This past year has seen a (relatively) unprecedented rise in GPU prices. What once were considered budget cards are hard to find at MSRP, often priced double or even triple what they were released at. However, there are still some quality cards you can find for under $400. If you are also interested in a more expensive cards, we have an article here for the best GPUs under $1000.
For budget builders or budding PC enthusiasts, a $400 graphics card can go a long way. By saving a little bit of money and avoiding buying an overpriced card, you can put the extra cash into your other components and build a well-balanced, powerful PC.
In this article, I’ve put together a list of the five best GPUs under $400. Some of these have suffered from the GPU shortage and are currently priced well above their MSRP. However, there are a couple on this list that I included because, even with the price surges, they are priced around or under $400.
In the end, the best GPU for you will be the one that suits your needs best. You’ll find a helpful guide to aid you in your decision in this article, so take the options on this list and narrow down which one(s) will be best for your build and, more importantly, your budget.
Graphics cards and processors are the two most important components of any build, and with the power they provide, they cost more money than your other components will. It’s important to not blow your entire budget on one component, or else you’ll end up with too little for a suitable CPU, which would negate some of the benefits your expensive GPU offers.
As such, a $400 graphic card is a good middle ground to strike. All of the cards on this list offer great performance and varying special features at a reasonable price, so that you can get a CPU capable of matching your GPU’s performance.
AMD and Nvidia produce the best graphics cards in the industry, but each offers something different than the other. AMD generally focuses on producing stable, all-around graphics cards while Nvidia puts an emphasis on high-performance and superior quality.
Determining which of these you value most will help you make the decision to buy one brand over the other, which will significantly narrow your search.
The higher the clock speed of a GPU, the faster it will be able to produce graphics, and the better able it will be to keep up with demanding games (see also the best GPUs for 1080p 144Hz gaming). You want to look at base clock speed vs. gaming clock speed vs. boost clock speed to determine what the balance is.
In general, the gaming clock speed will determine how it performs under demanding games, so pay special attention to that if you have a habit of playing intense games.
The memory speed, bandwidth, and interface play an integral role in how fast your GPU is able to load graphics and process new information. You want a high-count memory bus and a high bandwidth for optimal performance.
Graphics cards come in either dual-slot, single-slot, compact, and low-profile form factors. For small builds, you’ll want one of the latter three to fit your motherboard and case best. If you’re building on an ATX or larger motherboard, you should be able to support a dual-slot card, which generally has a higher performance output.
Thermal Design Power
TDP determines how much power your card needs to operate and is an indicator of how hot you can expect the GPU to get under stress. The more power it requires, the hotter it will get, and the better cooling you’ll need to keep it at a safe operating temperature.
When the price isn’t scalped up to 400% over MSRP, the RTX 3060 Ti FE is easily the best GPU under $400. It offers real-time ray-tracing, DLSS technology, insane processing and memory speed, and a great TDP.
I want to start by saying that this GPU has fallen prone to scalpers during the shortage and is currently priced over 400% of what it was released at. That being said, a patient builder would gain a lot from waiting for the price to drop back down to normal.
This graphics card, powered by Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 Ti card, offers unparalleled performance. The RTX lineup prides itself on real-time ray-tracing and, with 4864 stream processors and a boost clock speed of 1670 MHz, stunning visuals are no problem at all.
This card also has 8GB of GDDR6 memory with a 256-bit memory bus capable of storing and accessing VRAM at 448 Gbps. This allows you to load graphics-heavy environments without delay and is a great feature for solo RPG gamers.
Overall, the power this card provides is insane for its price, and its 200W TDP makes it a worthwhile investment. You will, however, want a good cooling setup and a PSU with over 600W to keep it running smoothly throughout your sessions.
What We Like
Ray-Tracing - Ray-tracing is an essential for gamers with an eye for detail, and for $400 MSRP, this graphics card exceeds expectations. You get stunning real-time ray-tracing in a sleek package.
Memory - This card has ample, efficient VRAM that’s sure to be able to keep up with any environment you throw at it.
Cooling - This graphics card comes with a dual-fan setup, which keeps the card cool during long sessions. Invest in good case fans if you intend to run intensive games for long periods of time.
Know Before Buying
Price - As I mentioned above, The Great Scalping of 2022 has driven this card’s price up to an insufferable amount. Be patient, hunt down preorders and restocks, and you’ll be happy with the power this $400 MSRP card provides.
TDP - A TDP of 200W is reasonable for a powerful card like this, but you’ll need to have a suitable 600W PSU and ample cooling to keep it at maximum performance.
The GeForce RTX 2060 is a predecessor to the RTX 3060, but provides a similar level of performance for a bit less money. It has real-time ray-tracing, efficient power consumption, and slightly less memory and stream processors than the 3060 without sacrificing too much performance.
Another victim of scalpers and shortages, this card will require some patience to purchase at MSRP. However, the wait is worth it; this card offers a high level of performance and stunning graphics with RTX technology.
It has much less processing power than the 3060, with only 1920 stream processors. While this is still enough to handle most AAA titles, it might not be enough for intense gamers looking for the most bang for their buck.
It also has 2GB less VRAM and a slower bandwidth, but still ample capacity and speed to load highly detailed environments without much trouble. The card comes equipped with the Windforce 3X Cooling System, which is a very efficient triple-fan setup that keeps the card cool under stress.
Its TDP is higher than the RTX 3060 but, with a sufficient PSU and case cooling setup, the power consumption is negligible and still lower than many others in its class. Overall, a great runner-up graphics card for those not willing to wait for a 3060.
What We Like
Ray-Tracing - Like the RTX 3060 Ti, this graphics card offers real-time ray-tracing capable of displaying stunning visuals that enhance your gaming experience every time you play.
Cooling - The triple-fan setup on this fan is unprecedented and largely unrivaled, which reduces the need for investing in expensive case fans and cooling systems.
Software - Every Nvidia card comes with GeForce Experience, which allows users to easily toggle and monitor GPU settings and take beautiful in-game pictures.
Know Before Buying
Processors - This GPU has under half as many stream processors as the 3060 Ti, which means it might struggle a little with heavy-duty games on max settings.
TDP - While 278W is a relatively low TDP, you’ll want to make sure the rest of your system is equipped with ample cooling to keep this at the safest operating temperature for maximum performance.
The GeForce GTX 1660 Super PE (yes, another Nvidia chip) offers remarkable performance and incredibly efficient power utility in an affordable package. You won’t get ray-tracing like with the RTX series, but this card offers excellent performance in every other department.
The GTX 1660 Super PE can be found closer to its MSRP easier than the two prior options on this list, and is worth the investment for budget-oriented gamers that want maximum performance.
With 1408 stream processors and boost clock speed of 1830 MHz, this game loads environments in a smooth, efficient manner, making dense games with heavy graphics look great with minimal effort.
The memory capabilities are similar to the RTX 2060 with 6GB GDDR6 and a bandwidth of 336 Gbps; this card can handle most AAA titles on high settings and any esports title with ease.
It has a remarkably low power consumption of 125W, which means you won’t need to shell out a chunk of cash just for a giant PSU. It has only one fan but, with ample case coolers and a low 125W consumption, it’s not at great risk of overheating.
Overall, this is a great budget card if you can find it at MSRP, and it will provide enough power for most games that you throw at it.
What We Like
Software - This card is compatible with Asus’s GPU Tweak II software which, like GeForce Experience, allows you to easily control your GPU’s settings and monitor its metrics.
Auto-Extreme - Asus manufactures their cards using their Auto-Extreme process, which completely solders the card in one pass. This reduces thermal degradation and minimizes the risk of you losing the “silicone lottery”.
TDP - At 125W, the TDP of this card is hyper-efficient and keeps your card from overheating or drawing power away from your other components.
Know Before Buying
Cooling - While the single fan on this card is great, it is only one fan. You’ll want ample case cooling to take some of the stress away from the single fan on the card.
No RTX - As the GTX name implies, this card does not have ray-tracing functionality. The GTX series offers great performance, but for ray-tracing you’ll want an RTX series card.
Huzzah, an AMD graphics card on the list! The Radeon RX 5600 XT is an AMD-based graphics card that produces similar performance to a GTX 1660, but consumes less power and operates at a lower temperature. A great pick for budget-oriented AMD fanatics, you won’t be disappointed with this card.
For starters, the Radeon RX 5600 XT offers more stream processors than the GTX 1660 Super, with a boost clock speed of 1750 MHz; more than enough power for most AAA titles, though you may have to lower your settings on the more demanding titles.
In the memory department, this card has reliable stability with 6GB of GDDR6 (a standard for cards in this range) and a bandwidth of 336 Gbps. This allows you to run esports titles with ease and generate fine details in larger games without difficulty.
It has a dual-fan setup and a remarkably low TDP of 150W. It hardly consumes enough power to need additional cooling, but a solid case fan will keep this card at maximum performance for hours of gaming at a time.
Overall, this is the best AMD card for under $400 (if you can find it) and should be heavily considered by builders and gamers who want a great blend of performance and price.
What We Like
VR - The processing and computational power of this graphics card is ideal for VR gaming, though you’ll want a suitable CPU to match for optimal performance.
TDP - A TDP of 150W is unprecedented in cards with this much power, but should not be ignored. This GPU stays cool in quiet under almost every condition.
Software - The Dragon Center software from MSI allows for easy control of GPU settings and the RGB Mystic Lighting setup that comes on some models.
Know Before Buying
Ray-Tracing - Unfortunately, this card does not offer ray-tracing functionality, but it still is a powerful card for producing stunning graphics.
Price - Like most others on this list, the price of this graphics card has skyrocketed, so you’ll want to wait for it to drop back down to get the most value out of your purchase.
With prices the way they are right now, the GeForce GTX 1650 Super Gaming is the best graphics card you can get at a reasonable price (if it’s in stock). It provides a decent amount of performance for most tasks, but marks lower in every spec compared to the other options on this list.
The GeForce GTX 1650 is a remarkable graphics card for what it is: a budget GPU designed to as much as it should, but not much more. Its saving grace is the 100W TDP, which means this graphics card isn’t likely to overheat.
It has 1280 stream processors, which is enough for any esports title and a good chunk of dense AAA titles. However, its boost clock speed is only 1750 MHz, so you won’t be running games like Cyberpunk 2077 on max settings without hearing about it from your GPU.
It has less memory than the other options on this list, but 4GB of VRAM is enough to handle a wide variety of tasks. It only has a 192 Gbps bandwidth, though, which might get bogged down under intense gaming or multitasking.
Overall, this is a great graphics card if you need it soon and don’t want to pay over $1000 for a card whose MSRP was initially below $400.
What We Like
Price - This card has largely escaped scalpers looking to make a quick buck from the public’s desperation, so you should be able to find it easier and cheaper than the other cards on this list.
TDP - With a TDP of 100W, this card requires little from your system and is great for small, budget-oriented builds.
Know Before Buying
Processing Power - While this card will still provide decent performance for most games, it lacks the spunk that other, more expensive cards possess.
Memory - With half the VRAM of the RTX 3060, this card will struggle to keep up with a multitude of open applications and with quickly loading dense game environments.
In the end, there really aren’t many graphics cards for under $400 right now. However, with patience and a bit of luck, any of these cards will serve your system well. In particular, the RTX 3060 will outperform the rest, but it’s unlikely that the price of that card will drop into a reasonable range in the near future.
Honestly? Whichever one you can find within your budget. 2022 is almost over, but hopefully, 2022 brings a change in GPU pricing so you can pick up the RTX 3060 for a reasonable price.
Is It Better to Have One or Two GPUs?
Unless you’re gaming with two monitors, a single GPU should be enough for your system. With two monitors, your graphics processing power is split between the two, so that’s when you’d want a second GPU to assist.
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