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

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graphics cardAs of February 2020, AMD has just released its brand new mid-range GPU, the Radeon RX 5600 XT – and at a $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.

On top of this, there is finally some very real competition between AMD and Intel in the CPU department. In other words: A few weeks into 2020, this is shaping up to be an excellent year for building a great upper-mid-range gaming PC. And to secure 60 FPS at 1080p or even 1440p, you can add a very powerful graphics card for less than $300. But there are some important considerations to keep in mind before buying – not least that some 3rd-party RX 5600 XT cards are significantly faster than others due to a last-minute BIOS update. 

To help you pick the right card, we have sifted through every single relevant spec sheet and professional review out there and this is a summary of our conclusions. As usual, we are also comparing some more affordable as well as some more expensive cards to help you get your bearings on the current GPU market in the $300 range. 

On this page:
NVIDIA Vs. AMD
Best Value Below $300: Radeon RX 5600 XT
Best NVIDIA GPU below $300: GeForce RTX 2060
~$20 Less: GTX 1660 Ti
~$30 More: RX 5700
Summary and notes
CPU Pairing and PSU Requirements

NVIDIA Vs. AMD Below $300

Some gamers prefer AMD while others prefer Nvidia for a variety of reasons. In recent years, AMD has been trailing Nvidia in terms of power-efficiency, but thanks to AMD’s new RDNA (Navi) architecture this is no longer an issue. At the price points we are looking at here, there is finally some real competition on even terms. 

Product
Best AMD
Sapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ Backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card
Best NVIDIA
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fans, Metal Backplate, 06G-P4-2066-KR
Image
Sapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ Backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fans, Metal Backplate, 06G-P4-2066-KR
Stream Processors
2304
1920
Core/Boost Clock
1400 MHz / 1750 MHz
1365 MHz / 1680 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
8,064 GFLOPS
6,451 GFLOPS
Memory Size/Type
6 GB GDDR6
6 GB GDDR6
Memory Bus
192-bit
192-bit
Memory Clock (Effective)
14000 MHz
14000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth
336 GB/s
336 GB/s
TDP
160 W
160 W
Recommended Power Supply
350 W
450 W
Power Connector(s)
1x 8-pin
1x 8-pin
Outputs
1x HDMI, 3x DP
1x HDMI, 1x DP, 1x DVI
Average Rating
-
User Reviews
-
255 Reviews
Price
$299.99
$299.99
Best AMD
Product
Sapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ Backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card
Image
Sapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ Backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics Card
Stream Processors
2304
Core/Boost Clock
1400 MHz / 1750 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
8,064 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
-
Price
$299.99
Store Link
Best NVIDIA
Product
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fans, Metal Backplate, 06G-P4-2066-KR
Image
EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, Dual Fans, Metal Backplate, 06G-P4-2066-KR
Stream Processors
1920
Core/Boost Clock
1365 MHz / 1680 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance
6,451 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
450 W
Power Connector(s)
1x 8-pin
Outputs
1x HDMI, 1x DP, 1x DVI
Average Rating
User Reviews
255 Reviews
Price
$299.99
Store Link

Last update on 2020-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The $299 RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition is unfortunately not in stock at the time of writing, and very few aftermarket cards are currently priced below $300. EVGA’s RTX 2060 KO has been an exception (at least at launch) and we expect price drops on additional aftermarket RTX 2060 cards due to the new and more competitive situation.

Meanwhile, most aftermarket varieties of the Radeon RX 5600 XT sell for less than $300. And thanks to a last-minute BIOS upgrade from AMD, many versions of this card (but not all) offers about the same performance as an RTX 2060. This upgrade has also resulted in the Radeon RX 5600 XT being almost as fast as the RX 5700, so AMD is now competing with itself in this price range.

Nvidia does have one advantage over AMD that is exclusive to its RTX lineup, namely real-time raytracing and DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). For now, these are Nvidia-only features. While real-time raytracing can make for some stunning visuals, the downside is that it’s only available in a limited amount of games. Also, the performance hit is massive. In games like Battlefield V, the RTX 2060 has trouble reaching 60 FPS when the feature is turned on. Therefore we don’t consider ray-tracing to be a deciding factor in this case. 

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

Bottom line: Since the AMD GPU offers similar performance, but usually at a lower cost, we currently consider the RX 5600 XT to be the best mid-range GPU for less than $300 depending on daily prices. But it’s a very tight race, so if you value the RTX features or prefer Nvidia for their great driver support (or any other reason), the RTX 2060 is also a great choice as long as the price difference is small. 

Best Value Under $300: AMD 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 RX 5600 XT (this card).

The 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 a point closer to the RX 5600 XT. This prompted AMD to radically improve the specs of the 5600 XT to keep it competitive. As a result, the RX 5600 XT is almost as fast as the RX 5700 XT — and considerably faster than the GTX 1660 Ti that it was originally meant to challenge. 

Now, with similar performance as the GeForce RTX 2060, the RX 5600 XT stands out as the most attractive graphics card below $300 from a price/performance perspective. What you need to make sure before buying is that you get a card with the faster BIOS, or that one is available so that you can update it to 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 XTPowerColor Red Dragon RX 5600 XTGigabyte RX 5600 XT Gaming OC
ImageSapphire 11296-01-20G Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 HDMI / Triple DP OC w/ Backplate (UEFI) PCIe 4.0 Graphics CardPowerColor Red Dragon Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GBGIGABYTE Radeon RX 5600 XT Gaming OC 6G Graphics Card, PCIe 4.0, 6GB 192-Bit GDDR6, GV-R56XTGAMING OC-6GD Video Card
Clock: Core /
Gaming / Boost
1400 MHz /
1615 MHz /
1750 MHz
1355 MHz /
1560 MHz /
1620 MHz
1130 MHz /
1670 MHz /
1750 MHz
Memory Clock
(Effective)
14000 MHz14000 MHz14000 MHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance8,064 GFLOPS7,465 GFLOPS8,064 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*$315.99$289.99$299.99
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 these 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 very important to be aware of the differences between the aftermarket RX 5600 XT cards. You should make sure that you are getting a card that gets a BIOS update to improve performance. For the cards mentioned above, such a BIOS update is available. Get it for the Sapphire Radeon Pulse XT is available here, for PowerColor’s Red Devil/Dragon here and Gigabyte’s card here

Best NVIDIA GPU Below $300: GeForce RTX 2060

RTX 2060 Founder's EditionNvidia has been a comfortable performance and efficiency leader for several years and launched the RTX lineup as a crowning achievement in 2019. The performance lead is still intact thanks to the high-end RTX 2080 Ti and 2080 Super, but AMD is definitely back in the fight in the entry-level up to the upper mid-range segments.  

So, Nvidia has taken up the proverbial glove by lowering the price tag on its lowest-tier card in the RTX range, the GeForce RTX 2060. Like the RX 5600 XT, the RTX 2060 is a superb graphics card for 1080p gaming, and it will also perform very well at 1440p. 

There’s also the matter of ray-tracing and DLSS that you will only get with the RTX cards. 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. The RTX 2060’s specs are quite similar compared to the Radeon RX 5600 XT, with 6 GB of GDDR6 video RAM and a 192-bit memory bus providing the same bandwidth. In addition to its 1920 shading units, however, it also comes with 30 ray-tracing (RT) cores and 240 Tensor Cores. 

At this time, the $299 RTX 2060 Founder’s Edition is unfortunately not easy to find. The EVGA RTX 2060 KO often comes close, however.

Check today’s price: Amazon, Newegg

~$20 Less: 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. Things didn’t turn out that way, and now the 1660 Ti finds itself at a slightly lower market position. 

But although it’s no longer as fast as the best GPUs you can now buy for under $300, it’s still a great mid-range graphics card. The GTX 1660 Ti has the same VRAM setup as the aforementioned cards, but fewer shaders/transistors. It also 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, making this an acceptable price difference. 

The GTX 1660 Ti will handle any AAA game in 2020 with ease at 1080p, and by dialing back the settings, it will handle 1440p as well. Since pricing has taken a downward turn thanks to AMD’s reappearance in the segment, the FPS/$ value is very reasonable. 

 GIGABYTE GTX 1660 Ti OCMSI GTX 1660 Ti Ventus XS OCEVGA GTX 1660 Ti SC Ultra 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-6GDMSI 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 Ventus XS 6G OC)EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Ultra Gaming, 6GB GDDR6, HDB Fan Graphics Card 06G-P4-1267-KR
Clock: Core /
Boost
1500 MHz /
1800 MHz
1500 MHz /
1830 MHz
1500 MHz /
1860 MHz
Memory Clock
(Effective)
12 GHz12 GHz12 GHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance5,530 GFLOPS5,622 GFLOPS5,714 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 DP1x HDMI, 3x DP1x HDMI, 1x DP
1x DVI
Price from*$279.99$274.99$299.99
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.
The 1660 Ti is available in all conceivable sizes and many are factory overclocked, but rarely by amounts that motivate a much higher cost. If you can fit a full-size card in your build, we always recommend that you opt for a card with a dual-fan (or triple-fan) cooler. 

~$30 More: AMD Radeon RX 5700

AMD Radeon RX 5700 specsAMD’s last-minute decision to upgrade the RX 5600 XT left its own RX 5700 in an awkward position. The reason is that, compared to the RX 5600 XT, the RX 5700 is now only about 5-10% faster on average.

However, the RX 5700 offers better specs, including an extra two gigabytes of GDDR6 video memory and a much higher memory bandwidth due to a 256-bit memory bus (compared to the 5600 XT’s 192-bit bus). You also get some additional overclocking headroom with the RX 5700.

Still – although it’s a bit faster than both the RX 5600 XT and the GeForce RTX 2060 on average – it doesn’t make sense to pay much more for the RX 5700 than for its slightly slower sibling. The good news is that the price tags on these cards are in many cases much lower than they used to be, so it might be a reasonable upgrade after all. 

 XFX RX 5700 DD UltraMSI RX 5700 Evoke OCXFX RX 5700 8GB
(Reference Cooler)
ImageXFX Rx 5700 8GB GDDR6 Dd Ultra w/Boost Up to 1750MHz 3xDP HDMI PCI Express 4.0 Graphics Card Rx-57XL8LBD6MSI Gaming Radeon Rx 5700 Boost Clock: 1750 MHz 256-bit 8GB GDDR6 DP/HDMI Dual Torx 3.0 Fans Crossfire Navi Architecture Graphics Card (RX 5700 Evoke OC)XFX Radeon Rx 5700 8GB GDDR6 3xDP HDMI, Pci-E AMD Graphics Card (RX-57XL8MFG6)
Clock: Core /
Game / Boost
1565 MHz /
1720 MHz /
1750 MHz
1540 MHz /
1700 MHz /
1750 MHz
1465 MHz /
1625 MHz /
1725 MHz
Memory Clock
(Effective)
14 GHz14 GHz14 GHz
FP32 Theoretical Performance8,064 GFLOPS8,064 GFLOPS7,949 GFLOPS
Memory Bandwidth448 GB/s448 GB/s448 GB/s
Recommended
PSU
450 W450 W450 W
Power Connectors1x 8-pin,
1x 6-pin
1x 8-pin,
1x 6-pin
1x 8-pin,
1x 6-pin
Display Outputs1x HDMI
3x DP
1x HDMI
3x DP
1x HDMI
3x DP
Price from*$329.99$339.99$329.99
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 you have for years. AMD has finally replaced the – by today’s standards highly inefficient – GCN (Graphics Card Next) architecture with RDNA (Radeon DNA). The new cards offer Nvidia some very tough competition in the mid-range segment, and we feel confident naming the Radeon RX 5600 XT as the GPU below $300 that offers the best value overall. It’s also possible to find an RX 5700, a card that tops both the RX 5600 XT and the GeForce RTX 2060, at or sometimes even below that mark.  

If you prefer Nvidia’s lineup, then it’s the GeForce RTX 2060 that offers the best value at $299, which is Nvidia’s new price tag for the Founder’s Edition reference model. There are still few aftermarket models that are this cheap, but the EVGA RTX 2060 KO is (sometimes) one of them. So, if you value the RTX features including real-time ray tracing and DLSS, it makes sense to add around $10 to get both these features and equivalent overall performance.

A more affordable alternative is the GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, which is about 15% slower than the above cards and lacks the RTX features. If the price corresponds to this difference, it’s definitely a good buy. 

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 upper mid-range GPU, the rest of your PC build should correspond 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 gaming 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. 

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