These are the best budget graphics cards you can buy in 2022

These are the best budget graphics cards you can buy in 2022

2021 has been a rough year for GPUs and PC enthusiasts as a whole. While the GPU shortage situation hasn’t improved yet, things are expected to get better in a few months. That’s right, it looks like we’ll finally be able to buy budget GPUs again in 2022. Despite the lack of availability of existing GPUs, both Nvidia and AMD managed to keep the market busy with plenty of new launches. It’s safe to say that we’ll have a lot of affordable/budget GPUs to buy as soon as the stocks start flowing through the retail, which is why we wanted to highlight some of the best budget GPU options. So in this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the best budget graphics cards you can buy in 2022.

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Despite the lower price tag, a lot of the new budget graphics cards don’t skimp on performance. The best budget graphics cards on the market come equipped with plenty of power to help you push through even the modern titles at 1080p with decent graphics settings. It’s true that the best graphics cards on the market get all the attention, but you don’t necessarily have to spend upwards of $1000 on GPUs for gaming or even content creation. So let’s get started with the list and check out the available options.

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Best budget Nvidia graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU

MSI RTX 3050 GPU

Nvidia decided to put an end to all the rumors and speculations with the launch of its new GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. Announced at CES 2022, the GeForce RTX 3050 GPU is the company’s new budget king starting at just $249. The RTX 3050, in case you’re wondering, undercuts Nvidia’s previous entry-level graphics card, the RTX 3060. That particular GPU was priced at $329, which means the new budget GPU is $80 cheaper.

The RTX 3050 GPU is built on Nvidia’s Ampere architecture and yes, it supports ray-tracing. In fact, the RTX 3050 GPU promises to be Nvidia’s most affordable entry into the world of ray-tracing. The RT performance of the RTX 3050 is obviously not going to be as good as it is in the case of high-end GPUs. However, we expect it to perform better at 1080p, especially with DLSS. Yes, the RTX 3050 GPU also has Tensor cores to enable things like its AI-based DLSS upscaling. This makes it a really good offering despite the affordable price tag.

In terms of specifications, the RTX 3050 GPU packs 2,560 CUDA cores along with second-gen RT and third-gen Tensor cores. We’re looking at an 8nm GA106-150 GPU with a base clock of 1.55GHz and a boost clock of 1.78GHz. The RTX 3050 comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory and a 128-bit memory interface for a 224 GB/s memory bandwidth. The RTX 3050 also has an effective memory clock of 14Gbps and a maximum computing power of 9.10TFLOPS. The RTX 3050 is still not as powerful as the RTX 3060, but we think it comes close. According to Nvidia, the RTX 3050 is powerful enough to allow gamers to experience ray-tracing at 1080p with 60FPS across different titles. That’s impressive, but we’re yet to put this particular GPU to the test.

The new RTX 3050 is said to have a total graphics power of 130W and Nvidia is recommending a 550W PSU to run this particular GPU. In terms of the general performance, Nvidia is comparing the RTX 3050 with its older GPUs like the GTX 1650, GTX 1050 Ti, etc. Well, that makes perfect sense because the RTX 3050 is essentially an upgrade to the outgoing GTX 1650 graphics card. It’s definitely worth upgrading to the new RTX 3050 if you’re using one of the older 16-series graphics cards.

Just like the RTX 3060 graphics card, there’s no Nvidia-built Founder’s Edition model for the new RTX 3050. This means you’ll have to purchase one of the partner cards that are available on the market from the likes of ASUS, MSI, PNY, and more. It goes without saying that these OEMs may end up pricing their version of the RTX 3050 slightly above the $250 launch price. This particular graphics card, just like a lot of other options on the market, isn’t readily available on the market right now. However, you can hit the link below to keep an eye on the availability. We’ll update this space with updated purchase links if/when it goes on sale, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can check out our collection of the best Nvidia graphics cards to find your other available options on the market.

    The MSI GeForce RTX 3050 graphics card offers reliable performance and is a great option for gamers looking to experience 1080p gaming.

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Best budget AMD graphics card: AMD Radeon RX 6600

A black and silver colored MSI RX 6600 GPU

A couple of months before launching the new RX 6500 XT graphics card, AMD introduced us to the RX 6600 graphics card, which it said is a solid option for 1080p gamers. The RX 6600 graphics card came out in October 2021 and it was clearly targeted at gamers who are still used to playing at 1080p but still want high refresh rates. In an ideal world, this would be the only 1080p GPU you should buy from AMD, but the company followed this card with the RX 6500 XT. That being said, we’re still going to recommend the RX 6600 as one of the best budget GPUs on the market. It may not be the most affordable GPU out there, but it certainly gets the job done without breaking your bank.

The AMD Radeon RX 6600 has 28 compute units with 2,044MHz and 2,491MHz base and boost clock, respectively. We’re looking at 8GB of GDDR6 video memory over a 128-bit memory interface. This particular GPU also has 32MB of Infinity cache, which is higher than that of the RX 6500 XT that we saw earlier. The RX 6600 has a typical board power rating of 132W, which is more in line with what we’ve seen from other GPUs in this price range.

According to AMD, the new RX 6600 can deliver over 100FPS on many of the new AAA titles. We’re talking titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Battlefield 5, Resident Evil Village at max graphics settings. That’s quite impressive for a relatively affordable GPU since all of them are pretty demanding games. AMD also touts 1.3 times more performance per watt compared to NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 in the games mentioned above. This is an interesting claim, although it remains to be seen how this particular compares to Nvidia’s new RTX 3050 graphics card.

A couple of noteworthy features of the AMD RX 6600 GPU includes support for Smart Access Memory and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR). Smart Access memory accelerates the system access to the GPU’s memory buffer whereas FSR is essentially AMD’s competitor to Nvidia DLSS. FSR renders the games at lower resolutions and uses AI to upscale the visuals to native resolutions. There’s still work to be done when it comes to FSR, but its’ being adopted by a lot of developers and hardware vendors.

Just like the RX 6500 XT and a lot of other AMD GPUs, the RX 6600 graphics card is also available only through the partner OEMs such as ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and more. This particular GPU has a starting price of $329, which is higher than the RX 6500 XT. In fact, the RX 6600 is more in line with the RTX 3050 in terms of pricing. It’s not readily available on the market, though. Depending on the availability of stocks, you may have to pay a premium to get your hands on one of these GPUs, so keep an eye on the link below.

    The AMD Radeon RX 6600 is a budget graphics card geared towards 1080p gamers. It's a solid option to consider for those who're looking to enjoy 1080p gaming without spending too much money on high-end cards.

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Budget AMD graphics card worth checking out: AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT

A silver-colored AMD budget graphics card with a single fan

In addition to the new Ryzen 6000 series mobile chips and the Ryzen 7000 desktop CPUs, AMD also launched a new desktop graphics card at CES 2022. The new AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT joined the Radeon 6000 series family of graphics cards in January 2022 as the company’s new budget offering. Unlike some of the other recent AMD launches, the RX 6500 XT is a budget offering that carries a $199 price tag. This makes it cheaper than Nvidia’s new RTX 3050 GPU which was also announced at CES 2022. So there’s clearly no shortage of GPU launches, especially in the sub-$200 price range.

When it comes to the specs, the AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT packs 16 compute units along with 16 ray accelerators. We’re looking at a game frequency of 2,610MHz and a boost frequency of up to 2,815MHz. As for the memory configuration, the RX 6500 XT comes with 4GB of GDDR6 memory with 18Gbps speeds. It uses a 64-bit interface to offer a memory bandwidth of up to 144GB/s. The RX 6500 XT has a total graphics power of 107W and AMD is recommending a 400W PSU for a build with this graphics card.

The Radeon RX 6500 XT packs 1,024 RDNA 2 cores, which is half the cores of the RX 6600 XT. In fact, it’s even lower than the cores of the RX 6600 GPU. Another thing that’s worth pointing out is that the RX 6500 XT comes with 4GB OF GDDR6 VRAM, which is pretty low for 1080p gaming. The RTX 3050 GPU from Nvidia, for instance, comes with 8GB of VRAM, which we think is ideal. We’re yet to get our hands on this particular graphics card, so we’ll reserve our judgments for later. But it’s safe to say that the RX 6500 XT is here to serve the entry-level budget space. According to AMD, the new RX 6500 XT can serve up to 59% more gaming performance compared to the likes of GTX 1650 and the RX 570 graphics cards. That puts it in line with Nvidia’s new RTX 3050 GPU.

The AMD Radeon RX 6500 XT looked like a pretty good GPU on paper when it launched. It even offers decent 1080p gaming performance but you can’t ignore the fact that it comes with a rather unusual configuration. It only includes four PCIe lanes as opposed to the more usual eight or 16. While it makes sense with modern PCIe 4.0 in which each lane can deliver a large amount of bandwidth, it’s not ideal for those working with older PCIe 3.0 systems. As a result, it leaves a lot of performance on the table. You will definitely be missing out on some performance while gaming with this GPU, so keep that in mind. The RX 6500 XT is only available through partner OEMs like MSI, ASUS, ASRock, and more.

As is the case with other partner cards, you may have to pay slightly more than the $199 price based on the model. That’s assuming you end up finding one in stock from the partners. You can always hit the link below to see if this particular GPU is available in stock right now. In the meantime, you can check out our collection of the best AMD graphics cards you can buy in 2022. This list also includes all the best AMD GPUs, so you’re bound to find some good alternatives.

    AMD's Radeon RX 6500 XT offers good 1080p gaming performance for newcomers in this space. But you'll be operating under the limits imposed by its unusual configuration.

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Best budget Nvidia graphics card for 1080p gaming: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super

An MSI GTX 1660 Super graphics card with dual-fan design

Nvidia recently updated its budget GPU lineup with the RTX 3050 desktop card, but we think the GeForce GTX 1660 Super is still a capable 1080p card that’s worth considering. It may not be as powerful or as feature-packed as the new RTX 3050 GPU, but we think it still offers plenty of value for money. Priced at around $200, the GTX 1660 Super sits between the GTX 1660 and the GTX 1660 Ti in Nvidia’s Turning lineup and offers a significant bump in performance over the GTX 1660 GPU. In fact, it matches the general performance of the GTX 1660 Ti for around $50 less, making it a fantastic option for those looking to buy a budget graphics card.

In terms of specifications, the GTX 1660 Super comes with 1408 stream processors and 88 texture units. We’re looking at a 1,530MHz base clock and a 1,785MHz boost clock. As for the memory configuration, the GTX 1660 Super comes with 6GB of GDDR6 video memory with recorded memory speeds of up to 14Gbps. It handily beats both the GTX 1650 and the GTX 1660 graphics card to become a solid performer in the budget space.

One of the main differences between the GTX 1660 Super and the new RTX 3050 GPU is that the new model also comes with Tensor and RT cores to support features like DLSS and ray-tracing. If you don’t necessarily care about ray-tracing or DLSS, then we think the GTX 1660 Super is still worth considering in 2022. It’s not the most powerful GPU out there, but it’s certainly capable of handling games at 1080p without a hitch.

According to Nvidia, the GTX 1660 Super draws as much as 130W of power and it recommends using a 500W PSU for a build with this GPU. In terms of performance, the GTX 1660 Super is arguably the best GTX 16-series graphics card on the market. Sure, the GTX 1660 Ti performs slightly better in certain workloads, but it also carries a significantly higher price tag. The GTX 1660 Super represents what we consider to be a bang-for-buck GPU in its price range. In the TimeSpy test, for instance, the GTX 1660 Super is only about 5% slower than the GTX 1660 Ti. In the FireStike test, the difference is even more narrow, coming in at only about 2% slower than the GTX 1660 Ti.

The GTX 1660 Super shows similar performance in the real-world gaming tests too. We’re only looking at a marginal performance difference, making it a solid graphics card. Sadly, the current GPU market hasn’t exactly been kind to the GTX 1660 Super either. This particular GPU is also going for as high as $500 or more, which is simply too high for this GPU. The same is the case for the GTX 1660 Ti too, so it’s best you keep an eye on the market. We recommend checking out the link below to get the best price online for this particular graphics card.

    The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super is arguably the best GTX 16-series graphics card you can buy on the market right now.

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Best APU for entry-level gaming: AMD Ryzen 5 5600G

AMD’s Ryzen 5 5600G is one of the best APUs on the market right now, and it’s perfect for those who are looking to build an affordable entry-level gaming PC when GPU prices are essentially off the roof. We think the Ryzen 5 5600G is a great stopgap until the GPU market stabilizes. The Ryzen 5 5600G, for those of you who don’t know, is a six-core, twelve-thread processor with great integrated graphics. As a successor to the older gaming-focused Ryzen 5 3600G, the new processor offers better overall performance, be it for gaming or other day-to-day workloads.

In terms of specifications, the Ryzen 5 5600G comes with six cores and twelve threads. We’re looking at a base clock of 3.9GHz and a boost clock of 4.4GHz. The Ryzen 5 5600G also carries the Radeon RX Vega 7 integrated graphics to offer impressive gaming performance. This 65W TDP chip has a 16MB L3 cache and it drops in one of the existing AM4 CPU sockets. This 7nm APU isn’t as powerful as the IGP-less Ryzen 5 5600X, but we think it’s still capable of handling just about all the day-to-day workloads with ease.

When it comes to the gaming performance of the Ryzen 5 5600G, the integrated Vega 7 graphics is powerful enough to run even some of the modern titles at 720p or at 1080p with low settings. The Ryzen 5 5600G can deliver a solid 60FPS gameplay when it comes to games like Far Cry 5 at 720p low settings. At 1080p the frames are down to around 30FPS, but it handles the game very well. The same is the case with other AAA titles like the Rise of Tomb Raider. Esports titles like Rainbow Six Siege and Counter Strike Global Offensive run at over 150FPS even at 1080p medium settings.

The Ryzen 5 5600G is not as powerful as the Ryzen 7 5700G, but we think it matches the general performance of Ryzen 7 5700G for less money. The Ryzen 5 5600G handily beats just about every other older Intel CPU leading up to the 11th-gen Rocket Lake series. The Ryzen 7 5700G is still the better pick out of the two if you’re planning to pick up a discrete GPU down the line, but entry-level gamers will find plenty of what they need in the Ryzen 5 5600G.

Intel’s new 12th-gen Core i5-12600 beats the Ryzen 5 5600G, but we think it’s still relatively cheaper to build a PC with the Ryzen 5 5600G as opposed to 12600. Unlike the 12600 CPU, the Ryzen 5 5600G drops in one of the existing motherboards with an AM4 socket. These motherboards are readily available on the market, often at cheap prices too as opposed to the recently released Intel 600-series chipset-based motherboards.

Overall, we think the AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is a great option for those who want an IGP-equipped chip that can reliably run many games at 60FPS, albeit at low-graphics settings. We also recommend checking out the Ryzen 7 5700G if you can afford something slightly more expensive than the 5600G.

    The AMD Ryzen 5 5600G is a great APU for those who are currently struggling to buy a GPU on the market.

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Best budget graphics cards to buy in 2022: Final Thoughts

Both Nvidia and AMD have managed to launch new GPUs over the past year despite the limited availability of existing graphics cards. Well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because we now have some solid budget options to look forward to when the GPU market stabilizes later this year. We think the new Nvidia RTX 3050 essentially replaces a lot of GTX 16-series and older GPUs, while AMD’s new RX 6500 XT and RX 6600 stand as great options for entry-level rigs. Not to mention, both Intel and AMD also have some solid APUs for those who are really strapped for cash.

We’ll continue to monitor the budget GPU space through 2022 to see if we can add more options to this list. This is an ever-evolving list, so we’ll continue to update this over time with fresh options on the market. In the meantime, be sure to let us know your favorite picks when it comes to budget GPUs. You can also discuss the same in our XDA Computing Forums or get more GPU recommendations from the experts in our community.

About author

Karthik Iyer
Karthik Iyer

Karthik covers PC hardware for XDA Computing. When not at work, you will find him yelling at his monitors while playing video games.

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