The best NVIDIA graphics cards have been at the forefront of production for years. Its gaming cards have become the standard by which others are judged thanks to features such as cutting-edge chip design on the latest Ada Lovelace platform, dedicated Ray Tracing cores, advanced graphics acceleration enhanced by features such as the AI-enhanced DLSS 3 and wide industry adoption from both game and content creation application developers.
The only issue when choosing an NVIDIA graphics card is knowing which one to choose, as there are many options at budget points, from budget to extreme professional. This guide selects our top NVIDIA choices for desktop (and laptop). We've had personal experience with most of these cards (with full reviews coming soon), weighing up specs like Video RAM and power consumption to assess which GPUs are best for a range of use cases. Of course, we've also considered price, and the best NVIDIA graphics cards for gaming.
Want a more general guide? See our best graphics cards post.
As most content creators are Mac or PC rather than both - we will split our results to reflect that. While Mac laptops offer excellent build quality, good battery life and excellent screens, they are also expensive, potentially limited in some creative workflows due to lack of available software and 'meh' for gaming. However, the release from Apple of the 'Gaming Portal Toolkit' may change that in the future.
Right now, for a creator looking to buy a Mac offering the best all-around GPU experience, we recommend the M2 Pro; it compares well to the previous M1 Pro with a 40% speed improvement over the M1 Pro. Also, it exhibits little signs of power throttling when on battery power.
We recommend going for the 19 Core GPU as that allows more headroom for Apple's highly efficient unified architecture without having to leap up to the M2 Max. We would also recommend at least 32GB of RAM to accompany to make the most of Apple's unified memory system.
The NVIDIA RTX 4060 is the baby in the current generation of RTX cards. Both in terms of price and size, compared to its (much) bigger siblings. Available for $299 in the pictured Gigabyte Windforce OC version, the NVIDIA RTX 4060 offers excellent gaming capabilities that will outshine a PS5 and Xbox series X while offering decent capabilities for content creation for those looking to create a budget workstation.
While there is a range of RTX 30 generation cards available at deep discounts, we would still go for the RTX 4060 for its future-proofing tech, such as DLSS 3 (which has just been upgraded to DLSS 3.5), which makes a genuine difference in day-to-day use.
The downside, which is the same for many RTX 40 series, is the stingy 8GB of VRAM. At the same time, it may be GDDR6; 8GB is barely enough for many new games, and content creators could find it a bottleneck. Some RTX 4060Ti cards are available with 16GB of RAM, but they are an extra $200.
The Nvidia RTX 4070Ti is our pick of an Nvidia Graphics Card that can be used for both decent 4K gaming. It has enough grunt to be a helpful content creation card for half the price of our best Nvidia Graphic Card pick, the Nvidia RTX 4090.
In fact, thinking of the RTX 4070Ti as half an RTX 4090 is a good analogy. It has half the video RAM at 12GB, nearly half the power requirements, 285W compared to 450W of the RTX 4090 and half the number of 8-pin power adaptors.
Performance is around half the RTX 4090 for most games and Redshift benchmarks. But, and is a big but, the NVIDIA RTX 4070Ti outperforms the last generation of top tier NVIDIA Card, the RTX 3090Ti, making it outstanding value for those on a budget.
As we mentioned in our best graphics cards for laptop post, the NVIDIA RTX 4070 is our pick of a Nvidia GPU for a laptop.
We would recommend getting the 70W variant as found in the Dell XPS 17 9730
When choosing an Nvidia Graphic Card for a laptop, don't expect the benchmarks for the desktop equivalent Nvidia Card to be the same as those for the laptop variant.
This is because the power draw for the laptop GPU is lower than its desktop equivalent, making the card less powerful. Also, the maximum amount of power varies from laptop to laptop based on the manufacturer's specifications.
So, while more powerful Nvidia GPUs exist, the 70W variant offers a good balance of power and mobility for most content creators' needs. Being the latest generation of NVIDIA's Ada Lovelace platform also means that features such as DLSS 3 are ready to make the most of the RTX 4070.
While the NVIDIA RTX 4090 is our best pick as an excellent all-round graphic card solution for every use for gaming and content creation, even with the option to be able to use Game or Studio drivers for some content creation use cases, for example, game creation, AI modelling, high-end graphic and video work, it's better to go for a Pro card.
The reasons to choose a card from NVIDIA's Professional line include certified drivers optimised for applications and much more Video RAM than the gaming equivalents, with our pick and top-of-the-line NVIDIA RTX 6000 packing 48GB of RAM, double the amount of RTX 4090, while only using two-thirds of the power. This card means business and will keep on doing business for thousands of hours with dedicated support available.
Boasting all of the features of the latest Ada Lovelace architecture, the NVIDIA RTX 6000 is one of the backbones of AI creation, but it does come with an eye-watering price of $6800.
What can the different NVIDIA graphics cards do?
NVIDIA makes it easy to ensure you get the most from your Graphics card if you are a Content Creator and Gamer, with the option to choose Game or Studio drivers for their RTX gaming cards. Still, for those who want to keep everything Pro, the NVIDIA Quadro cards offer dedicated drivers and quiet operation guaranteed to last for years when running at full tilt. As well as being enhanced by AI, NVIDIA Graphics cards are the backbone of many AI compute clusters, making them easy to work with for developers who want to run the massively complex calculations required for AI Training most efficiently.
Are RTX 30 Series cards still good value?
With the passing of the crypto boom and the production shortages caused by the COVID pandemic starting to fade, many of the previous generation of NVIDIA RTX 30 series cards are on the market either as unsold stock or secondhand. If you can afford them, we would still go for a RTX 40 series as they usually offer the same performance for less power at the discounted value as our value pick of the NVIDIA RTX 4070ti proves with performance equivalent to an RTX 3090 with a lower power draw retail price.
Is the new NVIDIA Power connector safe?
There have been many complaints about the new 12-pin power connector for the RTX 40 series of cards,Many complaints have been including some worrying reports of fires. Be mindful that the RTX 4090, especially, is HUGE and won't fit in a lot of PC cases. Make sure the PSU for the PC is capable of coping with the 450W power demand of the RTX 4090 and that the PC case is big enough to accommodate the 12 pin adaptor without bending it.
Should I upgrade a RTX 3080 or RTX 3090 to a RTX 40 Series card
While many users of older NVIDIA Cards will see tremendous benefits with an upgrade, for owners of RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 cards, if the card is working fine for you, we recommend not upgrading, as both of those cards were significant investments. The only reason to upgrade would be if power consumption where the new manufacturing processes of the RTX 40 series card make them much more power efficient.