Best Graphics Cards Under $200 in 2022 (June Update)
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We are just starting to come out of a long-running GPU shortage. Availability of new graphics cards has been very limited – and available cards have been priced well above MSRP.
As of June 2022, things are finally starting to improve. Although prices still tend to be higher than before the pandemic, there are at least plenty of cards in stock.
AMD and Nvidia have kept to their normal release cycles, while Intel is also about to enter the entry-level and mid-range markets, which could put further pressure on prices.
On this page, we take a detailed look at the best graphics cards below $200 in 2022 based on actual gaming performance. This includes new entry-level cards as well as mid-range graphics cards that you might find on 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
None of the two major GPU manufacturers have been overly enthusiastic about the entry-level market in the past couple of years.
At the time of writing, Nvidia hasn’t released any new gaming-oriented budget GPUs since the GeForce GTX 1650 and 1650 Super in 2019. The upcoming GeForce GTX 1630 will not exactly remedy the situation, as it’s a decidedly low-end card. AMD has done a bit better by releasing the Radeon RX 6500 XT, although this card is not much of an upgrade over its predecessor either.
These cards are nevertheless what the current market has to offer under $200, at best.
Last update on 2022-06-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
From just looking at raw FP32 performance, the Radeon RX 6500 XT looks like the far more powerful GPU. However, in terms of actual gaming performance, it is only significantly faster than the GTX 1650 only when running on a PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 interface. In older PCIe 3.0 systems, the RX 6500 XT loses some of its performance, at which point it may be comparable to the GTX 1650.
More on this later. Importantly, either of these GPUs are fast enough for 1080p gaming, but you may have to tweak the settings to reach a consistent 60fps in more demanding games. Here’s a quick look at relative GPU performance using benchmark scores from Futuremark’s 3DMark Time Spy. We’ve included some additional GPUs for reference and will be discussing some of them below.
This is not an exact measurement of gaming performance, but still a reasonably accurate indicator of what to expect in games, on average.
Bottom line: The “FPS/$” equation 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 all of 2021 and early 2022, the graphics card market was in a really bad state, with severe shortages and extremely inflated prices across all performance tiers. Even used cards from previous generations have been selling for more than their original MSRPs.
The worst now seems to be behind us, as supply has improved and prices have dropped significantly from previous peaks. In other words, right now is a much better time to go shopping for a budget graphics card compared to the past year and a half.
In terms of release cycles, new entry-level cards from AMD and Nvidia based on upcoming architectures are likely many months away. Intel is however also getting ready to enter this market, which is something that could clearly shake things up.
This is good news, as the current budget GPUs are less than inspiring as far as price/performance goes. The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT is a rather mediocre release that fails to surpass its predecessor, whereas Nvidia doesn’t even seem to bother trying to compete.
The Radeon RX 6500 XT may be the fastest GPU under $200 on the market right now, but 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 problematic is that it requires a PCIe 4.0 interface to run at full speed. 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 shortcoming.
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 in today’s market – at least for anyone with a Gen4 system looking for a budget GPU. Since the closest Nvidia competitors tend to be more expensive, it may even be the best option for Gen3.
All RX 6500 XT cards are bus-powered and require no external PCIe power connectors.
These days, graphics cards based on the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU may be difficult to come by for less than $200. Even so, it is really the only Nvidia GPU to consider at this price point, since the alternatives are very old and will perform poorly in today’s AAA titles.
Like 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.
Note: Some more recentGTX 1650 boards 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 testing indicates 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 is usually worth a look. Just be wary of cards that have been used for crypto mining, which is a greater risk for 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 – 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 has enough bandwidth over PCIe 3.0. 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 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 1650 Super – Compared to the non-Super GTX 1650, the 1650S is much faster and its performance is closer to the GTX 1660. As opposed to the standard GTX 1650, the Super version requires one 6-pin PCIe power connector but draws much less power than equivalent cards from the previous generation.
- 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 – 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.
Unfortunately, not much has changed for the better in the past two years as far as price/performance goes in the entry-level market. For now, graphics cards based on the Radeon RX 6500 XT GPU 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.
On the plus side, relatively speaking, is that none of these cards 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 good to go.
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 its 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.
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 also tends to be 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 and every 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 cases, 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 tend to 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 like the RX 5500 XT and GeForce GTX 1660S are less demanding and the minimum recommended PSU is 350 Watt in both cases. While the older cards needed an 8-pin PCIe (and sometimes an additional 6-pin) power connector, the more recent cards make do with a single 6-pin connector.
If your power supply does not have any auxiliary PCIe power connectors – and for some reason, you can’t upgrade it (such as in a custom, small form-factor PC) – then your best option from the above are the GeForce GTX 1650S. These cards only draw power straight from the motherboard.
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.