graphics cards hierarchy tier list

Here is the GPU Hierarchy in 2021 – Graphics Card Tier List

2021 is not the best year to buy a graphics card as both miners and gamers/streamers buy GPUs at an insane pace. Combined with chip shortages and other COVID-19 related issues, this trend has made graphics card prices skyrocket since demand is much higher than the offer. If you are a tech and gaming enthusiast, you are probably still interested in the performance gains you could get from the latest GPUs.

Below you can find our 2021 GPU tier list, consisting of five tiers in total and ranking graphics cards based on absolute gaming performance. If you are an esports gamer, in most likelihood, you use a 1080p or 2K resolution at most and use “competitive” settings (for instance, with Razer Cortext), so even lower-tier graphics cards will be good enough for you. For example, I use a mobile version of GTX 1660 Ti for Fortnite, and it still does very well. So, for games like Valorant, CS: GO, CoD: Warzone, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Rainbow Six: Siege, you don't necessarily need a top-tier graphics card as you play on low settings and aim to maximize your framerate and keep it stable.

The list is based on average performance in modern AAA titles rather than esports titles, though. If you are interested only in esports titles, you can move one or two tiers below and still get a good enough graphics card.

TierGRAPHICS CARDVRAMVRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
S Nvidia GeForce RTX 309024GDDR6X384-bit
S AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT16GDDR6256-bit
S Nvidia GeForce RTX 308010GDDR6X320-bit
S AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT16GDDR6256-bit
A AMD Radeon RX 680016GDDR6256-bit
A Nvidia GeForce RTX 30708GDDR6256-bit
A Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti11GDDR6352-bit
A Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti8GDDR6256-bit
B Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super8GDDR6256-bit
B Nvidia GeForce RTX 20808GDDR6256-bit
B Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super8GDDR6256-bit
B AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT8GDDR6256-bit
B Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti11GDDR5X352-bit
C Nvidia GeForce RTX 20708GDDR6256-bit
C Nvidia GeForce GTX 10808GDDR5X256-bit
C Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super8GDDR6256-bit
C Nvidia GeForce RTX 20606GDDR6192-bit
C Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti8GDDR5256-bit
C Nvidia GeForce GTX 10708GDDR5256-bit
C AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT6GDDR6192-bit
C Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti6GDDR6192-bit
C Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super6GDDR6192-bit
D Nvidia GeForce GTX 16606GDDR5192-bit
D AMD Radeon RX 5908GDDR5256-bit
D AMD Radeon RX 5808GDDR5256-bit
D AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT8GDDR6128-bit
D Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super4GDDR6128-bit
D Nvidia GeForce GTX 10606GDDR5192-bit
D AMD Radeon RX 5708GDDR5256-bit
E Nvidia GeForce GTX 10603GDDR5192-bit
E AMD Radeon RX 5704GDDR5256-bit
E Nvidia GeForce GTX 16504GDDR5128-bit
E Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti4GDDR5128-bit
E Nvidia GeForce GTX 10504GDDR5128-bit

S Tier

What to expect from S tier graphics cards:

  • 60+ FPS at 4K resolution
  • 100+ FPS at 1440p Ultrawide resolution
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
Nvidia GeForce RTX 309024 GBGDDR6X384-bit
AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT16 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 308010 GBGDDR6X320-bit
AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT16 GBGDDR6256-bit

S-tier graphics cards can handle gaming with 4K resolution at framerates higher than 60FPS in modern AAA games with almost all settings on Ultra. You still won’t play Cyberpunk with Ray Tracing on max, but most titles should run without issues at 60fps or above, with all settings set to ultra. However, only four graphics cards are capable of this kind of performance.

What makes the difference for NVIDIA here is DLSS. NVIDIA DLSS is a new and improved deep learning neural network that boosts frame rates and generates beautiful, sharp images for your games. It gives you the performance headroom to maximize ray tracing settings and increase output resolution. Dedicated AI processors power DLSS on RTX GPUs called Tensor Cores.

DLSS could end up being the most impactful feature of NVIDIA's RTX GPUs moving forward. They aren't as powerful as you would expect, and the ray-tracing effects are pretty but tend to have a sizable impact on performance, but DLSS could give us the best of both worlds: Better-looking games that perform better, too.

Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to produce an image that looks like a higher-resolution image without as much rendering overhead. Nvidia’s algorithm learns from tens of thousands of rendered sequences of images created using a supercomputer. That trains the algorithm to produce similarly beautiful images without requiring the graphics card to work as hard to do.

Now that DLSS has become available as a simple plugin for Unreal engine, we can expect more future titles coming with DLSS support. At 4K resolutions DLSS does a great job with a minimal amount of lost details.

Meanwhile, both the RX 6900 XT and the RX 6800 XT are proper gaming beasts, and they should be more than enough for running every modern game at 4K and at least 60fps. I am referring to performance without ray tracing, and if you are looking for ray tracing features, you are probably better of with an NVIDIA graphics card.

However, the 10GB of VRAM in the RTX 3080 does not make it future-proof enough if you ask me. The 3090 seems like a better RTX option, even at a hefty price for 4K gaming with ray tracing.

Otherwise, go for an AMD GPU as the 16GB of VRAM will probably be enough for 4K gaming for quite some time.

AMD’s DLSS counterpart is FidelityFX Super Resolution and will be available pretty soon. Remember that FidelityFX Super Resolution is a software solution, not a hardware one (remember, DLSS uses Tensor cores found in RTX chips), so we cannot expect the same level of quality as we see, for instance, with DLSS 2.0. Next, the first-gen DLSS had lots of caveats, so we’re sure FidelityFX will suffer from the same issues, at least in the beginning. 

A Tier

What to expect from A tier graphics cards:

  • Up to 60fps at 4K resolution
  • 60+ FPS at1440p Ultrawide
  • 100+ FPS at 2K resolution
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
AMD Radeon RX 680016 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 30708 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti11 GBGDDR6352-bit

Tier A is for those who are ready to settle for [email protected] with some settings turned a notch (or two) in most modern AAA titles. The RX 6800 is the most powerful graphics card of the crop and should run most games at 4K and 60fps with ultra settings (except ray tracing, of course).

You can expect A-tier graphics cards to run at around 60-100 fps at 1440p Ultrawide resolution. Further, some ray tracing games run at 60fps+ with ray tracing, but don’t expect to run Cyberpunk 2077 with ray tracing and get a steady 60 frames or more on an ultrawide.

If you want the absolute best ultrawide experience, with ray tracing and triple-digit performance, you will have to move to the S tier and get the RTX 3080. 

As for the 1440p resolution, these three cards are the sweet spot for high refresh rate gaming at 1440p. They have more than enough horsepower to run any modern game.

In the case of the RTX 3070 and the RTX 2080 Ti, with ray tracing and DLSS enabled you will be able to hit 100+ FPS at 2K resolutions.

However, if you have a 144Hz or higher refresh rate monitor and want to reach those max refresh rates, think about getting the RTX 3080 or the RX 6800 XT to able to hit 144 FPS at max settings.

B Tier

What to expect from B-tier graphics cards:

  • Up to 60 FPS at 1440p Ultrawide
  • 60+ FPS at 1440p
  • 100+ FPS at 1080p
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti8 GB GDDR6 256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super8 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 20808 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super8 GBGDDR6256-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT8 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti11 GBGDDR5X352-bit

The RTX 3060 Ti is about 10-15 percent slower than the RTX 3070. You can use it for [email protected] ultrawide gaming, but the performance difference makes it most ideal for 2K resolutions rather than ultrawide 2K.

You can still get the RTX 3060 Ti for a 1440p Ultrawide monitor; get ready to drop some settings to get a stable 60fps experience.

As for the regular 1440p resolution, the RTX 3060 Ti should be an excellent bang for the buck 1440p card eventually, since it can deliver 100 frames or more in most games without sacrificing too many details, all that while costing 20 percent less (MSRP price) than the RTX 3070. 

The two RTX 2080 cards are very similar in performance to the RTX 3060 Ti. The 2080 Super is basically the same as the RTX 3060 Ti but around 5% slower, while the regular RTX 2080 is another 5-7% behind the 2080 Super in performance.

All three cards are perfect for 240Hz 1080p monitors as well as for the more common, 144Hz 1080p models. 

Finally, the RTX 2070 Super, GTX 1080 Ti, and the RX 5700 XT are three borderline cases (pun intended).

Performance-wise, these aren’t cards for the 1440p ultrawide resolution if you play AAA single-player games. They’re good enough for 1440p, but you will have to settle for high settings rather than ultra in some cases.

Of course, the RTX 2070 supports DLSS, which can help you achieve [email protected] with high settings in Cyberpunk.

At Full HD resolution, B-Tier cards should deliver at least 60 FPS at 1080p with all settings at maximum even in the most demanding modern video games.

C Tier

What to expect from C-tier graphics cards:

  • Up to 60 FPS at 1440p
  • 60+ FPS at 1080p
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
Nvidia GeForce RTX 20708 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 10808 GBGDDR5X256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Super8 GBGDDR6256-bit
Nvidia GeForce RTX 20606 GBGDDR6192-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Ti8 GBGDDR5256-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 10708 GBGDDR5256-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT6 GBGDDR6192-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti6 GBGDDR6192-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super6 GBGDDR6192-bit

The C tier is a very tight pack in terms of performance.

The least powerful card in this tier, the GTX 1660 Super, is less than 30 percent less powerful than the RTX 2070 – the most powerful C-tier graphics card. All of these cards can get you 60fps at 1440p resolution.

Like the RTX 2070, some of them can do this quite easily in most titles, while others will struggle, especially with recent AAA titles such as The Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Cyberpunk 2077, or Watch Dogs: Legion. 

So, if you want to play with ultra settings and [email protected], you should get a B-Tier graphics card.

If you want a [email protected] gaming experience with ultra-high settings, get the RTX 2070 or the RTX 2060 Super.

Other cards from this list are fine for 1440p resolution with medium/high details depending on the game. 

When it comes to 1080p resolution, each of the Tier C cards can run any game available today at 60 frames or higher.

Sometimes you’ll have to adjust visual settings; other times, you’ll be fine with ultra, but overall you can expect smooth 60fps or higher at 1080p with every card on this list.

D Tier

What to expect from D-Tier graphics cards:

  • Up to 60 FPS at 1080p
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
Nvidia GeForce GTX 16606 GBGDDR5192-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5908 GBGDDR5256-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5808 GBGDDR5256-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT8 GBGDDR6128-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Super4 GBGDDR6128-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 10606 GBGDDR5192-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5708 GBGDDR5256-bit

Tier D is the penultimate one, and it contains cards that can run modern AAA games up to 60 frames at 1080p resolution. At this point, we have reached graphics cards 2 generations behind, though, so keep that in mind.

I would be very reluctant to get something so outdated with the current prices, since you don't know how far down the road you will get with such a GPU.

The GTX 1660 can even be used for 1440p gaming with medium or low settings.

As for the performance at 1080p, you can play any game with most options turned to the maximum with 40-60 FPS experience with any card here except the RX 570.

Also, when it comes to Cyberpunk 2077, the GTX 1650 Super can run the game at about 45 FPS with settings turned to medium. 

But, in most cases, you’ll be able to get close or reach 60 frames per second in most modern AAA titles if you are willing to turn most visual settings to medium or lower to get that kind of performance.

You can use these cards with 144Hz gaming monitors, but only in some esports titles. 

E Tier

What to expect from E-Tier graphics cards:

  • 30-60 FPS at Full HD with Medium to Low Settings
GRAPHICS CARDVRAMRAM TYPEMEMORY BUS WIDTH
Nvidia GeForce GTX 10603 GBGDDR5192-bit
AMD Radeon RX 5704 GBGDDR5256-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 16504 GBGDDR5128-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti4 GBGDDR5128-bit
Nvidia GeForce GTX 10504 GBGDDR5128-bit

Last but not least, we have a group of good cards for esports but will struggle running modern games with visual settings set too high.

These cards are great budget choices if you need a cheap GPU for esports titles and an occasional AAA game.

They’re also great if you need a low profile card for your HTPC or need a placeholder GPU while waiting for the market to normalize. 

Performance in demanding games is pretty disappointing, but if you’re ready to play with low details, you’ll get playable frame rates in most modern titles.

Sometimes you’ll also have to drop resolution below 1080p to get playable frame rates, but that’s the reality when owning a budget GPU. 

 

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