When is it a good time to upgrade your GPU?
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.
Best 1440p AMD GPU
Stepping up to the AMD RX 5600 XT unlocks 1440p gaming at considerably high visual settings in plenty of modern titles. It's a solid GPU with 6GB GDDR6 RAM and plenty of processing power to handle even the more demanding games.
Best 1440p NVIDIA GPU
The RTX 2060 SUPER is a super good GPU, matching similar levels of performance as a 1070 Ti with the added ability to do some ray tracing without really damaging frame rates. With 8GB GDDR6 RAM and the exceptional Turing platform from NVIDIA, you've got a killer mid-tier GPU here.
Best 4K AMD GPU
The 5700 XT from AMD is an excellent platform for 1440p and some lighter 4K gaming. AMD has yet to bring out the big guns to take on NVIDIA's RTX 2080 and RTX 2080 Ti, but this card is about as good as we're going to get for the time being. Just be sure not to crank everything up if you're going 4K.
Best 4K NVIDIA GPU
This is the big one. The RTX 2080 Ti is pricey, but there's a good reason for that. It's an excellent platform, even for 4K gaming. It's overkill for most PC games available to play today, but if you somehow have a 4K panel with a high refresh rate, this GPU will be able to pump out enough frames.
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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.