The Best Mid-Range Graphics Cards Below $300 in September 2020

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graphics cardEarlier in 2020, AMD released its brand new mid-range GPU, the Radeon RX 5600 XT – and at the $279 price point (MSRP), it instantly became a price/performance leader. Only days later Nvidia countered by lowering the price on its ray tracing-enabled GeForce RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition to $299.

In yet another twist, AMD announced a new official video BIOS configuration to enhance the RX 5600 XT’s performance to compete with the RTX 2060. Unfortunately, all third-party manufacturers were not able or willing to implement the upgrade, so the situation in the mid-range GPU segment is somewhat confusing at this point.

On this page, we intend to clear things up, because as of August 2020 it’s actually easier than ever to secure 60 FPS/1080p (or even 1440p) for less than $300 for your gaming PC.

To help you pick the right card, we have sifted through every relevant spec sheet and professional review out there. We will also compare some more affordable as well as some more expensive cards to help you get your bearings on the current GPU market around the $300 mark.

On this page:
NVIDIA Vs. AMD
Best GPU below $300: Radeon RX 5600 XT
Best Nvidia alternative: GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
~$30 More: RTX 2060
~$30 Less: GTX 1660 Super
Summary and notes
CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements

NVIDIA Vs. AMD Below $300

Some gamers prefer AMD and others prefer Nvidia for a variety of reasons. AMD has not been particularly involved in the high-end market in recent years, but thanks to its new RDNA (Navi) architecture and the RX 5600 XT, there is once again some healthy competition in the mid-range segment.

Product
Best AMD
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 5600 XT Boost Clock: 1600 MHz 192-bit 6GB GDDR6 DP/HDMI Dual Torx 3.0 Fans Freesync DirectX 12 Ready Graphics Card (RX 5600 XT MECH OC)
Best NVIDIA
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1660 TI Gaming X 6G)
Image
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 5600 XT Boost Clock: 1600 MHz 192-bit 6GB GDDR6 DP/HDMI Dual Torx 3.0 Fans Freesync DirectX 12 Ready Graphics Card (RX 5600 XT MECH OC)
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1660 TI Gaming X 6G)
Stream Processors
2304
1536
Core/Boost Clock
1400 MHz / 1750 MHz
1500 MHz / 1875 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
7,373 GFLOPS
5,760 GFLOPS
Memory Size/Type
6 GB GDDR6
6 GB GDDR6
Memory Bus
192-bit
192-bit
Memory Clock (Effective)
14000 MHz
12000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth
336 GB/s
288 GB/s
TDP
160 W
120 W
Recommended Power Supply
350 W
350 W
Power Connector(s)
1x 8-pin
1x 8-pin
Outputs
1x HDMI, 3x DP
1x HDMI 3x DP
Average Rating
User Reviews
148 Reviews
443 Reviews
Price
$304.71
$309.99
Best AMD
Product
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 5600 XT Boost Clock: 1600 MHz 192-bit 6GB GDDR6 DP/HDMI Dual Torx 3.0 Fans Freesync DirectX 12 Ready Graphics Card (RX 5600 XT MECH OC)
Image
MSI Gaming Radeon RX 5600 XT Boost Clock: 1600 MHz 192-bit 6GB GDDR6 DP/HDMI Dual Torx 3.0 Fans Freesync DirectX 12 Ready Graphics Card (RX 5600 XT MECH OC)
Stream Processors
2304
Core/Boost Clock
1400 MHz / 1750 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
7,373 GFLOPS
Memory Size/Type
6 GB GDDR6
Memory Bus
192-bit
Memory Clock (Effective)
14000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth
336 GB/s
TDP
160 W
Recommended Power Supply
350 W
Power Connector(s)
1x 8-pin
Outputs
1x HDMI, 3x DP
Average Rating
User Reviews
148 Reviews
Price
$304.71
Store Link
Best NVIDIA
Product
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1660 TI Gaming X 6G)
Image
MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1660 TI Gaming X 6G)
Stream Processors
1536
Core/Boost Clock
1500 MHz / 1875 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
5,760 GFLOPS
Memory Size/Type
6 GB GDDR6
Memory Bus
192-bit
Memory Clock (Effective)
12000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth
288 GB/s
TDP
120 W
Recommended Power Supply
350 W
Power Connector(s)
1x 8-pin
Outputs
1x HDMI 3x DP
Average Rating
User Reviews
443 Reviews
Price
$309.99
Store Link

Last update on 2020-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KONvidia’s advertised $299 RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition has barely ever been in stock throughout 2020, but some aftermarket cards with the same GPU have temporarily been priced below $300. EVGA’s RTX 2060 KO was offered at an introductory $299 and Zotac recently lowered the pricing on its compact 2060 Twin Fan model, which is suitable for Mini-ITX builds.

Check today’s price on the EVGA 2060 KO: Amazon, Newegg

Several aftermarket varieties of the AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT are available for less than $300. And thanks to the last-minute BIOS updates requested by AMD, some versions of this card (but not all) offer about the same performance as an RTX 2060. Interestingly, these BIOS updates also resulted in some Radeon RX 5600 XT cards being almost as fast as the RX 5700, so AMD is now competing with itself in this price range. In addition, these cards are practically always faster than the previous mid-range favorite GTX 1660 Ti.

To put the RX 5600 XT, RTX 2060, and GTX 1660 Ti into some perspective, here’s an indication of how they perform (without ray tracing) compared to some adjacent cards.

Bottom line: Since the RTX 2060 is difficult to find for less than $300, the AMD RX 5600 XT is the fastest GPU below $300 at this time (our complete guide to RX 5600 XT cards is available here). Although it used to be a mid-range favorite, there are several reasons why the GTX 1660 Ti is a less viable choice today. It lacks the RTX features (ray-tracing, DLSS) of its higher-end siblings and also performs worse on average than the RX 5600 XT. Also, the GTX 1660 Super is currently a much better deal than the Ti, since it’s only slightly slower and usually a lot more affordable.

Best GPU Under $300: Radeon RX 5600 XT

radeon 5600 xtAMD’s Radeon RX 5600 XT GPU was launched in early 2020 and is based on the Navi (RDNA) architecture, which replaces the much less efficient Vega and Polaris architectures. The first new cards to roll out were the higher-end RX 5700 and 5700 XT, later followed by the entry-level RX 5500 XT and the mid-range RX 5600 XT, i.e. this card.

This GPU was initially intended to compete with Nvidia’s mid-range GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. But in a surprise move, Nvidia lowered the price on its faster, ray tracing-enabled GeForce RTX 2060 to compete directly with the RX 5600 XT. This prompted AMD to radically 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 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 two most attractive graphics cards around $300 from a price/performance perspective (the other one being the RTX 2060). What you likely want to make sure before buying is that you get a card with faster memory (VRAM), or one that you can update with a new BIOS that will improve its performance significantly. Some cards are not eligible for this update, but the following are (listed specs are post-update):

 Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XTXFX RX 5600 XT
THICC II PRO
PowerColor Radeon
RX 5600 XT
ImageSapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 14GBPS 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics CardXFX RX 5600 XT THICC II PRO -14GBPS 6GB GDDR6 BOOST UP TO 1620MHz 3xDP HDMI Graphics Card RX-56XT6DF46PowerColor Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 14GBPS
Clock: Core /
Gaming / Boost
1400 MHz /
1615 MHz /
1750 MHz
1465 MHz /
1560 MHz /
1620 MHz
1355 MHz /
1560 MHz /
1620 MHz
Memory Speed14 Gbps14 Gbps14 Gbps
FP32 Theoretical Performance8,064 GFLOPS7,465 GFLOPS7,465 GFLOPS
Memory Bandwidth336 GB/s336 GB/s288 GB/s
Recommended
PSU
350 W350 W350 W
Power Connectors1x 8-pin1x 8-pin1x 8-pin
Display Outputs1x HDMI
3x DP
1x HDMI
3x DP
1x HDMI
3x DP
Price from*$322.26$299.99$279.99
Product LinkView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Prices are updated automatically every few hours but are subject to change between updates. See ‘Last update’ information at bottom of the page.

All of the RX 5600 XT cards use the same GPU of course, meaning that it has 2,304 shaders and 10.3 billion transistors. It’s paired with 6 GB of GDDR6 video memory (VRAM), with a 192-bit memory bus. The main differences between the aftermarket cards are the cooling solutions and the core/boost clocks. Unlike Nvidia, AMD now specifies a “game clock”, which indicates what clock speeds to expect during normal gaming loads.

Again, it’s important to be aware of the differences between the aftermarket RX 5600 XT cards. You should make sure that you are getting a card with improved VRAM bandwidth out of the box (or via a BIOS update). The cards mentioned above are either already at the faster 14 Gbps, or will get there via an update. You can find these updates on the manufacturers’ support pages. A new BIOS for Sapphire’s Radeon Pulse XT is available here, for PowerColor’s Red Devil/Dragon here and Gigabyte’s card here

Best NVIDIA Alternative: GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

GeForce GTX 1650 SuperAs 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 did not happen, so the 1660 Ti now finds itself at a slightly lower market position.

While the GTX 1660 Ti is still a good mid-range GPU that will handle any AAA game in 2020 with ease at 1080p, it lacks the ray-tracing features from the RTX lineup. And 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.

 GIGABYTE GTX 1660 Ti OCEVGA GTX 1660 Ti XCMSI GTX 1660 Ti Gaming
ImageGIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6G 192-bit GDDR6 DisplayPort 1.4 HDMI 2.0B with Windforce 2X Cooling System Graphic Cards- Gv-N166TOC-6GDEVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC, Overclocked, 2.75 Slot Extreme Cool, 65C Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, 06G-P4-1263-KRMSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 192-bit HDMI/DP 6GB GDRR6 HDCP Support DirectX 12 Dual Fan VR Ready OC Graphics Card (GTX 1660 Ti Gaming 6G)
Clock: Core /
Boost
1500 MHz /
1800 MHz
1500 MHz /
1845 MHz
1500 MHz /
1800 MHz
Memory Clock
(Effective)
12 GHz12 GHz12 GHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance5,530 GFLOPS5,668 GFLOPS5,530 GFLOPS
Memory Bandwidth288 GB/s288 GB/s288 GB/s
Recommended Power Supply450 Watt450 Watt450 Watt
Power Connectors1x 8-pin1x 8-pin1x 8-pin
Display Outputs1x HDMI
3x DisplayPort
1x DVI
1x HDMI
1x DisplayPort
1x HDMI
3x DisplayPort
Price from*$319.99$292.95$328.34
Product LinkView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Prices are updated automatically every few hours but are subject to change between updates. See ‘Last update’ information at bottom of the page.
The 1660 Ti is available in every conceivable size and many are factory overclocked, but rarely by amounts that motivate a significantly higher cost. If you can fit a full-size card in your build, a card with a dual-fan (or triple-fan) cooler is normally the best choice even if it’s priced slightly higher.

~$30 More: GeForce RTX 2060

RTX 2060 Founder's Edition

Nvidia has been a comfortable performance and efficiency leader for several years and launched the RTX lineup in 2019. The overall performance lead is still intact thanks to the high-end RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 Super. However, AMD is definitely back in the fight up to the upper mid-range GPU market.

To better compete with AMD, Nvidia opted to lower the price tag on its lowest-tier card in the RTX range, the reference GeForce RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition to $299. Like the RX 5600 XT, the RTX 2060 is a superb graphics card for 1080p gaming, and it will perform very well at 1440p as well.

As it’s an RTX card, you also get the RTX-exclusive ray-tracing and DLSS features. In addition to its 1920 shading units, the RTX 2060 comes with 30 ray-tracing (RT) cores and 240 Tensor Cores. You should however be aware that the RTX 2060 is not quite powerful enough to provide a consistent 60 FPS with “RTX on” in most games, but if you’re OK with lower frame rates, real-time ray tracing is clearly a very nice visual bonus.

Other parts of the RTX 2060’s specs are quite similar to the Radeon RX 5600 XT, with 6 GB of GDDR6 video RAM and a 192-bit memory bus that offers the same bandwidth. At this time, the $299 RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition is almost impossible to find, but a limited number of aftermarket models are available at a slightly higher price point.

 ZOTAC GeForce RTX 2060 6GBEVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KOMSI GeForce RTX 2060 Ventus XS OC
ImageZOTAC Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card, Super Compact, ZT-T20600H-10MEVGA 06G-P4-2066-KR GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fans, Metal BackplateMSI Gaming GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDRR6 192-bit HDMI/DP Ray Tracing Turing Architecture VR Ready Graphics Card (RTX 2060 VENTUS XS 6G OC)
Clock: Core /
Boost
1365 MHz /
1680 MHz
1365 MHz /
1680 MHz
1365 MHz /
1710 MHz
Memory Clock
(Effective)
14000 MHz14000 MHz14000 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance6,451 GFLOPS6,451 GFLOPS6,566 GFLOPS
Memory Bandwidth336 GB/s336 GB/s336 GB/s
Recommended
PSU
450 W450 W450 W
Power Connectors1x 8-pin1x 8-pin1x 8-pin
Display Outputs1x HDMI
3x DP
1x HDMI
1x DP
1x DVI
1x HDMI
3x DP
Price from*$339.99$309.99$339.99
Product LinkView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Prices are updated automatically every few hours but are subject to change between updates. See ‘Last update’ information at bottom of the page.

At this time you will not be able to find any factory-overclocked, premium models of the RTX 2060 at prices close to $300, but the effect of these overclocks are normally small at any rate. For the time being, the entry-level Zotac and EVGA models are usually the most reasonably priced.

~$30 Less: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

MSI 1660S Gaming XSince the launch of the more affordable GTX 1660 Super (or 1660S), the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti is in an awkward price/performance position. The 1660S actually uses the same GPU as the regular GTX 1660, but the 1660S has been paired with faster GDDR6 video memory. This has resulted in a level of performance that’s behind the 1660 Ti by only single-digit percentages.

Considering that the GTX 1660 Super is a great deal more affordable, this card 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, opting for the 1660S should save you $30 at the very least.

 EVGA GTX 1660 Super Sc UltraAsus TUF GTX 1660 Super OCZOTAC GTX 1660 Super TF
ImageEVGA 06G-P4-1068-KR GeForce GTX 1660 Super Sc Ultra Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fan, Metal BackplateAsus TUF Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super Overclocked 6GB Edition HDMI DP DVI Gaming Graphics Card (TUF-GTX1660S-O6G-GAMING)ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super 6GB GDDR6 192-bit Gaming Graphics Card, Super Compact, ZT-T16620F-10L
Stream Processors140814081408
Base Clock /
Boost Clock
1530 MHz /
1830 MHz
1530 MHz /
1845 MHz
1530 MHz /
1785 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance5,153 GFLOPS5,196 GFLOPS5,027 GFLOPS
Max Memory Clock14 GHz14 GHz14 GHz
Memory Size6 GB GDDR66 GB GDDR66 GB GDDR6
Memory Bandwidth336 GB/s336 GB/s336 GB/s
Recommended Power Supply350 Watt350 Watt350 Watt
Price from*$263.99$226.87$249.99
Product LinkView on AmazonView on AmazonView on Amazon

*Prices are updated automatically every few hours but are subject to change between updates. See ‘Last update’ information at bottom of the page.

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.

RX 5600 XT vs. RTX 2060 vs. RX 5700

Summary and Recommendations

PULSE 5600 XTRight now you get better value at the mid-range $300 price point than just a few months ago. AMD has finally replaced its – by today’s standards highly inefficient – GCN (Graphics Card Next) architecture with RDNA (Radeon DNA). The newer cards offer some very tough competition for Nvidia in the mid-range segment, and that’s especially true for the Radeon RX 5600 XT (when outfitted with the right BIOS).

Unless the GeForce RTX 2060 is temporarily priced lower, the RX 5600 XT currently offers the best performance below $300.

Nvidia’s driver stability and RTX features, including real-time ray tracing and DLSS, still make the RTX 2060 a compelling option if priced right.

None of the Nvidia cards at this price range supports SLI, i.e. multi-GPU setups, which might otherwise be an upgrade route down the line. The corresponding AMD Crossfire/CrossFireX technology is enabled for the RX 5700 and RX 5600 XT, on the other hand. Unfortunately, AMD’s driver support for multiple GPUs has historically been somewhat lacking compared to Nvidia, meaning that this sort of upgrade is not overly attractive.

As for graphics cards from previous generations, the closest one from Nvidia would be the GeForce GTX 1070, which offers about the same performance as a GTX 1660 Ti. But it’s also less efficient and usually more expensive. And the AMD alternatives are even worse. There are very few reasons if any, to invest in a Radeon RX Vega 56 or Vega 64 today. These cards are considerably less efficient than the RX 5600 XT or RX 5700, on top of which the prices are still high.

Some of the video cards listed above come with a slight factory overclock compared to the reference clocks. In most cases, factory overclocks are in the single-digit percentages and only marginally improve performance. This is generally not worth a hefty premium over a non-overclocked card. How much a GPU can be overclocked by the user mainly depends on individual chip quality — otherwise known as the “silicon lottery”.

On the other hand, larger cooling solutions with additional fans can be a worthwhile investment. All other things being equal, more fans keep temperatures as well as noise to a minimum. It will also be of help when overclocking. If you are building in a roomy ATX case, as opposed to an mITX or mATX, consider a dual- och triple-fan card.

CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements

PCIe power connector

Both the Radeon RX 5600 XT and GeForce RTX 2060 require a single 8-pin connector.

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, or an Intel Core i5-9600K. 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. To have your games run faster, your money is better spent on a faster GPU.

As for the power supply (PSU), some third-party manufacturers recommend a 350W minimum for the RX 5600 XT (AMD’s PSU recommendation is 550W) and 450W for the RTX 2060. The TDP (Thermal Design Power) for the graphics cards is 160W in both cases. A 350W PSU is definitely on the low side, leaving you with very little headroom for overclocking and other components, but 500W should be more than sufficient for most builds.

Any such power supply on the market will provide you with the single 8-pin PCIe power connector (or more likely two) that you need to hook up to your GPU.

Building with a tighter budget? Then check out our guide to the top GPUs below $200.

As a PC gaming enthusiast since the 3dfx Voodoo era, Jesper has had time to experiment with a fair few FPS-improving PC parts over the years. His job at GPCB is to test and evaluate hardware, mainly focusing on GPUs and storage devices.

1 Comment
  1. Hi Jesper,
    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?

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