The Best Graphics Cards Under $300 in Early 2024
The current-gen GPUs competing for your $300 budget in early 2024 are the following:
- AMD: Radeon RX 7600 (8 GB)
- Nvidia: GeForce RTX 4060 (8 GB)
- Intel: Arc A770 (16 GB)
Deciding on one of them is a bit harder and depends on your preferences. AMD Radeon RX 7600 AIBs are the most affordable on average – and the Intel GPU comes with twice the amount of VRAM – but I would still argue that the RTX 4060 is the one to pick at this price point. This page will dive into the pros and cons of each alternative, including some good reasons why you might disagree with my pick.
NVIDIA Vs. AMD Vs. Intel Under $300
The current generation of graphics cards will not go down in history for their generational uplift – and this goes for both AMD and Nvidia.
Some good news is that AMD lowered the MSRP of its Radeon RX 7600 right after launching it, while Intel followed with its Arc A770. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4060 is however holding steady at just under $300 for the entry-level AIB models.
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Out of the current crop of graphics cards under $300, the GeForce RTX 4060 is the most recent, launched in June 2023. AMD’s Radeon RX 7600 arrived in May, whereas Intel’s mid-range Arc A770 is from late 2022.
In terms of average rasterization performance, the AMD and Nvidia GPUs are evenly matched, but the RTX cards are significantly better at ray tracing.
As for the Intel alternative, the Arc A770 now performs quite well after a series of driver improvements. But despite having access to more memory (VRAM), the A770 is still slower in quite a few games.
Relative Gaming Performance with Current $300 GPUs
To put the current mainstream cards into perspective, here is an indication of how they perform (no ray tracing enabled):
The RTX 4060 and RX 7600 are very evenly matched in Futuremark’s Time Spy benchmark, and this reflects their average performance in actual games (with ray tracing disabled). Intel’s Arc A770 is however not as fast in real games as this benchmark score implies. It is instead slightly slower (by about 5%).
Relative Ray-Tracing Performance
Once you enable ray tracing in titles that support it, Nvidia cards are substantially faster than their closest competitors.
With ray tracing on, Nvidia’s RTX cards are a generation ahead of their rivals. This includes the Intel Arc A770 once you move on to testing a range of actual games. The 3DMark Port Royal benchmark scores even somewhat understate Nvidia’s advantage.
What About Resolution Scaling? DLSS Vs. FSR
Frame rates at native resolutions are still a determining factor, but upscaling features like Nvidia’s DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling) and AMD’s FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) have also become increasingly useful and important. Intel also offers a similar solution known as XeSS (Xe Super Sampling).
Nvidia only offers DLSS with its RTX GPU lineup, whereas AMD and Intel’s alternatives work with all graphics cards. Older Nvidia GTX cards can instead benefit from NIS upscaling, a similar but less sophisticated alternative. Any of these technologies is useful for upscaling to higher resolutions, but Nvidia is arguably still in the lead:
Buy Now or Wait?
Upgrading your graphics card is nearly always the most cost-effective way to revive your existing gaming PC. But even early adopters rarely upgrade more often than once every one or two generations (not counting annual ‘refresh’ cycles, which are usually just minor updates to existing architectures). That translates to about once every 2–4 years – or when the latest AAA titles start to feel sluggish.
Under normal circumstances, the most common reason to postpone a GPU purchase is to time one of the major generational releases. In the past year and a half, I have nevertheless recommended waiting due to poor availability and extremely inflated prices.
In early 2024, the situation is different. It’s easy to find the latest graphics cards at the usual places and prices are stable. As for generational leaps, Nvidia and AMD’s latest mainstream GPUs under $300 are the RTX 4060 from June 2023, and RX 7600 from May 2023.
Intel’s Arc A750 and A770 are however mid-cycle GPUs from late 2022 and their potential successors known as ‘Battlemage’ are expected to arrive later in 2024. Performance and pricing for the Battlemage GPUs are still unknowns at this point, however.
None of the current crop of cards offer any sort of revolutionary performance increases gen-over-gen, but it’s hard to get the timing much better.
Best GPU Under $300: GeForce RTX 4060
Graphics cards based on Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 4060 GPU were released on 29 June 2023 – about a month after its main AMD competitor, the Radeon RX 7600. There is no Founders Edition reference model of the RTX 4060, but several dual-fan cards from Nvidia’s AIB (add-in board) partners are available at the promised $299 MSRP.
In terms of average gaming performance, the RTX 4060 is not necessarily faster than the RX 7600 but is significantly faster with ray tracing turned on. Compared to previous-gen cards, it sits between the RTX 3060 and RTX 3060 Ti, but due to the limited memory (VRAM) configuration, the lead narrows when you turn up the resolution from 1080p to 1440p or 4K.
The Nvidia GPU is nevertheless slightly ahead of its main competitors on average, and Nvidia’s arguably superior DLSS upscaling technology gives it an edge. DLSS 3 frame generation tech might help it even further, but how it compares to AMD’s upcoming FSR 3 competitor remains to be seen.
Best AMD GPU Under $300: Radeon RX 7600
AMD released the Radeon RX 7600 GPU on May 25, 2023, and immediately reduced its MSRP from an original $299 to $269, which is also reflected in most third-party cards from AMD’s board partners. The name implies that this is a successor to the Radeon RX 6600 non-XT, but it is more technically similar to the RX 6600 XT and RX 6650 XT.
Being based on the new RDNA 3 architecture, it is also faster than all of the RX 6600-series cards and only slightly slower than the RX 6700 XT. Compared to its Nvidia counterparts, it is comparable to the RTX 4060 and usually faster than the RTX 3060.
Much like the RTX 4060, the RX 7600 is limited by its 8GB of VRAM and 128-bit memory bus, meaning that both cards perform best at 1080p without upscaling. At this resolution, the card is still fast enough for high refresh-rate gaming (120+ FPS) in many esports titles and 60+ FPS in more demanding single-player titles.
RTX 4060 vs. RX 7600: Very Similar Performance
With ray-tracing turned off, Nvidia and AMD’s mainstream cards are very evenly matched in this generation, even if the Nvidia GPU is more power-efficient.
More VRAM Under $300: RTX 3060 12 GB
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 series of GPUs has been incredibly successful for good reasons. Even if it is now more than two years old, it can often compete with its RTX 4060 successor.
This is especially true for the original 12 GB version of the RTX 3060, which remains interesting because it offers 50% more VRAM in addition to a bigger 192-bit memory bus.
The VRAM difference is especially noticeable at higher resolutions, where the RTX 3060 12GB can often match the RTX 4060. What it doesn’t have is support for DLSS 3 frame generation, which is now available in an increasing number of AAA titles.
The Alternative: Intel Arc A770
Intel’s Arc A-series cards were launched in mid-2022 to high expectations that they mostly failed to meet. Not only were the cards slower than expected with the launch drivers – they were practically nowhere to be found across North America or Europe. And if you managed to locate an Arc graphics card, it would not be priced competitively compared to the tried-and-tested alternatives from AMD and Nvidia.
Things have changed in 2024, as Intel has not only made the Arc A750 and A770 available but also trimmed their prices substantially. At the time of writing, the 16 GB A770 can usually be found under $300. It’s also much better than at launch time thanks to multiple driver improvements. Some driver headlines include significant average fps gains, along with 60% 99th percentile fps improvements versus the launch driver.
At the same time, this is Intel’s first generation of dedicated gaming graphics cards. As such, A770 owners are early adopters. But if you don’t mind taking the leap, the price/performance ratio for the Arc A770 is very appealing, not least considering the 16 GB of VRAM.
Note that Resizable BAR (ReBAR) support is critical for the Intel Arc GPUs to perform well. This feature is normally available in systems based on 10th-gen Intel Core/AMD Ryzen 3000-series or later. Read more here.
Budget Plus ~$50: Radeon RX 6700 XT
If you are flexible with your $300 budget, there are alternatives in either direction – mainly from AMD, as these GPUs are currently the most attractive from a pure price/performance standpoint. The Radeon RX 6700 XT has recently dropped in price and can now sometimes be picked up for not much more than $350.
It is a clear step up from the RX 6650 XT and even the RX 7600 – especially at higher resolutions where it can flex its additional VRAM. The RX 6700 XT uses Navi 22 graphics processor (RDNA 2) with 2560 shading units compared to the aforementioned cards’ 2048, and the memory bandwidth is also significantly higher.
Budget Minus ~$50: RX 6650 XT or RTX 3050
Launched in mid-2022, the Radeon RX 6650 XT is a minor update of the RX 6600 XT, which was AMD’s first mid-range GPU based on the RDNA 2 architecture. What differs is mainly that the RX 6650 XT offers more memory bandwidth and slightly higher clock speeds, at the cost of some additional power draw. It is by no means drastically faster than the RX 6600 XT, but either of them will outperform the previous-gen RX 5600 XT and RX 5700 XT.
Compared to the Nvidia competitors, the RX 6650 XT trades blows with the GeForce RTX 3060 depending on the game. However, compared to the Nvidia RTX competitors, it lacks dedicated hardware for ray tracing and image upscaling, meaning that performance with ray tracing, in particular, is lower.
In all, the RX 6650 XT has more than enough performance for 1080p gaming, and depending on the settings, it can usually reach a 60 fps average in 1440p. The original MSRP was $399 but some varieties are now sometimes available for around $250.
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 offers less raw performance than its closest AMD competitors, but it does come with the RTX features, i.e. ray tracing and DLSS upscaling.
In fact, the RTX 3050 is the first of Nvidia’s mainstream XX50-tier cards to receive support for these technologies. Although it may not be powerful enough to run AAA titles with RT on at higher resolutions, Nvidia’s excellent upscaling tech makes the value proposition more interesting.
Performance-wise, it compares well to mid-range cards from the previous generation including the RX 5600 XT and GTX 1660 Ti/Super but it is around 10% slower than the RTX 2060.
Previous-Gen/Used Graphics Cards
If you want to get the best possible price/performance from your GPU purchase, you may also want to take a look at previous-gen cards and the used market. With some luck, you may be able to find older mid-range GPUs such as AMD’s RX 5600 XT, or Nvidia’s GTX 1660 Ti/S for significantly less than $300. But beware of used mining cards that have been used 24/7 for months, which may have shortened their life span.
Option #1: GeForce RTX 2060
When the pandemic-related shortages were at their worst, Nvidia opted to alleviate the issues by reintroducing the previous-gen GeForce RTX 2060. As the supply chain woes have subsided, there has been a surplus of these popular mid-range graphics cards on the market.
Although the newer RTX 3050 is more efficient, the RTX 2060 is clearly faster. The RTX 2060’s direct successor, the RTX 3060, is of course faster still but also more expensive.
Note that there are two versions of the desktop RTX 2060: one with 6 GB of VRAM and a newer model with 12 GB. The original 6 GB configuration is usually far more affordable and the frame rate advantage with the 12GB model varies between none at all and less than 10%.
Option #2: Radeon RX 5600 XT
AMD’s Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU was launched in 2020 and is based on the first-gen Navi (RDNA) architecture, replacing the much less efficient Vega and Polaris architectures. This GPU was initially intended to compete with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. But then Nvidia suddenly lowered the price on its faster, ray tracing-enabled GeForce RTX 2060 to compete directly with the RX 5600 XT.
This in turn prompted AMD to improve the specs of the 5600 XT to help it stay competitive. As a result, the RX 5600 XT is almost as fast as the RX 5700 – and considerably faster on average than the GTX 1660 Ti that it was originally meant to compete with.
Now with similar performance as the GeForce RTX 2060, the RX 5600 XT stands out as one of the most attractive graphics cards in the mid-range segment from earlier generations. What you likely want to check before buying is that you get a card with the best specs, mainly faster VRAM that runs at an effective 14 Gbps instead of 12 Gbps such as these ones:
Pulse RX 5600 XT
|XFX RX 5600 XT
THICC II PRO
RX 5600 XT
|Clock: Core /
Gaming / Boost
|1400 MHz /
1615 MHz /
|1465 MHz /
1560 MHz /
|1355 MHz /
1560 MHz /
|FP32 Theoretical Performance
Alternative #3-4: GeForce GTX 1660 Ti/Super
As mentioned previously, AMD’s RX 5600 XT was originally intended as a competitor to Nvidia’s former mid-range king, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. For the reasons mentioned above, that didn’t happen, but the 1660 Ti is nevertheless about as fast as the current-gen RTX 3050.
That means that this cad will easily handle any recent AAA game at 1080p, although it lacks the ray-tracing features from the RTX lineup. In terms of relative performance, the RTX 2060 and RX 5600 XT are about 15% faster.
As for the price/performance calculation, the GTX 1660 Ti is also challenged by Nvidia’s own GTX 1660 Super, which is only slightly slower but usually much more affordable. The GeForce GTX 1660 Super, or 1660S, is an update to the original GTX 1660 and is almost as fast as the Ti variant.
The 1660S actually uses the same GPU as the regular GTX 1660 but has been paired with faster GDDR6 video memory. This resulted in a level of performance that trails the 1660 Ti by just single-digit percentages.
RX 5600 XT Vs. RTX 2060 Vs. RX 5700
Here’s a video from the web comparing actual performance in a number of games including Battlefield V, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Metro: Exodus, and others. What makes this particularly interesting is that the resolution is 1440p, instead of the 1080p resolution that these graphics cards are intended to target.
Summary and Recommendations
At the start of 2024, the $300 price point is not as exciting as we may have hoped, but there’s at least some competition. In terms of raw rasterization performance, AMD’s Radeon RX 7600 and Nvidia’s RTX 4060 are extremely even, and the Intel Arc A770 is also competitive if a bit less consistent.
The Nvidia RTX cards are undeniably great when it comes to ray tracing and driver support is historically excellent. These factors put the RTX 4060 in a slight lead, although the price/performance ratio for the RX 7600 is tempting thanks to a more modest price tag.
CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements
To get the most out of your new mid-range GPU, the rest of your PC build should correspond reasonably well to your choice of video card. However, in terms of gaming performance, you won’t gain much by opting for an expensive high-end CPU.
In my view, a good baseline CPU pairing is the AMD Ryzen 5 3600X/5600X or an Intel Core i5-12600K/13600K. When building a new system, a Ryzen 5 7600 and B650 motherboard combo is arguably a great choice. For tighter budgets, AMD’s AM4 platform (like a 5600X3D and B550 board) is excellent value.
You may need a better CPU for other reasons than gaming, but in terms of frame rates, you will get diminishing returns beyond what you get from any of the latest mid-range processors. If the goal is to have your games run more smoothly, your budget will make more of a difference when focused on a faster GPU.
As for the power supply (PSU), AMD recommends a 550 W PSU minimum for the RX 7600. The TDP (Thermal Design Power) is however only 165 W and taking other mid-range components into account, a 450W PSU should be more than enough. Any such power supply on the market will provide you with the single 8-pin PCIe power connector that you need to hook up your GPU. Nvidia’s RTX 4060 is more frugal and the minimum PSU recommendation is only 300 W.
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