If you’re into high refresh rate gaming a 1080p gaming monitor is a good starting point. Games should work much better on 1080p vs 1440p. Also, you will be able to play with higher details vs 1440p using the same graphics cards. Finally, you can reach 144Hz in most eSports games with various graphics cards. This allows lots of budget choices if you’re exclusively into eSports high refresh rate gaming and are ready to play AAA games at 60 FPS.
But, if you want to be on the bleeding edge, running AAA games on max details, be ready to pay a lot. The ultimate 1080p 144Hz experience demands great sacrifices in the form of a bunch of bills getting thrown out of your wallet. The good news is that the starting expenses are lower. 1080p 144Hz monitors are noticeably cheaper than their 1440p 144Hz counterparts. With the money you saved on the monitor you can get a better graphics card and ultimately have better high refresh rate experience.
But, before all that, check that your CPU fills the requirements.
Best Graphics Cards for 1080p 144Hz Gaming – Our Picks
|Best Graphics Card for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming||EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Black Gaming|
|Best Graphics Card for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming w/ Max-High Settings||ASUS GeForce RTX 2070 Super Overclocked|
|Sapphire Radeon Nitro+ RX 5700 XT|
|Best Graphics Card for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming w/ Medium-High Settings||XFX RX 5700|
|GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2060 OC|
|Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT|
|Best Graphics Card for eSports and Indie Titles at 144Hz||ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Super|
|XFX RX 590 Fatboy|
|Best Graphics Card for Budget eSports at 1080p 144Hz||EVGA GeForce GTX 1650 Super SC Ultra Gaming|
It's Not Just About the Graphics Card
Yes, high refresh rate gaming demands a capable CPU. As in our 1440p 144Hz gaming piece, the minimum for 1080p high refresh rate gaming would be Core i5 9400 (or its 9400F variant without the iGPU) or Ryzen 5 3600. They’re both 6-core CPUs with Ryzen’s advantage being hyperthreading. If you want a future proof CPU, get the Ryzen. Also, Ryzen 5 3600 is much better for people who use their PC for work, not only for gaming.
Anything more powerful is always welcome. Something like the Core i7-9700K or Ryzen 7 3700 would be a sweet spot. Again, Ryzen is our personal favorite but the i7-9700K is still great for gaming-only builds.
You also need 16 GB of RAM. 8 gigs aren’t enough for some games. For instance, if you’re having top-of-the-line rig and only 8 GB of RAM you will experience stutter in some titles.
Best Graphics Card for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming
Look, the EVGA RTX 2080 Super might seem like an insane recommendation for 1080p gaming, but hear us out. Even at 1080p, there isn’t a GPU capable of running every single game at 144Hz with all settings maxed.
Most titles will reach that magic mark. Lots will hover around 120Hz area. The most demanding ones, being poorly optimized or using advanced visual settings made for future cards, will run around the 80-FPS mark. And that’s when using 2080 Ti.
So yes, 2080 Super is the ultimate choice for 1080p high refresh rate gaming. RTX 2080 Ti is better, yes, but the price is insane. While it’s justifiable to get one for 1440p (and that’s a stretch) getting one for 1080p gaming is ludicrous.
The RTX 2080 Super will perform almost the same with a 50 percent lower price. Lots of games will work at 140 frames on max details. A good chunk will reach that goal after lowering a couple of most demanding settings.
Those offering negligible visual improvements that are not visible in motion. And a select few (AC Odyssey, Metro Exodus, RDR 2) will never reach 100 frames or more, except if you’re ready to play on medium settings.
Best Graphics Cards for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming w/ Max-High Settings
If the RTX 2080 Super is too expensive for you, or if you don’t want to get that overpowered GPU for 1080p gaming, check out the 2070 Super and RX 5700 XT. Both will achieve about 100 frames or above in a great chunk of games. Both will run eSports titles in silky smooth 144 FPS. The choice between the two comes down to budget and whether you want RTX and DLSS or not.
The more expensive of the two. The ASUS RTX 2070 Super will run most games around 100 FPS or higher at max settings. Unlike RTX 2080 Super, you will have to lower a couple of settings to achieve 144 FPS performance in a good amount of recent AAA games.
A couple of games (AC: Odyssey, RDR 2, Borderlands 3) will have to be played at high or medium settings in case you want to achieve 144 FPS performance. But, if you’re okay with AAA titles running at around 100 frames with max details, the RTX 2070 Super will achieve that goal without issues.
The Sapphire Nitro+ RX 5700 XT is the Goldilocks choice for 1080p 144Hz gaming. It costs 20 percent less than the RTX 2070 Super while providing almost the same performance. It can run most AAA titles at 120 FPS or higher after lowering the most demanding visual settings. Settings difference of which is noticeable only by zooming in screenshots.
And yes, the aforementioned graphics hogs will require lowering a good chunk of visual settings. But you can achieve steady 60 FPS or higher at max settings even in those most demanding games of today.
It’s worth noting that the RX 5700 XT suffered greatly from driver issues. AMD reportedly fixed most of the issues with driver updates. But, it’s better to get this card from a store that supports no-questions-asked returns.
Best Graphics Cards for 1080p 144Hz AAA Gaming w/ Medium-High Settings
Now we’re entering the mid-range arena. It hosts three excellent graphics cards for 1080p high refresh rate gaming. Two are 1440p 60Hz cards and one is the ultimate 1080p performer. But all three provide excellent 1080p 144Hz experience. With a few compromises.
The best choice of the bunch. With the XFX RX 5700 eSports titles will run like a hot knife through butter at 144 FPS. Most AAA titles will hover around 80-100 FPS on max settings. Drop the most demanding settings down a notch and you’ve got yourself 100 FPS AAA gaming experience across the board, which isn’t bad. Lower settings to a mixture of medium and high and 120 FPS and higher performance should be easily achievable in virtually every game.
Sure, some games will require dropping down settings that have visible effects of the image quality. But hey, at least you’ll be able to play those at high refresh rates without sacrificing visuals too much.
The GIGABYTE RTX 2060 OC has less video memory than the RTX 2060 Super, but 6GB of memory is enough for 1080p gaming. Sure, games such as Doom Eternal have proved that even 6 gigs of vRAM aren’t enough for max textures, even at 1080p. But those titles are outliers. Get the RTX 2060 Super only if you want a future proof card (only in the sense of the 8GB memory buffer on the 2060 Super) for next-gen titles that’ll start coming in 2021.
For all other purposes, the RTX 2060 is a great choice. Expect less performance than with the RX 5700. About 10-12 percent overall. In numbers, that’s 70-90 frames in most AAA games with max settings.
That means lowering settings a bit more to achieve 100 FPS or higher performance. But still, you’ll have a great visual experience. Of course, indie and eSports titles will run like a charm even on max settings.
The Sapphire Radeon Pulse RX 5600 XT offers almost the same performance as the usual RTX 2060 on average while selling for 20 percent less. No RTX and DLSS support here but that shouldn’t matter if you’re into high refresh rate gaming, right?
Just remember to get a card capable of reaching full 14 Gbps memory bandwidth. Don’t worry though, we’ve linked one of those cards above.
For the money, you get amazing performance. 70-90 frames on max settings in AAA games. 144Hz performance in most eSports titles without any problems. Yes, you will lower visual settings in almost every AAA title to reach 120Hz or higher performance. But the games will still look pretty nice.
And even in titles where medium is required for 100 FPS and higher performance you always have the choice to simply turn on settings to the max and play at 60 FPS if a game is too unattractive on medium settings.
Best Graphics Card for eSports and Indie Titles at 144Hz
If you want to run eSports titles at 144Hz and are satisfied with AAA games running at 60 frames per second, get one of the two cards featured below.
eSports games will run at high refresh rates without issues. Some eSports titles, such as Apex Legends or Battlefield V, will require a bit of tweaking to run at 144 frames per second.
You can reach high refresh rate goal even in AAA games, just be ready to play on medium or lower settings. The level of the visual downgrade is different on a game to game basis.
Yes, the XFX RX 590 Fatboy is a remnant of four-year-old architecture. Yes, it’s pretty hot and needs more than 200 W of power. But it’s a solid budget card with a 10 percent lower performance than the GTX 1660 Super and 8 GB memory buffer. Just check out the review linked in the GTX 1660 Super part of the article.
For 1080p the RX 590 is all you need to reach 60 FPS in modern AAA games with high/max settings. eSports and indies will work at high frame rates with a couple of settings turned down. If you don’t have the money for the GTX 1660 Super, RX 590 is a great alternative. Just make sure you have the PSU to match the card’s ravenous hunger for power.
Best Graphics Card for Budget eSports at 1080p 144Hz
The budget choice today is the EVGA GTX 1650 Super. But, unlike in our 1440p 144Hz article, the budget choice here is capable of running most modern games with high/max settings and 60 FPS. Graphics hogs will run at 60 FPS only after you change visual settings to medium, but that’s still a great result for a 1080p budget card.
eSports titles will run great. Turn down settings to medium/low and you’ll enjoy a silky smooth 144Hz experience. Great result for the price.
This one’s noticeably cheaper than the RX 590 while providing around 5-10 percent less performance. RX 590 does have 8 GB of memory (GTX 1650 Super comes with 4 gigs of vRAM) but it’s also much hotter and power-hungry.
The GTX 1650 Super is much cooler and will have low temps inside any PC case. Overall, the GTX 1650 Super can be used for 1080p high refresh rate gaming, just know what you’ll get before buying this one.