Thanks to streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even YouTube, it's finally getting easier to find actual 4K (also referred to as Ultra HD) video content. But, as awesome as 4K video looks, if you're aiming to immerse yourself in a pixel-dense world, it's hard to beat playing cutting-edge games in 4K. And from a hardware perspective, that's a much more daunting prospect.
Only the latest consoles—the Sony PlayStation 4 Pro, the Microsoft Xbox One X, the PlayStation 5, and the Xbox One Series X—are capable of rendering games at 4K. Though these consoles can run games at 4K, they don't always do so with the best graphics settings. If you really want to enjoy the best graphics possible by modern-day games, you'll need to buy or put together a powerful gaming PC, and for that the PC graphics card you buy matters—a lot.
What follows are the very best graphics cards for 4K gaming that we've tested for 2023. Following that, we've included a helpful guide demystifying several terms and ideas surrounding the graphics processing space to help you make an informed purchase.
The Best Graphics Card Deals This Week*
- Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 3060 Twin Edge OC 12GB Card (Opens in a new window) — $349.99 (List Price $399.99)
- PNY GeForce RTX 3050 8GB Graphics Card (Opens in a new window) — $279.99 (List Price $324.99)
- MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3050 8GB GDRR6 Graphics Card (Opens in a new window) — $299.00
- XFX Speedster AMD Radeon RX 7900XT 20GB GDDR6 Graphics Card (Opens in a new window) — $819.99 (List Price $949.99)
- Zotac Gaming GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X Graphics Card (Opens in a new window) — $1,235.99 (List Price $1,399.99)
*Deals are selected by our commerce team
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
Best Cost-Is-No-Object 4K Graphics Card
- Ferociously powerful for a single-GPU card
- Power consumption is relatively low for this level of raw GPU performance
- Usual exceptional Founders Edition build quality
- Almost impractically enormous
- Raw power appears, at times, to bottleneck a Core i9-12900K CPU
|Amazon||$2,449.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 Founders Edition
Best Overall Nvidia Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Exceptional performance
- Remains cool under load
- Less power hungry than RTX 4090
- Difficult pricing and positioning
- Enormous size
|Best Buy||$1,199.99||Check Stock (Opens in a new window)|
AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX
Best Overall AMD Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Exceptional performance
- Competitive price
- Huge performance increase over last gen
- Impressive cooling performance
- Less than stellar ray-tracing performance
- Relatively high power consumption
- Bland aesthetics
|B&H Photo Video||$1,189.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
Best High-End Nvidia Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Strong performance
- 12GB GDDR6X VRAM
- Exceptional cooling
- Outpaced by competition
- Priced from "high" to "very high"
- Very large—not for small cases
|Amazon||$959.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|B&H Photo Video||$999.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT
Best High-End AMD Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Performance beats all last-generation cards
- Remains cool while in use
- Priced a little too high relative to RX 7900 XTX
|AMD||$899.00||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Newegg||$899.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Best Midrange Nvidia Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Incredibly fast for the price
- Beautiful design
- Great 4K gaming results
- Innovative cooling system
- Doesn't run too hot
- Expect a run on this card to rival the one on the RTX 3080
|Amazon||$629.94||See It (Opens in a new window)|
AMD Radeon RX 6800
Best Midrange AMD Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- High overclocking ceiling
- A bevy of new features to play with
- Cooler temperatures than Radeon RX 6800 XT
- Subpar results with AAA legacy games
- Expensive versus Nvidia competition
- Limited ray-tracing support
|Amazon||$549.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Best Buy||$579.99||Check Stock (Opens in a new window)|
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Best Budget Nvidia Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Fast frame rates in multiplayer titles
- Compact card design
- Reasonable overclocking performance
- Nontrivial performance drop versus the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- Minor gains over previous (RTX 2060) generation
- Pricey for its performance class
|Amazon||$639.97||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Newegg||$329.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Gigabyte Radeon RX 6600 XT Gaming OC Pro 8G
Best Budget AMD Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Some 4K wins
- Runs cool
- Performance a bit below its price class in most titles
- High MSRP in test sample versus AMD's reference specs and pricing
- Only a modest overclock applied out of box
- No significant performance gains with manual overclocking
|Newegg||$499.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition
Best Intel Graphics Card for 4K Gaming
- Enormous 16GB pool of video memory in test card
- Well priced for a 16GB card
- Decent performance, especially at 2K and 4K, especially given the first-gen architecture
- Performance is inconsistent across games and synthetic tests
- Older games are problematic
- Support for Resizable BAR is a requirement
- Uphill climb for XeSS adoption
|Amazon||$394.03||See It (Opens in a new window)|
|Newegg||$349.99||See It (Opens in a new window)|
Gaming in general is a compute-intensive task that is highly demanding on the components inside of your PC, but there are many factors that can increase or decrease the workload of running games. In general, the more graphically impressive a game is, the harder it will be for the computer to run quickly. Though the art used in games is vitally important, graphical effects like antialiasing, depth of field, ray-traced lighting, shadows, and motion blur often have an arguably greater impact on a game's visual appearance. These effects, among many others, help to create the sense of depth and realism that make games look so immersive. In general, newer games implement more of these techniques and may introduce new graphical technologies that increase the workload even more.
Another factor that has a major impact on performance is the resolution at which you are attempting to render a game. This is far more straightforward than the discussion of graphics settings, as changing the resolution tends to have a relatively linear impact on performance, and it's very easy to understand. To explain this, let's examine the 1080p, 2K, and 4K resolutions against each other.
A game rendered at 1080p is being displayed with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 (horizontal by vertical), with a total of 2,073,600 pixels on the screen. Any graphics card rendering a game at this resolution will need to determine the exact color of each of these pixels to create the images on the screen. The color of pixels may need to be calculated multiple times to accommodate graphics settings that might alter the color of individual pixels in the finished scene. Afterward, a fraction of a second before the image is shown on screen, the graphics card will save a 1080p image of the scene to its internal memory (RAM) before sending it to the monitor for display.
For each additional pixel, the work required by the graphics card increases proportionally. As a result, rendering at a 2K resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 with a total of 3,686,400 pixels is roughly 70% to 80% more demanding than rendering a game at 1080p. That's difficult enough, but in truth, it's nothing compared with gaming at 4K. The standard 4K resolution is 3,840 by 2,160 with a total of 8,294,400 pixels, which effectively makes gaming at 4K four times more intense than gaming at 1080p and more than twice as demanding as gaming at 2K.
All of this needs to be taken with a pinch of salt as it's not quite perfectly linear. Theoretically it should be, but here again a multitude of factors can throw things off. Some games are better optimized for running at 4K than others, and game developers may implement techniques to help reduce the performance penalty associated with gaming at 4K. Some graphics cards simply lack the bandwidth or raw muscle to handle gaming at 4K and will reach their performance limit while generating fewer frames than expected.
Key Considerations: Graphics Settings and Video Memory
None of this is to say that you can't or shouldn't game at 4K, but it's best to go in mindfully and prepared to work around the challenge of gaming at 4K. Buying the most powerful graphics card that reasonably fits your budget is often the best option if you are intending to game at 4K. Though it's also smart to be mindful that reducing graphics settings can make gaming at 4K more viable on lower-end hardware too. With lower graphics settings and the right game, gaming at 4K might be possible with far weaker hardware than you would expect.
Some may question if it is really worthwhile to game at 4K if you have to reduce the graphics settings, and this is a fair question. The point of gaming at 4K is to improve image quality after all, and if you have to turn down the graphics settings to be able to run the game at 4K with smooth framerates, it's reasonable to wonder whether your efforts are worthwhile. The honest answer is that it depends.
In our experience, gaming at 4K with medium or high graphics settings often results in superior image quality than gaming at 2K with maxed-out graphics settings. Ultimately, whether you will get better image fidelity by running a game in 4K with less-than-max settings or at 2K with higher graphics settings depends on the game, and it's worth trying both to see which is best for you with your hardware in each specific game. You'll especially want to remember to do this if you opt for previous generation mainstream cards. With more powerful and current cards, like the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX or the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080, you'll be able to run more games smoothly at 4K while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second (fps), making it less necessary to reduce graphics settings.
Before we go on, we should also mention that, if a graphics card is offered with different amounts of video memory, it's often beneficial to splurge on the extra memory. The higher the resolution you game at, the more memory your graphics card will need. Games with better graphics tend to use more memory as well, and several graphics settings including anti-aliasing (AA) can significantly increase the amount of video memory that is used while gaming. If your card doesn't have enough, it simply won't be able to run as fast as it would if it had plenty of RAM.
This is becoming less and less of an issue nowadays as the amount of RAM on graphics cards is exploding. You really don't have to worry much anymore if you are gaming at 1080p, but for 4K it's really best to play it safe and opt for buying the model with more RAM if one is available. Not all graphics cards will come with different amounts of RAM, but for those that do you should keep this in mind.
AMD FSR, Nvidia DLSS, and Intel XeSS
Another way in which you can make gaming a bit easier at 4K is by taking advantage of features like AMD FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), Intel XeSS (Xe Super Sampling), or Nvidia DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling). All of these technologies aim to do the same thing, and they all do so in a similar manner with currently just one exception.
Depending on which way you view it, all of these technologies were designed to either make games run faster or look better. There is a misconception that they do both, but this is incorrect. How these technologies work is that they reduce the resolution that games are rendered at and then upscale the resulting frames before they are sent to your monitor.
For example, if you were to configure a game to run at 4K and you then enabled FSR, the game would instead render at a resolution lower than 4K, possibly at 2K. The exact resolution it will render at will depend on how the game is configured and what settings are selected for FSR, with quality and performance settings typically being options that will change the resolution the game renders at.
Because the game renders at a lower resolution, the work required by the graphics card is reduced and this enables the graphics card to render more frames each second. The output frames are then upscaled before being sent to the monitor.
Compared to straight rendering at 4K without using any of these technologies, the use of FSR, DLSS, or XeSS reduces image quality. If your game is already running smoothly at your max refresh rate, then you wouldn't want to use any of these technologies. The reason for the reduced image quality is due to the game being rendered at a lower resolution. The upscaling process results in 4K images being sent to the monitor, but these images have been artificially enhanced and will have lower overall image fidelity as a result.
Compared to straight rendering at 2K, however, the images may actually look better. If you are using a 4K monitor and have your game set to run at 2K, the images being displayed are still being stretched to 4K. The only difference is that the monitor is doing the stretching, as displays always operate at their native resolution regardless of what settings you apply on your PC. By utilizing AI technology and training the software on games, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia are able to achieve better image quality using these technologies than the upscalers built into your monitor.
Taken as a whole, you can then view FSR, DLSS, and XeSS as performance-enhancing technologies if, say, you are trying to run a game at 4K and are struggling to maintain a steady 60fps. In this scenario, they might just give you the edge you need to have a steady framerate. At the same time, they could be viewed as image enhancement technologies if they are able to keep you from dropping the resolution down.
Before we go on, it's important that we mention there are multiple versions of these technologies. AMD has FSR 1, FSR 2, and FSR 2.1; Nvidia has DLSS 1, DLSS 2, and DLSS 3; Intel so far only has XeSS without a number, but we wouldn't be surprised to see it retroactively branded XeSS 1 in the future when Intel creates a newer version. In general newer versions of these technologies tend to be faster and have better image quality, but they still work in much the same way. The only exception is DLSS 3, which is totally different.
Unlike these other technologies, DLSS 3 creates entirely new artificial frames and slots them in between the frames created by the graphics card. This is not an entirely new concept. There's a feature to do exactly this built into some media players, including VLC. If you've ever seen a TV that's advertised with an ultra-fast sports mode, it's also doing exactly this.
The technique is relatively simple to understand. The software takes two frames and analyses them to see if anything changed from the first frame to the second frame. An artificial frame is then created that shows the moved objects halfway between where they are in the two frames, and this new frame is slid between the two in the sequence. The effect can be quite impressive at times with more fluid motion, but it can also result in a great deal of graphical artifacts. By using AI technology, however, Nvidia aims to do this without significantly harming image quality.
Though these technologies have mixed results on overall image quality, they can be highly useful if you are struggling to run games at 4K. To be clear, these can be beneficial at lower resolutions too, but the chances that you will struggle to run a game at 4K is far greater than that you would struggle to run one at 1080p, hence why it's something you need to be more aware of for 4K gaming.
So, Which Card Should I Buy for 4K Gaming?
Just like our general advice for buying a graphics card, for 4K gaming we recommend buying the best graphics card that fits your budget. If you bought something like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, which is the fastest single graphics card on the market in 2023, you will be able to reliably run current games at 4K with maxed settings and maintain a steady 60fps. In some games you will even be able to achieve 120fps under these conditions. This makes the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 easily the best option at the moment for gaming at 4K, especially if you want to game at higher framerates.
The power required to run games only increases over time as newer games are more and more demanding on the hardware. Though the RTX 4090 may seem like overkill, even with this phenomenal level of performance, games will eventually grow too, demanding the RTX 4090, though you can rest assured that won't happen for quite some time. Again, we must repeat that you should only do this if you can fit the RTX 4090 into your currently planned budget. As the card costs $1,599, you shouldn't go splurging to get one.
Short of the RTX 4090, there are plenty of other graphics cards that are well-suited for running games at 4K with a consistent 60fps. Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4080 can also accomplish this, as can AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX and AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XT. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti is just a bit slower, and there are plenty of last-gen cards that are decent options for high-end 4K gaming too. For AMD, it's essentially the AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT and everything higher, and for Nvidia it's basically the RTX 3070 and everything higher. Last-gen cards are still readily available at retailers, but that might not last for long in 2023.
If these cards are a bit out of your price range but you still want to game at 4K, there are more budget-friendly options that can do a reasonably good job of running games at 4K. AMD's Radeon RX 6600 XT and Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3060 are both capable of running games at 4K with medium graphics settings. You could also consider the Intel Arc A770, which has the plus of having 16GB of RAM but has inconsistent performance due to buggy drivers.
Gaming on cards that are even less powerful is technically possible especially if you reduce graphics settings further and take advantage of a technology like FSR or DLSS. Below this point, however, your mileage is going to vary considerably. Running newer games on a lower-end card at 4K would likely need to have their graphics settings reduced to the point that you just don't gain a visual benefit from running the game at 4K.
That doesn't necessarily mean that using a lower-end card is pointless, though. Older games can run smoothly at 4K with less powerful graphics cards, and that alone can be worth having even if you need to run newer games at 2K or 1080p. To be safe it's best to check our review of any card you are planning to buy before buying to gain an idea of how well it will perform. This way you are less likely to be disappointed and can find a card that best fits your budget and performance expectations.