Let’s be honest: 2023 wasn’t exactly the best year for stunning GPU releases. Not for cards that blew our collective minds or opened our collective wallets. However, that’s not to say we haven’t reviewed some great candidates for our graphics card of the year, and it’s quite telling that our picks here fit squarely into the mid-range to budget end of the market.
This is where the GPU battles were fought in 2023, as Nvidia and AMD squared off against each other to deliver gaming GPUs that focussed on bang for our collective bucks.
Given world events and a general squeeze on disposable income for many of us, it should come as no surprise that GPU manufacturers adjusted their sights and took a long hard look at the middle sector of the market. Prices on high-end cards remained high (and in the case of the RTX 4090, climbed towards the stratosphere), but it’s in the $600 or less category that we saw some of the biggest releases.
While Nvidia came out swinging in April with the RTX 4070, it took AMD until September to deliver its counter with the well-received Radeon RX 7800 XT, only for Nvidia to drop pricing of the RTX 4070 in response. Meanwhile at the lower end of the market, the RTX 4060 and RTX 4060 Ti launched to somewhat mixed reviews, only to be met with resistance from the already-released RX 7600 and later the RX 7700 XT.
It seemed like every time Nvidia went left, AMD later went right, and overall 2023 has seen an entertaining display of one-upmanship and price adjustments from these two industry heavyweights.
Best graphics card 2023: the nominees
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
Utilising a pared back AD104 GPU, the RTX 4070 caught our attention with its RTX 3080-equalling performance and cool, quiet and efficient design. Matching the performance of one of the best graphics cards of the previous generation with the added benefits of DLSS 3 and Frame Generation at a reasonable price means that the RTX 4070 won over the hearts of many gamers this year, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Read our full Nvidia RTX 4070 review.
AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT
While it might not be the strongest GPU when it comes to ray tracing, if it’s excellent rasterisation performance you’re after the RX 7800 XT certainly delivers the goods. At 1440p this card puts on an impressive display, beating out the RTX 4070 in many benchmarks. More than that, launching at a reference price of $499 meant that it was in serious danger of eating the RTX 4070s lunch, so Nvidia adjusted their pricing in kind. A bit of a mover and shaker then, this GPU, and one that still divides opinion as to where to put your mid-range money in 2023.
Read our full AMD RX 7800 XT review.
AMD Radeon RX 7600
The Radeon RX 7600 doesn’t exactly deliver world-changing performance, but in many ways it might be the card the GPU market was crying out for this year. A launch MSRP of $269 means that this GPU is easily the cheapest of the new crop of current generation graphics cards, and at 1080p it delivers decent performance for less cash than the competition. If you’re looking to upgrade on the cheap from something like an RX 580 or GTX 1060, this little GPU makes a whole lot of sense for not a lot of money.
Read our full AMD RX 7600 review.
The winner of the Best Graphics Card 2023 PC Gamer Hardware Award will be announced on New Year’s Eve, so make sure you check back with us then to see which of these picks ends up taking the prize.