Anyone using a computer knows the worth of a good graphics card. It’s an undeniable fact that a good graphics card makes all the difference in the world, especially for a gaming rig. Yes, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the computer’s brain, but GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the soul! And as they say, you need to connect to your spiritual side as much as you can.
If you are fairly new at this, a graphics card is a sort of graphics enhancer. Graphics cards are a display adapter within a computing system that displays graphical data in high quality. They make it easier to process and execute graphical data, enhancing the visual aspect of video games.
As enthusiasts, we can all appreciate the improvements that come along with a graphics card. If your GPU is slow and inefficient, it will ruin your progress along with your gaming experience, whereas a powerful and efficient graphics card will transport you into the gaming world, courtesy of its amazingly high-quality graphics.
Graphics cards are a must-have if you are dealing with high-resolution 3D graphics. They are specially optimized for gaming, assisting an improvement in your gaming skill, all the while giving you the most entertainment value out of your gaming investments.
What to Look for in a Graphics Card?
Choosing a GPU for your gaming rig can be a daunting task, and finding the best graphics card under $100 becomes even harder. It is essential to consider a GPU for your gaming rig, knowing what suits your type of gaming. To truly appreciate that let us take a deep dive into what makes a great GPU.
A good GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) has a high processing speed for graphical display. The Graphics card should have a heat sink that keeps the heat out of the GPU as much as it can. It also should have various ports such as AGP, HDMI, TV, and monitor connectivity ports. Graphics cards connect to the motherboard to work as a unit or are added later as an extension of the system.
Important Components of a Graphics Card
Before you see the best video cards under $100, you ought to know a little about their parts and components. Graphics card is an extension to the system. As mentioned above, it has a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at the heart of it. The graphics card communicates with the CPU to schedule shaders and renders accordingly.
The Graphics card also has a Video memory that ranges from 2 GB – 32 GB, which depends on the type and brand of the graphics card. Here designers usually use high-speed and multiport memory like VRAM (Video RAM), WRAM (Windows RAM), and SGRAM (Synchronous Graphics RAM).
Video BIOS is also quite important, as it has a program for the initial setup and control of the graphics card. It has a lot of information that can be manipulated. RAMDAC (RAM Digital-to-Analog Converter) regulates the functioning of the graphics card. The connection between the motherboard and video card or graphics card is the Motherboard Interface. Heat Sink is also a component mentioned above.
Some Output Interfaces used in the graphics card or GPU are VGA (Video graphics array), DVI (Digital Visual Interface), VIVO (Video In Video Out), HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), and Display Ports.
Short on Money? No Problem!
While buying a graphics card, we often see that the more money you spend, the better graphics card you are blessed with. The problem we see here is due to lack of information; people often just buy an expensive graphics card that doesn’t integrate well with their systems or gaming rigs. No offense to the expensive graphics card, but this is just the result of little knowledge. Often the better choice is a cheaper one. Remember, a little knowledge can do wonders.
Let go through a curated list of the best sub $100 GPUs.
Disclaimer: Due to the current Global Chip shortage, graphic prices have surged more than 2x, so the following graphics cards may not be available at the manufacturer’s listed MSRP.
1. Gigabyte GeForce GT 1030 GV-N1030D5-2GL Low Profile 2G Computer Graphics Card
The Gigabyte graphics card is low-profile and not that much powerful. Yet it can still have wonderous performance, especially when considering the low price range. It works spectacularly with 3D models and modeling applications. It has 2 GB RAM but still manages to play games on high settings. This is also the reason why it is one of the top graphics cards used.
In its modern settings, it can still play new games and not combust due to overheating. For the prevention of overheating, it has a fan and a heat sink.
- Has more space to fit slim and smaller systems.
- This graphics card supports up to 4K high resolution.
- It has ultra-durable components
- Smooth and Crisp visual
- Total command of the interface
- The AORUS is intuitive and manipulates the system according to your gaming requirements.
- Best suited to playing low-speed games
2. Asus GeForce GT 1030 2GB GDDR5 HDMI DVI Graphics Card (GT1030-2G-CSM)
This graphics card manufactured by ASUS is one of the top-ranking graphics cards ever made, courtesy of its silent performance. The default gaming mode of 1228 MHz and core clock activity of 1266 MHz was a game-changer. You can easily get this card for under $100. Even with its 2GB RAM, enabling drool-worthy performance.
- This card has a silent feature that helps it become a quiet companion for theatre PCs and media centers.
- It is extremely robust and reliable.
- Its intuitive and new UI GPU has made performance tweaking that much easier.
- Low FPS on high-settings
3. MSI GeForce GT 730 Fermi DDR3 4GB DirectX 12 (N730-4GD3V2)
MSI is considered one of the leading brands in the graphics card business. It has fairly high-profile graphics than the other graphics card in the same price list, with its 4 GB Memory design built to give you an amazing graphical experience of a lifetime. It is also designed to support HD movies and audio transmission. MSI creates graphics cards to enhance the game’s creative abilities but also inspires you to enhance your own.
- Supports real-time video capturing
- Has a lifetime of 10 long years with solid capacitors
- Aluminum core for higher stability
- Provides the smoothest experience for multi-monitor and 4K setup
- Sometimes it has overheating problems.
4. Asus PH-GT1030-O2G GeForce GT 1030 2GB Phoenix Fan OC Edition HDMI DVI Graphics Card
ASUS has always focused on graphics card durability and extensions. With ASUS Geforce phoenix fan, you can forget about overheating the system at any time. It is one of the most widely used graphics cards ever, especially due to the double-bearing phoenix fan that gives it a longer lifespan along with amazing graphic quality. The visual effect booster is built into the card, which is more than enough as it works better even if the system’s visual effects are turned off.
- 2x longer lifespan
- Reduced friction in fan which increases cooling efficiency
- Personal gaming booster that works well on its own
- Easily tweakable
- Automatic allocation of resources to boost performance
- Not available
5. ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 Zone Edition 4GB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 (x8 lanes) Graphics Card (ZT-71115-20L)
Zotac introduces a high-definition GeForce GT 730 with 4GB DDR3 (Double Data Rate 3). It is purely dedicated to graphics and dynamic memory allocation. Its 3D Blu-ray accelerated hardware enables it to render stunning stereoscopic high-definition video with compatible displays and playback software. An audio driver from Dolby Advanced Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Audio allows multi-channel HD audio bit streaming, ensuring rich audio quality. NVIDIA-associated technology allows ZOTAC GeForce GT 730 to have triple display support that enables us to deliver an unmatched gaming experience and stream immersion.
- Accelerates PC performance courtesy of the powerful core and abundant memory
- Superfast web-browsing
- No noise passive cooling solution
- Low profile design
Although it only has 2GB of Video memory. But unlike the 730, this is DDR5 which means the memory operates at much faster speeds. Couple with the beefier cooling system that can enable a slight overclock, furthering this card’s performance.
Since it is an initial Nvidia design, it can be tinkered with on software and hardware, which might affect stability but, with beefier VRMs and a bulkier cooling system, this graphics card has a lot of potential within it.