If the new gold standard for gaming is 1440p 144hz, the new silver standard is 1080p 144hz. The buttery smoothness of 144hz with the still very high definition 1080p is not only terrific for modern gaming, it also very accessible.
Unlike 1440p which requires some pretty powerful components that come at a price premium, 1080p 144hz can be achieved on a more modest budget. As with most gaming PCs, the CPU and GPU will dictate for the most part your ability to reach 144hz and at which resolution. For this guide to 1080p 144hz gaming, we are focusing on the GPU portion and assuming that the CPU will be something like a Ryzen 2600 or Intel 9600K or better, as those are going to provide plenty of power on the CPU side for this level of gaming.
For the GPU, we are spoiled by a variety of choices at almost any price point. For the lowest end, you may need to reduce some settings, and at the high end you will be paying a premium to ‘future-proof’ your rig, but at almost any budget above $200 for the GPU, there are some phenomenal choices. If you are comfortable buying used, there are a few more options that could be considered, but for this article we will recommend new GPUs that come with complete warranties and return policies, just to be on the safe side.
From our ultra-value end to our likely-overkill-for-current-games high-end category, here are the best GPUs available for 1080p 144hz gaming:
Best GPUs for 1080p 144hz Gaming – My Recommendations
Best Ultra-Value GPU for 1080p 144hz Gaming
For someone at this budget tier, we are looking for the absolute minimum GPU that will still let us hit 144hz (or close to it) in the majority of games. And in this category, there is really only one GPU we would recommend: the Nvidia GTX 1660.
The GTX 1660 is a recent addition to the Nvidia line, succeeding the 1060 but not including the ray tracing or DLSS hardware of the newest RTX line. The GTX 1660 is a super power-efficient GPU, the pinnacle of efficiency for the Pascal architecture.
For 1080p 144hz gaming, the Nvidia GTX 1660 is the least powerful GPU we would recommend. In newer titles or more greedy titles, you will likely need to lower settings to maintain an FPS close to 144hz, but for eSports titles or older games, we expect the 1660 to perform well even with medium graphics settings. And because of its super efficiency, the 1660 requires very little power draw and produces very little heat, making it a compelling choice for a ‘silent’ build or a small form factor build that might have more tightly packed components.
At right around $220 for dual fan AIB models like this Zotac GTX 1660 (and occasionally available for even cheaper on sale), this card is a great choice for budget 1080p 144hz gaming.
Best Value Graphics Card for 1080p 144hz Gaming
If we take one step above the ultra-value tier and begin looking for a card that will perform well at 1080p 144hz with medium to high graphics in the majority of games, we begin to have a few more choices. From Team Green, we recommend the bigger brother to the 1660, the Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti, while from Team Red we have the very interesting AMD Radeon RX Vega 56.
Both of these cards will provide for strong performance at reasonable costs, and represent a nice step up from the ultra-value tier without breaking the bank. Between the two, the major differences are the trade-offs in slightly more power (around 10%) from the RX Vega 56, at the cost of a significant increase in power draw, heat output, and noise. Neither card will maintain constant 144FPS in all titles, but both will stay well over 100+ in almost all current games and will hold 144 easily for eSports or older titles without needing to go to lowest graphics settings.
In terms of pricing, the RX Vega 56 is being phased out, so its price is different depending on where you shop. The most common price range is around $320-$330, with one possible dual-fan partner card available on Amazon within that price range and an MSI Airforce RX Vega 56 blower model available at closer to $310. On the other hand, the 1660 Ti is available at $280 with some strong partner models, such as this Gigabyte Windforce Gaming 1660 Ti. We recommend the 1660 Ti with that type of price gap, but if you can find the RX Vega 56 for closer to $300 and don’t mind the extra heat/noise, it will offer better performance and more VRAM for a small boost to 1080p 144hz gaming.
Best Mid-Range Graphics Card for 1080p 144hz Gaming
In the mid-tier GPU category for 1080p 144hz, we begin to enter the territory of the most recent generation of entry-level cards, or one generation old higher-end cards. If we are going to spend at this level, we are looking for the ability to maintain 144 FPS in almost all titles while keeping the graphics at a higher setting. Like the value tier GPU category, we are lucky to have a few viable choices that all offer good performance at good prices. From Nvidia, we are targeting the RTX 2060. AMD have two solid options: the Radeon RX Vega 64 and the newer Radeon RX 5700.
The Nvidia RTX 2060 is from the newest Turing architecture and offers a few hardware neither AMD GPU includes, like ray tracing and DLSS anti-aliasing technology, and is typically less expensive as well. On the other hand, it is not quite as powerful as either card (but is more efficient) and only has 6GB of VRAM vs 8GB. Between the AMD GPUs, the RX Vega 64 and RX 5700 are almost identical in terms of performance, but the 5700 is more efficient and should improve over time with driver optimization. The only reason to choose the Vega 64 would be if you can find it for a discount compared to the 5700.
When it comes to pricing, the RTX 2060 is the least expensive of the group, with current dual-fan models available starting from $330, such as this Gigabyte Windforce Gaming RTX 2060. For 1080p 144hz, that’s a really great deal. The next most expensive is the RX Vega 64. Similar to the Vega 56, this card is being phased out so pricing can fluctuate with stock availability and currently Amazon is not showing much stock, if you can find a Vega 64 card for around $350, it is a reasonable price for what the Vega 64 offers. The newest and most expensive card is the RX 5700 and there are quite a few partner models available in the $360-$370 range, but it is difficult to find them in stock right now due to high demand. If you can find one, the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 is a great buy.
Best Performance Graphics Card for 1080p 144hz Gaming (Ultra Settings)
At the high-end of the GPU spectrum for 1080p 144hz gaming, we don’t just want to be able to maintain 144FPS in all but the most challenging of games at even the highest graphics settings, we want to be able to maintain 144FPS for the foreseeable future as well. In this tier, the GPUs may seem like ‘overkill’ for pure 1080p and many people will use these cards for 1440p as well. But in a few years, the lower tiers might need to put graphics settings on low to get to 144 FPS, but these cards should still be able to play with decent settings. For high-end GPUs for 1080p 144hz gaming, from Nvidia we have the RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070, and from AMD, the Radeon RX 5700 XT.
All three of these cards are very capable GPUs and hover around the $400-$420 mark depending on sales and which partner card you select. The RTX 2060 Super and RTX 2070 perform almost identically (the RTX 2070 is around 3% faster), and offer great performance at high refresh rates for 1080p and even gaming at 1440p at modest frame rates or for eSports titles. The major advantage of these two cards over the RX 5700 XT are the hardware capabilities for ray tracing and DLSS, and slightly better efficiency in terms of power draw. For the 2060 Super, the MSI 2060 Super Ventus is a great choice at $410, while the MSI 2070 Armor is a good choice for a RTX 2070, once the price drops down to around $420-$430 where it belongs.
On the AMD side, the RX 5700 XT is a stronger performer than both the 2060 Super and 2070, but does not have the same hardware capabilities. So if you are sure to not want to try ray-tracing in some upcoming games, the 5700 XT will give you the best bang for your buck and should ensure a great 1080p 144hz experience for years to come. When it comes to selecting a model, the RX 5700 XT Sapphire Pulse is very hard to beat at $420 (if you can find one in stock!).
With 1080p 144hz becoming accessible at much lower budgets, the new silver standard in gaming is a perfect objective for any new build. With a CPU like a Ryzen 2600/3600 or Intel 9600K, there are a variety of GPUs at almost any price point that should allow you to play in Full HD with buttery smooth 144hz per second. If you have the money to spare, aim for a mid-tier or high-end card to help ensure you can use high graphics settings and play at 144 FPS for years to come, but there are plenty of great options at the value-end for someone looking for efficiency or just has a constrained budget. And be sure to check that your monitor can run at 144hz, otherwise the beautiful GPU and CPU combo you are putting together will not be able to demonstrate its full potential.