If you’re looking to build your first gaming rig or deciding on an upgrade, the GPU is the first thing that comes into your mind. I know this because I’m something of a gamer myself. I do love seeing my 0.2 K/D ratio in 1080p 144Hz.
A better GPU can make all the difference, no doubt about it. Getting to see Kratos and Atreus tearing it up through the nine realms in 144Hz is something I’m looking forward to.
Now some of you may have different games in mind, maybe you want to get that extra edge in Warzone or Rainbow Six-Siege. Whatever game you play it is always better to get an idea of which GPU is best for your gaming experience but if you have a specific game in mind like Fortnite, you might want to check this article about the best GPU for Fortnite.
So I’ve taken it upon myself and scoured the “Umbral plains” of the GPU world to get a list of the best GPUs for your 1080p 144Hz gaming experience.
Most of the time gamers recognize GPUs by their name and can easily pinpoint the relative performance of each. However if you are a beginner or looking for more in-detail information there are several factors you need to consider when making a decision.
This is where most newbies need to look out for especially if you’re looking to game at 4K with high in-game graphic settings. If your goal is to game at 1080p at 30-60 fps then most mainstream cards will do. Otherwise keep a lookout for a high-end card that supports 4K.
This is also something to look out for, ideally you want to have 6 to 8GB of VRAM in order to get a smoother performance in a 1080p resolution. For higher settings and 4K resolutions it is best to get one that has more than 8GB.
Most modern graphic cards provide this as a specification along with the actual power consumption of the PSU. This spec will take away the frustration of trying to size up a PSU on your own.
As I mentioned previously it is important to figure out if the GPU you plan on getting needs extra power, hence check the pin sizes and get an appropriate PSU. I do not recommend adapters that draw power from SATA or Molex connectors as a long-term solution.
Clock speed can have a significant impact on frame rate but it’s not solely responsible as other specs such as core-counts, memory speed and architecture all contribute to the overall function despite many using it as a metric to compare GPUs
Another important factor that newbies fail to take note of. Like I mentioned before, make sure that these interfaces are compatible. This isn’t a very common issue with most modern GPUs and monitors but it will help you in the long-run especially when you have to “run” down to the store to get an adapter.
It’s no doubt that AMD have started to take the lead recently and their new line-ups look more promising but in terms of performance in this range the RX 5700 XT has been able to crank out frames better than most of the competition.
Although the RX 5700 models started to come out during July of 2019 they have still managed to hold on and remain as a very stable entry. There are several noteworthy features that make it more appealing than others in terms of appearance and performance.
This card’s got several cool points as it was built using Auto-Extreme technology, where during the manufacturing process the GPU is built using a 100% automated process.
This new process is claimed to be more reliable and cheaper because now you don’t have to use manual labor to place components in the PCB. This has also made it less vulnerable to human-errors especially during the manufacturing process.
The axial-tech fan design looks cool and there’s 2X more contact with the GPU chip allowing for a larger surface area for cooling.
What We Like
Customization - This card comes packed with Aura Sync compatibility so you can make your entire rig pulse blood red when you’re fighting demons in Doom Eternal.
Price - It can seem a bit expensive especially when compared with the budget options mentioned in our list but I prefer this because it is the most optimized in terms of performance.
Know Before Buying
Dimensions - The three fan design is something you must look out for, especially if you have a smaller case. Compared with most of the entries on the list, this card is huge.
If you’re really up for it, the RTX 2080 Ti won’t let you down. It’s a solid beast that will churn out those smooth frames for your 144Hz gaming experience. If you’re worried about finding a good graphics card that can run Crysis in 1080p then this will definitely knock it out of the park.
This is the most expensive GPU on this list. I know this isn’t the “Most expensive GPU of all-time” but for our situation this will suffice. It’s got an impressive track record and definitely a must-buy if you have the money to afford it.
It’s turbo fan cooling system and exterior design has made it a very stable entry, especially if you are looking to include multiple GPUs in a tight case. That’s a very baller move and if you really want to go down the path of the dual-GPU master setup I’d recommend dishing out some more cash for a better case, just in case.
What We Like
Form Factor - It’s got a simple but stylish design. To me it’s got that futuristic design that doesn’t try too hard to stand out but can definitely turn heads. It’s not as large as the 2080 Ti so there’s a chance it will fit in some smaller cases.
Customization - Now this card doesn’t have RGB and in my opinion that’s okay. In this situation I want to emphasize performance and overclocking. It uses a software called the AORUS engine and this software provides you the ability to customize GPU specs such as the clock speed, voltage, fan performance, power demand and many more. I know most of you will have fun switching things up and seeing how it performs.
Know Before Buying
Price - Obviously this is something that many cannot afford. Therefore if you have the capital, definitely go for it. Make sure you get a high-end case and PSU as well.
This one is the perfect balance of price and performance. The GPU that sits at the very middle of this list. It’s got an intermediate price point without compromising too much on quality. The quintessential 1080p 144Hz gaming GPU. It’s got ray tracing as well so that’s a plus!
This card is just the go-to choice in my opinion. It’s got everything you need and more. It’s not that expensive when compared to the higher-ups in this list. It is definitely worth it to help you get that extra edge.
What We Like
Price - This is the best mid-range GPU and although it can’t provide the same performance as a 2080 Ti, it can still hold up its end and all things considered it can give you a smoother experience.
Form Factor - This card is pretty small compared to the entries we’ve listed so far. It’s going to fit in smaller cases and combined with its “Icestorm 2.0” cooling hardware it’s pretty reliable even at such a low price.
Know Before Buying
Performance - Since this is a mid-range card don’t keep your hopes up about being able to play AAA titles with ultra settings forever. It performs fine on games like Red Dead Redemption 2, but with newer games and higher resolutions it can start to fall short.
If you’re strapped for cash, but still want that smooth 144Hz this will definitely be up your alley. This card is a must-have for any budget PC builders out there who wants to compromise aesthetics in favor of performance. It will promise you victory but with lower in-game graphic settings.
This card is the bare minimum when it comes to 144Hz 1080p gaming. Gamers will at one point or another come across this card. And for the ones that chose to use it can enter the council of “hardcore” gamers but they won’t be granted the rank of master.
All things considered this is not so bad. The price point is definitely feasible and you can get an adequate FPS on most online competitive multiplayer games.
What We Like
Price - This is got to be the most redeeming quality about this card. The price is feasible for most budget setups looking to get that smooth 144Hz. It works well for both cases where you want to get that extra edge in competitive games or be able to casually enjoy a AAA title.
Customization - This card has got it all, it’s got a few RGB elements along with the AORUS engine which just like the 2080 Ti opens up a whole new set of features that you can try out for yourself. Hence you can safely overclock it without worrying about the card's durability.
Know Before Buying
Performance - Now I know that this is a beloved favorite of the community but in the long run you can’t expect it to keep up with the higher-end entries in this list. As of right now it’s definitely okay to use it on that game you’ve been playing online. However for upcoming AAA titles you won’t be able to get that smooth crisp ultra graphics.
Unfortunately we’ve reached the end of the list but actually there’s two more that I want to talk about. I thought it might be interesting to list out the oldest and newest GPUs that support 1080p with 144Hz. So here are the two honorable mentions.
This is the oldest GPU that I found which was able to deliver 1080p at 144Hz. Although it’s been over four years since it’s release you can still use it to play well-known online multiplayer games such as Overwatch and Battlefield 1.
This is the most famous and most recent GPU. It was released on the 10th of June 2021 so it’s pretty new and compared to the RX 560 there’s a lot of differences. It shows us how far we’ve come and really puts things in perspective. You might want to check this article about the best CPUs for RTX 3070.
Why upgrade to a newer GPU?
You might be new into gaming and you’re probably wondering what the fuss is all about. “144Hz who cares? I can see everything just fine with 30, I keep losing but that’s because I need more practice.”
Well maybe you really do need practice or maybe you’re doing everything right and have sunk more than 1000 hours into a competitive game and still aren’t getting the results you deserve.
If you’re one of the latter you should definitely look into upgrading your entire system to support 144Hz. A good GPU will help you get out of your rut and help squeeze out more frames per second in order to get that extra milliseconds of sweet sweet reaction time.
However, if that’s not your cup of tea you should still upgrade if you’re hoping to play the latest AAA games, like Horizon Zero Dawn or Far Cry 6. Especially in high in-game settings and resolutions.
What’s so special about 144Hz?
I mentioned previously that a higher refresh rate is more important to competitive gamers. That is because when a good GPU is combined with a monitor that‘s got 144Hz capability more frames are displayed on the monitor and this allows gamers to register these frames much quicker.
Now there is this myth going on around claiming that the human eye can only register up to 60 Hz. Many competitive gamers such as myself would disagree. The human eye doesn’t respond the same way a camera does and we are still nowhere as close to fully understanding what our eyes are capable of. Therefore this is a fat load of bogus as many gamers will disagree and show you why this is wrong.
If you are not convinced, the best way is for you to see this for yourself and by seeing it for yourself I do not recommend watching YouTube videos. Instead, the best option is to actually go to a store where they sell monitors and take a look. Trust me, you’ll want to buy a 144Hz monitor and not the 75hz for competitive gaming. But before you actually do that there are a few more things you should know.
Refresh Rate vs Frame Rate
Some of you may not know the difference between frame rate and refresh rate. Most people still believe that this is the same thing; they are not. However they do contribute to the same process.
Let me break it down. The GPUs role is to render frames as fast as possible. The time in which the GPU can fully perform it’s calculations and render a single frame depends on the game’s graphical demand. The number of frames that the GPU is able to pump out every second is what we call FPS, a measurement system that gamers have a love-hate relationship with.
FPS alone is not enough to display these frames on the monitor. The monitor itself should have the capability to keep up with the GPUs framerate. This is where refresh rate comes into play.
So if the GPU pumps out more than 144 frames per second the monitor should be able to display these 144 frames in one second, i.e it should be able to refresh it’s display and readjust itself 144 times in one second.
Let’s say we have a good rig with a solid GPU that can render 144 FPS, but the monitor’s refresh rate is only 60Hz. Because of this our experience is only going to be limited to 60Hz as the system is bottlenecked by the monitor.
Should you buy a new GPU as soon as possible?
That depends entirely on you however before you make a decision there are some things that you need to be aware of.
In recent developments GPU prices have been at an all-time high due to the Silicon shortage and crypto mining, but there’s a chance in the future that prices will drop.
To combat crypto miners Nvidia has started introducing new GPUs with half-rate LHR. Meaning that miners won’t be able to use these new GPUs for mining.
The Silicon shortage is also expected to end by 2022 although it might take a while for production to ramp up and things to fall back to normal again.
But if you’ve already decided to wait there are several compelling reasons not to. New video game releases such as God of War, Dying Light 2, Call of Duty 2022 and Hogwarts Legacy are just a few of the AAA titles coming out for PC in 2022. I’m really excited for these games and they could be one of the reasons to get a new GPU as soon as possible without waiting any further.
Things you should know before upgrading the GPU
There are several aspects you need to consider when upgrading the GPU on your rig, the most obvious condition that newbies think of is to check if the motherboard is compatible with the GPU, it’s a good practice but it is not as much of an issue as it once was.
Almost all modern GPUs are compatible with the PCIe x16 slot. Even if it’s older iterations like PCIe 1.0. If you combine a modern graphics card with an older motherboard the only notable difference will be bandwidth limitations. Unlike the PCIe slot there are other far more important aspects to consider when upgrading a GPU.
One of the most overlooked aspects is the physical size of the GPU. Most newbies make this mistake because they fail to remember that the dimensions of their case don’t match up with their new GPU and some end up getting a smaller case only to realize that they don’t have enough room to accommodate either 2080 Ti.
Another aspect they fail to consider is the power consumption. Most beginners tend to skimp on the PSU as they feel like it doesn’t contribute much to the overall experience. This is an honest mistake but before you learn it the hard way I’d advise getting a good PSU because at the end of the day everything is connected to the PSU.
Also make sure that the new PSU’s connectors are compatible for your GPU. Connectors can differ by the number of pins such as 6-pin or 8-pin. Most GPU specs will provide this detail so keep an eye out for that as well.
Also take note of the power demand that the GPU has, a rule of thumb is that you may want to dedicate 40% of your PSU’s power to the graphics card. Some graphics cards also provide specifications on which PSU to get, so make note of these when you are trying to upgrade.
Finally make sure the display ports (interface) on the GPU match your monitor, this is not very common but if you ever happen to run into this problem you can always use an adapter. Although I do not recommend this as a long-term solution.
GPUs have come a long way and so have video games. I hope this list has made it easier for you to come to a decision. Building a new rig or upgrading to 1080p on 144Hz (other GPU recommendations for 1080p 144Hz gaming here) will definitely help you get more reaction time and make every game look a lot more smoother.