Ray tracing allows game developers to light in-game environments with a level of depth and realism that previously wasn't possible, and ray tracing can also be used in graphics-related workflows as well. However, to actually use ray tracing, you'll need to be equipped with a ray tracing-compatible graphics card (GPU). GPUs that can handle ray tracing are some of the best graphics cards on the market, but knowing which one to choose can be a little tricky. Here's an overview of 10 awesome ray-tracing graphics cards.
- Best overall: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
- Best elite: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
- Best mid-range: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
- Best mid-range alternative: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- Best budget: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
- Best AMD alternative: AMD RX 6800 XT
- Best AMD elite: AMD RX 6900 XT
- Best AMD mid-range: AMD RX 6800
- Best AMD budget: AMD RX 6700 XT
- Best last-gen option: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
Best overall: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080Staff Favorite
The RTX 3080 is, pound-for-pound, the best ray-tracing graphics card available for 4K gaming or gaming at 1440p with crazy high FPS. If you want to turn your gaming PC into a powerhouse, this is the best card for the job.
Best elite: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090
The RTX 3090 will likely be overkill for many, but if you want something that can push 8K (yes, 8K!) or 4K at hundreds of FPS without melting down, it's your best option. It'll cost an arm and a leg to get, though.
Best mid-range: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
The RTX 3070 is the perfect graphics card for people who want to game at 1440p with ray tracing and high FPS. It can push a bit into 4K territory as well, making it the ultimate bang-for-your-buck GPU.
Best mid-range alternative: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
The RTX 3060 Ti is less powerful than its 3070 counterpart, but it's also less expensive, making it a more affordable mid-range alternative. With this card, you can crush 1080p gaming and even push into 1440p territory with solid performance.
Best budget: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
The RTX 3060 is NVIDIA's most affordable Ampere GPU, and as such, it's the best option available if you want to enjoy good framerates, high settings, and ray tracing at the 1080p level.
Best AMD alternative: AMD RX 6800 XT
AMD's strongest card in its 6000 series is the RX 6800 XT, offering performance that keeps up with NVIDIA's RTX 3080. It's not as capable, but it's also a little less expensive.
Best AMD elite: AMD RX 6900 XT
The RX 6900 XT is an attractive alternative to the RTX 3090, as it retails for $500 less while offering comparable performance. It falls far behind the 3090 when it comes to ray tracing capabilities, however.
Best AMD mid-range: AMD RX 6800
The RX 6800 is your best bet if you want a mid-range card strong for 1440p gaming. It tops the RTX 3070 when it comes to raw performance but costs more, too. Additionally, it also falls behind the RTX 3070 in ray tracing performance.
Best AMD budget: AMD RX 6700 XT
The RX 6700 XT AMD's most affordable RDNA 2 GPU yet, delivering a performance that falls between the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 for slightly less than the 3070's price. It's a great card for 1080p or 1440p, although you'd be better off just getting a 3070 for slightly more if you can.
Best last-gen option: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
The RTX 2080 Super from NVIDIA's 20-series generation isn't as good as most of its newer 30-series relatives, but it nevertheless still offers decent 4K performance and is also great for 1440p if you can find one.
If we had to choose
All of these graphics cards are excellent, but if we had to choose just one, it would be the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080. Equipped with the power to handle ray tracing and 4K resolution comfortably and priced at a level most PC users serious about ray tracing can reach, it's our pick for best graphics card right now.
For folks who want something more affordable, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is a fantastic option. It's a lot less expensive than the more expensive options on the list, but the performance is still excellent, especially at the 1080p level.
Finally, if you're looking at elite GPUs that can push into 8K territory, look no further than the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 or the AMD RX 6900 XT. Both cards are great options, with the 3090 offering much higher ray tracing performance and the 6900 XT offering more value on the dollar overall.
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.