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Best Graphics Card for 1440p 144hz Gaming (Nvidia, AMD, Asus) in 2021

We’ve tested AMD and Nvidia latest best GPUs for 1440p 144hz gaming, through their paces in some of the latest games, including Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

We’ve introduced a couple of new game benchmarks this month. First up is Cyberpunk 2077, which is a high-profile and challenging game for even the latest GPUs. We run our own custom benchmark, which incorporates a 60-second drive around Night City recorded with FrameView. 

Which graphics cards are capable of 1440p 144hz?

We run it at the Ultra preset with no ray tracing, and with the Medium Ray Tracing preset on Nvidia GPUs – the game currently doesn’t support ray tracing on AMD GPUs. You ideally want a 99th percentile result above 45fps with an average above 60fps.

Our second new test is the espically awesome Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. We run the built-in benchmark at the Ultra High preset with resolution scaling at 100 percent, recording the results with FrameView. A 99th percentile result above 35fps, with an average over 45fps, will do the job.

Meanwhile, we’ve kept our Doom Eternal benchmark. It’s an undemanding game, but it scales superbly with more GPU power, making it great for monitors with a very high refresh rate. Again, we record the frame rate with FrameView. We’ve also kept our Metro Exodus benchmark, although we now run it with and without ray tracing, and we’ve dropped the latter from Ultra to High. In addition, we’ve included ray-tracing results from Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

All the tests are conducted on a Core i7-87001< test rig with all cores overclocked to 4.8GHz. Finally, we measure the total system power consumption of the whole test rig at the mains, while the GPU goes through three runs of our Metro Exodus ray-tracing benchmark at 2,560 x 1,440. We record the peak power draw of the whole system.

Our rasterization score rates performance of standard game tests without ray tracing, with the latter getting a separate score with a lower weighting – this is to reflect the fact that many of the Latest games don’t have ray-tracing support, although it’s becoming widespread. We rate the importance of features such as DLSS, FidelityFX and SLI in our features score. We also incorporate a value score, and the overall figure is the sum of all the separate scores.

List of Best GPU for 1440p 144hz Gaming

  1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070
  3. AMD Radeon RX 6800
  4. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
  5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
  6. AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT
  7. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti

With similar performance to the GeForce RTX 2080 Super for under half the price, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti has proved extremely popular. So much so, in fact, that stock has dried up with little hope of replenishment on the near horizon. As with all the Nvidia GPUs on test, the board-partner cards from retailers cost more than the Founders Editions, with RTX 3060 Ti cards going from $450.

The stock situation is a real shame, because $369 is a fantastic price. If you can afford it, the GeForce RTX 3070 is worth the extra cash, as it properly opens up 2,560 x 1,440 gaming at 144hz with loads of eye candy. However, if you can’t find the extra money (and you’re prepared to wait for stock to trickle into stores), the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is a good buy, with no current-gen competition in this price bracket.

It’s based on the same GA104 Ampere GPU found in the RTX 3070, but with 38 Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs) enabled, compared to 46 on the RTX 3070. That gives you a total of 4,864 CUDA cores, along with 38 2nd-gen RT cores and 152 3rd-gen Tensor cores.

It also comes with 8GB of GDDR6 memory and, as with the RTX 3070, it has an effective clock speed of 14GHz and it’s attached to a 256-bit wide memory interface, giving you a total memory bandwidth of 448GB/sec.

The end result is a GPU that’s brilliant for gaming at 1,920 x 1,080, which sounds like more of a job for a budget GPU, but the RTX 3060 Ti can do it properly with ray tracing enabled. Without DLSS, it coped fine with Metro Exodus and Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p with ray tracing enabled, and it managed to run the latter well at 2,560 x 1,440 as well. 

The RTX 3060 Ti started to struggle in Cyberpunk 2077, though, where it couldn’t quite meet our 60fps target at 2,560 x 1,440 with ray tracing and DLSS, although it wouldn’t take much tweaking in the settings to get it there, and the game was still playable.

Our rasterization tests also proved challenging for this comparatively low-price graphics card. Again, all the results at 1,920 x 1,080 are fine, but the 2,560 x 1,440 results are a mixed bag.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is perfectly playable, but the frame rates are a fairway behind all the other cards, for example, and its Cyberpunk 2077 performance is disappointing at this resolution.

If you’re happy to tweak the settings a bit, you could get this card running most games at 2,560 x 1,440 without sacrificing much graphical bling, but the RTX 3070 gives you more breathing space. As you’d expect, the RTX 3060 Ti can’t cope with 4K gaming beyond Doom Eternal, but that’s hardly an issue in this price league.

Summary

If it’s ever back in stock at its retail price, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is a bargain. The RTX 3070 gives you more breathing space at 2,560 x 1,440, especially in Cyberpunk 2077, and offers more in terms of bang per buck. However, that’s not much use if you’re at the limits of a tight budget, and it’s great to see performance on a level with the RTX 2080 Super for such a cheap price. However, the pitiful stock levels mean this card is practically a non-starter at the moment.

Lets you enable loads of eye candy at1080p, and copes well in some games at2,560 x 1,440.


2. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

We’ll admit that it’s hard to rate the current crop of GPUs when price is such an important factor and supply is all over the place. We’ve listed the official price of $469 for the RTX 3070 above, but the more realistic board­ partner prices start from around $530 at retailers.

That still makes it a fair bit cheaper than the Radeon RX 6800 in terms of retail prices, and the GeForce RTX 3070 GPU is at least turning up in limited quantities, unlike the practically non-existent Radeon RX 6800.

Assuming that stock does become more widely available, and you can find a GeForce RTX 3070 for $530, it’s definitely worth buying, as this card crosses the threshold into 2,560 x 1,440 gaming at decent frame rates. Where it really excels is with both ray tracing and DLSS enabled, where you get the beautiful shininess of raytracing, while still maintaining reasonable frame rates.

Its 55fps 99th percentile and 65fps average in Cyberpunk 2077 at these settings are fine, as is its respective 46fps 99th percentile and 70fps average in Metro Exodus. It can even play Shadow of the Tomb Raider at these settings without dropping below 67fps. It doesn’t cope so well in Cyberpunk 2077, but it’s fine in our other ray-tracing tests.

The downside is that its raw shading power can’t quite keep up with the Radeon RX 6800 in terms of rasterization performance. Its Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla average was 11fps behind the Radeon at 2,560 x 1,440, and it was 7fps behind in Metro Exodus.

The RTX 3070’s frame rates at this resolution are all still playable though – its 56fps average in Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t quite meet our preferred 60fps target, but it’s still perfectly playable. Where it starts to struggle is at 4K, dropping well back from the rest of the field, often with unplayable results, but then you can’t expect to run every game at 4I< on a $530 card.

Part of the reason for this is that the RTX 3070 is based on a different GPU and memory system from the RTX 3080 and 3090, which are based on Nvidia’s top-end G A102 Ampere GPU. The RTX 3070 uses the smaller GA104 chip, and it also has one Texture Processing Cluster (TPC) disabled, so you lose two Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs) compared with a fully enabled chip. The end result is a chip with 5,888 CUDA cores, along with 46 2nd-gen RT cores for ray tracing.

Meanwhile, the RTX 3070 has 8GB of GDDR6 memory, rather than GDDR 6X, and it’s attached to a 256-bit wide memory interface. It runs at 1750MHz (14GHz effective), giving you a total bandwidth of 448GB/sec – that’s substantially narrower than the RTX 3080 and 3090, and lower than the Radeon RX 6800’s 512GB/sec, but it’s still fine for the RTX 3070’s target resolution of 2,560 x 1,440.

Summary

If the GeForce RTX3070 Founders Edition ever becomes properly available at $469 again, then it would be a no-brainer, but even at $530, it’s worth waiting for stock to arrive at retailers.

It can’t quite catch the Radeon RX 6800’s raw shading frame rates, but its support for DLSS means you can run games with ray tracing at 2,560 x 1,440, including Cyberpunk 2077, and it maintained decent frame rates in all our test games at this resolution. If you’re looking to play the latest games at 2,560 x1,440 with ray-tracing bling enabled, this is the card to get if you can find one.

The best-value mid-range GPU, enabling ray tracing with DLSS at 2,560 x 1,440 and still having decent shader performance.


3. AMD Radeon RX 6800

Let’s start with the big shock, which is that AMD’s $600 Radeon RX 6800 actually managed to beat the GeForce RTX 3090 in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla at 1080p. This game is clearly well optimized for AMD’s GPUs, but that’s still astonishing. There’s clearly a decent amount of shader power on offer here.

The Radeon RX 6800 sits at the bottom of AMD’s ‘Big Navi’ stack, using the same Navi 21 GPU as its bigger siblings, but with just 60 of its Compute Units enabled. That gives you 3,840 stream processors and 60 corresponding Ray Accelerators. What’s more, you also get the same memory system as even the flagship Radeon RX 6900 XT, with 16GB of GDDR6 memory running at 16GHz effective, giving you a total memory bandwidth of 512GB/sec.

That 16GB of memory is arguably wasted on this card though. Its GPU doesn’t have the power to run the settings that would require so much memory, and it also bumps up the price of the card. Not that the price can be nailed down anyway, as stock is practically non-existent.

The Radeon RX 6800 cost $530, when we first reviewed it, and the cheapest listed price we could find now was $600. 

That’s a different from the GeForce RTX 3070, which might also be sold out at the moment, but is still arriving at retailers and system builders in limited quantities, with prices currently starting from around the $530 mark for board-partner cards.

In terms of performance, the Radeon RX 6800 has some decent raw shading power under its belt, beating the GeForce RTX 3070 in all our non-ray-traced game tests at every resolution. Its 60fps average in Cyberpunk  2077 at 2,560 x 1,440 with Ultra settings is a great result, as is its 82fps average in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla at the same resolution, where it’s even ahead of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080.

As with the other Radeons on test this month, the RX 6800’s problem is raytracing. On the one hand, it’s great to see AMD implementing this feature in hardware, but there’s no support for it in Cyberpunk 2077 as yet, and the Radeon RX 6800 was behind the GeForce RTX 3070 in nearly every ray-tracing test. What’s more, the RTX 3070 can get an extra helping hand here by enabling DLSS.

On the plus side, the Radeon RX 6800 is capable of playing some games with ray tracing, and the non-DLSS results aren’t far off those from the RTX 3070. Its 1,920 x 1,080 results are fine here, and it’s 72fps average in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at2,560×1,440 is a great result. With just a little bit more ray-tracing power, and some help from a hardware-accelerated scaling feature such as DLSS, AMD could be onto a winner.

Summary

If you can find one for a reasonable price, the Radeon RX 6800 is a decent GPU, especially if your priority is getting the fastest raw frame rates. Its ray-tracing performance isn’t bad either – it’s behind the RTX 3070, but not by a huge amount. Where the RTX 3070 has the upper hand is with its support for DLSS to improve frame rates, its generally lower price and it’s better availability. The GeForce RTX3070 gets our vote in this price bracket, but there’s not much in it.

Great shading power for the money, but the severe lack of stock and disappointing ray­tracing performance make the GeForce RTX3070 a better buy.


4. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT

AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT got off to an awesome start when we fired up Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. We looked skeptical at our test rig, and ran the tests several times, but there’s no mistaking it- this $680 card can outperform the GeForce RTX 3090 at not just 1,920 x 1,080 but also 2,560 x 1,440 in this game and it’s not far behind it at 4K. That’s an incredible achievement at this price. If Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is your main time sink, this is a cracking card if you can find one.

And therein lies the rub – there aren’t any. Stock of all new GPUs is pretty dire at the moment, but the situation for the Radeon RX 6800 XT is particularly bleak. That’s a shame, because it’s a decent GPU if you’re not bothered about ray tracing.

If you want fast frame rates at 1,920 x 1,080, it outperforms the RTX 3080 in all our tests, including Cyberpunk 2077, clocking up an average of 419fps in Doom Eternal (just 6fps behind the RTX 3090). It holds its own at 2,560 x 1,440 too, with its 99th percentile result in Metro Exodus being 8fps higher than that of the RTX 3080. It can’t catch the RTX 3080 in Cyberpunk 2077 at this resolution, but its average of 69fps is still a great result in this game.

As with all the Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs, the 6800 XT is based on AMD’s Navi 21 CPU, and in this case, it has 21 Compute Units enabled, giving it 4,608 stream processors and 72 Ray Accelerators. It also has 6GB more memory than the GeForce RTX 3080, although it’s GDDR6 rather than GDDR 6X, and it’s attached to a 256-bit memory interface. This gives it a total memory bandwidth of 512CB/sec, compared to 760GB/sec on the RTX 3080 – a boost that’s arguably more important than the 6CB of extra memory in current games.

The main problem (other than stock scarcity) is that while the Radeon RX 6800 XT does at least support ray tracing, it’s not as quick as the RTX 3080, it doesn’t support it at all in Cyberpunk 2077 (at least, not yet) and there’s no equivalent of DLSS to help improve performance.

In most cases, the Radeon RX 6800 XT 99th percentile results are pretty good in our ray-tracing tests, so you won’t notice significant slowdowns, but the RTX 3080 maintains much faster averages. In both Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metro Exodus at 2,560 x 1,440, for example, the RTX 3080’s average is 16fps faster, and the gap widens further when you enable DLSS on the RTX 3080.

Summary

The main problem for the Radeon RX 6800 XT is its severely limited stock. We know it’s hard to find RTX 3080 cards too, but Radeon RX 6800 XTs are much scarcer. If you had a realistic prospect of picking up one, we  could make a good case for choosing one over the RTX 3080 if you wanted the best rasterization frame rates for the money – it’s a fantastic card for exploring the epic scenery in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

Even then, that would be the only case though. The RTX 3080 is significantly quicker at ray tracing, and the benefit of DLSS gives it a further performance boost. It’s good to see AMD back in the high-end GPU race again, but the Radeon RX 6800 XT doesn’t quite do enough to be competitive on all fronts.

Awesome rasterization performance, but the Radeon RX 6800 XT struggles to keep up with the RTX 3080 in ray tracing and stock is severely scarce.


5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 Landed with a sonic boom last year, boosting ray-tracing performance well beyond its Turing-based predecessors, including the mighty RTX 2080 Ti, and significantly improving raw shading power too. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang confidently assured owners of Pascal GPUs that it was now safe to upgrade, and it’s been sold out since day one.

In terms of specs, the RTX 3080 is based on the same GA102 GPU as in the RTX 3090, but with one Graphics Processing Cluster disabled. This gives it 8,704 CUDA cores, and reduces the width of the memory interface from 384-bit to 320-bit. However, it still comes with GDDR6X memory, giving you a total bandwidth of 760GB/sec. The downside is that there’s only 10GB, compared to 16GB on the Radeon RX 6800 XT, although this doesn’t seem to massively affect performance in current games.

As with the RTX 3090, the Founders Edition of the RTX 3080 has a reasonable price of $649, but the more realistic price for board-partner cards from retailers is around $800. Even so, this is still half the price of the RTX 3090 at retail, and with limited available competition, it’s worth paying if you can afford it.

That’s because the RTX 3080 is a ray-tracing performance monster, with performance that’s closer to the RTX3090 than the cheaper RTX 3070. With DLSS enabled, it didn’t drop below 61fps in Cyberpunk 2077 at 2,560 x 1,440, and its average of 75fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 4K with High ray-traced shadows and DLSS is superb – that’s 20fps ahead of the 3070, but only 9fps behind the 3090.

What’s more, in our ray-traced tests without DLSS, the RTX 3080 regularly outperformed the significantly pricier Radeon RX 6900 XT. On the downside, it still doesn’t have quite enough power to run Cyberpunk 2077 without DLSS beyond 1080p, but it’s significantly ahead of the RTX 3070 in this game.

The other downside, of course, is the competition from the Radeon RX 6800 XT, which wasn’t a factor when we first reviewed the RTX 3080. The former isn’t as quick at ray tracing, and it doesn’t have DLSS, but it has more raw shader power. In Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, the RTX 3080’s average is around 8fps slower than the Radeon 6800 XT at2,560 x 1,440, for example. The RTX 3080 is quicker in Cyberpunk 2077 without ray tracing, though, and the margins here aren’t enormous.

Summary

At half the price of the RTX 3090, the RTX 3080 offers superb bang per buck. Its ray tracing performance at 2,560 x 1,440 is superb, and it can cope with some 4K gaming with ray tracing if you enable DLSS too. While the Radeon RX 6800 XT often has the edge in games without ray tracing, the margins aren’t huge, and stock of the Radeon RX 6800 XT is so rare, it might as well not exist. If you can find one, and you have the money, the RTX 3080 is absolutely the card of the moment.

The RTX 3080 hits the sweet spot right in the bullseye, with fantastic ray-tracing performance and plenty of shader power for half the price of the RTX 3090.


6. AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT

It’s been the best part of a decade since AMD had a GPU that could compete with the best Nvidia has to offer, but with some help from AMD’s rich Ryzen revenue, as well as a new GPU architecture, it’s now most their. We say ‘almost’ because the current flagship of AMD’s ‘Big Navi’ GPU line-up, the Radeon RX 6900 XT, can’t keep up with the GeForce RTX 3090.

All of AMD’s current Radeon RX6000-series GPUs are based on the same Navi 21 GPU, but with different numbers of compute units enabled. In the case of the Radeon RX 6900 XT, you get 80 of them, and they each come with one of AMD’s Ray Accelerator units for real-time ray tracing in games.

The result is a whopping count of 5,120 stream processors. You don’t get a clock speed advantage over the Radeon RX 6800 XT, though, with the quoted game clock (the frequency at which the card is likely to run in games) of 2015MHz matching the Radeon RX 6800 XT. The latter card also has a slightly higher quoted maximum boost clock.

There’s no memory advantage either. Like the other Radeon RX 6000-series cards, you get 16GB of GDDR6 memory attached to a 256-bit memory interface and running at 16GHz (effective). This marks a difference from Nvidia’s approach, where the RTX 3080 and 3090 come with faster GDDR6X memory and much higher memory bandwidth, though with only 10GB of memory in the case of the 3080.

AMD also makes a seemingly bizarre claim about the Radeon RX 6900 XT, which is that it draws the same 300W of power as the Radeon RX 6800 XT, meaning you get a performance advantage for free in terms of power draw. We were sceptical, but lowering the boost clock frequency seems to indeed have done the trick here. Our test system drew 421W from the mains with the Radeon RX 6900 XT installed – just 3W more than the 418W with the Radeon RX 6800 XT.

In terms of performance, the Radeon RX 6900 XT is seriously powerful when it comes to raw shading power. It tops 1080p and 2,560 x 1,440 performance charts in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, and it beats the RTX 3090 at 1,920 x 1,080 in Metro Exodus and Doom Eternal too.

You don’t buy a $1,200 card to play games at 1080p, though, and the RTX 3090 is still generally quicker at higher resolutions, particularly in Cyberpunk 2077. That said, the RTX 3090 is much more expensive.

As with the other AMD GPUs, where the Radeon RX 6900 XT struggles is in raytracing. It can’t do it at all in Cyberpunk 2077 yet, and it’s slower than the cheaper RTX 3080 in our other ray-tracing tests. Plus, with no hardware- accelerated equivalent to Nvidia’s DLSS mode, there’s no way to significantly boost this performance either.

Summary

If you’re not fussed by raytracing, and you can’t quite run to the cost of the GeForce RTX 3090, you won’t be disappointed by the Radeon RX 6900 XT – it’s a really fast GPU in our standard game tests and it’s surprisingly power-efficient as well. However, while it’s great to see AMD competing at the top end again, the Radeon RX 6900 XT can’t beat the RTX 3090 at higher resolutions, its ray-tracing performance is behind the RTX 3080 and there’s no equivalent of DLSS. To make matters worse, stock is severely scarce and it’s very expensive.

Fantastic rasterization performance, but this scarce card can’t catch the cheaper RTX3080 in ray tracing and it’s too expensive.


7. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

In normal times, the most remarkable aspect of the GeForce RTX 3090 would be its stunning performance, but in these silly times it’s the fact that there’s actually some stock available. Yes, real graphics cards inside real boxes on real shelves! 

On the downside, they’re massively pricey. The $1,399 price for the Founders Edition is expensive enough, but the cards from board partners at retailers (the ones you might actually be able to buy) typically go for at least $200 more. Is it worth it? Not in terms of bang per buck, no, but if you really want the fastest gaming GPU available, then this is the one.

The monstrous price is backed up by some standout specs, including a  huge 24GB allocation of GDDR 6X memory running at 19.5GHz (effective), and it’s attached to a 384-bit interface, resulting in an overall memory bandwidth of 936GB/sec, which isn’t far off 1TB/sec.

Meanwhile, the GPU itself is based on the same GA102 Ampere chip as the RTX 3080, but with 82 streaming multiprocessors enabled, each with a 2nd-gen RT core for ray tracing and four Tensor cores for features based on Nvidia’s deep-learning tech, such as DLSS. You end up with a huge total of 10,496 CUDA cores in this chip, making for a formidably powerful parallel processing machine.

The GPU clock speeds are slightly lower than those of the RTX 3080, but there’s not much in it, with a stock boost clock of 1695MHz compared to 1710MHz on the RTX 3080. One other feature worthy of note is that the RTX 3090 is the only GPU from Nvidia’s current Ampere line-up to support the company’s dual-GPU SLI technology, although declining game support and compatibility issues mean we’d stay well away from it.

Not surprisingly, Nvidia’s flagship monster generally lays waste to the competition at high resolutions, topping the tables in all our 4I< tests. One interesting anomaly, though, was Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla at 2,560 x1,440 and 1,920 x 1,080, where the top two Radeons were quicker. It’s also the only GPU on test to manage a frame rate above 40fps in Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K, and you can even get a respectably playable 45fps 99th percentile and a 53fps average at 4I< with Medium ray tracing if you set DLSS to Balanced.

Disappointingly, though, even this top- end GPU can’t cope with this game with the Ultra ray-tracing preset in Cyberpunk 2077, dropping down to a clunky 24fps, which only increased to a 33fps 99th percentile with DLSS on the Quality preset. In our other ray-tracing tests, however, the RTX 3090 copes at4K, especially if you give it a helping hand by enabling DLSS. Its 78fps average in Metro Exodus with High raytracing and DLSS enabled is a superb result.

On the downside, it also consumes a lot of power, with our test rig drawing 567W from the mains with the RTX 3090 installed.

Summary

The GeForce RTX 3090 might be ridiculously expensive, and it also has the highest power draw on test by a large margin, but it’s also clearly the best GPU for 4K gaming. If you have the money, and you want the best of the best, then this is the card to buy. That said, the bang per buck is poor here, and it’s disappointing that such an expensive GPU still can’t play Cyberpunk 2077 at the top settings.

This outrageously priced GPU still struggles with Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K, but it’s undoubtedly the current performance king if you can afford it.

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