You know that providing a great visual experience is essential in streaming on Twitch. Part of that comes from having a great monitor for streaming, but that’s only part of the equation. If you have an outdated or weak graphics card, your monitor and CPU simply can’t reach their full potential in delivering that visual experience.
A solid graphics card can turn information into images fast, boosting your frames per second and creating an overall better visual experience. To help you level up your visuals, we’re sharing the best graphics card for streaming.
Understanding Specs Related to Graphics Cards for Streaming
Before we get into our “best of” options, we know that talking about specs gets pretty jargon-heavy. To help you make a better decision, we’re going to define some of the terms first:
Stream Processors/CUDA Cores
AMD’s stream processors and Nvidia’s CUDA (Compute Unified Device Architecture) cores measure the compute power in the GPU. More stream processors generally equals more power, with the GPU holding thousands of processors/cores.
It’s important to note that you cannot compare the amount of processors/cores across manufacturers. For example, if an AMD graphics card has 3840 stream processors and an Nvidia card has 1920, it doesn’t mean that the AMD card is twice as powerful.
The core clock, sometimes called core speed or clock speed, is the speed, measured in megahertz (MHz), at which the processor operates and turns information into images. The higher the core clock, the faster it operates. Some cards have a boost clock which increases the clock speeds temporarily when there is extra power available.
Memory Type and Memory Speed
Most graphics cards use GDDR5 or the newer GDDR6 which is basically DDR RAM that’s specifically geared for graphics. DDR3 RAM is used in some cards, but we don’t recommend those graphics cards for streaming.
The RAM bandwidth is the speed at which the RAM operates and accesses data is measured in GB/s. The higher the GB/s, the faster the card can access data and the less lag time you’ll experience. Additionally, cards with higher amounts of RAM are generally a better option for gaming and streaming, especially if you’re using a multiple monitor setup.
Ray tracing is a rendering technique where an algorithm can trace the path of light and recreate how that light interacts with virtual objects. It simulates how light bounces off an object in the virtual world around it to create true-to-life shadows, reflections, and lighting effects and makes the light in video games act like how it does in the real world. The latest graphics cards support this new technology which has been used in games like Battlefield V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
Best Graphics Card for Streaming
Here are our picks for the five top graphics cards for streaming in no particular order.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 TI
- CUDA Cores: 4352
- Core Clock/Boost: 1350 MHz/1635 MHz
- Memory: 11GB GDDR6
- RAM Bandwidth: 616 GB/s
Simply put, the RTX 2080 TI is the top of the line graphics card for streaming on the market right now. It was made for 4K gaming at incredibly high refresh rates and is at the cutting edge of ray tracing technology. However, at around $1200, this may be cost-prohibitive for non-professional gamers and streamers.
AMD Radeon 5700 XT
- Stream Processors: 2560
- Core Clock/Boost: 1605 MHz/1905 MHz
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- RAM Bandwidth: 448 GB/s
The AMD Radeon 5700 XT is great for 1440p gaming and streaming. While it doesn’t have the ray tracing of the RTX 2080 TI, it offers a comparable visual experience and powerful performance in every other way, and at less than $400, it’s a much more accessible investment.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super
- CUDA Cores: 2560
- Core Clock/Boost: 1605 MHz/1770 MHz
- Memory: 8GB GDDR6
- RAM Bandwidth: 448 GB/s
You’ll see the specs on the RTX 2070 Super are pretty similar to the Radeon 5700 XT. However, the big difference is the 2070 not only offers high-performing 1440p gaming, it also has ray tracing, which makes it an exciting option and our pick for a QHD graphics card.
Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 TI Mini
- CUDA Cores: 3584
- Core Clock/Boost: 1480 MHz/1582 MHz
- Memory: 11 GB GDDR5x
- RAM Bandwidth: 484 GB/s
If you are putting together a compact PC, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice performance. The GeForce GTX 1080 TI mini has specs that match larger cards but is specifically designed for small systems. This is an advanced, powerful graphics card for streaming and should have no trouble fitting most systems.
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G
- Stream Processors: 1408
- Core Clock/Boost: 1530 MHz/1785 MHz
- Memory: 6GB GDDR5
- RAM Bandwidth: 192 GB/s
We would be remiss if we didn’t include this final option. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 OC 6G is an excellent opportunity to step up from an integrated GPU without breaking the bank. It also gets you a great performance at 1080p. At just over $200, this is our pick for the best graphics card for streaming on a budget.
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