Computing

The best GPU for 4K: UHD resolution, ray tracing, and more

With a new batch of GPUs all claiming to be the best graphics card, 4K gaming is becoming a reality for more and more products. It’s still an expensive, enthusiast-class resolution, but with the best GPUs for 4K gaming, you can push high frame rates and a high resolution simultaneously.

We’ve meticulously picked over the dozens of GPUs we’ve review over the last two years to find which graphics cards are best for 4K. Here are our final picks.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia RTX 4090

Best GPU for 4K

Pros

  • Huge leaps in 4K gaming performance
  • Excellent ray tracing performance
  • High power and thermals, but manageable
  • DLSS 3 performance is off the charts

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • DLSS 3 image quality needs some work

Why you should buy this: If you want the highest frame rates for 4K gaming and good performance for creative applications, the RTX 4090 is your best bet.

Who it’s for: Users with big budgets who want the best performance in games and apps.

What we thought of the RTX 4090:

When it comes to 4K gaming (or any other resolution for that matter), the RTX 4090 is far and away the fastest GPU available. Not only is the 4090 great for gaming at 4K but also for creative applications, thanks to its massive 24GB VRAM and raw power. At $1,600, the 4090 is as expensive as last generation’s flagship models but vastly more powerful.

In our review, we found that the 4090 averaged a frame rate of 108 frames per second (fps) across several games tested at 4K and maximum or nearly maximum graphics settings. By contrast, the last-generation RTX 3090 only achieved 57 fps, and the 3090 Ti 64 fps. In select games, you can enable DLSS to get even higher frame rates without sacrificing any visual details. The RTX 4090 also has support for DLSS 3, and it is arguably the first GPU to make ray tracing at 4K truly possible. In Cyberpunk 2077 at 4K with ray tracing turned up to Ultra, the 4090 was able to hit 43 fps, which is much better than the RTX 3090 but still pretty low; however, enabling DLSS and dropping a setting or two could get the 4090 to 60 fps.

It’s not cheap, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but overall, the RTX 4090 is the best 4K GPU thanks to its excellent 4K gaming performance and great workstation performance.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 24GB

Nvidia RTX 4090

Best GPU for 4K

RX 7900 XTX installed in a test bench.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

AMD’s best 4K gaming GPU

Pros

  • Fantastic value for the RX 7900 XTX
  • Playable ray tracing performance
  • High refresh rate 4K gaming
  • Standard 8-pin power

Cons

  • Disappointing generational improvements
  • Loud and hot

Why you should buy this: The 7900 XTX is AMD’s most powerful graphics card yet, with excellent 4K gaming ability.

Who it’s for: Gamers who want near-flagship performance but without paying Nvidia’s prices.

What we thought of the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX:

The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX is the most powerful graphics card team red has ever made. It features more stream processors and higher clock speeds than ever before, but in the same classic AMD size and with a reasonable power demand of 350W at the top end. It features more advanced ray tracing, a new reference cooler design, and new AI accelerators which look set to be very useful when AMD’s FSR 3 releases in 2023. In the meantime, though, this is the best AMD GPU in the world, and though it might be expensive, it’s almost as good as its gets.

It’s relatively quiet, although a card this powerful does kick out some heat, and it’s still a far cry from the RTX 4090, especially when it comes to ray tracing — even if this card does a much better job than the 6900 XT. For general 4K gaming rasterization, though, this card is an absolute monster, beating off the RTX 4080 in most games, and offering a solid generational improvement over even the best RX 6000 series cards.

It’s still an expensive card, though, with an MSRP of $1,000 at launch. That may come down a little in the months that follow, but with high demand for AMD’s latest line of competitive GPUs, expect stock to be in short supply for some time to come.

Radeon RX 7900 XTX

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX

AMD’s best 4K gaming GPU

amd radeon rx 6950 xt review 7

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

AMD RX 6950 XT

Best last-gen 4K GPU

Pros

  • Relatively low power draw
  • Outperforms the RTX 3090
  • Inexpensive compared to Nvidia competition

Cons

  • Almost identical performance to RX 6900 XT
  • $100 more expensive than RX 6900 XT
  • Poor ray tracing performance

Why you should buy this: The RX 6950 XT is a more reasonable alternative to the RTX 3090 that’s made for gamers and provides about the same amount of performance at a lower price.

Who it’s for: Gamers who want a more affordable 4K GPU and don’t need DLSS.

What we thought of the RX 6900 XT:

AMD’s RX 6000 GPUs were the first AMD cards to really offer 4K gaming performance, and the RTX 6950 XT is one of the best for the job. Its performance at 4K is excellent, it has plenty of VRAM at 16GB, and its price is relatively low. We would normally recommend the base RX 6900 XT, but the price of the juiced-up RX 6950 XT has come down significantly since launch, and you can find it as low as $600.

It blows through most games at 4K, easily offering above 60 frames per second in demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077. AMD still takes a backseat to Nvidia when you turn on ray tracing, but the RX 6950 XT manages to outpace Nvidia’s RTX 4070 Ti in most games with ray tracing turned off, and it costs $100 less.

The main thing you’re giving up is Nvidia’s DLSS. AMD has its FSR upscaling, but it’s still a measurable distance behind DLSS. Thankfully, the raw power of the RX 6950 XT means you won’t have to turn on FSR often.

PowerColor RX 6950 XT Red Devil

AMD RX 6950 XT

Best last-gen 4K GPU

nvidia rtx 4070 super review 5

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Nvidia RTX 4070 Super

Best cheap GPU for 4K

Pros

  • Solid performance improvement over RTX 4070
  • Still highly efficient
  • DLSS 3.5
  • Fantastic ray tracing performance
  • Great value

Cons

  • Only minor uplifts in a few games
  • 12GB of VRAM may limit some ray-traced titles at 4K

Why you should buy this: It offers solid performance, and DLSS 3 pushes 4K frame rates with ease.

Who it’s for: Gamers on a budget who still want flagship 4K performance.

What we thought of the RTX 4070 Super:

At $600+, the RTX 4070 Super is definitely not cheap. But, if you want the definitive next-gen 4K gaming experience and can’t stomach spending more than $1,000 on one of Nvidia’s flagships, it’s the most reasonable alternative. The overall performance of the RTX 4070 Super is good thanks to its recent Super upgrade, and it can take full advantage of – DLSS 3 to give it that boost it needs.

In the most demanding games, DLSS 3 turns the RTX 4070 Super from a middling 4K GPU into one of the best graphics cards you can buy. It outpaces the raw performance of the RTX 4090 in Cyberpunk 2077 and Portal RTX with DLSS 3 on, and it makes features like path tracing possible at such a high resolution.

It’s the sweet spot of Nvidia’s current generation and one of its newest releases, so prices won’t come down for some time, but the RTX Super is a big ugprade over the stock RTX 4070, thanks to its much greater CUDA core count. That’s what makes this card so much more ready for 4K than its non-Super counterpart.

Nvidia RTX 4070 Super

Nvidia RTX 4070 Super

Best cheap GPU for 4K

amd rx 7800 xt 7700 review 1

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

AMD RX 7800 XT

Best affordable 4K GPU

Pros

  • Good performance at 4K
  • Relatively low price
  • Lots of VRAM

Cons

  • FSR generally worse and rarer than DLSS

Why you should buy this: The 7800 XT provides good performance at a decent enough price to deliver good frame rates at 4K without needing a top-end GPU like the 4090 or the 7900 XTX.

Who it’s for: Gamers who would rather have higher frame rates than higher graphical quality.

What we thought of the RX 7800 XT:

If you want to play at 4K with high frame rates, then you probably aren’t playing with ray tracing enabled — even a 4090 struggles with that. In that case, you can certainly consider some of the cards outside AMD’s top end, like the RX 7800 XT. While it might be more suited to 1440p gaming, it has all the power you need for great frame rates at 4K — as long as you keep ray tracing disabled.

That doesn’t mean this card can’t do ray tracing, though. Its next-generation RT accelerators mean this is an AMD card that doesn’t fall down when you enable that advanced lighting. It just might struggle a little at 4K with ray tracing enabled as well.

It’s the price of this card that’s so good, though. At around $500 it undercuts much of the Nvidia competition and allows this card to offer some of the best bang for buck performance of any graphics card at any resolution; 4K included.

Just like with the 7900 XTX and other AMD cards, you can’t use DLSS on the 7800 XT and you will have to rely on FSR or XeSS where available.

AMD Radeon RX 7800 XT

AMD RX 7800 XT

Best affordable 4K GPU

The Nvidia RTX A5000.

Nvidia / Nvidia

Nvidia RTX A5000

Best GPU for 4K video editing

Pros

  • Fastest workstation GPU
  • Tons of VRAM
  • Workstation-optimized drivers and full Tensor core performance

Why you should buy this: The A5000 is a super fast workstation-oriented GPU with plenty of VRAM for pretty much any workload.

Who it’s for: People who need good performance at 4K in workstation applications.

What we thought of the RTX A5000:

The RTX A5000, by all metrics, is the fastest workstation GPU money can buy. Generally, we’d recommend Nvidia for most users since the software ecosystem for professional applications usually relies on CUDA. The only problem with the A5000 is its price tag, which is usually over $2,000, but if you need to do real work, then it can be worth it. It’s also worth noting that the A5000 is basically the RTX 3090 but with no artificial performance limitations thanks to optimized drivers and unlocked Tensor core performance, so if you need better workstation performance more than better gaming performance, the A5000 is the way to go.

If you can’t justify spending that kind of money for the A5000, then we recommend the A4000, which is significantly slower and has only 16GB of VRAM but is also much cheaper at about $1,100. There’s also the A2000, which is even slower and has even less VRAM at 12GB but retails for around $600 to $700. If you have an even larger budget, you could try the RTX A6000, which is basically an RTX 3090 Ti but with 48GB of VRAM.

AMD does have a competing line of workstation GPUs, but because CUDA is so ingrained into the kind of software you’d want a workstation GPU for, there aren’t many applications where AMD is competitive with Nvidia. If you want to use AMD, you’ll have to figure out whether or not that’s a good idea depending on what applications you use.

PNY nVidia RTX A5000 VCNRTXA5000 PG132 24GB GDDR6 ECC 4xDP 900-5G132-1700-000

Nvidia RTX A5000

Best GPU for 4K video editing

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the fastest 4K GPU?

As long as you have an unlimited budget, the RTX 4090 is the best for 4K gaming, and the RTX A6000 is the best for video editing. However, both GPUs (especially the A6000) are very expensive, so you might want to opt for slightly slower but much cheaper GPUs, like the RX 6900 XT, the RTX 3080 10GB, and the RTX A4000.

Is Nvidia better than AMD?

The RTX 4090 is the fastest GPU you can buy, and Nvidia GPUs tend to perform relatively well at 4K, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good 4K gaming experience on an AMD GPU. In fact, after the 4090, the AMD RX 7900 XTX is the best 4K gaming graphics card — even ahead of Nvidia’s still-powerful (but overpriced) RTX 4080. Nvidia is a better bet for video editing and other professionally oriented applications, however.

Editors’ Recommendations






Courtesy by: Digital Trends

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