The Best Mid-Range Graphics Cards Under $300 in March 2023
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Although prices are still a bit higher than we would prefer, the gaming graphics card market has definitely made a U-turn for the better since last year. Shortages are a thing of the past, as is demand from crypto miners.
AMD’s updated models in the Radeon RX 6000 series have dropped in price, while Nvidia is undergoing a bit of a mid-range supply glut. And after a rough start, Intel is now also an alternative worth considering in the mid-range market.
NVIDIA Vs. AMD Vs. Intel Under $300
Prices are finally becoming competitive again in the mid-range GPU tier. Graphics cards based on the Radeon RX 6650 XT GPU – a 2022 update of the RX 6600 XT with a launch MSRP of $399 – are frequently selling for around $300. Nvidia’s latest GPU in this price range is the RTX 3050 GPU, but it currently finds itself competing with the older (and ironically faster) RTX 2060 6GB. Intel has also made a move on the mid-range market by lowering the list price of its reference Arc A750 card to $250.
Last update on 2023-03-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The RX 6650 XT is, on average, faster than both the RTX 3050 and RTX 2060 – and trades blows with the more expensive GeForce RTX 3060. On the downside, AMD GPUs trail Nvidia in the ray tracing department and also lack the competent hardware-based upscaling solution DLSS.
As for the Intel alternative, the Arc A750 just received a lower MSRP of $250 along with better availability and greatly improved drivers. Following these developments, the Intel Arc A750 is likely the fastest GPU under $300 for the time being, as its average frame rates were already roughly on par with the RTX 3060.
To put the current mid-range cards into some perspective, here is an indication of how they perform (no ray tracing enabled):
Compared to previous generations, the GeForce RTX 3050 offers about the same performance as the previous mid-range favorite, the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, but with added ray-tracing and DLSS capabilities. All of this makes for an excellent mainstream GPU, but it’s still more expensive than the RTX 2060 (6GB version), which is faster. In terms of raw rasterization performance, however, the Radeon RX 6650 XT outperforms the Nvidia alternatives. Until recently, the Intel Arc A750 has rarely been as fast as its benchmark scores imply, but after the latest driver updates it has started to come out ahead in many games.
Buy Now or Wait?
Upgrading your graphics card is practically always the most cost-effective way to revive your existing gaming PC. But even early adopters rarely upgrade more often than once every 1–2 generations (not counting annual ‘refresh’ cycles, which are usually just minor updates to existing architectures), i.e. about once every 2–4 years. The most common reason to upgrade is probably when stuttering in the latest AAA title becomes a bit too annoying.
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, we have nevertheless recommended waiting due to poor availability and extremely inflated prices.
At the start of 2023, the situation is different – most graphics cards are in stock and prices are down substantially. And as for generational leaps, both Nvidia and AMD launched new high-end GPUs in late 2022 (RTX 4090/4080 and RX 7900 series). Next-gen mainstream cards such as the RTX 4060 and RX 7600 XT will arrive later in 2023, though likely at higher prices than their predecessors.
Something to keep an eye on is the new competition in the market from Intel. The comparatively new Arc A750 and A770 are already increasing competition in this space, especially now that availability, prices, and drivers have all improved.
Best GPU Under $300: Intel Arc A750
Intel’s Arc A-series cards were launched in mid-2022 to high expectations, but the release was mostly disappointing. Not only were the cards slower than expected with the launch drivers – they were also 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.
This changed at the start of 2023, as Intel lowered the Arc A750’s MSRP to just $250 and used the same opportunity to publically announce much-improved drivers. Some driver headlines include significant average fps gains, along with 60% 99th percentile fps improvements versus the launch driver. Do note that those are Intel’s own numbers, but even so, the price drop alone made the A750 look very appealing.
At the same time, this is Intel’s first generation of dedicated gaming graphics cards. As such, A750 owners should be considered early adopters (and the manufacturer’s track record when it comes to graphics drivers is not spotless). But if you don’t mind taking the leap, the price/performance calculation for the Arc A750 is about as good as it gets right now.
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.
Best AMD GPU Under $300: Radeon RX 6650 XT
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 frequently available for less than $300.
Best Nvidia GPU Under $300: 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 is currently 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%. From a price/performance perspective, it’s an easy choice for value-oriented gamers.
Budget Plus ~$50: Radeon RX 6700
If you are somewhat 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 (without the ‘XT’) is somewhat anonymous compared to the XT variant and offers a much more significant step up from the RX 6600 XT than the similarly-priced RX 6650 XT.
It uses the same Navi 22 graphics processor as the XT model, but the RX 6700 only has 2304 shading units enabled instead of 2560 (RX 6600 XT: 2048), and also a smaller memory bus. This is still enough for about 10% additional performance, which makes it a bit better suited for 1440p gaming in combination with the extra VRAM (10 GB instead of 8 GB GDDR6).
Budget Less ~$50: Radeon RX 6600 (non-XT)
Much like the RX 6700, the RX 6600 is a downscaled version of the 6600 XT. This GPU could nevertheless be an attractive alternative to the XT model at a lower cost. It is about 15% slower, but still slightly faster than the Radeon RX 5700 (non-XT) from the previous generation. Compared to the RX 6600 XT, the non-XT comes with lower clocks and some shading units disabled (instead of 2048 shaders, the RX 6600 has 1792).
Nvidia Alternative Under $300: RTX 3050
At its original $249 MSRP, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 would have offered incredible value in terms of price/performance, and features. At the time of writing, there are no 3050s to be found at that price, but some occasionally sell for under $300.
The RTX 3050 is the first of Nvidia’s affordable XX50 cards to receive hardware support for ray tracing and DLSS – the key RTX features. Although it may not be powerful enough to run AAA titles with ray tracing at resolutions above 1080p, Nvidia’s excellent DLSS super-sampling technology 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.
Alternative #1: Radeon RX 5600 XT (Used)
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 the previous generation. What you likely want to check before buying is that you get a card with the best specs, mainly faster memory (VRAM) that runs at an effective 14 Gbps instead of 12 Gbps such as these ones:
Alternative #2: GeForce GTX 1660 Ti (Used)
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.
When it comes to 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.
*Prices are updated automatically every few hours but are subject to change between updates. See ‘Last update’ information at bottom of the page.
The GeForce GTX 1660 Super, or 1660S, is an update to the original GTX 1660 and is almost as fast as the Ti variant.
Alternative #4: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
Nvidia’s launch of the more affordable GTX 1660 Super (also known as 1660S) devalued existing GeForce GTX 1660 Ti cards, as it offers about the same performance.
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.
In other words, the GTX 1660 Super normally offers much better value than both the Ti model and the original 1660. While it can’t compete with the RX 5600 XT or RTX 2060, the 1660S may offer better value.
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
As of early 2023, the mid-range $300 price point once again offers several solid alternatives. In terms of raw rasterization performance, Intel’s Arc A750 is the overall winner under $300, followed by AMD’s Radeon RX 6650 XT.
The Nvidia RTX cards are undeniably great when it comes to ray tracing and driver support is historically excellent. Interestingly, the somewhat old RTX 2060 is now one of the strongest Nvidia GPUs from a price/performance perspective, whereas the RTX 3050 has yet to arrive at its original MSRP (and the RTX 3060 is far more expensive).
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 our view, a good baseline CPU pairing is the AMD Ryzen 5 3600, 5600X, 7600(X), or an Intel Core i5-12600K/13600K. 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 with one of those processors. If the goal is to have your games run more smoothly, your money is better spent on a faster GPU.
As for the power supply (PSU), AMD recommends a 450 W PSU minimum for the RX 6600. The TDP (Thermal Design Power) for the graphics cards is 132 W and taking other 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.
Smaller or larger budget? Check out our guides to the best GPUs under $200 or under $500.
I consider myself to be the typical 60fps 1080p gamer when time allows, so these mid range cards are obviously the sweet spot. I don’t follow hardware or gfx card price movements as I generally just upgrade and forget about it.
I’m looking to upgrade and only recently became aware that Nvidia is soon to release the RTX 3000 series and AMD are doing something similar with their Big Navi cards. Historically do such releases have any downward pressure on mid range cards like those discussed in the above article, or is it more like a two speed economy with the impact largely resigned to those who want to game at 1440 or 4K?
tldr; should everyone be holding off from buying a new graphics card right now?
That is a very good question. High-end releases typically don’t affect current mid-range card prices by much or at all in the short term. But the RTX 3060 is also likely to arrive soon (sooner than RTX 2060 did by comparison). It could also be aggressively priced if needed to undercut what AMD releases in the same performance bracket (Navi 22).
In that case, this should definitely put some downward pressure on the current mid-range cards in the relatively near future. But those are many ifs and buts, of course.
From, what I have seen, yes, 4k and 1440 it is like a Corvette vs a Ferrari. Both are greater, just that one is greaterer.
I’m currently trying to figure out which graphics card is the best fit for my build for 200-300$. I was thinking about the gtx 1660 super but not sure if it’s too much or too little, I’m not really an expert 🙂
My current build has:
gtx1050 2 or 3 gb
16gb crucial ram
not sure about the power suply
I mostly play cs:go and want a card that can give me at least 200fps in every map at relatively low resolution but I’m buying mafia and also play gtaV sometimes so was wondering what was the best fit for me.
I also have 2 monitors (the one I play is 144hz) not sure if that makes any difference in the matter.
Thought you had great advice for the other people so maybe you can help me out.
The 1660S is my personal favorite from the current crop of mid-range cards. It’s almost as fast as the 1660 Ti, but usually much cheaper. By itself, this GPU will be able to give you a 200+ fps average in CS:GO, but CS:GO is also one of the older and less demanding games where your CPUs single-core performance (1st-gen Ryzen’s main weakness) might become a bottleneck, particularly at low resolutions.
I still have no doubts whatsoever that you can go above a 144fps average at 1080p to match your monitor. Mafia Definitive and GTA V will also run well. Not at such high frame rates but at least 60+ fps (more at lower settings, of course).
Thanks for the feedback and I will probably buy the 1660s when I can find one in sale. I also asked the same thing in the under 200$ guide so you can just ignore it :).
Also would you recommend any particular 1660s or are they all pretty much the same? Don’t really get why they have such difference in prices if they are the same model.
Sounds like a great plan, best of luck!
My personal preference when choosing a card (any GPU) is to go with a larger cooler if it fits and the price difference is minimal. They usually run cool and with less noise (though the 1660S TDP is only 125W, so no cooler will be taxed too hard). All 1660S cards use the manufacturers’ standard coolers, so there should be few surprises.
And I agree with you in questioning the large price differences. A small premium might be fine in my view if you get better cooling. But just a slight factory overclock, as is often the case, has never been much of a selling point.
this is exactly the article I was looking for! Well put-together and extremely helpful, I’ll definitely be looking at a 5600xt for my current build. Your other article on choosing a 5600xt is also great
Thanks a lot! Glad that it helped 🙂
Hey Japser. I’m currently building my first gaming pc and having an issue with finding correctly advertised GPUs. The prices in your article was updated 12 days ago, but none of prices listed here reflect the actual prices. Some of the links you’ve shared take us to either site where the item is $150 to almost 2x the MSRP price you gave us. My question is, why are computer parts or accessories price points so unstable?
Thank you for this great article! I haven’t been able to locate the EVGA 2060 KO in Canada for my new build, so all the info here has been a huge help on figuring out a replacement. Thanks!!!
Could someone tell me the best build on a say 900-1000$ budget for a pc, monitor, keyboard, mouse thanks would be helpful
Hey thx in advance Mr Jesper Berg
the guide is good , anyway do you have any relation with håkan berg the king of birds ?
Hey Pand, thanks! Haha, no I hadn’t even heard of this King of birds, so I had to look him up. A fun guy. His comedic use of Wittgenstein’s duck-rabbit makes me wish I was related 🙂
Need a new vid card but prices are out of hand dam bitcoin miners
As someone looking to spend £200 max (the actual price most people spend on a GPU), I find the vast majority of cards which would have been released at that price a year ago are now priced at double this.
So we end up with the only new “mid-range” card the 6600xt being released pretending its a “high-end” card, so it can justify a ludicrous mark up. Its not worth MSRP, let alone the “because its 2021 lets add another 50%” issue.
So what is there for folks to buy at £200? Because I’m quite simply refusing to spend that on a second hand 3-4 year old card that’ll be outdated within 12 months.
Finding a mid-range card at a normal mid-range price is still nearly impossible, unfortunately. The miner-created shortage a few years ago was nothing compared to today’s market.
Availability has improved, but as you mentioned, prices are still extremely inflated. And there is so much pent-up demand now that this could go on for quite some time.
I’ve managed to buy a couple of cards in the past year at somewhat reasonable prices (but still far from normal) by pre-ordering. Had to wait for 2-3 months each time though…
I made the mistake of buying a 3050 in a laptop. I now see my mistake as the lifespan is shortened a lot by this limiting GPU. Since you cannot upgrade a laptop in any significant way you’re stuck with an earlier end of life. Even mid-range gaming is not affordable in my opinion. But if you go that route don’t get caught up in buying a laptop. Go with an affordable desktop you can at least upgrade and extend out its life better than a laptop. I certainly won’t buy a laptop for gaming again. You need some deep pockets to keep upgrading to next gen laptop hardware.