Only a few years back, 1080p, 60Hz gameplay was the golden standard for PC gaming, and it was miles ahead of what consoles could achieve, but in the last few years 1440p has become the new 1080, and 144Hz has ousted 60Hz as the golden standard. There are higher resolutions, to be sure such as ultrawide 1440p, 4k,or even ultrawide 4k, but for the current state of hardware, 1440p 144Hz is the highest achievable by anyone other than extreme enthusiasts with a budget to match. 1440p, 144Hz is also, coincidentally, the sweet spot before entering into “diminishing returns” territory. In several blind tests conducted by tech media outlets such as LTT and UFD Tech, experienced gamers could often not differentiate between 1440p and 4k, or between 144Hz and 240Hz, but the difference between 1440p and 1080p or 60Hz and 144Hz is easily discernable.
1440p 144Hz is the ultimate blend of high definition and high framerate smoothness, and it is more attainable today than it ever has been. So how do you get there? Let us walk you through it.
Is the CPU important for 1440p 144hz gaming?
Though this article is not concerned with finding the ultimate high refresh rate gaming CPU, I do want to briefly mention that to push upwards of 144Hz, you will want a pretty hefty CPU. It seems that the days of “an i5 is enough for gaming” are over, especially for high refresh rate gaming. You are going to want at least 8 threads (4C/8T or 8C/8T) for modern high refresh rate gaming and maintaining good 1% and .1% framerates. With that out of the way, lets get to the GPU.
Which graphics cards capable of 1440p 144hz?
Even a year ago, there was no Navi, the 20 series was only rumor and your options for 1440p gaming were limited to the 1070, 1080 or 1080 Ti. Today, there is a veritable smorgasbord, of excellent 1440p GPU options from the 1660 Ti, Navi cards and the mighty 2080 Ti. There are also used 10 series cards and Vega 56 / 64 that you can look at as well, though our focus today will be on the new market.
Just look at all of the options you have in 2019:
|GTX 1660 Ti||$279|
|RTX 2060 Super||$399|
|Radeon 5700 XT Anniversary Edition||$449|
|RTX 2070 Super||$499|
|RTX 2080 Super||$699|
|Radeon VII||$699 (end of life)|
|RTX 2080 Ti||$1199|
Best Graphics Cards for 1440p 144hz – My recommendations
|Best budget graphics card for 1440p 144hz||Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti||Low-medium|
|Best price/performance graphics card for 1440p 144hz||AMD RX 5700||Medium-high|
|Best performance graphics card for 1440p 144hz||Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti||High-ultra|
Best Budget Graphics Card for 1440p 144hz: Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti
The GTX 1660 Ti is very close to the GTX 1070 in performance, but on an updated architecture and at a lower price. At $279, the 1660 ti is a great value and the most affordable entry into 1440p, 144Hz gaming. For esports titles, you can crank the settings to high or ultra. CS:GO, Rocket league, Overwatch, League of Legends, Rainbow Six Siege and even other titles such as Battlefield 1, Doom, and Destiny 2, will all run at 144fps or more on ultra quality settings, while most modern AAA titles will need to be dialled back to between medium and low settings to stay at 144 fps or more. If you are constrained on your budget, you will be able to hit 1440p at varying quality levels with the 1660 Ti, though if you are looking to hit 1440p, 144Hz with all the visual bling of high/ultra settings you will need to step up your budget to our next tier.
Best price/performance GPU for 1440 144hz: Radeon RX 5700
At $350, the AMD Radeon RX 5700 is absolutely astounding from a price to performance standpoint. We have reached the point where the performance of the GTX 1080 is now available at the decidedly mid-range price of $350 and for 1440p, 144Hz gaming this is the absolute sweet spot. With a reasonable mixture of medium to high settings, you will be able to stay around the 144fps mark at 1440p while less demanding titles will be able to run at high to ultra. Look at this overview from the wonderful GPUcheck.com to see how the 5700 performs at Medium settings across many of today’s most popular titles.
As you can see, with some adjustments you will be hitting high refresh rates at 1440p and enjoying excellent visuals with only minor sacrifices being made in certain games in order to hit those framerates. In competitive titles, you will be able to keep the settings at max and enjoy silky-smooth gameplay and in AAA single-player games you will be able to enjoy wonderful visuals with smooth frame rates.
What about the 5700XT or 2070 Super, you ask? While both of those cards offer increased performance, they do so at $50 and $100 more dollars respectively and the modest performance gains come at enough of an increased cost to slightly lose out in the price-to-performance category. Still, if your budget allows, the 5700XT is almost on par in price to performance with its little brother.
Best graphics card for 1440p 144hz (high-ultra settings): RTX 2080 Ti
Lastly, if you are after ultra settings at 1440p in all modern AAA titles, I am afraid that the only option on the table at this point is the nearly-unattainable $1200 NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti. Even then, you will have to adjust the settings in some games to hit that ideal 144 fps on ultra quality presets. I currently own a 2080 Ti, and while it is incredible and the absolute most-powerful GPU on the market, it is still not a “set and forget” solution. In some games, Witcher 3 as an example, you will have to dial back certain settings (In this case, Nvidia Hairworks), in more current games with ray tracing, 1440p ultra with ray tracing will simply not hit 144 fps.
That being said, this should be no surprise that if you are after 1440p resolution and the highest possible visual fidelity along with the highest possible framerate, you are going to have to buy the worlds best gaming GPU. (No the RTX Titan does not count as it can be beaten by an overclocked 2080 Ti).
The recently released AMD Radeon RX 5700 offers the best cost-per-frame in the 1440p capable GPU lineup, excellent performance and great energy efficiency. You will be able to hit 144 fps in basically every game, especially if you spend time tweaking the settings. Of course, you can always spring for the 5700XT, 2070 Super, or above but you simply won’t find a better price to performance sweet spot than the vanilla Radeon 5700. Above this card in price, you are getting diminishing returns on your investment and below the RX 5700 you will not be hitting the 144 fps at 1440p. For 2019, at 1440p, and 144Hz, this is the card to get.
Related: Best Aftermarket RX 5700 Cards