What Is A Really Good Video Card for Gaming at 1080p?
Broadly asking what is a good video card for gaming is a bit of a loaded question. That being said, we’ll do the best I can! But before we answer it, we need some technical background first.
1080p resolution is the most common, and the easiest to run of the big three (1080p, 1440p, and 4K). In years past, you typically looked at GPUs with 2-4GB of VRAM, a respectable amount of cores, and a price point of about $150-$300. You look for about the same specs now, but as games become more visually taxing, the GPUs become more powerful.
The ESport Breakdown
ESport games such as Rocket League, Overwatch, League of Legends, DOTA, and CSGO don’t typically require much to run smoothly at 1080p. These games are even easier to run at lower quality settings at 1080p as well (but who wants to turn down graphics…). Luckily, you can get away with a GTX 1050Ti 4GB for the heavier hitters (Rocket League and Overwatch), and even a GTX 1050 or GT 1030 will be fine for the rest.
Turning these games up to max quality may require a GTX 1060 3GB/6GB, though that’s really the best card needed for 1080p/max/60FPS.
If you have a monitor with a 144hz refresh rate, you’ll want to hit 144FPS pretty consistently.
Playing Overwatch at 1080p/max/144FPS requires a GTX 1070, or you can turn down a few settings to use a GTX 1060 6GB.
Games like Shadow of War, Need for Speed, Titanfall, Bioshock, The Witcher 3, and Rise of the Tomb Raider are a bit more demanding to run, and thus can require a beefier video card. That being said, the GTX 1050Ti 4GB is still a valid choice (we’ve seen a GTX 970 4GB do quite well in all of those titles at high quality, and it’s about the same caliber as a 1050Ti).
If you want to turn up the graphics more on big modern AAA games, you’ll need at least a GTX 1060 6GB. This is typically the go-to video card for high-quality 1080p gaming at 60FPS.
If you want to max out something like The Witcher 3, or decide to run at 144FPS, you’ll need a GTX 1070.
The Big Dogs
There are a few other games like Crysis 3, Deux Ex: Mankind Divided, and Metro Last Light that really hammer video cards to death. These games (The Witcher 3 included) require a GTX 1070 if you want to turn them up high.
That being said, we’ve seen a GTX 970 run Crysis 3 at High, and get about 50-60FPS pretty smoothly. You shouldn’t find a game that needs a GTX 1080, while in 1080p.