Mehak Sohail | Last Updated On February 20th, 2022
Building a good gaming PC is becoming difficult day by day, even after managing to scrounge up enough cash for a decent gaming PC. You’re still going to be plagued by component shortages with the remainder of available products hoarded up by scalpers.
With this current situation, finding a proper high-end GPU (see also the most expensive GPU) to experience some high-quality 4K resolution is difficult and expensive. Anyhow, there are many older GPUs that will help you watch videos on 4K resolution and play some video games at that resolution.
So, if you are a newbie just getting started with your first PC build, or a veteran looking to build a 4K-ready entry-level gaming PC as a side device, it is not too late. There are tons of best cheapest 4K GPUs for gaming/video out there in the market.
Fortunately for you, I’ve looked around and come up with a list of the top ten cheapest GPUs for 4K resolution. So if you are ever in the market for these, here’s your chance.
However, before we move on to the product reviews, here’s a quick guide on what aspects to look for when shopping for an affordable 4K GPU.
Quick Cheapest 4K GPUs Recommendations for Gaming/Video
What to look for when buying the best cheapest 4K GPUs for gaming/video
When it comes to GPUs — and almost every other component in PC gaming — there are (or in some cases, was) a ton of options out there on the market. There are a lot of manufacturers churning out components with different specs, shapes, and sizes.
Having these many options can be difficult and it can often lead to indecision among many gamers. Therefore, to figure out what we need (and not what we want) there are several factors to take into consideration when choosing the right GPU.
Almost everybody, whether you are an aspiring gamer or a seasoned veteran understands the need to have good hardware specs when gaming or watching videos on 4K. Therefore, knowing the specs and what they mean will help you figure out how powerful a GPU is.
Although there is a huge list of specs for GPUs, we are going to talk about the ones that truly matter. These specs are going to affect the compatibility of the GPU and also give you a rough idea of how powerful it is compared to the rest of all the other available GPUs.
Recommended PSU: Just so you won’t crash to the desktop whenever you boot up a game – due to low power – you need to make sure that the PSU in your gaming PC has a high enough wattage to provide enough power to the GPU. Fortunately, you don’t have to do any calculations when it comes to the necessary wattage as many GPUs provide a spec for the recommended PSU. For example: if a GTX 1080’s spec sheet recommends a 600W PSU, you will be fine with a 600W (or more) PSU powering up your entire PC.
Dimensions: Although you won’t need to consider the physical dimensions most of the time, it becomes a necessity when you are building your PC in a smaller case. Some larger GPUs will not fit inside smaller cases such as a Mini-ITX. Therefore, it helps to know the physical dimensions of your GPU, whether it’s the length of the GPU or the width. (also defined by how many slots the GPU is going to occupy in the rear I/O panel)
On top of that, the length might interfere with other components inside the PC, such as hard drives, PSUs, and even some liquid cooling components. So make sure to decide on the physical dimensions and an appropriate PC case for water cooling before you spend your money.
Clock Speed: Simply put, the clock speed of a GPU determines how fast the unit is capable of rendering graphics. Many newbies make the mistake of believing that the higher the clock speed, the faster the GPU and the more powerful it is.
Unfortunately, things are not so simple nowadays since different manufacturers have different architectures/systems within their GPUs and therefore, they work differently from each other. It’s like comparing megapixels of Apple’s iPhone cameras vs the megapixels of android brands such as Samsung, Xiaomi, etc…
Although the clock speed matters to some extent, especially during overclocking, the most effective metric to compare GPUs is via benchmarks and online resources where this data is collected.
Speed Rank: Speaking of comparing GPUs, I have listed out a handy little spec called the “speed rank” that utilizes data from User benchmarks to categorize each GPU with respect to every other GPU model on the market. This metric allows you to (approximately) determine how powerful a certain GPU is.
VRAM: VRAM is scaled appropriately by the manufacturers, and as for gaming, you don’t need to consider it that much since you will have enough VRAM if you get a good enough GPU. Besides, your options with different VRAMs for the same GPU are limited and more VRAM doesn’t affect frame rates and would only affect how pretty each frame looks.
A higher VRAM is better for professionals, but if your intention is to game on it, comparing the GPU via benchmarks and speed rank will be good enough to let you decide.
Although the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III is by no means the “cheapest of the cheap” it manages to stay on the fence when it comes to affordable 4K GPUs. This slab of silicon, plastic, and metal manages to keep it all together while you ride around on a horse named “Jon Bon Pony” at 4K resolution.
If you did somehow manage to save up enough money for your PC building adventure, the XFX Radeon RX 5700 XT Thicc III is going to be right up your alley. It’s thick, it’s fast, it’s built to last and it’s an AMD GPU. So you’ll be all set for gaming on 4K and watching high-res videos.
Enhanced with RDNA architecture, this thicc boi is readily available for PCIe 4.0. It also opens up the possibility of supporting six different monitors and supports a ton of AMDs graphical improvement features such as FreeSync, Fidelity FX, and VR support.
In terms of ports, this GPU has 3 DisplayPort (1.4 HDR) and one HDMI 2.0b with the ability to support a maximum resolution of 8K at 60 Hz. Not too shabby.
Performance - This ain’t no 1080-Ti but if this is what you can get your hands on, I envy you. The performance on this GPU is good enough for a steady 4K experience and you can play games Rainbow Six Siege at 140+ FPS at 1080p and Red Dead Redemption 2 at 40 FPS at 4K resolution. Therefore, this is (almost) the perfect GPU to get started with 4K gaming.
Know Before Buying
Price - Not the cheapest GPU out there on the market. Therefore, if you are hoping to get into this “thicc” card, you’re going to have to make a significant investment upfront, one which I do not recommend for most budget builders.
Aesthetics - The sleek design is nice and all, but the card is too beefy and bulky. On top of that, it doesn’t have any cool RGB or an eye-catching design. Some may appreciate the aesthetic but for me, it looks bland and boring.
If you like nothing more than watching 4K videos while keeping some decent breathing room for a few older video games, the RX 580 by Sapphire + Nitro will suffice. It’s much better than a plain old GT 710 when it comes to watching a 4K video, and will actually let you enjoy some games albeit at a lower resolution.
The RX 580 is widely considered a solid entry-level GPU even by today’s standards. It’s a very reliable GPU that many gamers would swear by since it has not yet failed to disappoint them.
So if you are looking for a budget GPU that can render 4K resolution at minimum graphics while also providing amazing performance/graphics for 1440p gaming, the RX 580 by Sapphire Nitro + is quite the bargain.
Digging deep into the specs, we can see the RX 580 by Sapphire Nitro + does provide impressive cooling performance and many of AMD’s graphical features such as FreeSync and CrossFire.
On top of that, the RX 580 supports 2 DisplayPorts (1.4) with a maximum resolution of 5120×2880 at 60 Hz, while the remaining 2 HDMI ports and 1 DVI-D port can also help extend your setup to multiple displays. Therefore, it’s more than enough for a conventional PC gaming setup with multiple monitors.
What We Like
Price - The price is affordable (by today’s standards) and many gamers would agree that this is one of the best go-to entry-level GPUs for budget gamers. It’s very cheap yet provides a very high price-to-performance ratio.
Know Before Buying
Performance - Say goodbye to 4K gaming, especially for current AAA titles since you won’t get more than 30 FPS in 1440p on games like Horizon Zero Dawn.
Aesthetic - Art is subjective and in my point of view, the Sapphire NITRO + RX 580 does not look as cool as its name. Some may like the minimalistic design without any fancy RGB but it doesn’t cut it for me.
For the NVIDIA fanboys who don't have a 1080-Ti in their budget — or on store shelves — the only remaining option is to drop down a notch to the 1070-Ti. Even though the 1080-Ti is 40% faster, the 1070-Ti is more budget-friendly and provides greater value.
The GTX 1070-Ti provided by MSI looks good on the surface but it can barely chug along at 30 FPS at 4K resolution on most AAA games. Fortunately, on older games like GTA V, it will readily support 4K gaming at a decent FPS range.
The 1070-Ti is not the most ideal, and by today’s standards, they aren’t even considered as below low-end. However, if you happen to find one in good condition, you can still use it to play most games at 1080p and 1440p, depending on the video game’s demand.
Now I don’t usually shill for MSI, but I believe they’ve done a better job with the 1070-Ti than other manufacturers out there. The design looks cool and it has some customizable RGB.
There’s the usual 2 x DisplayPort and 2 x HDMI port setup with a single DVI port allowing you to attach up to four separate displays on this bad boy.
What We Like
Silent Mode - The “Zero Frozr” feature on this GPU allows the fans to stop when the temps are down, i.e when the system is idle. It’s a nice little feature that I didn’t expect from a 1070-Ti.
Aesthetic - The overall appearance of this MSI GPU has the “Gamer” look I’m going for. Despite having limited RGB functionality, the design looks cool, especially if you manage to match the colors with an appropriate case.
Know Before Buying
Performance - 4K gaming on most AAA titles is not feasible with this GPU. You won’t get anything more than 30 FPS on most modern games, making it entirely useless for 4K gaming
Considering all aspects of performance, whether it’s rendering frames, managing temperatures, or providing a plethora of optimization features, the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080-Ti has a healthy dose of everything. This Jack-of-all-trades GPU can handle 4K graphics like the best of them while maintaining a reasonable price point. A great find for an entry-level/budget gamer.
The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080-Ti doesn’t look amazing, but it gets the job done and it gets it done right. Most veterans don’t like these cards made by ZOTAC because of rumors running around that it’s got temperature issues and problems with durability.
However, many budget gamers love to integrate these into their setups because these cards are readily available unlike other big-name gamer brands like MSI and ROG.
Although ZOTAC lacks presentation and hype, they make up for in hardware specs: the 11GB of VRAM is a nice plus, and although I mentioned previously that you do not need to concern yourself about VRAM, having lots of them can bring you peace of mind.
Per usual, this GPU supports 4 separate displays and consists of 3 Display Ports, 1 HDMI port, and one DVI port. It supports 4K resolution right out of the box. However, make sure to get a PSU with 650W or more.
What We Like
Performance - This is a 1080-Ti, so what else can you expect but greatness. If it’s 4K gaming you’re looking for, this card is an affordable 4K GPU that will be able to provide around 30 FPS on most AAA titles. (30 fps on games like RDR2 and Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K)
Price - Although the price is nowhere near what it used to be back in the pre-pandemic golden era, this price is still reasonable compared to what the big-name game brands (such as MSI and ROG) are putting out.
Know Before Buying
Temperature Performance - The ZOTAC cards are not praised for their thermal performance and durability. Fortunately, this is rare. However, it never hurts to be prepared since some models (such as the Mini) have a two-fan design instead of three. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue but it’s something you need to keep an eye out for.
Aesthetics - The design is a bit bland for me, the fans look boring and it doesn’t have a variety of colors. The RGB lights are okay but something about it doesn’t give that premium look and feel.
If you’re on the lookout for a quick fix — something to pass the time until you can get back on your feet for a new high-end GPU — the RX Vega 64 by ROG is going to be right up your alley. It’s cheap, it’s fast (enough) and it will get you stuttering 30 FPS on 4K resolution on new and upcoming AAA games.
The RX Vega 64 by ROG is not anybody’s first choice, but it works and it can render 4K graphics.
You might have a hard time getting good frames out of it, especially at 4K but it will keep chugging as long as you can stomach the low graphical settings and framerates.
ROG has done a great job of setting this card up with a triple fan design, this results in better temperature performance. As a result, you won’t have a hard time with thermal throttling and FPS stutter, provided that you play a game with graphics that are not too demanding.
What We Like
Price - Compared to most of the GPUs on this list, the Vega 64 is very reasonably priced. It’s got a decent price-to-performance ratio and for many budget gamers, this is a good bargain. They can play many AAA games at decent performance and maybe even dip their toes in 4K territory.
Aesthetic - ROG went all out on this card, it’s got a nice design and some cool-looking RGB. The Aura Sync Functionality will work amazingly if you manage to set it up along with other compatible RGB lights.
Know Before Buying
Performance - Despite having a fair price, it’s nowhere near the performance of a 1080-Ti. So like I mentioned previously: you can game at 4K, it’s just that you won’t be able to enjoy it.
When looking for the best value, with the lowest price and highest performance, the MSI GTX 1080 is a steal. Although it misses the extra edge the 1080-Ti has over the vanilla 1080 by 20% many budget gamers prefer the vanilla 1080 as the go-to affordable 4K GPU.
If you’re on the lookout for the best GPU that will let you (comfortably) game at 4K resolution at the lowest price, the GTX 1080 is what you need. It’s not as expensive as the 1080-Ti but it can hold its own against many AAA graphics at 4K resolution, provided you don’t set the graphic settings to “ultra.”
Although the vanilla 1080 is a twin-blade design, MSI has improved the temperature performance of this device to be able to stop the fans at low temperatures. Therefore, it can stay silent when the PC is idle or performing low-intensity tasks, something that other manufacturers can barely do even with a triple fan design and a larger surface area.
This GPU supports the usual 4 separate monitors, however, make sure you have DisplayPort on your 4K-ready monitor since this bad boy has 3 DisplayPort, but only one HDMI port.
What We Like
Price - The price of the MSI GTX 1080 is not too bad. As of right now, it’s not too overboard like the GTX 1080-Ti. (which is almost $1000 in price.) The GTX 1080 provides decent performance, and its price-to-performance ratio is much higher than the 1080-Ti
Aesthetic - I like the design since it’s got that gamer look to it. However, the RGB options are not enough and you can only control the color of the dragon, nothing else.
Know Before Buying
Performance - Even though there’s not much to complain about, the 30% drop in performance when compared to the 1080-Ti will make this GPU unattractive to the average budget gamer. Therefore, if you can fork up an extra hundred bucks, you’ll be better off.
Gaming on 4K resolution is not something that many budget gamers would aspire to. However, it’s better to have that option just in case there’s a well-optimized video game with stunning graphics. Fortunately, there are many affordable GPUs that can handle 4K resolutions on AAA games, provided that the user is willing to turn the graphical settings down a notch.
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