Best nVidia GeForce Graphics Cards for Gaming 2011 – 2012

Now that we finished our review of the best Radeon Graphics Cards we wanted to complete our graphics card installment by giving you a list of our top rated nVidia GeForce Video Cards.  We’ll use EVGA as our standard because of their popularity amongst gamers and Lifetime Warranty, but there are certainly other options from other brands in a similar price range that are very capable at each price point.  Look for the “best EVGA alternative” for our picks.

Before we begin I wanted to mention that if you’re wondering about general benchmarks for nVidia’s cards a good place to begin is nVidia’s own website.  Here’s a graph that gives you an idea of overall GPU performance (individual products may vary).

Best nVidia GeForce Graphics Cards 2011 – 2012

1.) EVGA GeForce GTX 590 Classified Limited Edition 3 GB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card – Limited Lifetime Warranty 03G-P3-1598-AR

The limited “classified” edition of the GTX 590 from EVGA certainly isn’t for the casual gamer.  It’s expensive at right under $800 and limited availability has lifted it’s price range in comparison to other benchmark GPU, but it’s the best available from nVidia right now.  Key features include a dual vapor cooling solution which you’ll find to be much quieter than you were expecting.  The “classified” edition comes with a couple other cool extras including a custom GTX 590 t-shirt, mouse pad, and a limited edition poster.  You’ll also get a limited lifetime warranty if you register with EVGA within 30 days of purchase.

Specifications for this card include 630 MHz Core Clock, 1260MHz shader clock, 3 GB 768-bit GDDR5 memory, 3456 MHz memory clock, 3 DVI and a single mini display port, up to 2560 x 1600 resolution, and 1024 (512 x 2) Processor Cores.

Tip:  We recommend you have at least a 750 watt power supply before purchasing this card.

What one owner of the GTX 590 said:

“I was kind of skeptical about buying this card, mostly because of the price, kind of high for sure, but… this GPU worths every penny of the full price! The card is insanely fast and… it runs very silently, (and) you can barely feel it when it’s working…”

Best EVGA Alternative: ASUS NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 3 GB GDDR5 Video Card ENGTX590/3DIS/3GD5

2.) EVGA 03G-P3-1584-AR GeForce GTX 580 3072MB GDDR5 PCB PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card – Lifetime Warranty

Here’s another great card from EVGA the GTX 580 03G-P3-1584-AR.  This particular model has 3072MB of memory, double that of the standard you’ll see directly below.  If you aren’t planning on running a multiple monitor system, then it’s economical to save yourself $100 and go with the 015-P3-1582-AR. We recommend that you have a PSU of 650 watts or greater before purchasing this card.

Specifications include: 772MHz core clock, 1544MHz Shader, 4008MHz effective memory, 1 x mini HDMI and 2 DVI ports, and up to 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Other Thoughts: Surprisingly quiet.

3.) EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Superclocked 1536 MB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card with Limited Lifetime Warranty 015-P3-1582-AR

Specifications for the EVGA GTX 580 015-P3-1582-AR are similar to those of the 03G-P3-1584-AR without the additional memory:  797Mhz core clock, 1594 MHz shader, 4050 MHz effective memory, 1 mini HDMI and 2 DVI ports, and up to 2560 x 1600 resolution.

Other Thoughts: A great deal if you’re looking for a single powerful card.  Highly recommended for builders that like to have a GPU that will last a long time.  For those who would rather upgrade every year or two it might be more economical to go with a GTX 570 or GTX 560 GPU.

Best EVGA Alternative: MSI GeForce GTX580 1536 MB DDR5 2DVI/Mini HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N580GTX TWIN FROZR II/OC

4.) EVGA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card with Lifetime Warranty 012-P3-1570-AR

Although some complain that the GTX 570 is too loud, for most it’s not as loud as their case fans.  This mid-range card gives you wonderful bang-for-your buck performance and runs anything we throw at it.

Specifications: Core clock 732MHz, 1464MHz shader, 480 Processor Cores, 3800MHz effective memory clock, 1280MB dedicated memory, 1 mini HDMI and 2 DVI ports, and a lifetime warranty if registered with EVGA within the first 30 days of purchase.

Best EVGA Alternative: PNY XLR8 GTX 570 1280 MB GDDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card with HDMI Mini Output VCGGTX570XPB

5.) EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card – Lifetime Warranty 01G-P3-1563-AR

Because I update my GPU regularly I try to stick between the $250 and $300 price range.  The GTX 560 falls into the category of exactly what I, and most gamers, like.  You get solid performance with your games and it doesn’t burn a whole in your wallet either.

Best EVGA Alternative: MSI GeForce GTX560 1 GB DDR5 2DVI/Mini HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N560GTX TI TWIN FROZR II OC – It’s proven that keeping your hardware cooler gives your hardware a longer lifespan and keeps performance at optimum levels. For this reason it’s hard not to look at MSI’s Twin FROZR II series.

Budget / Value Cards #6-10

Here’s a look at some great budget cards that are an awesome value if you’re looking to play less demanding games, don’t need the highest resolution settings, or are looking for some casual gaming on your HTPC (home theatre PC).

6.) EVGA GeForce GTX460 1024 MB DDR5 PCI-Express Graphics Card with Lifetime Warranty 01G-P3-1371-AR

The GTX 460 is still a great solution for most games.  My son uses it for Battlefield Bad Company 2 and it works great.

EVGA Alternative: Gigabyte GeForce GTX460-1 GB GDDR5 PCIE2 256B 2DVI-I/HDMI/FAN RTL Video Card GV-N460OC-1GI

7.) EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti FPB 1024 MB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card 01G-P3-1556-KR

EVGA Alternative: Galaxy GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1 GB DDR5 Video Card 55NGH8HX4NXK

8.) EVGA GeForce GTS450 FPB 1 GB GDDR5 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card 01G-P3-1450-TR

EVGA Alternative: PNY XLR8 GTS 450 1024MB GDDR5 PCI-Express HDMI Graphics Card VCGGTS4501XPB

9.) EVGA nVidia GeForce 9500GT 1 GB 2DVI PCI-Express Video Card, 01G-P3-N959-TR

EVGA Alternative: ZOTAC nVidia GeForce 9500GT 1 GB DDR2 VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card ZT-95TEK2M-FSL

10.) EVGA GeForce 8400 GS 512 MB DDR3 PCI-Express 2.0 Graphics Card 512-P3-1300-LR

This is a great card for your HTPC.  It includes an HDMI, D-Sub, and DVI ports.

EVGA Alternative: XFX nVidia GeForce 8400GS 512 MB VGA/DVI PCI-Express Video Card PVT86SYHLG

We hope you’ve enjoyed this review of the best nVidia GeForce Video cards for 2011.  If you didn’t find what you were looking for be sure to check out our tab of bestselling graphics cards above.

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