The best

NVIDIA GTX 1080

GTX 1080

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The GTX 1080 isn't NVIDIA's most powerful graphics card, but it is the one to go for if you're a gamer. It's substantially cheaper than the Titan X and the latest Pascal architecture means immense performance, lower power draw and silky smooth gaming. It'll also kick the pants off your VR set up.

As the GTX 1080 Ti has since launched, prices for the GTX 1080 are starting to drop. It's possible to get one under $600 right now.

Bottom line: The GTX 1080 is perfect for high-end gaming and VR. It's a significant step forward from previous generations.

One more thing: As always, different manufacturers have variants with their own spin on the GTX 1080, so there are lots to choose from.

Why the GTX 1080 is the best

PC gaming isn't cheap and you should always go with the best you can afford. But if you can afford the GTX 1080, it's going to give you the very best experience and be useful for many years to come. The year 2016 saw the long awaited debut of the Pascal architecture, and the new consumer flagship cards built on it. The GTX 1080 is not only much more powerful than its predecessor, the GTX 980 Ti, it's less power hungry, too, while delivering resolutions and frame rates that were once only dreamed of.

Whether gaming in 2D or VR, the 1080 is the king of the hill.

Beyond gaming in 2D, the GTX 1080 is an absolute monster that will give you the very best VR experience, as well. You can spend less and still have a decent VR-capable PC, but the GTX 1080 will deliver much more than just decent.

Even though the new GTX 1080 Ti is more powerful, it's not necessarily worth dropping everything for and getting. It's more expensive, for one, and its arrival has pushed prices down a little on the GTX 1080.

The GTX 1080 has enough graphical power for pretty much any game on the market right now at 4K resolution. It's still the one to buy.

Best mid-tier

AMD RX Vega 56

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AMD finally jumped back into the higher-end graphics card space with RX Vega, and the Vega 56 is one heck of a graphics card. It's not necessarily easy to get hold of right now, but it's taking the fight to NVIDIA's GTX 1070 and in most cases, winning.

The RX Vega 56 boasts 8GB of 2048-bit HBM high-bandwidth GDDR5 memory. At 1080p it'll be best friends with the new 240Hz monitors, and you'll get a stellar experience at 1440p in most games as well.

Prices are somewhat fluctuating at the time of writing, costing anywhere between $500 and $600 (and possibly more), but it should settle down when demand drops a little.

Bottom line: AMD is back taking on NVIDIA at the higher-end and coming out with a winner.

One more thing: As now seems to be the norm with new AMD card, they're not the easiest nor cheapest things right now. Hopefully, this should die off as initial demand subsides.

Best budget

NVIDIA GTX 1060

GTX 1060

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Not everyone is shooting for the very highest resolution or 1,000,000 frames per second. Also based on the new-generation Pascal architecture is the GTX 1060, a low cost card for the mid-tier that still delivers a superb gaming experience at 1080p. It's about a third of the price of the GTX 1080 while still having either 3GB or 6GB of memory, and it is available in both reference and third-party configurations. It'll also still power VR, which is pretty fantastic for the price.

3GB cards can be had for around $200, while 6GB ones are still a reasonable $300.

Bottom line: It delivers VR and top-notch 1080p gaming at a great price.

One more thing: NVIDIA also made the 1060 in the almost identical form available for laptops.

Best for 4K

NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti

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Apart from the Titan Xp, the 1080 Ti is NVIDIAs most powerful consumer graphics card to date. And at a fraction of the cost of a Titan, you get performance that matches it very closely.

You get 11GB of GDDR5X memory, and as with other Pascal based cards, ultimate power and efficient power consumption. If you want to game at 4K, the GTX 1080 Ti is the card to get, and it'll deliver eyeball-shredding performance at other resolutions, too.

It's not cheap at around $800 and up, but it's more power than you probably need on hand in 2017. It's crazy!

Bottom line: Ultimate power for the best 4K gaming experience on the market today.

One more thing: Unlike years past you won't need a monster power supply for one of these. 600W and above is enough.

The best

NVIDIA GTX 1080

GTX 1080

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The GTX 1080 isn't NVIDIA's most powerful graphics card, but it is the one to go for if you're a gamer. It's substantially cheaper than the Titan X and the latest Pascal architecture means immense performance, lower power draw and silky smooth gaming. It'll also kick the pants off your VR set up.

As the GTX 1080 Ti has since launched, prices for the GTX 1080 are starting to drop. It's possible to get one under $600 right now.

Bottom line: The GTX 1080 is perfect for high-end gaming and VR. It's a significant step forward from previous generations.

One more thing: As always, different manufacturers have variants with their own spin on the GTX 1080, so there are lots to choose from.

Updated September 18, 2017: Our top pick remains the same but there are new options for the mid-tier and budget segments, along with a new category for 4K gaming.