Your graphics card is one of the most important components in a PC. It dictates your performance, the resolution you use as a result, and whether or not you can even play certain games and racing simulators. So, it’s a good idea to understand what the best GPUs are for sim racing.
The 10 best graphics cards for sim racing are:
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
- AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
- AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
- AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
- AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
These 10 GPUs have something for everyone regardless of budget. However, some people’s needs are different and it’s important to know exactly what you require from a GPU. Read on below for some more in-depth information on each GPU and some things to consider before making a purchase.
How Important Is A GPU For Sim Racing?
The GPU is one of the most important parts of your sim racing PC. While the CPU is incredibly important too, it is mainly the GPU that determines your average framerate in a game and general performance. However, to make the most of a good GPU, your other PC components must be high-quality too.
A good CPU with good integrated graphics can certainly do some form of gaming, but for modern titles, even at archaic resolutions like 720p, you would be lucky to get what most would class as a playable experience. If you’re someone who wants to get into sim racing Esports or any form of competitive play, the GPU you decide to use can matter a great deal.
Framerates are incredibly important in high levels of play as any advantage that you can get or any aspect of your environment that you can manipulate to get more competitive performance will surely have been done by those already at the top of the leaderboards. A good GPU is necessary to avoid bottlenecking your CPU.
Bottlenecking is a term used to describe when the potential of a component is limited by the poor performance of another component. For instance, if you have an RTX 3090 Ti but you have it paired with a decade old CPU, the low clock speeds of the CPU will drastically lower the potential framerates you can pump out as well as the general performance of the GPU.
This can work in the opposite way too, and it’s important if you choose to use an extremely high-performance CPU that you also pair it with a GPU that is able to give the CPU room to breathe in terms of raw speed and potential.
Older titles such as iRacing don’t need nearly as much raw GPU power as other more modern titles, but it’s a great idea regardless to get a good GPU so that you have headroom available and can take on more graphically intensive games in the future.
This ensures that any stuttering or framerate drops are minimized and that if you do decide to start playing a more modern sim racing title that requires more from your GPU, you won’t be starting disadvantaged with low framerates and dodgy performance.
Top Tip: Ensure you have a CPU that can keep up with your GPU (and vice versa) to avoid bottlenecking either component
What To Look For In A GPU For A Sim Racing PC
The type of ports available and the number of ports on the GPU is incredibly important. For features like G-Sync or FreeSync, a DisplayPort is usually necessary to utilize them. If you plan on having a triple monitor setup it’s important that your GPU has enough HDMI ports or enough DisplayPorts that you can hook up all three monitors.
Note: If your GPU doesn’t have enough ports for a triple monitor setup, you may be resigned to a large TV setup. While not ideal, it can still be an extremely immersive way to sim race.
Thermal Design Power (TDP)
The GPU’s TDP is important as it determines how much power it requires to run as efficiently as possible, as well as the temperature at which it can be safely used. More expensive and more powerful GPUs generally require more power to run and require a more powerful PSU (Power Supply Unit). More powerful GPUs that consume more power naturally have higher thermals and require efficient cooling.
Making sure that your PC case is properly cooled is key to not only keeping your GPU in working order, but also squeezing every last drop of performance from it as higher thermals can cause the GPU to thermal throttle, resulting in poorer performance to compensate.
If you plan to overclock your GPU to squeeze more performance out of it, more power will be consumed, so having a PSU with some available headroom is necessary for safely overclocking.
The GPU’s form factor is important as smaller PC cases generally won’t be able to house a full-sized founders edition graphics card. Luckily most manufacturers sell ITX-suitable versions of most graphics cards. In order to fit this smaller form factor there are usually compromises made on cooling, such as fewer fans or a smaller heatsink.
While it may seem like a larger, more powerful GPU would need more cooling, it’s the smaller 1-fan ITX form factor GPUs that often need that extra bit of cooling to stay performing efficiently. Some GPUs that have smaller ITX form factors will dish out the same framerates as their bigger counterparts but it’s mostly dependent on the manufacturer and it can differ from GPU to GPU.
There are some excellent prebuilt sim racing PCs with large GPUs stuffed in, but they work perfectly due to their impressive cooling, and the PC case is, more often than not, designed with thermals in mind.
Depending on the GPU you buy, some features such as raytracing will be simply impossible for your GPU to reproduce. However, any RTX series card and AMD 6000 series GPU has been designed with the ability to utilize raytracing and they usually perform better than their old GTX counterparts of old.
If flashy graphics and lifelike shadows and lighting are important to you, consider purchasing an RTX card. While most RTX GPUs are expensive, there are some cheaper RTX cards such as the RTX 3060 that can deliver excellent raytraced shadows and reflections at a competitive price point.
KEY POINTSWhen choosing a graphics card for sim racing, consider:
• The ports available
• Its thermals
• The GPU’s form factor
• Its capabilities and features
The 10 Best Graphics Cards For Sim Racing
1. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti
TDP: 450 W | Memory: 24 GB GDDR6X | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 1860 MHz
The GeForce RTX 3090 Ti is one of the most powerful GPUs on the market today. Not only does it pump out high framerates even at 4K, but its raytracing functionality is also outstanding and makes sim racing titles that utilize it look incredible.
For a triple monitor setup using 4K resolution screens, I would highly recommend this RTX 3090 Ti as lower performing cards will struggle pushing competitive framerates in such demanding circumstances. It has 24 GB of GDDR6X memory, more than enough for any sim racing title with plenty of headroom available should you wish to overclock your GPU.
It has one HDMI 2.1 port and three DisplayPorts available, so a triple monitor setup is totally viable with this GPU. General performance is outstanding no matter what game you want to play and it’ll keep up with 1080p and 4K output, while pumping out high, competitive framerates in triple-A titles.
- Best performance on the market
- Huge amount of available memory
- Perfect for 4K triple monitor setup
- Very expensive
- Not always readily available
- May require PSU upgrade
2. AMD Radeon RX 6950 XT
TDP: 335 W | Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 2 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 2324 MHz
In terms of relative performance, the Radeon RX 6950 XT is only 1% poorer than the RTX 3090 and about 9% slower than the market leading RTX 3090 Ti, which is incredible considering the staggering price difference between the two. For fans of AMD, this GPU is currently one of the best AMD graphics cards you can buy today.
There is 16 GB of GDDR6 memory featured on this card, offering more than enough for 4K rendering in most AAA sim racing titles out today. A 700 W PSU is recommended due to its 335 W TDP. Thermals are more efficient than that of the RTX 3090 Ti, but adequate cooling is necessary, unless you want it to be a DIY room heater!
This is one of only a handful of AMD GPUs that supports raytracing, and there is no better AMD card for the job than the RX 6950 XT. For I/O, we get two DisplayPorts and an HDMI 2.1 port. For a triple monitor setup, if you plan on utilizing G-Sync or FreeSync with each monitor, be aware that such features may only work when connected through DisplayPort.
This will leave you with one monitor without G-Sync functionality. This can be dependent on the monitor though and I recommend double checking for such things before committing to a purchase.
- Powerful GPU for 4K triple monitor setup
- Competitive price for the features
- Comparable performance to the RTX 3090 Ti
- Still very expensive
3. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
TDP: 320 W | Memory: 10 GB GDDR6X | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 1710 MHz
Performance for this GPU is excellent for 4K sim racing, and as it’s no longer the newest kid on the block, it’s a far cheaper option than the RTX 3090 Ti. This GPU comes with 10 GB of GDDR6X memory, enough for intense 4K rendering in triple-A sim racing titles.
A PSU of 700 W is recommended in your PC to run this card efficiently due to its TDP of 320 W. For I/O we are given three DisplayPorts and an HDMI 2.1 port. Triple monitor 4K sim racing is painless to setup and this GPU powers through any sim racing title with ease.
While it is still expensive, the low price point that this sells at in comparison to its high-performing counterparts is a great example of price to performance ratios that almost sell themselves. As this card does consume a great deal of power, great cooling is a must in order to stop it from thermal throttling and to get the best performance out of it.
Raytracing can be utilized due to it being an RTX series card, and general raytracing performance is excellent. I would recommend buying this GPU if you plan on gaming at 4K but if you want to use this GPU at 1080p it may be a bit overkill, although you’re guaranteed years of great performance at such a low resolution.
- Powerful GPU capable of 4K triple monitor gaming
- Great price to performance ratio
- More readily available than the RTX 3090 Ti
- More memory would be ideal
4. AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT
TDP: 300 W | Memory: 16 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 2 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 / 1 x USB Type-C | Boost Clock Speed: 2250 MHz
The RX 6800 XT has very comparable performance to the RTX 3080 but at a slightly cheaper price point. For AMD users that want comparable performance to the RTX 3080 but prefer the AMD platform, this is an excellent choice as you can save a few bucks with the RX 6800 XT. With 16 GB of GDDR6 memory, it outshines the RTX 3080 by quite a bit while maintaining its cheaper price point.
This is more than enough memory for rendering 4K textures under heavy load. A PSU of about 700 W is recommended for its TDP of 300 W, so if you are upgrading from an older GPU and want to get into high resolution and competitive sim racing, you may need a PSU upgrade. For I/O, we have two DisplayPorts, one HDMI 2.1 port, and a single USB Type-C port.
Similar to the RX 6950 XT, if you plan on utilizing G-Sync or FreeSync with all three monitors in a triple monitor setup, you might want to double check that your monitor is capable of using G-Sync through HDMI 2.1. Most monitors require you use a DisplayPort cable in order to utilize such features so the lack of a third DisplayPort might be bad news for some people out there.
This GPU is one of a handful of AMD GPUs that support raytracing technology, and it does it well. General performance is excellent, achieving about 97% of the general performance of its competitor the RTX 3080. For 4K triple monitor gaming on an AMD platform, the RX 6800 XT is a cheap alternative to the RX 6950 XT.
- Large amount of GDDR6 memory
- Cheaper than the RTX 3080 with comparable performance
- Perfect for 4K triple monitor sim racing
- Only 2 DisplayPorts
- Requires extensive cooling due to high power draw
5. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
TDP: 200 W | Memory: 8 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 1665 MHz
The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti is an amazing budget GPU that is a great steppingstone into the world of highly competitive framerates and stunning raytraced visuals. General performance is very similar to that of the RTX 2080 Super, but with a slight improvement of about 2%.
With a TDP of only 200 W, a 550 W PSU is recommended and so you might already have a PSU capable of powering this GPU. 4K gaming on a triple monitor setup may not be a fantastic experience but playable framerates are at least guaranteed with some adjustments to graphical fidelity in select titles.
1440p and 1080p are resolutions where the 3060 Ti is allowed to shine, with an incredible price to performance ratio that will entice anyone on a budget that still wants competitive framerates at 1440p. It features 8 GB of GDDR6 memory which is more than enough for most 1080p and 1440p sim racing titles on the market today.
For I/O, we get three DisplayPorts and one HDMI 2.1 port. A 1440p triple monitor setup is absolutely doable with this GPU at competitive framerates but 4K performance specifically as part of a triple monitor setup may vary greatly depending on the game. At this price point, you would be hard pressed to find a better GPU that can perform so well even at higher resolutions with raytracing enabled.
- Budget friendly
- Excellent 1440p triple monitor gaming
- Efficient power draw
- 4K triple monitor setup performance is game dependent
- May be hard to get your hands on one
6. AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT
TDP: 230 W | Memory: 12 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 2581 MHz
The Radeon RX 6700 XT offers excellent 1440p performance for a relatively cheap price with general performance comparable to the RTX 3060 Ti. While this GPU can struggle with 4K gaming in modern triple-A titles, it powers through any title you throw at it in 1440p and is an excellent choice for a 1440p triple monitor setup.
It has 12 GB of GDDR6 memory, more than enough for most sim racing titles running at 1440p. It has a TDP of 230 W, so I would recommend a PSU of at least 550 W to power this and any other components in your gaming PC. For I/O, we get three DisplayPorts and one HDMI 2.1 port. Three DisplayPorts allows you to utilize G-Sync or FreeSync on all three monitors with no issues.
This card is one of only a handful of AMD GPUs that support raytracing technology. The performance is excellent, and the power of this GPU allows you to max out most graphics’ settings in almost every sim racing title on the market and still get competitive framerates.
The RX 6700 XT has incredible price to performance value, achieving about 92% of the general performance of the RTX 2080 Ti and yet selling for about half the price. Due to the relatively low power draw of this GPU, thermals aren’t too crazy, but adequate cooling is still recommended to ensure you get the most out of it.
- Excellent 1440p gaming
- Incredible price to performance ratio
- 3 DisplayPorts
- 4K triple monitor performance is poor
7. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
TDP: 250 W | Memory: 11 GB GDDR5X | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 1582 MHz
The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is often touted as the king of 1080p gaming, offering incredible performance at 1080p with no compromises, being no slouch at 1440p either. Its price point is reasonable for the sheer amount of performance you get from the card, perfect for those with a medium sized budget.
There is 11 GB of GDDR5X memory available, a notably slower form of memory found on older GPUs, but it’s enough to run almost any sim racing title with zero issues. For the I/O, we get three DisplayPorts and an HDMI 2.1 port. This is ideal for anyone looking to utilize G-Sync or FreeSync in a triple monitor setup.
With a TDP of 250 W, a PSU of at least 600 W is recommended. As this card was originally launched in early 2017, it is at the end of its life in terms of production, but the good thing is that this makes this GPU in particular far more readily available online through secondhand retailers for a fraction of the cost of the current products.
Due to this being a GTX series card, there is no raytracing functionality, so if you want flashy raytraced reflections you’ll have to look at getting an RTX series GPU instead.
- Can be found fairly cheap online
- Excellent performance at 1080p
- Has 3 DisplayPorts
- No longer in production
- Slower GDDR5X memory
- No raytracing
8. AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT
TDP: 160 W | Memory: 8 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 2 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 2589 MHz
The RX 6600 XT has very comparable performance to the GTX 1080 Ti. The RX 6600 XT has about 4% better general performance that the 1080 Ti and is not only still in production, but is selling for an incredibly low price point, ideal for people on a smaller budget.
Similar to the 1080 Ti, 1080p performance is outstanding, and 1440p gaming is great too, but don’t expect highly competitive framerates in brand new triple-A titles at 1440p. This GPU comes with 8 GB of fast GDDR6 memory, more than enough for 1080p and 1440p gaming. With a TDP of only 160 W, a PSU of 450 W is recommended to power the unit.
There are two DisplayPorts and one HDMI 2.1 port. You may not be able to utilize FreeSync or G-Sync on all three monitors of a triple monitor setup if they all require a DisplayPort connection to enable it, but a triple monitor setup is still viable regardless. This GPU was AMD’s first GPU to support raytracing and it does an excellent job at it.
The low price point and outstanding 1080p performance make this a very enticing graphics card for anyone on a budget that wants a raytracing-capable GPU that can pump out framerates that compete with even the most expensive cards on the market.
- Fairly cheap
- Outstanding 1080p performance
- Raytracing capability
- Only 2 DisplayPorts
- 4K performance is poor
9. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
TDP: 130 W | Memory: 8 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 3 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.1 | Boost Clock Speed: 1777 MHz
The RTX 3050 is an incredibly cheap raytracing capable card but with some compromises made to reach its low price point. It has 8 GB of GDDR6 memory, more than enough for 1080p gaming. It has three DisplayPorts as well as an HDMI 2.1 port. With a TDP of only 130 W, the recommended PSU is one rated for at least 300 W.
If you are planning to upgrade to this GPU and already have a PSU in your PC case, double check what it’s rated for as it may do perfectly fine for the RTX 3050. 1440p performance is fine with some slight performance issues here and there. If you plan on playing the newest triple-A titles with the RTX 3050 at 1440p you may need to lower the graphics settings in order to get playable framerates.
4K is unplayable on the card sadly as it simply doesn’t have the juice to pump out frames at such a high resolution. 1080p performance is fantastic and a triple monitor setup at 1080p works perfectly fine, with great performance at high or even max graphics settings depending on the sim racing title.
For the low price point, it’s a very enticing option for those on a budget, and if all you want is a GPU capable of doing 1080p gaming, this will be perfect for you.
- Very good 1080p performance
- Efficient power draw
- Pretty cheap
- 4K sim racing is unplayable
- 1440p gaming is poor
- Raytracing performance can vary greatly depending on the game
10. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
TDP: 125 W | Memory: 6 GB GDDR6 | Ports: 1 x DP / 1 x HDMI 2.0 / 1 x DVI | Boost Clock Speed: 1785 MHz
The 1660 Super is an incredibly good card for 1080p gaming, with a low price point on launch and an even lower price point from some online retailers today, it’s a very enticing option for those who don’t care about raytracing functionality or high-resolution sim racing. One noticeable compromise that has been made is its 6 GB of GDDR6 memory.
This low memory makes 1440p gaming very poor and most sim racing titles won’t even let you bump up some of the graphics at this resolution. However, this is not an issue for 1080p racing, and it’s clear this GPU was made with 1080p gaming in mind. It has a TDP of 125 W and so a PSU of 300 W is recommended to power the unit.
Triple monitor setups are a pain to set up and arguably not worth trying with this card due to its I/O. There is just a single DisplayPort, one HDMI 2.0, and one DVI port. The I/O is simply lacking the features needed for a good triple monitor setup.
There is no raytracing functionality of any sort on this GPU so if you want raytracing functionality, I recommend the RTX 3050 as that is the closest to the 1660 Super in terms of performance. For 1080p sim racing, this is an excellent GPU, but it’s let down by its low memory and fairly archaic I/O.
- Comparatively cheap
- Low power draw
- Great 1080p performance
- Unplayable 4K performance
- Triple monitor setup may be difficult/impossible
- Small amount of memory
How To Choose A GPU For VR Or Triple Monitor Setup
Most modern GPUs can support VR, and generally titles will state their minimum spec requirements for their VR content. However, as a general rule of thumb, anything less powerful than a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti will offer a practically unplayable VR experience.
Most GPUs more powerful than a GTX 1050 Ti will offer playable framerates, while higher performing GPUs, such as the GTX 1660 Super, are very capable of pushing excellent framerates for VR content at 1080p. If you want to play VR titles at a resolution higher than 1080p and want high framerates, an RTX 2080 or better will work great.
For a triple monitor setup, it mostly depends on the resolution of each monitor and the I/O. A triple monitor setup at 1080p is fairly easy for even lower performing graphics cards. When we bump this resolution to 1440p or 4K on each monitor, we start to run into some performance issues on less powerful GPUs.
4K Needs More Power
For a 4K triple monitor setup, a powerful GPU such as the RTX 3090 Ti may be necessary to drive such a setup. For 1440p, even the GTX 1080 Ti will offer competitive framerates on a triple monitor setup. When buying a GPU for a triple monitor setup, make sure that it has at least three usable inputs at any one time to hook up all three monitors.
Features such as G-Sync and FreeSync may require a DisplayPort connection in order to utilize these features, meaning triple monitor setups with G-Sync can be difficult in some situations as not every GPU has three DisplayPorts. You’ll therefore need to try and balance all of these things with price, to determine which are most important for your sim racing setup.
The RTX 3090 Ti will give you the very best sim racing performance you can possibly get on the market, but it’s incredibly expensive and it’s usually very hard to get your hands on one. The RX 6700 XT is more readily available and is an excellent budget option that powers through most sim racing titles with ease.