Are you looking for the cheapest graphics card for 1080p gaming at ultra settings? There are a lot of options around, especially with release of budget cards based on AMD and Nvidia’s latest graphics architectures. But if you’re looking for a dirt cheap GPU that could run games at highest settings, we hope this guide will push you in the right direction.
Now, I’m sure ultra settings isn’t really something that a lot of you will be concerned about when it comes to budget gaming. For me, I’ll be pretty happy if the game runs decent and looks fine. But what if you really wanted to play your favorite game at 1080p ultra? How little could you spend to do so, and would it actually be worth it? Let’s find out.
Originally, I was going to opt for the GeForce GTX 1050 that you could grab for around $119. The entry-level Pascal card is capable of running most games on those high settings, but instead, I chose to go with something a little older, the Radeon R9 270X from AMD.
Why? That’s because of the fact that being an older card, there will be more of a chance that you could buy one for cheaper – the card is selling on both eBay and Amazon for $85-$100 in the US. We paid $100 for our HIS R9 270X IceQ X from Amazon.
HIS R9 270X IceQ X Boost Clock 2GB GDDR5: Buy Now
The AMD R9 270X was released way back in 2013 at a cost of $199. Built using the 28nm process, the card is based on the Curacao graphics processor and supports DirectX 12. It features 1280 shading units, 80 TMUs and 32 ROPs.
In terms of memory, the R9 270X has 2GB GDDR5 VRAM which is connected using a 256-bit bus interface. The GPU operates at a clock speed of 1GHz base and 1.5GHz boost, with memory running at 1400MHz. The TDP is rated at 180W maximum.
We hope this old AMD card is enough for 1080p gaming but it’s important to remember that there will always be a few games out there that aren’t optimized and won’t run so great even on the latest and greatest hardware. That being said, let’s get straight to some tests to see how things turn out.
The $100 R9 270X for 1080p Gaming at Ultra Settings
We paired our HIS R9 270X IceQ X with an i5-4460 and 8GB of RAM which will allow the card to reach its full potential. Remember that even if a GPU is capable, you’ll need a CPU that is up to the task to and won’t bottleneck. Luckily, even something like a Pentium G4400 which retails for $60 shouldn’t bottleneck this card. So without further ado, here are the gaming benchmarks.
GTA 5 | Highest Settings | 1080p | 47 FPS
Starting with Grand Theft Auto 5, we cranked everything up. The graphics options in the advanced menu are also set to on, but MSAA is off here. We achieved 47 frames per second at 1080p without any hiccups or sudden slowdowns and the game looks great. Even driving through the city didn’t present us with any problems and it was a pretty pleasurable experience overall.
Battlefield 1 | Ultra Settings | 1080p | 43 FPS
Next up is the Battlefield 1 with ultra settings and 100% resolution scaling. We saw 43fps over our half hour gameplay period. This was impressive too, though you may have a little trouble playing at ultra with a card like this.
Of course, you’ll gain additional performance if you wanted to turn things down. But, as we’re focusing specifically on graphics today, this result will do nicely.
Mafia 3 | Highest Settings | 1080p | 30 FPS
Mafia 3 was quite badly optimized at launch, but the things have now improved massively thanks to a few new updates. Once again, we set the game to its highest available preset, and it hovered between 30fps which is definitely playable, and interestingly enough, it didn’t really improve when we dropped things down a little bit to take a look.
If a badly optimized game can run well on the highest settings on this card then surely this does make a pretty good ultra settings budget option.
Fallout 4 | Ultra Preset | 1080p | 41 FPS
Finally, we put the Fallout 4 to test. It offers nice and simple settings: you can switch things to ultra at 1080p with just a click of a button. The game runs at 41fps most of the time if not for a few stutters here and there that saw a few drops down to the mid-thirties at times.
The drop in frame rate happens often at pivotal moments, like in the middle of a firefight, but it wasn’t too game-breaking. Keep in mind that we’re talking about ultra settings on a $100 graphics card so this isn’t a bad set of results in general.
There we go! As I said before, the results will depend on the game you’re playing but if eye candy is your thing and ultra settings is a must while still sticking to a sensible budget, you could do far worse than you used the R9 270X.
Do you think the R9 270X is the cheapest option for 1080p gaming at ultra settings? What sort of settings you can get on your system as well as the frame rates? Let me know in the comments below.