Up For Debate - Which Graphics Card Made the Biggest Impact of All Time?

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Sep 3, 2017 5:00 PM

A discussion on which is the best graphics card is largely futile - the raw performance of a GPU comes down to sheer numbers. The biggest and the most expensive will always be the best, even if it isn’t necessarily the wisest purchase. But what about the graphics cards that proved the most disruptive to the PC gaming industry? Graphics processing legends that offered unparalleled price to performance, shifted tens of millions of units, and heralded in an all-new era of graphics card tech. It’s time to celebrate the graphics card heroes.

I’ll proffer a few of my favourites to get things going, but please share some of your favourites down in the comments section below!

Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX

An undisputed giant, the GeForce 8800 GTX was arguably the most enduring graphics card ever made. Up until a couple of years ago it was still pretty common to see these in GD builds, roughly a decade after its 2006 launch. The GeForce 8800 GTX was a beast, ushering in DirectX 10 and lasting canny PC gamers the entire length of the seven generation of consoles. Its 128 Cores, 575 MHz clock speed and 768MB GDDR4 memory seems paltry by today’s standards, but in 2007 it was a monster. Sleep well, sweet prince.

3dfx Voodoo 2

My first ever graphics card, the 3dfx Voodoo 2 has a special place in my heart. It was one of the few chips that could play the original Unreal and I remember it absolutely blowing my mind at the time. It was very quickly usurped but it really was a great driver of PC gaming tech. It supported 1024 x 768 resolution for the first time and was comprised of three distinct chips. The Voodoo 2 was one of the last graphics cards released by 3dfx before they went defunct and Nvidia arrived to take over the scene.

GeForce 256

Arriving shortly after the Voodoo 2, I never actually had an Nvidia GeForce 256 but I can just about remember the splash it made. This was Nvidia’s first ever GeForce graphics card (and the first to be called a GPU) and heralded the arrival of DirectX 7. This was an absolute Voodoo killer and marked the beginning of the end for 3dfx. It rocked a 150MHz core clock speed and had 32MB of DDR memory. From this, an industry legend was born.

What have been some of your favourite graphics cards over the years, and which do you think has been the best at the time it launched? Let us know below!

Our favourite comments:

In my opinion the GTX 10 series matching laptop graphics card to their desktop counterparts. It was a technical achievement!

And the GTX 1060 in particular, giving gamers a potent GPU capable of ULTRA gaming at 1080p and with desktop grade capabilitites at an uber-affordable price

PhenomFaz

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13:18 Sep-20-2017

Have to say GTX 1000 Series is a pretty impressive Series. The fact you can now run VR without getting sick, Wattage is way down from previous cards is big too. It is not ground breaking like the 3dfx Voodoo 2. The jump from GTX 900 was big

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19:57 Sep-11-2017

Back in 2000 I got an 8mb voodoo fx 1 card it was the first time my pc was better than my consoles. Then I got a 9800xt I think in 2004 another beast paired with my HT 3ghz P4 man that system was good lasted me nearly 10 years lol.

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17:09 Sep-11-2017

8800 GTX FTW. I still have one up and working on a shelf as display piece.

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09:34 Sep-10-2017

Well i personally agree with GTX 1060(my favorite) But of all times....Well...I think gtx 750 ti has a greater impact than any other.:)

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08:29 Sep-10-2017

Intel GMA 950


nah, jk. GTX 1060

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17:21 Sep-09-2017

gtx 750ti

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04:20 Sep-09-2017

I would say 3dfx Voodoo 3 , and i still have one, but as the list only include Voodoo 2 i'll vote that one.


Recently, other cards are 980 Ti and R9 Fury

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21:21 Sep-06-2017

My GPU's from the past:


Geforce2 MX 32 MB
Geforce MX440 64MB
ATI Radeon 9250 128MB
GeForce 9600GT 1GB
AMD Radeon HD 5850 1GB
EVGA SSC Geforce GTX 960 2GB
and now ASUS ROG STRIX OC RX480 8GB


And my votes for top 3 are:



  1. Radeon 9250

  2. GeForce 9600 GT

  3. Geforce GTX 960

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06:57 Sep-06-2017

Still keep the box of 8800.Sentimental,you know...

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04:02 Sep-05-2017

I would say the 1000 series of nvidia gpu's made a huge leap in performance to power ratio

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01:35 Sep-05-2017

For me NVIDIA GALAXY GEFORCE 9800 GT 1GB was an amazing upgrade and the price was very good for the performence...
Even if this GPU is 9 years old i still can run GTA 5 with it on my old PC:D

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01:22 Sep-05-2017

The Voodoo reigns supreme!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALtCroSwZzs

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16:51 Sep-04-2017

I was a proud owner of the 9800GTX in SLI form once.
I started back at my 386 pc with a 256 color card.
Then when i got my first pc as adult, i got a geforce 5200.
I replaced that with a 7600, 9800gtx, 9800gtx sli, gtx 260, 460, 560, 660, and now a 970.
And later i will replace it with a 10 or 2070 or maybe an 80 series of the 10 and 20.
Anyway, i think the 8800gtx made the largest leap. cont

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16:53 Sep-04-2017

And as i was a proud owner of its follow up, i would say the 8800gtx will take the crown here.
But the other 2 cards listed are like a pioneer for the entire current date gpu's.. So, they will follow very closely towards each other :)

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14:38 Sep-04-2017

I've only ever owned 4 discrete GPUs. 2 laptop, 9600 GS and GeForce 755m in sli, and 2 desktop GPUs, GTX 970 and GTX 1080. All four have a special place for me. Because these are also listed in the order I acquired them. The laptop with the 9600 GS was my first introduction to proper PC gaming.

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14:44 Sep-04-2017

My next laptop with door 755M GPUs was my first attempt at high-end gaming. I know it doesn't sound very powerful nowadays but to me it was producing visuals higher than I had experienced before. But that also led me to want more and so I sold my laptop to fund my first custom desktop with a GTX 970.

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14:51 Sep-04-2017

This is also when I started using 144 Hz panel. And console gaming was never the same for me again. When the GTX 1080 and 1070 first launched I had planned on doing a straight upgrade to the 1070 I decided I want to to go fully high-end so I jumped on the GTX 1080 for my first high in GPU. There is my PC back story.

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19:15 Sep-07-2017

I'm still pretty new to the PC scene(only about 4 years, 18 y/o btw). So far I've owned an AMD A6-6400k with integrated graphics, and an XFX R7 370 4GB, so I'm just a mere child compared to some of the vets on here.

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12:38 Sep-04-2017

I remember my fist gpu upgrade was GeForce mmx32mb but biggest leap in performance was swaping from GeForce 7500 to hd 4870

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14:21 Sep-04-2017

4650...6870...7970 and now 1070 i was amd fan,but for graphics (no offence to anyone) i have no intention to buy amd never again.got my 1070 msi for 400e...xD

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17:24 Sep-04-2017

Not going to ask why but I was very happy with my r9 270x it served me good 3years and I wss really pleased with the performance especially when comparing between gtx 660 and 270x the nvidia counter part lost fight significant trough the time and I think hd7970 is still beast of a card on 1080p in todays titles

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11:11 Sep-04-2017

GPUs i had:


Rage 128 Pro
GeForce2 MX 32MB
GeForce3 Ti 200 128MB
GeForce4 MX 440 64MB
GeForce FX 5200 128MB
Geforce 8800 GT 512MB
Geforce G210 512MB
Geforce GTX 750 Ti 2GB


Now:
GeForce GTX 1060 6GB

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09:00 Sep-04-2017

IMO 750ti was one of the most important gpus of all time....it was one of the most affordable gpus that could pretty much play anything at least on 720p that came out in years to follow

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08:31 Sep-04-2017

their was never really one that completely wipe out the competition and was on another entire league, gpu's usually leave their prime out of 1-2 years and then the next big thing, there was some great ones nevertheless, but no game changer

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08:40 Sep-04-2017

but if must pick i'd say duel gpu cards hold they own for awhile, the gtx 1000 series laptops, gt210 starter gpu, gtx 550 ti/ hd 7770 great budget level, gtx 480, and sli/crossfire, amd apu's, heck even console gpu's held up for years

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08:24 Sep-04-2017

i think my geforce FX 5500 256mb was best card atleast for me

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18:52 Sep-04-2017

Interesting. Pretty much everything from ATI beat the FX line easily at the time

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07:59 Sep-04-2017

geforce 6600, legendary piece :))

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08:57 Sep-04-2017

Agree...

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16:55 Sep-04-2017

I burned about 6 of them (Gigabyte 6600GT 128MB) until I finally upgraded to Radeon HD4350 xD

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02:06 Sep-09-2017

i had the silent version of the gigabyte with heat sinks only
i could overclock it like crazy

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Can They Run... |

| Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 3 3300X 4-Core 3.8GHz Radeon RX 570 4GB 16GB
| 30FPS, Medium, 720p
Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Radeon R7 250X Sapphire 1GB Edition 4GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-10870H 8-Core 2.20GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Mobile 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
APU A10-9700E 4-Core 3.0GHz Radeon R5 M320 2GB 12GB
0% No [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400 6-Core 2.7GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Asus TUF Gaming 6GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Core i5-6500 3.2GHz GeForce GTX 1060 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3500 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce GTX 1660 Asus Phoenix OC 6GB 16GB
100% Yes [1 votes]
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz GeForce GTX 1060 Gigabyte Windforce 2X OC 3GB 16GB
| 60FPS, High, 1080p
Core i7-12700K 16-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Asus ROG Strix Gaming OC 8GB 32GB
| 60FPS, Low, 1080p
Ryzen 7 2700X Radeon RX 550X 4GB 24GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-10600KF 6-Core 4.10GHz Radeon RX 580 Asus Dual 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i5-11400F 6-Core 2.6GHz GeForce GTX 1060 MSI Gaming X 6G Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 2600 Radeon RX 580 4GB 8GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Radeon HD 7970 OC Sapphire Edition 16GB
| 60FPS, Medium, 1080p
Core i7-8086K 6-Core 4.0GHz GeForce GTX 980 4GB 32GB
| Low, 1080p
Core i5-7400 3.0GHz GeForce GTX 1050 Palit StormX 2GB 12GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
100% Yes [4 votes]
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1440p
Ryzen 7 3700X 8-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gigabyte Aorus Master 8GB 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 1080p
Ryzen 5 3600 6-Core 3.6GHz GeForce RTX 3060 Ultra 16GB
| 60FPS, Ultra, 4k
Core i9-10900KF 10-Core 3.70GHz GeForce RTX 2080 Super MSI Ventus XS OC 8GB 64GB