Your graphics card is an essential component of your gaming rig. A slow GPU can make gaming one heck of a frustrating experience for you, while a powerful GPU can make you walk on water. 🎮 😢
Asides other factors such as onboard video memory and compatibility, your budget is a primary factor of the sort of graphics card you’ ll be getting.
To ensure you get some of the best graphic cards under $100, we reviewed graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia to find the best GPUs for gaming that will play your games smoothly but still fit your budget. These GPUs won’t throttle the performance of your gaming PC or frustrate you during in-game activity.
Best Choice: MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 2GB GDRR3
Pros & Cons
- Fairly fast base speed
- FHD resolution supported
- Only good for mid-range games
- 4096 x 2160 Maximum Resolution on HDMI
- Base Clock: 954 Mhz
- 2GB DDR3 Memory
MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 2GB GDRR3 Review
The MSI Gaming GeForce GT 710 is an affordable, easy to install a graphics card that will guarantee you a better than expected performance when compared to most cards within its price range.
MSI’s GT 710 is an excellent pick for any gamer searching for a great GPU under $100. Its 2GB RAM version clocks at 954 MHz, and its memory speed clocks at 1.6 GHz. The GeForce software allows you to get the latest drivers and optimize in-game settings with a single click.
However, the 710 is not a high-performance gaming graphics card, so don’t expect it to respond well if you try to grind out 60+ frame rates from the video card. However, it will play most mid-range game titles comfortably.
Premium Pick: Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile
Pros & Cons
- Play new games in low & medium settings
- Decent 2GB RAM
- Minimal use of power
- Not noisy
- Typically for beginners
- One-click overclocking via AORUS Graphics Engine
- 6008 MHz Base Clock
- 2GB DDR5
- 6 GHz Memory speed
- 1506 GHz in OC Mode and 1468 GHz in Gaming Mode
Gigabyte Nvidia GeForce GT 1030 Low Profile Review
The Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 low profile card is designed for beginner and casual gamers. Designed with Nvidia’s latest architecture, the GT 1030 allows you to play graphics-intensive games smoothly without much of a lag in performance or image quality.
The GT 1030 doesn’t compromise on performance, its GDDR5 64 -bit memory enables you to play intensive game titles at mid-low settings. Allowing 60 MHz refresh rates, and clocking at 6008 MHz, you will be getting great value for money with this GPU.
It’s custom-designed fans handle heat dissipation effortlessly, keeping noise at a minimum while optimizing and ensuring maximum airflow. This functionality allows you to enjoy marathon gaming sessions without the occasional image freeze due to overheating.
The AORUS graphics engine lets you customize and optimize your card according to your specific needs, enabling you to derive excellent performance from your GPU with overclocking.
The GTX 1030 graphics card is our best quality graphics card under 100 dollars, and an excellent choice for gamers looking get graphics cards with a limited budget.
Best Value: EVGA GeForce 8400 1GB
Pros & Cons
- Large & Quiet Fan
- Perfect for playing online games
- No frame drops observed on medium settings
- Low FPS on high settings
- 8 Cuda cores
- Clock: 520 MHz
- Video Memory: 1GB GDDR3
- Memory Interface: 64-bit
- Size: 11 x 1.5 x 7.5 in
EVGA GeForce 8400 1GB Review
The EVGA GeForce 8400 1GB is a fantastic low-profile card that enables gamers to save space when building their gaming rig.
If you want to run newer titles on low settings or play older video games, this graphics card is an excellent choice – delivering high performance and outstanding multi-visual clarity and realism.
The EVGA’s capacitors guarantee superior stability and a long lifespan – no matter how hard you push this beast. Its GDDR3 onboard video memory allows you to play most games smoothly, without any frustrating lag.
Keep in mind that this is an extremely cheap GPU and that it’s a good choice only if you’re content with running the games you play on low settings. Some of the newer titles might be completely out of EVGA 8400’s league.
Best Cooling: MSI Radeon R7 240
Pros & Cons
- Doesn’t require additional power connections
- 64-bit memory interface
- 2 GB of VRAM
- Dust-proof Fan
- FPS drops at high resolutions
- DirectX 12 compatible
- 600 GHz Memory speed
- Memory Interface: 64-bit
- 2GB GDDR3
- Base Clock 730 MHz – up to 780 MHz
MSI Radeon R7 240 Review
If you are looking for a budget graphics card that can perform smoothly at high resolutions, then the MSI Radeon R7 240 was made for you.
Featuring 384 stream processors, the MSI Radeon R7 240 clocks at 730 GHz and requires no additional power connections – plug it into the PCI Express socket and play.
Its exclusively formulated superalloy components boost in-game performance by reducing power loss, enhancing durability and cooling during marathon gaming sessions.
MSI’s unique fan design disperses heat capably while extending the lifespan of the graphics card by 25% – the fan works by reducing the amount of dust and particles that encounter the graphics card.
The MSI Radeon R7 240 is a solid budget graphics card, but you can’t expect to run any of the newer titles while using it. However, it’s a solid choice for those who want to replay older titles or enjoy casual games.
Are you thinking of getting a budget graphics card? The MSI Radeon R7 240 unquestionably ticks all the boxes for a great value buy.
Most Silent: XFX AMD Radeon RX 550 4GB Core Edition
Pros & Cons
- Great solution for upgrading
- Acceptable performance
- Low Price
- Fans could be quieter
- Overclocking with just a single click
- XFX True Clock Technology
- 4GB GDDR5
- PCI Express 3.0 x16 connection
- Standard Clock – 1,100 MHz
- Turbo Clock – 1183 MHz
XFX AMD Radeon RX 550 Review
Okay, so this one is $10 more expensive than you’d like when not on a discount. However, Amazon lowers its price quite often, so we decided to include it on our list as it’s an awesome graphics card for gaming.
The AMD Radeon RX 550 is an inexpensive GPU that is geared towards beginner gamers and those who don’t mind gaming on medium/low settings. While you might not be able to enjoy extremely high frame rates and might experience some bottlenecks, it is a great budget way to enjoy new releases.
Regarding specs, XFX RX 550 has 2 GBs of 128-bit GDDR5 memory and it can handle resolutions up to 4K. Sadly, at this price level, 8K is impossible.
Semi-passive fans will remain off when the GPU is under a pre-defined temperature for low power gaming. This allows gamers to enjoy the gameplay in complete silence when the system is running light or idle.
Best GPUs Under $100: Buying Guide
Size and Connectivity: Compatibility is Necessary
When looking to purchase a graphics card for your gaming PC, size and compatibility are some of the most important things to consider. First of all, you must make sure that your case is big enough to accommodate the GPU of your choice.
If you own a smaller PC case like a micro-ATX, a giant GPU with multiple fans and a chunky heatsink simply won’t do. On the contrary, if you own a large full-tower PC case, fitting a larger card in there won’t be a problem. You may even be able to fit multiple GPUs into your case if it’s big enough.
Similarly, you should also check the video outputs on the GPU you wish to purchase. Most modern gaming monitors use HDMI and DisplayPort, while some older models use DVI. For this reason, it is vital that you ensure the graphics card you want has the connectors you require for your monitor. If it doesn’t, you will have to purchase an additional adapter. On the topic of gaming monitors, if you’re in the market for once, why not take a quick look at our article on the best 1080p gaming monitors?
Stream Processors or CUDA Cores: AMD vs Nvidia
When shopping for a GPU, you’ll have likely come across the terms CUDA cores (Nvidia) or Stream Processors (AMD). While the number of cores mean slightly different things, both are responsible for handling the data that goes through a graphics card.
Therefore, the higher the number of Stream Processors or CUDA Cores, the better the graphics card will be at rendering visuals. If you want to know more information on the difference between the two competitors, why not take a look at our AMD vs Nvidia article?
Memory and Bandwidth: Speedy Performance
Memory and bandwidth also very important things to look out for when purchasing a GPU for gaming. In terms of memory, you should opt for a card with at least 4GB of RAM for gaming at 1080p. Unless you’re gaming at ultra-high resolutions, such as 4K, you won’t necessarily require more RAM. When it comes to bandwidth, we recommend GDDR5 memory since it provides better performance GDDR3. Even 1GB GDDR5 is better than 4GB GDDR3 in terms of overall performance.
Virtual Reality: Can It Support VR
If you want to future-proof your rig, you’re going to need a powerful GPU capable of running virtual reality games. The thing is, you won’t be able to do that using just any old budget-friendly GPU. Instead, you may require a very powerful 1080 Ti graphics card depending on the system and what you wish to play. One of the most popular headsets on the market, the Oculus Rift, requires an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060/AMD Radeon RX 480 or better. You’ll also have to purchase an Intel Core i5 processor to use the Rift.
Interested in purchasing a VR headset? By using one of our chosen quality VR systems, you’ll be able to escape reality by transporting into a virtual universe outside of your bedroom.
Best GPU Under $100: Frequently Asked Questions
Is a GTX 1050 Good for Gaming?
Although ‘gaming’ is a very broad term, a GTX 1050 is an entry-level GPU that’s definitely sufficient for gaming. While playing the latest and most demanding titles, you may have to change the settings to medium or even low. Still, at 1080p a GTX 1050 should run most modern games at 60 FPS (frames per second).
If you wish to purchase a GTX 1050 GPU, we’ve conveniently included one in our guide to the best GPUs under $150. Sure, you’ll have to increase your budget $50, but we say that it’s totally worth it.
On another note, if you can afford to wait, it’s better to save up and get an awesome GTX 1070 in a few months. It’s not extremely expensive and it will support your gaming adventures for years to come.
Is 4GB Graphics Card Enough for Gaming?
Currently, 4GB of VRAM is enough for 1080p gaming. Albeit, this completely depends on what games you play. In some games, you may have to turn down the graphical textures in settings from high to medium, though the difference isn’t always noticeable. With that said, 4GB is the bare minimum and you definitely don’t want to go below this in 2020. For 1440p gaming, we recommend opting for a card with 6- to 8GB of VRAM.
Is RTX Better Than GTX? (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 vs RTX 2080)
In terms of overall performance, the RTX 2080 is slightly better compared to the GTX 1080. As 2080 is a newer card, it’s clearly going to be much faster than the GTX 1080. Therefore if you’re looking to build a monster gaming rig, 2080 is the way to go. With that said, the GTX 1080 is much cheaper and will still enable you to play the latest and greatest AAA games.
Overall, if you want to future-proof your gaming PC, we recommend splashing the cash on an RTX 2080 GPU.
Will the 1080 Ti Price Drop?
As the demand for the 1080 Ti GPU is still fairly high, we don’t believe there will be a drop in price any time soon. And since it’s such a powerful card, we aren’t surprised, either.
So, unless you buy a second hand 1080 Ti graphics card, you’re going to have a limb or two on the black market in order to afford one. Saying that you may find a good deal on holidays such as Black Friday and CyberMonday, so keep your eyes peeled.
Building a gaming PC to play the latest and greatest games shouldn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. This is why we have just proven that finding a high-quality GPU under $100 isn’t impossible. In fact, it’s far from it.
When on the hunt for the best GPUs in the sub-$100 range, we made sure to consider VRAM and compatibility. This way, you won’t end up wasting your time or money on a useless piece of kit. Pair one of the GPUs from our list with a budget-friendly CPU and you’ll be on your way to building the perfect budget gaming PC.
If your budget is a little higher, why not take a look at our guide to the best graphics cards under $300? Whether you’re upgrading your current rig or starting from scratch, we have the GPU for you.