Up For Debate - What Makes A Graphics Card Low-End

Written by Jacques Waugh on Sun, Apr 17, 2016 2:00 PM

There are an innumerate amount of graphics cards on the market. Part of the difficulty with PC gaming comes down to the simple fact that it can become fairly complex when trying to determine how much money to drop on hardware. With the speed of the hardware market, how can you determine where the tier of low end starts and ends?

NVIDIA’s current line up of graphics cards starts at the GTX 750 Ti and ends at the GTX 980 Ti. So according to NVIDIA, a low end graphics card costs about £100, which is by no means a small amount of money to spend. When you consider that a 980 Ti costs up to £600, it puts the scale into perspective. If price truly determined a low end card, then you’d be defining low end by the cheapest cards on the market.

The issue with this can often come down to the fact that sometimes a GPU will be released with comparable performance to another card but for a more affordable price point. So even though you have two cards priced the same, one will be offering a differing level of performance which would suggest that low end should be suggested more by age. An older card, logically, would be a lower end than a newer card due to advancements in graphics processing technology.

What about performance? I’m talking raw numbers. Newer cards aren’t always necessarily designed to be the most powerful on the market, as sometimes people want to spend less money on their GPU but still be able to play modern games and so you’ll see budget cards being released after a more powerful card, but it seems difficult to suggest that the more powerful card is lower end than the newer one simply because of their age.

We see this nearly every day with system requirements, where people turn it with vastly differing opinions on what constitutes a low-end or a high-end graphics card. For subject matter so heavily based around number crunching and specs, there's definitely a degree of ambiguity to what goes on. 

So I pass it over to you guys. What truly defines a low end card? Can it be defined or is it entirely subjective?

Below is my take on it. Let everyone know with a similar format how you would rank Nvidia and AMD’s graphics cards.

My Nvidia Rankings

Low - 750 Ti, 950

Mid - 960, 970

High - 980, 980 Ti

Remember as well to vote on the poll to decide which factor truly defines where on the scale a GPU falls.

What makes a graphics card low-end?

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11:29 Apr-24-2016

My AMD rankings:
Low end: Around the R7 240-R7 250
Mid: R7 260X-R7 360 2G edition or 4G edition
High end - R9 380 4Gb Edition R9 390 or R9 390 X
R9 Nano and Fury X

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14:17 Apr-22-2016

In Serbia Very low:Nvidia G-force7800 - Radeon 4000
Low:Nvidia gt610-620 - Radeon hd5450-R5 230
Low-Med:Nvidia gt730 - Radeon R7 240
Med:Nvidia gtx650-750 - Radeon R7 250-R7 260
Med-High:Nvidia gtx650ti-750ti - Radeon R7 360-hd7850
High:Nvidia gtx660-760-950 - Radeon R7 370x-R9 270x
Very High:Nvidia gtx770-960 - Radeon R9 380
Anything above this (300$) is unafordable here.

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15:14 Apr-21-2016

my ranking is


ultra low end =GT 610-GT 640
low end =GTX 650-GTX 650TI
mid end =GTX 660
high end =GTX 670-GTX 680
ultra high end =GTX 690

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17:51 Apr-21-2016

if it was 2012 maybe so :D

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12:32 Apr-22-2016

Well, for FHD, I agree. For anything more, hardly. I mean, 690 is a beast, total badass :), but you can only use it's 2gigs. Hardly enough for new titles and higher resolution.

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14:38 Apr-22-2016

yes gtx 690 is good for medium settings as games need 2gb vram for medium settings

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07:34 Apr-21-2016

One question guys, is it possible to manufacture nano graphic cards with top quality and performance. forget about how pricey it could be.

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11:58 Apr-21-2016

R9 Fury nano not good enough for you :P? That thing is a total beast.

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09:37 Apr-23-2016

I'm ignorant for most part, We need smaller cards like this nor big junks.

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21:19 Apr-19-2016

If it can run games on UHD with 60fps+, every preset on high, then it's a high end GPU. Personally, I'll gladly play on full HD with a card that's mid-end, but on that res gives me maximum performance.

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07:45 Apr-20-2016

LOL. I hope u're trolling...

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06:29 Apr-21-2016

No, of course not. Just like you have that HD res, which is below standard. One below standard today is Full HD, so, if a card can give me max, I'll be satisfied. :)

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10:22 Apr-20-2016

no matter how crazy that sounds, I like that attitude,
publishers and manufacturers are boasting'n'promoting 4K no matter the fact there is no graphics card capable of sufficient performance at 4K as you wrote above

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12:30 Apr-20-2016

True. It's ridiculous. Not even (one) Titan X can. Though, things have changed a bit with AMD Radeon Pro Duo (not yet for sale if I remember correctly) and I believe the new GPUs, when released, could potentially run 4K games easily, and the new Titan should be able to do it easily, if it really has such ridiculously large amounts of HBM2 VRAM. And not to mention, it should be fairly powerful.

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16:02 Apr-20-2016

you're referring to multi-gpu solution on single PCB, which technically is still SLI/CrossFire therefore not single gpu capable of 4K

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20:01 Apr-20-2016

Well yeah, true. But I'm really expecting a lot of that new Titan regarding 4K gaming... it is supposed to have, what, 32GB, HBM2 memory? and of course if Pascal doesn't turn out to be an utter and complete failure, it has enough power to use it (though with HBM2 u get 1 Tbps bandwith so things are a bit different than with GDDR5 regarding to amount of memory GPU can utilize)

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06:33 Apr-21-2016

Sorry, but if you have to pay 15 hundred bucks just for a graphics card, that's not high-end anymore, it's enthusiast. If we start counting Titans, then even gtx980 is mid-end. 4K will not be a standard for a year at least.

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12:32 Apr-21-2016

it's not just about bandwidth, but about shader processing power,
it's something like if you had highway with 10 lanes and only slow cars, they wouldn't magically drive faster...

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20:46 Apr-18-2016

I think low end is between gt 610 - gt 740
Low-med gtx 750-gtx 760
Med gtx 770, gtx 950 - gtx 960
Med high gtx 780 and 780ti,gtx 970
High gtx 980 and 980 ti and titan black,z and x .

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21:04 Apr-18-2016

I definitely agree with you :)

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21:48 Apr-18-2016

I think that's one of the most accurate ones is seen yet well put

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23:55 Apr-18-2016

Well said :)

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23:19 Apr-19-2016

i think is not well said becouse how can be gtx 950 med gtx when gtx 760 is still a bit stronger and its in low end.... gtx 970 based on todays standart like r9 290 are still high end cards

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10:04 Apr-21-2016

You are correct :) the the 760 is marginally better than the 950 so the 760 is a med end card. The 970 is a med-high end card as it can't handle games on 4k with good frame rate at high presets and requires dialing down few demanding settings.

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17:39 Apr-18-2016

Definitely performance is the factor, that makes it low(mid/high)-end. For example 750ti could cost 200 bucks more or less, it wouldn't change what it is. If I would have a 750ti that I paid 500 dollars for, I would just be a schmuck with an overpriced 750ti, though I still consider 780ti high tier at this time, even if it is older than even my 970. Performance and nothing else ;)

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13:10 Apr-18-2016

My GPU is just piece of crap... I can't even use half of its performance because the thermal paste is probably too old now, so it really overheats if i'm not careful.... and I really wouldn't want to start opening it up so I'm stuck with it until new GPUs.... And my rig needs upgrading anyways so.... It will be one hell of a year for me. Bye bye, money....

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15:00 Apr-18-2016

if your gpu is not covered by warranty anymore, then re-pasting might be handy, a friend recently re-pasted pair of his Quadro's and temps dropped by 20°C in average

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15:10 Apr-18-2016

I know... but unfortunately I don't think it's worth it at this point, given how close to release the new GPUs are. I will consider it though :d Because I have no idea how much new PC built with Polaris or Pascal would cost (with the kind of juice I'm looking for), re-pasting would give me more time to get the necessary cash :P

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15:21 Apr-18-2016

plus, if you'd repaste it well, then you might actually increase its value if you decided to sell it then :)

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16:36 Apr-18-2016

Hmm, perhaps I should repaste it then :o But not yet. If i somehow would manage to break it (my luck is oh so good)... I could immediately order a Pascal or Polaris GPU as a replacement.... best to wait few more months since I can play most games with this even with the limits that the poor excuse of a thermal paste has set...

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16:51 Apr-18-2016

tzzmks right I see 760's go for about 100-150 cad considering the Canadian dollar is terrible for example a 960 costs about 300 cad a year ago I sold my gtx 660 for 150 lol and I bought it for 250 2 years before that XD so I played the **** dollar in my favour so yeah I think its worth re applying paste for resale you can also use it as a pitch too in your ad (freshly applied thermal paste)

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18:51 Apr-18-2016

@wolfe1924 I've been checking ebay to get an idea of where I could sell my 960 for, just in case I come across a crazy good deal. Looks like a used 960 2gb right now goes for CAD130-200. Not bad considering I bought mine for CAD225, and it came with TW3.
Course the downside is everything else is also more expensive.

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23:02 Apr-18-2016

oh, well maybe I should do it ASAP then :P

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12:22 Apr-18-2016

Low ends are GPUs that can run some games (new ones) at fairly graphics (low) on 1080p
Lower Middle ones are GPUs that can run new games at normal graphics at 1080p 25-30fps
High Middle ones are that can run games on high or ultra 1080p 50-60fps with syncs on
Ultimate are the ones who can run games at 1080p 0r 1440p on high or ultimate graphics
everything maxed out

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16:17 Apr-18-2016

Yes for sure! My GPU is ultra low end. GT620 1GB and I can run GTA 5 at lowest setting. I'm hoping for Quantum Break too at lowest. Actually I'm not getting 100% out of my GPU coz my CPU is old too. So I've decided my next device would be a laptop with gpu not less than GTX 7xx(m) and Core i5 CPU.

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10:35 Apr-18-2016

I personally like to classify GPUs in the following order


GTX 980 Ti / Titan X / Fury X: God
GTX 980 / R9-390X: Master
GTX 970 / R9-390 : Ultimate
GTX 960 / R9-380x: Champion
GTX 950 / R9-380: Soldier
GTX 750 Ti / R7-370: Rookie
Console: Peasant


:) :) :)

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13:18 Apr-18-2016

Console: Peasant
So true so very true but they do still have their place


I am God you shall obey me

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14:17 Apr-18-2016

You got me at Console: Peasant... Hehehe.. Here take my upvote


But still... they have some things that we don't have.. Red Dead,also maybe the upcoming GTA 6 at Final Fantasy XV.. Bloodborne and The Last of Us too

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14:41 Apr-18-2016

Every time I ear console peasant talking about exclusives this come to my mind:
http://i2.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/facebook/000/008/518/my-precious2.jpg

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16:59 Apr-18-2016

Can console play at 1080p @ 60fps too?

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14:44 Apr-18-2016

We are talking about GPU's not games, their exclusives are irrelevant.

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18:27 Apr-18-2016

So i think i'm below a Peasant what does that make me, wait i know i'm a Potato in a Peasant's farm yeah that's me

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05:16 Apr-19-2016

Your still above a peasant friend...trust me.
At least your CPU is capable of 3ghz+ and your GPU has the minimum of 2GB VRAM.
Your only as much of a potato as you feel!

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18:46 Apr-20-2016

Haha thanks my particular GPU seen hell i have one blade gone and the fan is hold only with 2 screws 3 maximum and 4 years of gaming at of course low settings for demanding games

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00:16 Apr-22-2016

Those are just war scars. Adds character to the card!
That's one of those cards that you hang on your wall after the battle is over as a trophy haha :)

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00:42 Apr-22-2016

Yeah it's about time for me to hang it on my Hall of Lame :)

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01:16 Apr-22-2016

Bah... that card has earned a place of honor at Mount Olympus.
Ares would be proud of such a warrior of a card! Haha

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01:52 Apr-22-2016

XD The Scourge of Badass Gaming

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02:04 Apr-22-2016

Haha! Actually it's kinda funny, I removed a piston from my first truck and have it as a trophy to this day. I'm that type of person that keeps momentos from my own battles...and went as far as dissassembling an engine in a doomed truck lol.Still have my first processor from my first computer aswell hanging on my wall

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15:23 Apr-22-2016

Are you a mechanic?? :)

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01:41 May-02-2016

Yes, yes I am ;)

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06:35 May-02-2016

Haha me too well still an apprentice but will be eventually soon

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23:56 Apr-18-2016

lol

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13:40 Apr-20-2016

thing is consoles are NOT meant to have strong hardware(with the exception of the PS3, Xbox 360 and Saturn).

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10:18 Apr-18-2016

All i know is i am beyond low end .....like in the negatives i think

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10:29 Apr-18-2016

Your GPU is somewhere between low end and mid range, a GTX 660 out performse a 750ti by around 20%, you should definitely run games at slightly above current gen console levels.

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12:06 Apr-18-2016

I would say Medium-high.

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13:20 Apr-18-2016

I wouldn't call a gtx 660 a low end negatives card on the other hand my old radeon HD 5450 which I was using up till about last April was in the negatives spectrum

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15:17 Apr-21-2016

NO


your card is low end now.


your card can run games on low-mid settings with 60fps

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06:52 Apr-18-2016

Low End
GTX 750 GTX 750 TI R7 260X


Mid Range
gtx 950 gtx 960 r9 380


High Range
gtx 970 gtx 980 r9 390 390x


High End
gtx 980 ti titan x fur

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05:04 Apr-18-2016

I'd say mine is a mid range when considering all pc gpu's. But just considering the laptop ones, I think it's still in the top 3 with only 970m and 980m above it, so it's high end... technically lol.

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05:27 Apr-18-2016

Yes, your GPU is high end for a laptop. Given that all of those laptops with insane stuff like 2 desktop GTX 980s in SLI cost a lot, yours is still high end, while those other ones are just insanely high end.

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19:37 Apr-18-2016

Yeah, to get a an sli 980m laptop is like 3 grand or so. It's cool we have the same cpu :). Notice any bottle necking with it since your gpu is a beast?

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04:26 Apr-18-2016

I disagree that the 970 is mid, especially a SSC version from EVGA. If we included the Titan X/Z in this this would be a whole 'nother ballgame.


With Titan X included:


Low: 750ti, 950, 960
Mid: GTX 970, 980
High GTX 980 Ti and Titan X


Considering the 980ti and Titan X are pretty much the same GPU.

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04:28 Apr-18-2016

Without the Titan X:


Low: 750ti,
Mid: 950,960
High: 970, 980, 980 ti


However, in this case I would classify the 980 ti in a class all it's own.
Keep in mind the 980ti is essentially a defective Titan X, just as a 970 is a defective 980.

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05:42 Apr-18-2016

Of course in a couple of years much cheaper cards will out do the Titan, heck the Titan X even, another year for the Titan Z.

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05:57 Apr-18-2016

True, such is the natural tendency of technological advances.
The Titan X is overpriced as it is, for such a minimal increase in performance over a 980 Ti for it's price point.

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04:26 Apr-18-2016

|=== PRICING ===|
Low - up to 120 €
Mid-low - from 120 to 180 €
Mid-high - from 180 to 250 €
High - from 250 to 400 €
"I just spent all my money to be #1 in the benchmarks" - higher than 400 €

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04:31 Apr-18-2016

|===PERFORMANCE===|
Low - you c..can play t..the game in 2..25 fps or u..under
Mid-low - you can teak and find balance between resolution, specs and fps
Mid-high - you can play most of the games in 1080p and high specs
High - you can play all games in 1440p and máx (or close to) specs
"I just spent all my money to be #1 in the benchmarks" - I can't tell the difference, but I'm #1 in the benc

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04:37 Apr-18-2016

|===AGE===|
Low - it just became a brick
Mid-low - Spent great time in all those years. Better start looking for a new one
Mid-high - What? I just bought it 2 years ago and they say it's outdated?
High - I can still smell that "brand new" smell of having a last gen GPU
"I just spent all my money to be #1 in the benchmarks" - Manufacturer X is realeasing a new Super GTX 9999 Ultra? I want!!!

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13:24 Apr-18-2016

I smell some salt. People don't but the highest end GPUs to be higher in benchmarks some people maybe but I certainly didn't I went with my 980ti simply because it was on offer and I wanted to play at max settings and 60+fps and so ineed to highest end GPU as I am going to be upgrading to 1440p soon

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02:22 Apr-25-2016

The thing is, High and Ultra settings are almost identical, and with all the cards, +/- tweak, you can play in high resolutions with 60 fps. And let's not talk about perfornance per $... people who buy more than -350 $ GPU are ruining the market, forcing too much "programmed obsolescence". And that's a very bad thing for everyone!

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03:51 Apr-18-2016

Why do you always leave out the GTX 750(non-ti)?

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05:09 Apr-18-2016

Because 750 is not current gen "Maxwell", but the 750ti is. ;)

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08:38 Apr-18-2016

mate GTX 750 is a MAxwell arch too!

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09:03 Apr-18-2016

what no

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12:52 Apr-18-2016

Hmm... I thought the 750 was Kepler just like all of the other 700 series cards, & that the 750ti was the first and only Maxwell card of the 700 series. Well my bad if I am wrong.

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18:53 Apr-18-2016

Yes it's Maxwell.


However their's a difference between Maxwellv1(gtx750(ti)), and the rest at V2.
Maxwell V1 does support DX12 only at Featurelevel 11_0 while v2 does 12_1 for example

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02:22 Apr-18-2016

It's difficult to say when an GPU is low-end. IMO low-end gpu's arn't designed for gaming. eg. nvidia 610-630 gpu.

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16:49 Apr-18-2016

your right but in all fairness my kids pc has a gt 620 and its pretty decent actually for some games I'm surprised for its point but yeah don't expect to run the newest games with it haha

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02:13 Apr-18-2016

lol nice topic! In every article that a GPU was called low end there were a ton of comments about it! :D

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00:11 Apr-18-2016

For me, a low end gaming graphics card is when a gpu can´t handle more than low settings at 1080p 30-35 fps.At that point a GPU upgrade is needed.

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23:27 Apr-17-2016

than my r9 280x is mid range, can handle every game at med-high settings with 35+fps in fullhd.

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Can They Run... |

| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-7700 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Intel HD Graphics 4600 Desktop 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
Ryzen 3 3100 4-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1650 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen R5 1600X GeForce GTX 1070 Asus Founders 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-9400F 6-Core 2.9GHz GeForce GTX 1070 Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz Radeon RX 570 MSI Armor OC 8GB 16GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3070 MSI Gaming X Trio 8GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Low, 720p
APU E1-2500 Dual Core Radeon HD 8240 4GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-4670 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Ti EVGA Gaming 4GB 8GB
| Low, 720p
Core i7-8750H 6-Core 2.2GHz GeForce GTX 765M 8GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 30FPS, Low, 1080p
Xeon Processor E5620 Radeon RX 570 4GB 8GB
0% No [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 5600H 6-Core 3.3GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
66.6667% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-11700K 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i7-11800H 8-Core 1.90GHz GeForce RTX 3080 16GB Mobile 32GB
100% Yes [2 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Core i5-6300HQ 2.3GHz GeForce GTX 960M 4GB 12GB
0% No [2 votes]
Core i5-3470 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 750 Ti Asus OC 2GB Edition 8GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Intel HD Graphics 4600 Desktop 8GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500X 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3080 Gigabyte Eagle OC 10GB 16GB
100% Yes [3 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i5-9300H 4-Core 2.4GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB 16GB
0% No [2 votes]
Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Radeon RX 570 XFX RS Black 4GB 8GB
100% Yes [1 votes]