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Hardware / Recommended


Recommended GPUs List


Updated: June 2020

GPU is an acronym for "Graphics Processing Unit". It is an integrated circuit containing 3D graphics acceleration hardware with compute units. A GPU is the main part of modern video graphics adapters (VGA), which are produced as printed circuit boards. The purpose of a VGA circuit board is to display a computer-generated image on a connected display device, usually a computer monitor.

GPUs made by nVidia are not recommended due to a lack of commitment from nVidia to produce open-source drivers.

All the GPUs on the list are discrete GPUs (not integrated), desktop plug-in boards (non-mobile), produced by AMD (the other two manufacturers are nVidia and Intel).

Using only an integrated AMD GPU can be an acceptable solution.

List by GPU Series

A list by market name of GPU series would roughly correspond to a list by product age. The order is: older ones at the top, newer products at the bottom.

In the table below: the list of recommended AMD GPUs, grouped by series market name. Required cooling ability of a cooling system for each GPU is given in watts (W), as indicated by the value of TDP (Thermal Design Power).

Radeon HD 8000/7000 series:

47 W: Radeon HD 7730, Radeon HD 8730

55 W: Radeon HD 7750

85 W: Radeon HD 7790

Radeon R7 200 series:

40 W: Radeon R7 240

65 W: Radeon R7 250

95 W: Radeon R7 260

115 W: Radeon R7 260X

Radeon R7 300 series:

75 W: Radeon R7 360E

100 W: Radeon R7 360

Radeon RX 400 series:

75 W: Radeon RX 460

120 W: Radeon RX 470, Radeon RX 470D

150 W: Radeon RX 480

Radeon RX 500 series:

50 W: Radeon RX 550, Radeon RX 550X

65 W: Radeon RX 560D

75 W: Radeon RX 560

120 W: Radeon RX 570/570G/570X

150 W: Radeon RX 560 XT, Radeon RX 580 2048SP

Radeon RX 5000 series:

130 W: Radeon RX 5500 XT

150 W: Radeon RX 5600 XT

180 W: Radeon RX 5700

List by Micro-Architecture

A list by GPU micro-architeture would roughly correspond to a list by technology and features. The order is: ones at the top use older technology, GPUs at the bottom have new techs and better features. Many times products based on old technologies are sold as new ones (for example, the Radeon R7 435 is a recent product, but the below table shows that it is using the old GCN 1.0 technology).

In the table below: the list of recommended AMD GPUs, grouped by architecture. Required cooling ability of a cooling system for each GPU is given in watts (W), as indicated by the value of TDP (Thermal Design Power).

GCN 1.0:

40 W: Radeon R7 240

47 W: Radeon HD 7730, Radeon HD 8730

50 W, OEM: Radeon R7 435/430/340/240, Radeon R5 430/330/240, Radeon HD 8570

55 W: Radeon R7 350, Radeon R7 250, Radeon R7 250E, Radeon HD 7750

65 W: Radeon R7 250

GCN 2.0:

75 W: Radeon R7 360E

85 W: Radeon HD 7790

95 W: Radeon R7 260

100 W: Radeon R7 360

115 W: Radeon R7 260X

GCN 4.0:

50 W: Radeon RX 550, Radeon RX 550X

65 W: Radeon RX 560D

75 W: Radeon RX 560, Radeon RX 560X, Radeon RX 460

120 W: Radeon RX 570/570G/570X, Radeon RX 470, Radeon RX 470D

150 W: Radeon RX 560 XT, Radeon RX 480, Radeon RX 580 2048SP

RDNA 1.0:

130 W: Radeon RX 5500 XT

150 W: Radeon RX 5600 XT

180 W: Radeon RX 5700

AMD PowerTune

Most AMD Radeon GPUs have a feature called PowerTune which enables the user to decrease the maximum GPU power consumption. We recommend using this feature to reduce GPU fan noise and GPU energy consumption.

Higher Energy Consumption - Less Valuable GPU

GPUs can consume a non negligible amount of electric energy, which may increase your electric power bill.

Prices of old GPUs decrease in time as they are pushed out of the market by newer and better GPUs.

After a few years a GPU can depreciate to a point where it is less valuable than the electric energy it consumes in a year. For that reason among others, energy efficient GPUs depreciate slowly. Energy efficient GPUs are cheaper in the long run, therefore, we prefer energy-efficient GPUs. A very inefficient GPU is unlikely to be recommended.

A very important property of an energy efficient GPU is low energy consumption at idle desktop. Besides that property, energy efficiency cannot be quantified by a single number as efficiency depends on the way the GPU is used.

The tables given above do not state energy efficiency of any GPU. Maximum power dissipation (or TDP = Thermal Design Power) is not energy efficiency. Energy efficiency cannot be absolutely determined because it depends on usage patterns.

Cooling System Requirements

The reason why tables categorize by TDP is to provide information about how quickly the heat needs to be removed from a GPU, where more heat requires a more complicated cooling solution. For the purposes of this article, GPUs can be categorized by TDP as follows:

  • 20 - 40 W : very low TDP
  • 40 - 75 W : low TDP
  • 75 - 130 W : medium TDP
  • 130 - 180 W : high TDP
  • above 180 W : very high TDP

A GPU with a very high TDP needs a big, heavy, cumbersome, defect-prone and noisy cooling solution. Such a cooling solution is very unlikely to be quiet.

Notes on Output Image Resolution

We have been able to notice the latest and quite persistent high display resolution craze driven by tech journalists and tech companies. In contrary to their common advice, we would recommend the following output image resolutions for playing 3D graphics games:

  • 900p -- approx. 1.44 Mpixels - unnecessarily more detailed than the resolution of average human eyesight in circumstances of "3D games": fast motion of photorealistic images

  • 800p -- approx. 1.14 Mpixels - matches well with average human eyesight in common circumstances of "3D games".

  • 720p -- approx. 0.92 Mpixels - good compromise between image sharpness and required GPU speed. Sharp, but slightly imperfect.

  • 600p -- approx. 0.64 Mpixels - somewhat blurry image but still acceptable quality, for low-speed GPUs; for example, this is better than output image of the GPU on Nintendo Switch.

The given resolutions are sufficiently low that even a low-power GPU can be used to play many modern games.

It is important to enable the anti-aliasing feature of your GPU. Anti-aliasing should be set to at least 4X (4 samples per pixel). Anti-aliasing is more important than high resolutions.

A good frame rate is at least 30 FPS (frames per second). A constant frame rate of 60 FPS is ideal for most purposes, therefore, a frame rate higher than 60 FPS is unnecessary for most purposes. It is more important to be able to maintain this framerate than to play in high resolution output. Therefore, if you frame rate is too low, just decrease the output image resolution.