You don’t have to be rich to buy a brand new graphics card in 2018, because cheapest video cards start from only 35 dollars. But are they worth it and which one is the best bang for your buck? To make choosing easier for you, we have gathered this list of best graphics cards for under $100, from each price point from 40 to 100 dollars. You can even play newer games with the better ones, albeit not at high resolutions and settings. Cheaper models are fine for older games or light e-sports games. If you are building a brand new PC from scratch then you should get something else, modern CPUs often have better graphics built in. With the introduction of Ryzen processors with integrated Vega graphics, there is little point installing a low budget video card in a new computer. So, this list is mostly for people who want to upgrade their older desktop for better gaming performance or newer features.
Best graphics cards for under 100 dollars
Before buying, there are few things you need to consider. First, you need to check if your PC has a free PCI-E x16 slot. Secondly, confirm that you have enough space in your case. If you have a slim case, then you need a low-profile graphics card. For those, check our list here. Thirdly, make sure that rest of your system is good enough for your video card, it’s not wise to upgrade a 15 year old PC. Also check if you have a sufficient PSU.
Best graphics card for under $40: NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 GDDR5 1GB
The GeForce GT 710 is a basic display adapter, but it is much better than popular Radeon HD 6450/R5 230, GeForce G210 and 8400GS. The GDDR5 version performs close to a Fermi based GT 730 with GDDR3 VRAM.
Best graphics card for under $50: AMD Radeon R7 240 GDDR3 128 bit
AMD Radeon R7 240 is only suitable for light gaming, it should be slightly better than GDDR5 GT 710. It’s not the best bang for your buck, I suggest getting something used or save up for something better.
Best graphics card for under $70: NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 GDDR5 (Kepler)
It is faster than the GDDR3 128-bit version of Radeon R7 240, but the 64-bit GDDR5 GeForce GT 730 has only close to half performance of the $90 GeForce GT 1030 GDDR5, so it isn’t good value for money.
Best graphics card for under $80: AMD Radeon R7 250 1GB GDDR5
AMD Radeon R7 250 GDDR5 is a graphics card that isn’t widely available in 2018. Its performance is between GeForce GT 730 GDDR5 and GeForce GT 1030 GDDR5, but the 1GB VRAM will definitely hurt in new games.
Best graphics card for under $90: NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 2GB GDDR5
GeForce GT 1030 is great for e-sports games, plus it has very low power consumption. Downside is that it has no VGA support, like other modern GPUs. It is only little bit better than integrated Vega 8 paired with fast dual-channel memory, so the GeForce GT 1030 GDDR5 is not the best choice for budget gaming PC builds in 2018.
Best graphics card under $100: AMD Radeon RX 560 4GB GDDR5
AMD Radeon RX 560 is currently the best video card for under $100 by far. It’s the cut down version of the Radeon RX 560 which has 896 stream processors like RX 460, but it still a nice performance upgrade over GeForce GT 1030 and Radeon RX 550.
Video cards under $100 that you should avoid:
4GB GDDR3 variants of NVIDIA GeForce GT 730
NVIDIA GeForce GT 730 with 4GB of GDDR3 video memory is not a good card. It is actually terrible value for money, because it costs as much (or even more) as GeForce GT 1030 GDDR5, but it only has fraction of the performance of the newer card. Many uninformed people mistakenly think this is the best graphics card for $100. But loading an underpowered GPU with loads of slow GDDR3 memory doesn’t make it suitable for gaming. There are multiple manufacturers that make this overpriced video card: MSI, ZOTAC and EVGA.
DDR4 version of NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030
NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 DDR4 is close to or slower than GT 730 GDDR5 in gaming benchmarks, so this card should be avoided if you want to play new games. For 10 extra bucks you can get almost 2x the performance with GeForce GT 1030 GDDR5. Only people that need some specific playback feature that older cards don’t support and never play games should think about getting this one.
Ultra cheap old low-end video cards
There are multiple graphics cards in Amazon.com TOP 100 best sellers list that should not be purchased for gaming purposes. These sub-$40 video cards are: AMD Radeon R5 230 (aka HD 6450), NVIDIA GeForce 210 and 8400GS. Some are almost 10 years old and even slower than integrated graphics from recent years.