When is it a good time to upgrade your GPU?

NZXT H1 (Image credit: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

When is it a good time to upgrade your GPU?

Best answer: You should upgrade the GPU if it becomes a bottleneck for your PC to play the latest, most demanding games. If the rest of your PC is also dated, you may need to replace more than the GPU.Best 1440p AMD GPU: XFX RX 5600 XT RAW II PRO (opens in new tab) ($320 at Best Buy)Best 1440p NVIDIA GPU: ASUS RTX 2060 SUPER (opens in new tab) ($450 at Best Buy)Best 4K AMD GPU: XFX RX 5700 XT RAW II (opens in new tab) ($380 at Best Buy)Best 4K NVIDIA GPU: EVGA RTX 2080 Ti XC Ultra Gaming (opens in new tab) ($1,250 at Best Buy)

When should you upgrade your GPU?

Upgrading your GPU should be considered if it becomes the bottleneck. If your CPU usage remains low and you have at least 16GB of RAM, you should be good to upgrade to a newer, more powerful GPU, like one of our picks for best graphics card. But if your CPU is also old and not able to keep up with the latest games, or you don't yet have 16GB of RAM, the performance boost will be restricted.

Playing the latest games on PC requires not only a capable GPU, but also CPU, RAM, and storage (for speedier loading times). The graphics card is undoubtedly the most crucial component for playing video games, but it's not the only component that matters. An Intel Celeron processor could become the bottleneck if you upgrade to an RTX 2080 Ti, for instance.

If your GPU is at 100% in a game and it's stuttering at the settings and resolution you desire to play at, it's time for an upgrade. Depending on your screen resolution, we've rounded up recommendations for AMD and NVIDIA at 1440p and 4K.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.