4K gaming used to break the bank. For years, 3840×2160 monitors cost a small fortune, and the ferocious graphics cards needed to drive a 4K display cost even more. That’s not even counting the price of the high-energy power supplies required to juice all that hardware.

It still is expensive—at least if you want the best possible 4K gaming experiences. But now we have options. An Ultra HD gaming setup won’t be cheap, but with basic 4K monitors available for around $200 and upper-mid-range graphics cards able to drive them at a decent clip, you no longer have to remortgage your house to achieve satisfying 4K gaming. We’ll break down all your options below.

Not sure if 4K gaming is right for you? Be sure to check out our overarching guide to the best graphics cards for PC gaming, where we also explore your best video options for 1080p and 1440p resolution, and share tips to keep in mind while you’re on the hunt for new hardware.

The best 4K graphics card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super

dsc00629 Brad Chacos/IDG

Your best option for PC gaming at 4K resolution on a standard 60Hz display is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super. Its price theoretically starts at $700, but Nvidia’s own Founders Edition models have dried up. Most custom options start around $720 or $730 and only get more expensive as you add features. You can occasionally find custom models on sale for around $700, however.

That’s a lot of money, but it buys you stellar 4K gaming performance. The GeForce RTX 2080 Super achieves the hallowed 60 frames per second in most modern games with all standard graphics settings configured to maximum or near-maximum. It’s fast.

ray tracing Brad Chacos/IDG

Ray tracing performance at 1440p resolution (NOT 4K) in Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Like other RTX 20-series graphics card, the GeForce RTX 2080 Super contains dedicated hardware for real-time ray tracing tasks, but the strenuous cutting-edge eye candy absolutely tanks frame rates and will often require a drop to lower resolution. If possible you’ll want to pair it with Nvidia’s performance-enhancing Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology to gain back some of those lost frames, though DLSS can negatively impact visual quality at times. Some games appear noticeably blurrier with DLSS enabled.

AMD’s rival Radeon graphics cards lack real-time ray tracing capabilities. The most powerful Radeon option, which we’ll discuss shortly, isn’t at the GeForce RTX 2080 Super’s performance level. If you want to drive a 4K/60 display with minimal visual compromises, the GeForce RTX 2080 Super is your best bet.

Don’t confuse the RTX 2080 Super with its predecessor, the non-Super RTX 2080. You’ll still find non-Super versions on sale all over the place for prices close to the Super version, but the older model is slower—and barely faster than the $500 GeForce RTX 2070 Super. Don’t be a sucker.



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