Best Graphics Cards Under $200 in 2022 (November Update)
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As of late 2022, GPUs are once again widely available at reasonable price levels. Also, Intel is just about to join AMD and Nvidia in the entry-level and mid-range markets, which should put further pressure on prices.
On this page, we take a detailed look at the best graphics cards under $200 in 2022 based on real-world gaming performance. This includes new affordable graphics cards as well as what you may find in the used market around the same price point.
AMD Vs Nvidia
Buy Now or Wait?
Best AMD GPU below $200: RX 6500 XT
Best Nvidia GPU below $200 (MSRP): GTX 1650
Used AMD Cards: Radeon RX 5500 XT, 570, 580 and 590
Used Nvidia Cards: GeForce GTX 1650S/1660/1660S
Neither AMD nor Nvidia have been overly enthusiastic about the entry-level market in the past few years. And what Intel offers under $200 (the Arc A380) still fails to impress from a price/performance perspective, provided you are even able to find one.
At the time of writing, Nvidia hasn’t released a new budget gaming GPU since the GeForce GTX 1650 and 1650 Super in 2019. The recently announced GeForce GTX 1630 barely counts, as it is not sufficiently powerful for an adequate gaming experience in 2022. AMD has done a bit better by releasing the Radeon RX 6500 XT, although this card is also a disappointment for reasons we will get into in a minute.
That makes these cards the best that the current market has to offer for under $200 (or thereabout, depending on daily price moves).
Last update on 2022-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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From just looking at raw FP32 performance, the Radeon RX 6500 XT looks like the far more powerful GPU. However, in terms of actual gaming performance, it is only significantly faster than the GTX 1650 when using a PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 interface. In older PCIe 3.0 systems, the RX 6500 XT loses some of its performance, at which point it becomes more comparable to the GTX 1650 and slower than the 1650S.
Any of these GPUs can manage 1080p gaming, but you will sometimes have to lower the settings to reach a consistent 60fps in AAA titles. Here’s a quick look at relative GPU performance using Futuremark’s 3DMark Time Spy benchmark scores. We’ve included some additional GPUs for reference and will be discussing some of them below.
This is not an exact measurement of gaming performance, but still a reasonably accurate indicator of what to expect in games, on average.
Bottom line: The “performance/value” calculation changes daily along with GPU prices, which have not been very dependable lately. In spite of its shortcomings in PCIe 3.0 systems, however, the Radeon RX 6500 XT is currently the best GPU under $200 in relative terms.
Throughout 2021 and early 2022, the graphics card market was in a really bad state, with severe shortages and inflated prices across all performance tiers. Even used cards from previous generations were selling for more than their original MSRPs.
This is thankfully behind us now, as supply has improved and prices have dropped from previous peaks. In other words, we are once again in a buyer’s market. If you have been waiting for the right time to buy a budget graphics card, this is a reasonably good one.
In terms of release cycles, Nvidia just launched a new generation of high-end cards (RTX 4090 and 4080), and AMD will shortly do the same with its RX 7900/7800 lineup. However, we don’t expect new entry-level cards based on these architectures in 2022. At best, the near future might bring rebadges or slight updates of existing GPUs.
Intel’s newly launched Arc A380 chip has unfortunately only been released in very limited quantities so far, and not enough to budge overall prices in the entry-level space.
The Radeon RX 6500 XT may be the fastest GPU under $200 on the market right now, even if this is mostly due to a lack of competition. Even in the best of circumstances, it fails to surpass its predecessor, the Radeon RX 5500 XT, but this is not the main issue.
What makes the RX 6500 XT difficult to recommend without reservations is that it requires a PCIe 4.0 interface to reach its full potential. In a PCIe 3.0 system, it will not have enough bandwidth, resulting in a 5–20% performance drop depending on the game. Before buying this card, you should be aware of this weakness.
Systems that normally support PCIe 4.0 include those based on AMD’s Ryzen 3000 and 5000 series or Intel’s 11th-gen Core processors (or later).
That said, an RX 6500 XT-based graphics card does offer an acceptable price/performance mix – especially for those with a Gen4 system looking for a budget GPU. Since the closest Nvidia competitors are usually both slower and more expensive, it may even be the best option for Gen3.
The suggested power supply for any RX 6500 XT is 300 W and it requires a single 6-pin PCIe power connector.
Graphics cards based on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU have once now mostly reverted to prices under $200 after a period of going at much higher (and completely unreasonable) prices.
Unlike the RX 6500 XT, the GTX 1650 is bus-powered and requires no separate PCIe power connectors, which can be an advantage when upgrading e.g. OEM systems with a low-end power supply. This GPU is however older and considerably slower than an RX 6500 XT over a Gen4 interface but can be almost as fast over Gen3.
Compared to its predecessor, the GTX 1050 Ti, the GTX 1650 is around 30% faster and offers more than decent frame rates in the likes of Fortnite and CS:GO at 1080p. In more demanding single-player AAA titles, you may need to lower the settings.
As prices are dropping, the significantly faster GTX 1650 Super can occasionally be found under $200, which makes it a superior alternative to the non-Super variant. Note however that the 1650 Super requires a PCIe power connector, whereas the non-Super does not.
Side note: Some 1650 cards are equipped with GDDR6 memory instead of GDDR5. This improves memory bandwidth and overall performance, but the clock rates have unfortunately been lowered to even out the difference. However, some tests indicate that GDDR6 boards are 5–10% faster, so this is a detail worth looking for.
If you are looking for a decent graphics card on a budget, the used market may also be worth a look. Just be wary of cards that have been used for crypto mining, which is particularly a risk with older mid-range cards with more than 4 GB of video memory (VRAM).
Used cards with AMD GPUs that may be of particular interest include:
- Radeon RX 5500 XT & 5600 XT– As mentioned earlier, the RX 5500 XT is the 6500 XT’s predecessor. The older GPU is actually the better of the two since performance is about the same regardless of the interface used, as the RX 5500 XT can utilize the PCIe 3.0 interface properly. Also, some cards with this GPU come with 8 GB VRAM (instead of 4 GB), which perform even better.
- Radeon RX 570/580/590 – These cards are old and comparatively inefficient, but if you don’t mind a higher power consumption and have the PCIe power connectors to spare, the 580/590 in particular can offer performance on par with the more recent entry-level GPUs. They can often be found at attractive price points in the used market, but be aware that this generation of cards has been very popular among miners.
As opposed to the aforementioned AMD graphics cards, the 1650 and 1660 Super are still available in stores, but not for less than $200.
- GTX 1660 – The original GTX 1660 has now been superseded by the GTX 1650S and 1660S. It was intended as a direct successor to the GTX 1060 but is considerably faster (15-20%) and more efficient. Compared to the AMD alternatives, the GTX 1660 is also faster than the previous-gen RX 580 or even the RX 590 in actual games.
- GTX 1660 Super/Ti – Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Super is almost as fast as the GTX 1660 Ti. Compared to the non-Super, the 1660 Super is based on the same chip with an identical amount of shaders and transistors but it’s equipped with faster GDDR6 VRAM.
A lot has now changed for the better as far as price/performance goes in the entry-level market. For now, it’s mostly graphics cards based on the Radeon RX 6500 XT GPU that offer the best performance under $200 (with the right interface). The Nvidia GTX 1650, on the other hand, is quite old by now and can barely compete with AMD’s offering. If you can find a GTX 1650 Super under $200, this is a better alternative.
On the plus side, relatively speaking, is that none of these cards (except the 1650 Super) require external power. This is often an advantage when upgrading older pre-built systems, which tend to ship with low-end power supplies that lack separate power connectors for graphics cards. As long as the card fits in your case, you should be fine.
When looking at the used market, AMD’s Radeon RX 5500 XT, as well as old RX 570/580/590 cards, may still offer good value depending on current prices. Especially the RX 590 is an attractive option if you don’t mind the higher power consumption. As a consolation, it’s the latest and most efficient version of the now somewhat ancient Polaris GPU. What that means is that you may need a bigger power supply unit (PSU) and sometimes an additional PCIe cable to power them. In the case of the RX 580 Nitro+, for example, you need one 8-pin and one 6-pin auxiliary (PCIe) power connector.
Factory Overclocking: Is it Worth It?
Another topic worth mentioning is factory overclocking. Most manufacturers bump the specs on their premium cards by raising the maximum GPU boost clock (and sometimes the VRAM speed), which is also reflected in the price tag. These slightly higher clock rates do not have an impact on how much the card can be overclocked by the user. On the other hand, the larger coolers on more expensive cards are beneficial when overclocking.
Each GPU chip is unique quality-wise and therefore the chips’ overclocking capability varies. Unfortunately, you never know exactly how capable it is before you buy (hence it is called the “silicon lottery”). The main difference is that a factory-overclocked card is guaranteed to work at the specified clock rates, which is not the case otherwise. In some instances, pricier and factory-overclocked cards also have better cooling solutions than budget GPUs.
As for video memory (VRAM), more is always better, but entry-level cards will benefit less from large amounts of VRAM. Compared to 4 GB, an 8 GB card will (on average) improve frame rates by single-digit percentages, but may also allow for more details and higher resolutions (e.g. 1440p) with less significant performance drops. If the price difference is tiny, we definitely recommend an 8 GB variety.
About System and PSU Requirements
You certainly don’t need a monster gaming rig to power budget graphics cards around the $200 price range. The most important thing is to ensure that your power supply unit (PSU) is up to the task.
The most demanding of the cards we’ve been looking at here are the older ones based on the Radeon RX 580 and RX 590 GPUs. AMD recommends a 500 Watt PSU for the entire system. This will, of course, depend on how power-efficient the rest of your system is. Typical board power is 185 Watts for the reference design RX 580, but overclocked cards will use a lot more.
Newer cards under $200 like the RX 6500 XT and GeForce GTX 1650 are far less demanding as they are both bus-powered – i.e. you don’t need a separate connector. Just install the card and it will be ready to run using power from the motherboard. The GeForce GTX 1650 Super does require a single 6-pin connector though.
Other than the PSU, your other PC components should preferably be at least fairly recent. The processor (CPU) does affect what frame rates you’ll be getting to some extent, but the difference will be quite small if you’re using any AMD Ryzen or Core i5 from the past few years. Older AMD CPUs in general and some older Intel Core i3 CPUs, in particular, may have a more severe negative effect on game frame rates.
If you already own a good mid-range CPU and want better gaming performance, upgrading to a faster GPU will yield more noticeable results compared to upgrading the CPU. Check our guide to the fastest GPUs below $300.