The Best Graphics Cards Under $500 in 2023
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Early 2023 might not be the best time ever to look for a GPU under $500, as new upper mid-range cards from AMD and Nvidia are due to arrive later this year.
At least it’s far better compared to the past couple of years, with supply issues and miners or scalpers gobbling up every decent card on the market.
Mainstream GeForce and Radeon graphics cards from the current generation are in ample supply, and lately, Intel is also applying some pressure with its increasingly tempting Arc GPUs.
AMD Vs. Nvidia Vs. Intel GPUs Under $500
Mid-range graphics card prices have thankfully dropped significantly from the outlandish prices seen during the pandemic. Nvidia cards are however barely back to their launch MSRPs, which is arguably still too much seeing as next-gen cards are about to roll out. Things look more interesting on the AMD front, however, as current-gen cards are now often leaving shelves at significantly reduced prices.
Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Graphics cards based on the AMD Radeon RX 6750 XT typically sell for less than $500, and the same goes for GeForce RTX 3060 Ti cards. Both of these GPUs are great for 1440p or 1080p gaming at high refresh rates. The RX 6750 XT offers a bit more raw rasterization performance, whereas the RTX 3060 Ti is better at ray tracing.
We have also included Intel’s Arc A770 for comparison purposes. This GPU is cheaper and surpasses the competition in some cases, but has been more inconsistent in terms of driver support so far. Its main issue, however, is that the lower-end A750 costs even less (under $300) and offers far better value at this time.
This is how current graphics cards under $500 perform in 3DMark’s Time Spy benchmark compared to adjacent GPUs.
Time Spy scores have been fairly good at predicting average gaming performance over the last few years, but it’s still just a single benchmark. It should also be pointed out that Time Spy is overly generous with the Intel A770, as real-world performance is less impressive even with the latest drivers.
The ray-tracing scores from Futuremark’s Port Royal show that Nvidia has a clear lead over AMD in this area. This largely reflects what you will see in actual games.
So, which is the best GPU under $500? If ray tracing is important to you, it is probably the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, and if not, the Radeon RX 6750 XT. The AMD GPU is around 10% faster on average but lags its Nvidia counterpart in most (but not all) ray tracing titles.
There is also no denying that Intel’s GPUs may offer a great deal of value at lower price points, depending on the title. And if your choice ultimately depends on the performance in a particular game, then your best bet is to look up 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 system’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 quite annoying to see a next-gen GPU launch happen right after you purchased a current-gen card.
Nvidia and AMD released high-end GPUs in the RTX 4000-series and RX 7000-series, respectively, in late 2022, with mid-range variants to arrive later in 2023. Precisely how long we will have to wait is yet to be revealed. Rumors point to an April launch for the GeForce RTX 4070 (non-Ti) and Q3 2023 has been mentioned with regard to the RTX 4060 (Ti first, followed by non-Ti). The AMD Radeon RX 7600 XT, 7700 XT, and 7800 XT will also arrive in 2023, but no release dates have been announced.
The bad news is that both of the major GPU manufacturers seem intent on raising prices quite a lot on their latest chips. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3070 launched with a $499 MSRP (mostly theoretical, but still). And as the RTX 4070 Ti launched at $799, the non-Ti 4070 is highly unlikely to have an MSRP under $500. This might however be the case with the RTX 4060 Ti, but what type of performance gains it will offer over its direct predecessor remains to be seen.
What also remains to be seen is how AMD (and later Intel) intends to compete on pricing. AMD has not been very competitive with its latest high-end cards, but Intel is now a strong challenger in the mid-range market.
Based on historical prices, it would not be unreasonable to expect GeForce RTX 3060 Ti cards, for example, to be significantly below MSRPs at this point. This is unfortunately not what we are seeing. Instead, prices have remained relatively inflated, and the new generation of cards is not likely to offer much better value. As such, it’s harder than usual to determine if waiting will pay off, but it is at least reasonable to expect prices on current-gen cards to drop somewhat.
Fastest GPU Under $500: AMD 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 some cases.
Best Nvidia GPU Under $500: GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti GPU was launched in late 2020 and is in fact not a modified 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 the same price point, it is clearly worth looking for the 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.
Unlike the AMD counterparts, mid-range and high-end Nvidia cards from the current generation are rarely found below their original MSRPs.
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 Affordable Alternative #1: 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 #2: 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 Expensive Alternative #1: GeForce RTX 3070
If you don’t mind spending around $50–$100 more on a more powerful Nvidia GPU, the GeForce RTX 3070 is the next step up the ladder from the RTX 3060 Ti. As mentioned earlier, the RTX 3070 employs what is essentially the same GA104 chip. It’s also paired with the same 8 GB of VRAM that offers identical bandwidth over a 256-bit memory bus.
However, the RTX 3070 uses a more complete variant of the GA104 GPU, with 5,888 shading units instead of 4,864. That’s 1024 or 21% more shaders, which translates to almost the same performance increase 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 generally overkill for 1080p. An RTX 3070 card can also manage 4K gaming at 60 FPS in less demanding titles, especially in combination with DLSS upscaling.
More Expensive Alternative #2: Radeon RX 6800 XT
At around the same prices as the RTX 3070, you will also find graphics cards using the Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU. This is one of AMD’s high-end chips from the RDNA 2 generation and about 20% ahead of the RTX 3070 as measured in rasterization performance, though a bit slower on average than the RTX 3080. But unlike the original 3080, it is equipped with 16 GB of GDDR6 VRAM, which may come in handy when gaming at high resolutions.
As such, the Radeon RX 6800 XT is the card best suited for 2160p/4K gaming out of those we have covered so far. It can surpass 60 FPS at 4K in most games, and in the rest, it should get there using AMD’s FSR upscaling technology (the equivalent of Nvidia’s DLSS).
What it lacks compared to the Nvidia alternatives – and likely the main reason why it’s more reasonably priced – is the same level of ray-tracing performance. Naturally, it also has a higher power draw than the mid-range cards with a TDP of 300 W for the card alone (the suggested PSU is 700 W).
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 (March 2023), 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 (March 2023)
This table is based on recently completed eBay listings rounded off to the nearest $10 interval. In other words, it is by no means a scientifically accurate listing of what used prices will look like everywhere, but rather some indication of what you might expect.
|GPU||Release Date||Original MSRP||Lowest Retail Price|
|Average eBay Price
|GeForce RTX 3080 10GB||09/01/2020||$699||$649||$520|
|GeForce RTX 3070 Ti||05/31/2021||$599||$579||$470|
|GeForce RTX 3070||09/01/2020||$499||$549||$370|
|GeForce RTX 3060 Ti||12/01/2020||$399||$419||$320|
|Radeon RX 6800 XT||10/28/2020||$649||$559||$510|
|Radeon RX 6800||10/28/2020||$579||$484||$410|
|Radeon RX 6750 XT||03/03/2022||$549||$419||$380|
|Radeon RX 6700 XT||03/03/2021||$479||$349||$310|
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 early 2023, and cards that were previously under $500 have mostly returned where they belong. 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 (consistently) is the Radeon RX 6750 XT, but you can occasionally find the RX 6800 around that mark.