Every now and then, there comes a time when you happen to find yourself on a strict budget, and you want to buy a good graphic card for light gaming without the ability to spend money. Dedicated graphic cards can be really expensive, and there’s no denying that. In case you are wondering, they can cost as high as $1,200.
However, what if the person who wants to buy a graphics card doesn’t really have that high of a budget, what can be done in order to achieve the gaming performance that is required by someone who doesn’t even want to play the AAA titles that are already in the market, or coming in a few months.
Well, the answer to that is budget oriented graphic cards that are available at large in the market. While these graphic cards aren’t all that might and powerful, the one good thing about them is that they are best for people who are mainly into eSport gaming.
This means that for anyone wants to play games like Counter Strike, DoTA, Overwatch, and other similar titles, these graphic cards will actually be more than enough for you. With that in mind, you should also know that the other games will work, but you won’t get the desirable frame rates on them, and you’re potentially going to need to lower the settings until they’re playable.
With that said, we have decided to take a look at 6 of the budget graphic cards that are available in the market, keep in mind that these graphic cards are either under $100 or for $100, and while they are not built for high end gaming, we can assure you that if you want to do light amount of gaming, or just want a dedicated graphics card for your home theater PC, these will do a much better job than any other option that you have in the market.
So, without further ado, let’s start taking a look at all the graphics card that you have available.
Top 6 Best (GPU) graphics Card Under 100
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1. ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 – View on Amazon
The first graphics card on our list is the recently released GTX 1050 by Zotac, this little puppy comes with enough performance to offer 1080p gaming on medium settings. While this may not please the enthusiasts, it’s important for us to point out that the 1080p resolution still happens to be one of the majorly used resolutions that people game on.
Now there are few things to keep in mind, this graphics card is available in a variety of different variants like the low profile variants. The one we are reviewing is the mini edition, because this is the one that fits the budget in the best possible way.
In case you haven’t guessed it, the VRAM on this GPU is only 2GB, and while a lot of people may raise concern about it, in our testing no 1080p with medium settings, the graphics card managed to perform fairly decently. Still, if you wish to have a higher amount of VRAM, there is always the GTX 1050Ti for a higher price tag, but with 4GB VRAM instead of 2.
Sure, turning up the settings didn’t really do much in the favour of the graphics card, but as soon as we lowered things down to medium, and kept the same resolution, things changed a lot. Keep in mind that the graphics card was tested with 15 different games, however, it wouldn’t be fair to mention all of them and make the article unnecessary long.
That is why we decided to take out an average, and we have some good news; the 15 game average framerate on 1080/medium settings is 60.7 frames per second. Now this result is definitely not groundbreaking, but the good thing is that when you put the price of the card into the equation, it actually makes a lot more sense, and paints a more colourful picture than we had imagined in the first place.
Another great thing about the GTX 1050 is that since it’s based on the Pascal architecture, the overall power consumption is comparatively low. In case you are wondering how low, we are pleased to tell you that the card only draws power from the PCI-Express slot on the motherboard and doesn’t require any other form of power, something that is truly amazing for people who are on a budget.
To be honest, at this point, the only complain we have is that the GPU has only 2GB video RAM, and while you could spend a little more and get yourself the 1050Ti with 4GB VRAM, not a lot of people would be willing to go with that.
You need to know that if you’re planning on playing games on anything higher than 1080p, you’re going to need more VRAM to do so. VRAM limitations aside, the GTX 1050 by Zotac is a fantastic choice for anyone who happens to be on a budget as it provides some excellent performance all the while keeping the price in check.
It can even play some of the AAA titles on 1080p coupled with medium settings, something that is commendable considering the incredibly low price tag that it comes at
- Great bang for the buck.
- Small form factor, will fit into tight, and small cases.
- Incredibly low power consumption with no PCI-e connector required.
- Performs fairly decently on 1080p w/ medium settings.
- 2GB VRAM may be a concern for some modern titles.
2. MSI GTX 1050 2GT OC – View on Amazon
If you think that we are done with the GTX 1050s in the market, then you’re wrong. As a matter of fact, we have another GTX 1050 at hand, however, this one is slightly better because it comes with 2 fans, and not just that, it’s an overclocked version. Now you need to know that Pascal architecture is cutting corners with the clock speed that is being offered.
Which means that the overclock that is available on these graphic cards isn’t all that much, but still provides an advantage of few more frame per second. Something that isn’t bad because at this price, even a single more frame means a lot.
With that said, you should know that the GTX 1050 by MSI is available in a variety of different variants, 4 to be precise, and this one is the most budget friendly in the market, but you can get a low profile variant, as well as the Gaming X variant which comes with MSI’s Twin Frozr cooler along with a higher overclock.
Enough of the variants, we are here to discuss just how good the performance on this graphics card is. Well, the good news is that this is perhaps one of the best budget oriented graphic cards available in the market, and that is saying something.
With that said, for those wondering about the performance numbers on this card, we would like to tell you that the card manages to perform fairly decently with the frame rate hovering between mid-40s and 60, and while this is not the best possible gaming experience, we can assure you that it’s a lot better than playing on a console.
Another good thing about this card is that the card only requires 75 watts of TDP, this means that the card won’t be drawing any additional power from the PCI-e connectors that have become a lot more common over the years in even the mid-range graphic cards.
While the card doesn’t really have a lot of power to boot, we are glad to say that the fans that are installed work as intended, and keep the temperatures nice and cool. Just make sure that you don’t overclock the guard beyond what’s being given to you because that can potentially case a lot of instabilities, and in worst case scenarios, can kill the card too.
All in all, the MSI GTX 1050 2GT OC is actually a great graphics card for the price you’re paying, sure, it doesn’t offer the best of both worlds, but for the price, you can’t go wrong with it at all. Sure, there are some limitations like the 2GB VRAM but if you’re okay with it, and don’t really intend to play a lot of high end games, then you’re more than okay with what you’re getting at this price.
- Great price to performance ratio.
- Remains cool and quite under loads.
- Doesn’t require additional PCI-e power connector.
- Dual fan design.
- Moderately overclocked out of the box.
- Doesn’t do well beyond 1080p.
3. Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 550 – View on Amazon
The next graphic card in our list isn’t something that is being offered from Nvidia, as a matter of fact, we are looking at the Sapphire Radeon PULSE RX 550 4GB. For those who don’t know, the RX 500 series is basically a more efficient refresh of the RX 400 series that is responsible for popularizing the mid-range graphic cards
The RX 550 variant that we are looking at comes straight from the helms of Sapphire, one of the most popular aftermarket board partners that are is responsible for creating some of the best custom Radeon graphic cards. The one we have is known as Pulse.
Now as for the VRAM, this one actually comes with 4GB VRAM as opposed to the cards it is supposed to go against, making it actually a better option for a lot of people who are in the market looking for it. Now you should keep in mind that much like every other graphics card in the list, this one is also intended for e-Sports gaming, and while we did test it with majority of e-Sport titles like DoTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and a couple of others.
We did manage to run some other AAA games on respectable framerates as well, and while you are going to require to lower the settings to medium, and the resolution must be 1080p, it’s important to know that in just under $100, you’re getting performance better than what you’d get on consoles.
Not only that, you’re getting better performance as well as a higher frame rate, and while not a lot of people may concern themselves with the performance numbers, there’s no denying that the RX 550 happens to be a wonderful graphics card for whoever is on a budget, and just wants a graphics card good enough to provide good, respectable performance.
Another great thing is that the card happens to be pretty small when you look at the size, and this is something that definitely makes it worth for people who want to create home theater PCs, and that isn’t even the best part, the best part about this graphics card is that it doesn’t require any external power, which means that it can run on the 75w that are provided by the PCI-e slot on the motherboard.
Last but not the least, another thing that we really love about the RX550 is that it manages to run pretty cool, and quite as well. Even under full load, the card manages to run perfectly fine and doesn’t create any extra noise, whatsoever.
Our only gripe with this card is that the price gap between this and the RX 560 is so small, that it’s actually tempting to buy the RX 560 instead. However, that doesn’t mean that the RX 550 isn’t a good option because more times than one, a person is actually very, very tight on the budget.
- Great value for money.
- Runs quite, and remains cool.
- Great for e-Sport gaming.
- Can run AAA titles on 1080p and medium settings.
- Doesn’t draw much power.
- The price gap between RX 550 and 560 is very small.
4. Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 Gaming – View on Amazon
For those who don’t know, the RX 550 is actually available in 2 variants, there’s the standard 4GB variant, and then we have the 2GB variant. Now the important thing you need to know is that the major difference is about $10, and yes, you are more than likely going to find out that there is a performance difference as well.
Keeping that in mind, the graphics card that we are looking at today is the Gigabyte Radeon RX 550 Gaming. Having already looked at the one RX 550, we didn’t really know what to expect from this variant, however, considering how we are dealing with 2 gigs of VRAM instead of the previously 4 gigs, we readied our test bench and went off to the races.
From the looks of it, the RX 550 Gaming looks like it’s backing a lot of punch, it has an aggressive, dual fan design with a black and orange shroud. Now the colour combination is certainly odd, however, the orange happens to be darker, and subtler shade of orange, making the graphic card more appealing.
There is no RGB lighting whatsoever, and to be honest, at this price point, you can’t really ask for a lot. Keep in mind that these graphics card are built for games that don’t really need a lot of graphic power. Think Overwatch, DoTA 2, and Counter Strike.
Needless to say, the card performs brilliantly in games like that, giving frame rates higher than 60 on 1080p. However, it’s important to know that if you try and run AAA games on 1080p with medium settings, you’re more than likely to get frame rates that are in the mid-40s to 50s, and that is by no means a bad thing.
Another thing that we like about the RX 550 Gaming is that it doesn’t really require a lot of power to run, as a matter of fact, there’s no need of an external power. The card has a TDP of 75 watts, meaning that it can take all the power from the PCI-e slot that’s on your motherboard.
Last but not the least, thanks to the dual fan design, the card runs rather cool, and while some may think that it makes noise as well, we are pleased to tell you that it does not. As a matter of fact, the card actually runs really quite, and the temperatures are always nice and cool, something a lot of people are looking for these days.
All in all, the Radeon RX 550 Gaming is a pretty ambitious graphics card, however, there are some things that are holding this card back. For starters, the 2GB VRAM isn’t enough, and might create issues when running some of the other games. Another thing to keep in mind that the card is unnecessarily big, and while it shouldn’t have been a problem in a high end graphics card because they are big for a reason, having a big RX 550 can reduce the chances of a compact home theater PC build.
However, keep in mind that if you plan on using this graphics card strictly for e-sport gaming, indie gaming, and even for your home theater PC, then it will serve you well without really bothering you much in any task.
- Performs really well in e-sport games.
- Runs quiet and remains calm.
- Doesn’t draw a lot of power.
- 2GB VRAM is cutting corners to say the least.
5. EVGA GeForce GT 730 – View on Amazon
We area almost done with our list, and spoiler alert, the last two products that we are looking at both from Nvidia. The first one we have on our hands is the EVGA GeForce GT 730, now keep in mind that this is by no means a graphics card that is built for gaming, mainly because that would mean putting too much stress on something that isn’t meant to do the task.
However, that also doesn’t mean that the GT 730 is absolutely useless, as a matter of fact, it’s not. You see, home theater PCs, as well as PCs that don’t happen to have the integrated graphics card working can benefit greatly from these low profile, low budget graphics card.
With that said, the GT 730 is available in 3 different variants, you get the 1GB variant, 2GB variant, and 4GB variant. The one that we decided to test comes with 4GB of VRAM, and while Counter Strike: Global Offensive didn’t really work as well with this graphics card, the good thing is that DoTA 2 did really well, and other similarly designed games ran without any issues.
However, you should keep in mind that this graphics card is mainly for work that isn’t gaming. If you are wondering, you get a small fan, and the graphics card happens to be low profile. Considering how it doesn’t deliver, or draw much power, the graphics card doesn’t really come with a PCI-e connector to boot, making everything a lot better for people who don’t really have high end power supplies to begin with.
All in all, there isn’t much to say about the EVGA GeForce GT730, the card is priced moderately, and is one of the cheapest available options in the market, however, it’s important to keep in mind that it doesn’t really provide you a lot of options to begin with, and that can be bothersome considering how a lot of people want the absolute best in the product they are purchasing.
For comparison’s sake, a modern day integrated graphics card is faster than the GT 730, this is not to prevent you from buying this graphics card, this is only for the sake of comparison, and to let you know that you should be fully aware of what you’re getting yourself into.
If you must buy the graphics card, then there’s nothing we can’t do to stop you from buying it in the first place.
- One of the cheapest options.
- Runs quietly.
- Doesn’t require much power.
- Good for entry level graphic loads.
- The price doesn’t justify the performance it offers.
ZOTAC GeForce GT 710 – View on Amazon
The last graphics card on our list is something that we have already hinted, and in case you haven’t guessed, we are talking about the ZOTAC GeForce GT 710. Yes, perhaps the cheapest graphics card on our list. However, one should keep in mind that just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s functional.
As a matter of fact, if you use it for the use case it is intended for, you can actually benefit from it in more than just one way. However, before we even start telling you how good of a GPU it is, we should tell you that if you want something like a good gaming performance out of it, it’s better to look somewhere else.
The reason why this graphics card isn’t built for gaming is rather simple to understand, first, you need to know that not all graphics cards are actually built for gaming. Some are, sure. The first 4 products on our list are actually built for gaming as well as other productivity, but then again, they carry a price tag, and they have a specific use case that enables them to perform.
In cases you are wondering about the lower end graphics card, these are for people who want to do some very, very light graphical work, for people who want to power up their computers for the lack of integrated graphics card, or for people who want to actually create a home theater PC, and want to power a graphics card that they can use.
With that in mind, the good things about the GT 710 are that it’s passively cooled, extremely low profile, doesn’t cost has much, and well, doesn’t really require a lot of power. If these are your requirements, then this puppy can be yours for an incredibly cheap price, a price that won’t break your bank for whatever reasons.
Just make sure you don’t try to overclock it, or run any games on it. Mainly because we won’t really suggest you wasting your hard earned money.
- Does what it is intended to do.
- Doesn’t draw a lot of power.
- Can fit in the smallest, tightest cases.
- Doesn’t cost a lot of money.
- Isn’t built for gaming.
So, here it is, folks. You asked for it, and we delivered it. The list of cheapest graphic cards in the market that are available for you to buy. While some are built for gaming, there are others that are built to be used in the home theater PCs.
Do know that home theater PCs are still at large, and a lot of people build them just to make sure that they can consume media properly. There’s nothing really wrong with a graphics card that is built or a home theater PC. It’s effective, and it’s cheap.
If you are wondering about at the editor’s choice, it’s rather a no brainer because we had to pick MSI GTX 1050 2GT OC as the winner. The reason is simple, this is actually a lot better looking than some of the other offerings in the market, comes factory overclocked, and provides decent enough performance at 1080p and medium settings.
Keep in mind that this graphics card can build you a great PC under $500 that will be great for playing modern AAA games better than you would on a console that costs the same amount of money. The card runs quite, and doesn’t even consume a lot of power.
So, there it is, people. Initially, the list was supposed to be longer, but considering how we didn’t really find a lot of options to add, it had to be cut short. In case you think that we missed a product or two from the list, then feel free to let us know.