You can give your PC rig a boost with a new AMD graphics card without having to spend a bucket of cash.

With Polaris, AMD has taken a somewhat different approach to the market so far to main rival, NVIDIA. While the likes of the GTX 1070 and 1080 are taking on the world of 4K gaming and high-end VR, they come at a high price.

AMD has gone for the mass market, those who want top-level performance without breaking the bank. It started with the introduction of the RX 480, which started at $200 and promised "good VR." The 4GB version of the RX 480 seems none existent now, perhaps in part to the card featured here.

The best graphics card you can get right now for $200 or less is the Polaris-powered Radeon RX 470.

Update: 23 January 2017: We've updated this post to reflect some price changes on the RX 470 and to update the alternative suggestion to the NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB.

What is Polaris?

Polaris

In this instance, Polaris is AMD's latest architechture, used to power its RX series graphics cards and whatever comes next. The official blurb:

Polaris is a new graphics architecture incorporating exciting features and improvements for virtually every area of a graphics chip. Look for: increased levels of performance, smooth VR, seamless support for next-gen gaming monitors and CPU-free game streaming or recording. The Polaris architecture precisely combines the latest 14nm FinFET process and AMD's advanced power, gating and clocking technologies for a superior cool and quiet gaming experience.

Why it's the best

RX 470

You could hunt around and get a last-gen card from either NVIDIA or AMD for your rig, but you're not necessarily going to be getting anything better. The RX 470 is described by many as the "sweet spot for 1080p gaming" and it's hard to argue.

The RX 470 performs close to that of the 4GB RX 480, which could help explain why you don't seem to be able to get the 'higher' card in that configuration anymore. At $200 you're not going to be pushing boundaries much over 1080p anyway, so why not get the best experience you can at that resolution.

Hardware wise, too, the RX 470 is essentially a slimmed down RX 480. The boost clock and memory are a little lower, and there are 32 Compute Units compared to 36 in the RX 480. The RX 470 is 10% cheaper than the RX 480, but it's not 10% less of a graphics card, making it a terrific value. AMD's software allows you to tinker a little if you're so inclined and the RX 470 is ready for DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 ports and offers support for HDR.

Pricing will vary across retailers and non-reference designs, so in some instances, you may have to go a tad over $200 to get the exact card you want. But, now prices have begun to stabilize and drop in some regards, it's even possible to get an 8GB RX 470 for $200, such as the Sapphire Nitro we've linked below. At this price for this much graphics card, it's an absolute steal.

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Alternative - NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB

NVIDIA GTX 1060

The main alternative at this price point is the NVIDIA GTX 1060, but only the 3GB version and not the 6GB. The GTX 1060 is a terrific graphics card build on NVIDIAs latest generation, Pascal architecture, but like its bigger brothers, it also comes at a higher price.

But if you're budgeting around 200 bucks for your GPU and you simply have to go for the green team, the GTX 1060 is a good shout. It balances power efficiency with great performance that'll have you pounding out the latest games with ease at 1080p.

The added bonus to the 3GB GTX 1060 is that it's available in mini form, which is perfect for those ultra-small PC builds. If size isn't an issue, something like the Gigabyte Windforce linked below is a solid choice.

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