It’s frustrating to see a next-gen GPU launch happen right after you purchase a current-gen card.
Nvidia and AMD released high-end GPUs in the RTX 4000-series and RX 7000-series, respectively, in late 2022. The mid-range RTX 4060 Ti and 4060 non-Ti were however launched in late June of 2023. AMD’s RX 7700 and 7800 XT arrived in September and are currently bundled with Bethesda’s Starfield.
In other words, generational timing in late 2023 is more or less perfect. The downside is that none of the new cards offer much in the way of performance improvements over their predecessors, but at least the prices are now within reason. This is good news, as AMD was not as competitive as we’d like with its latest high-end cards, instead pricing them just below Nvidia’s corresponding GPUs.
Intel has no new mid-range cards slated for release in 2023.
Best GPU Under $500: Radeon RX 7800 XT
AMD unveiled the new Radeon RX 7800 XT and RX 7700 XT on September 6, 2023, at the Gamescom trade show. With launch prices of $499 and $449, respectively, the RX 7800 XT offers the best value as it’s about 20% faster than the 7700 XT but only 11% more expensive.
Unfortunately, the card is only slightly faster than the Radeon RX 6800 XT that it replaces. There are some generational improvements, but mostly in terms of ray tracing performance. It is substantially faster than the RTX 4060 Ti, however, but this card (the 8 GB model) is also $100 less.
The best news is that the RX 7800 XT is reasonably priced, which hasn’t been the case with most other graphics cards from this generation. Its launch MSRP is actually $150 below that of the 6800 XT.
Fastest Nvidia GPUs under $500: GeForce RTX 3070 (Ti) or 4060 Ti
Nvidia’s most powerful GPU that can often be found under $500 is the GeForce RTX 3070, which employs what is essentially a more complete version of the same GA104 chip as the RTX 3060 Ti. Like the 3060 Ti, it is also paired with 8 GB of VRAM that offers identical bandwidth over a 256-bit memory bus.
However, the RTX 3070’s variant of the GA104 GPU comes with the full 5,888 shading units instead of 4,864. That’s 1024 or 21% more shaders, which translates to almost the same performance gains in actual games.
As a result, graphics cards based on this GPU are well suited for gaming on high refresh rate 1440p monitors and are practically overkill for 1080p. RTX 3070 cards can also manage 4K gaming at 60 FPS in less demanding titles, especially when upscaled with DLSS. If you can find an RTX 3070 Ti for under $500, this is an even better option (being about 5–10% faster).
As for the GeForce RTX 4060 Ti, this card was something of a disappointment due to the cut-down memory bus and bandwidth. Both the 8 GB and 16 GB versions use a 128-bit bus and the bandwidth is 288 GB/s, compared to its predecessor’s 256-bit bus and 448 GB/s bandwidth.
The card is still faster than the RTX 3060 Ti at 1080p, but the lead is much less impressive (or even non-existent) when increasing the resolution and maxing out the quality settings.
It’s not all bad news, of course. In terms of energy efficiency, the RTX 4060 Ti is a lot better. This also means lower temperatures and effortless cooling, resulting in low noise levels. You also get better upscaling thanks to DLSS 3 as well as much improved ray-tracing performance compared to what AMD offers at the same price point.
Flexible Budget? What You Get for Less Or Slightly More
While the AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti are currently the best graphics cards under $500, at least consistently so, it is useful to be aware of GPUs in the neighboring price brackets. Not least because some of these cards may offer better value.
More Expensive Alternative #1: GeForce RTX 4070
Following the launch of AMD’s RX 7800 XT, several AIB models of the GeForce RTX 4070 have dropped in price. Compared to its main AMD rival, the RTX 4070 is quite closely matched in terms of raw performance, but is better at ray tracing. Another difference is that you also get frame generation with DLSS 3 (along with generally better DLSS upscaling).
It is also significantly faster than the RTX 4060 and much better suited for 1440p and 4K gaming – not just thanks to its 12 GB of VRAM, but also because the RTX 4070 is almost 30% faster. Even the 16 GB model of the RTX 4060 is unable to compete.
Due to increased competition in the space, some RTX 4070 AIB models have now dropped to around $550, which makes the card far more interesting in price/performance terms.
More Affordable Alternative #1: Radeon RX 6750 XT
Launched in March 2022, AMD’s Radeon RX 6750 XT is an updated version of the RX 6700 XT (Navi 22), with improved clock speeds and higher memory bandwidth. Its 12 GB of GDDR6 video memory (VRAM) runs at 18 Gbps compared to the predecessor’s 16 Gbps. As a result, the RX 6750 XT is about 10% faster than the RX 6700 XT, and it holds about the same lead on average over the Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti with GDDR6 VRAM. The same cannot be said for ray-tracing performance, where it is usually behind its Nvidia competitor.
In combination with a recent CPU, Any graphics card based on the RX 6750 XT will have no issue running current AAA titles at 60fps with a 1440p resolution, or with higher refresh rates at 1080p. Like other cards in the same performance tier, it may struggle to reach high frame rates at 2160p (4K) resolution, however. In more demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077, you may have to accept average frame rates below 60fps at 2160p even with FSR turned on.
The maximum power draw or TDP (Thermal Design Power) is 250 W and the default power connector configuration is 1x 6-pin + 1x 8-pin.
Its launch price (MSRP) was $549, but many RX 6750 XT cards now sell for under $500 – or even a lot less in individual cases.
More Affordable Alternative #2: AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
As mentioned previously, the Radeon RX 6750 XT is a mid-cycle update of the RX 6700 XT and the original GPU is by no means vastly different. Both GPUs come with 12 GB of GDDR6 VRAM and the core counts are identical. The RX 6700 XT has slightly lower default clock speeds, but (more importantly) also lower memory bandwidth.
Even so, the performance difference is less than 10% on average. Graphics cards with the RX 6700 XT GPU have not been entirely replaced by the RX 6750 XT, meaning that the former can sometimes be found at price points that more than make up for its reduced performance.
More Affordable Alternative #3: GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU was launched in late 2020 and is not really a version of the RTX 3060. Instead, it is a scaled-down variant of the RTX 3070, with a performance level closer to this card than its non-Ti namesake RTX 3060. It is about 20% faster than the non-Ti model and roughly 15% slower than the 3070.
Since 2022, some RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards come with 8 GB of GDDR6X memory instead of the same amount of slower GDDR6 (without the ‘X’). The newer GDDR6X models are 5% or so faster in actual games compared to cards with GDDR6. As they are often sold at similar price points, it is worth looking for these faster versions.
In terms of performance, the RXT 3060 Ti is usually a bit slower than the RX 6750 XT – even with said memory improvements – but the opposite is often true once you activate ray tracing. It is nevertheless fast enough to offer a great gaming experience in 1080p and 1440p resolutions, but much like its AMD competitor, it will have a hard time reaching 60fps at 4K in somewhat more demanding games.
More Affordable Alternative #4: Intel Arc A770
Intel’s new(ish) Arc lineup of dedicated GPUs was not particularly well received by the PC hardware press at launch. The mid-range A770 and A750 cards mostly failed to live up to the expectations that they would effectively break AMD and Nvidia’s duopoly.
Although quite powerful in theory – as seen in the above 3DMark benchmarks – performance has been inconsistent or downright bad in older but popular titles like Rainbow Six Siege.
A lot has happened since then, however, not least in the form of new drivers that have greatly raised the performance bar in the most affected games.
But what made these cards all the more interesting lately is pricing and availability, which was also holding them back. Intel recently made the reference Arc A750 available for just $250 and this has also had an impact on Arc A770 prices.
At these new prices, the Intel Arc cards really offer incredible value for those who don’t mind taking a bit of a risk with something different.
More Affordable Alternative #5: RX 6800 (XT)
Although it shared the same release date (November 18, 2020), the Radeon RX 6800 non-XT has mostly been flying under the radar compared to the XT model. It uses the same Navi 21 GPU but with 3,840 active shading units versus the XT’s 4,608. The game clock has also been reduced to 1815 MHz from 2015 MHz but it offers the same VRAM configuration.
As a result, the Radeon RX 6800 is around 10-15% slower than the RX 6800 XT and faster than the RX 6750 XT by about the same amount. Its closest Nvidia competitor from the same generation is the RTX 3070 Ti. This places the RX 6800 at the bottom of the high-end tier from the previous-gen lineup, but it can also compete with (and often surpass) current-gen mid-range graphics cards.
Select models of the RX 6800 from AMD-exclusive AIB manufacturers PowerColor, XFX, and Sapphire – the PowerColor Fighter RX 6800, for example – often sells for less than $400, which is a real bargain. We have also started to see RX 6800 XT cards for substantially less than $500, which makes it a strong competitor of its 7800 XT successor.
Used Graphics Cards Under $500
Buying a used GPU is always a viable option if you are willing to take the risk of having no long-term warranty versus getting more gaming performance for the money. Something to keep in mind at this time, especially when buying a used mid-range or high-end graphics card, is that it may have been used for mining. That means that the card will likely have been running non-stop for many months, which could have shortened its lifespan considerably.
With that warning out of the way, it’s possible to save 10-20% on current-gen models when buying used. At the time of writing, used Nvidia cards typically come with the best savings, since AMD card prices are currently down significantly in retail. Other than the cards mentioned earlier in this article, some graphics cards under $500 to consider include:
- AMD Radeon RX 6800 – The non-XT Radeon RX 6800 is similar to the RX 6800 XT but comes with fewer shading units or stream processors. Its gaming performance is right in the middle between the RX 6750 XT and the RX 6800 XT, with the former being about 15% slower and the latter 15% faster.
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10GB – The original RTX 3080 GPU with 10 GB of GDDR6X can sometimes be found for less than $500 on the used market. It is a bit faster than the AMD RX 6800 XT on average and also offers better ray-tracing performance.
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti – A slightly larger variant of the RTX 3070 with a minor increase in shading units and faster GDDR6X VRAM. It is 5-10% faster than the original RTX 3070 but still around 20% slower than the RTX 3080.
Used GPU Price Estimates (October 2023)
This table is based on recently completed eBay listings rounded off to the nearest $10 interval. In other words, it is not a scientifically accurate listing of what used prices will look like everywhere but an indication of current price levels and general trends in the US market.
|Avg. eBay Price|
|Avg. eBay Price|
|Avg. eBay Price
|GeForce RTX 3080 10GB||09/01/2020||$699||$420||$410||$390|
|GeForce RTX 3070 Ti||05/31/2021||$599||$360||$350||$330|
|GeForce RTX 3070||09/01/2020||$499||$290||$285||$280|
|GeForce RTX 3060 Ti||12/01/2020||$399||$250||$240||$230|
|Radeon RX 6800 XT||10/28/2020||$649||$420||$440||$400|
|Radeon RX 6800||10/28/2020||$579||$380||$350||$350|
|Radeon RX 6750 XT||03/03/2022||$549||$320||$300||$300|
|Radeon RX 6700 XT||03/03/2021||$479||$270||$270||$250|
Used GPU prices trended down over the summer, as you would expect when next-gen cards start to arrive. This trend has tapered off slightly in recent months, however, with some cards barely moving at all.
If you have been looking to upgrade your graphics card in the past couple of years, you will know that it’s been extremely challenging to find anything at a reasonable price – or at all really, when it comes to new releases.
The GPU market looks a lot better in late 2023. Cards that were previously under $500 are now mostly back where they belong. Right now, the AMD cards in this price bracket are particularly interesting at this time, as some mid-range and high-end cards are now selling at heavily discounted prices.
For the time being, the fastest GPU under $500 is the Radeon RX 7800 XT, or if you prefer Nvidia, the RTX 4060 Ti. But the RTX 4070 offers better value than the somewhat underwhelming 4060 Ti (which in turn is better value than the 16 GB version of the 4060 Ti).