The Witcher 3 Video Card Recommendation List: Review of the Best Value and Performance (Under $150, $200, $250, $300, etc)
With the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt release on May 19, 2015 for many of us it is time to upgrade our PC’s video card! Use this list of the best value to performance video cards as a buying guide to give you the best possible gaming experience with your chosen budget.
This article is updated as prices fluctuate and in the event of any new sales or rebates!
This graphics card review and recommendation list is catered specifically to the needs of the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It is broken down into common price ranges (best video card under $150, $200, $250, $300, etc) and also covers recommended graphics quality, video and resolution settings that are specific to your computer and this game. It is current and updated!
Article Shortcuts – Best card at each price range:
Select your price range here to skip to that section below. (Stays on the same page.)
Choosing a GPU Brand / Manufacturer
Deciding on a GPU brand can be a matter of some personal preference. Some of the mainstream brands that are proven to be reliable are EVGA, MSI, Sapphire, and Gigabyte. Slightly less popular are Asus, Zotac, HIS, and XFX, but these brands have also been around for a while. 1 year warranties are somewhat common, but 2 or 3 year warranties are ideal.
Nvidia Vs AMD Summary
As far as Nvidia vs. AMD, at the moment it is a commonly held belief that Nvidia has more up to date drivers and software, but sometimes you will get better performance with an AMD card. 1 week after the W3 release, AMD has now released Catalyst 15.5 beta drivers that support crossfire and have performance improvements for The Witcher 3. Also, for the Witcher 3 be aware the Nvidia cards see significantly better performance when using the “Nvidia Hairworks” graphics option, which provides hair physics effects on some animals with lots of fur like wolves and on character’s hair. On AMD cards you will see a drastic performance drop (almost cutting your framerate in half) if you try to turn it on. However it is a somewhat minor effect that most people are disabling regardless of their graphics card.
The Best Witcher 3 Graphics Card Under $100 :
(Cheap / Low Budget / Entry Level)
This is a tough price range. At this price point, you’ll be buying yesterday’s technology or budget targeted products lacking power and features. If at all possible, try to save a bit more to hit the first sweet spot of value at around $150. Expect to run at low or medium quality settings, and less than 1080p resolutions. You also should expect to be getting choppy framerates at this price range. Look for a Radeon R7 250x (previously named the HD 7770) or a Radeon R7 260x here. The R7 260x will probably need a rebate to hit below $100, see below for options!
Witcher 3 Graphics Settings recommended for under $100 – Low Budget / Entry Level:
- Resolutions: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1440 x 900, or 1280 x 720, 1600 x 900, 1680×1050
- Graphics Quality: Medium to Low Detail, no antialiasing (AA), low framerate
Sapphire R7 260x 2GB
Reason: With a rebate, this is by far the best deal you’ll find at the $100 range. Prices will fluctuate slightly, but you should end up paying just a few dollars over $100. Note that any current rebate discount will NOT be shown in the Amazon price shown here. Click the Sapphire R7 260 Amazon link or the picture below to see the current price after the rebate. Be sure to get a 2GB version like this one. If the rebate for this Sapphire card has ended, check out the MSI AMD R7 260x here, which is slightly more expensive, but also has a rebate. The R7 260X is just above the minimum recommended specs for the Witcher 3.
If there is any current rebate, it will not be shown in the price to the right.
Click product to the right to view full info at Amazon.
Gigabyte R7 250x OC 2GB
Reason: Note that the R7 250X is basically equal to the Radeon HD 7770, however the minimum recommended specs for The Witcher 3 are a Radeon 7870. The R7 250x is just below the minimum recommended specs for the Witcher 3. While you will still be able to run the game, you most definitely will run into performance problems that will hinder your enjoyment of the game.
We highly recommend spending a little bit more for ANY of the other cards listed in this article. If the Sapphire or MSI R7 260x listed above do not have active rebates, go with this R7 250x, which comes right at $100 with no rebate. This is one of the few R7 250x cards you will find with 2 GB of GDDR5 video ram.
(If a rebate is available it may not be shown here, click here to check on Amazon).
The Best Witcher 3 Video Card Under $150
(A Sweet Spot of Value to Performance)
Witcher 3 Game Settings recommended for under $150
- Resolutions: 1600 x 900, 1680×1050, 1920 x 1080, 1920 x 1200
- Graphics Quality: Medium to High Detail, low level of AA (anti aliasing)
Sapphire R9 270x 2GB Dual-X OC
Reason: At right around $150, this is the perfect value. $150 is often a sweet spot for video cards where you won’t break the bank, but will still get to play new, modern games at high settings with good framerates. This Sapphire Radeon R9 270x features a version of Sapphire’s much loved cooling systems, this one is referred to as Dual-X. This will keep the card cool and quiet while allowing for overclocking if desired. The R9 270X is in the same price range as the Nvidia Geforce GTX 750 Ti, however the R9 270x wins out in performance.
Click product to the right to view full info at Amazon.
Witcher 3 Video Settings recommended for under $200
- Resolutions: 1600 x 900, 1680 x 1050, 1920 x 1080, 1920 x 1200
- Graphics Quality: High Detail, some AA (anti aliasing) and some other graphics features enabled
MSI GTX 960 GAMING 100 ME
Model: MSI GTX 960 Gaming 100 ME
Reason: At the $200 price range, you can either spend below $200 to get a Radeon R9 280 (non-x version), or you could spend above $200 on an R9 280X. However, falling in between them in performance is the GTX 960 2GB, and it also sits almost exactly at $200. You also get the advantage of Nvidia’s arguably superior drivers and software compared to AMD drivers. The GTX 960 is also extremely efficient so you’ll be getting a cool, quiet card.
This MSI GTX 960 features MSI’s upgraded cooling system called Twin Frozr and an impressive black and green paint job. The “100 ME” refers to this green and black version of the card being a special edition celebrating 100 million MSI/Nvidia video cards. It is very similar to the MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G other than the paint job (green and black vs red and black). The Gaming 100ME version is currently cheaper.
If a rebate is available, it will NOT be shown in the price here. Click here to go to Amazon to check!
Witcher 3 Video Settings recommended for under $250
- Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 (1080p), 1920 x 1200
- Graphics Quality: High Detail, AA (anti aliasing) and other many graphics features enabled
Sapphire R9 280X VAPOR-X 3GB
Reason: Features Sapphire’s VAPOR-X cooling, which is a step above its Dual-X cooling system seen on some of it’s other cards. The aesthetic design of this card is also very impressive, with a powerful fan / cooling system accentuated by blue highlights and a futuristic casing. This card runs very cool and fast.
The “recommended” graphics card for The Witcher 3 is an R9 290 or higher, which means this R9 280X sits just below the recommended system requirements by something like 5% to 20% depending on the benchmark. (Remember that recommended requirements do not mean the minimum needed. The recommended requirements are for the ideal, perfect experience in the game). With this card you will be able to play at high settings, 1080p and higher resolutions like 1920 x 1200, and provide a fairly smooth framerate.
Click product to the right to view full info at Amazon or click here Sapphire R9 280X
Witcher 3 Video Card Settings recommended for around $300 price range
- Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 (1080p), 1920 x 1200
- Graphics Quality: High to Ultra Detail, AA and all other graphics features enabled
EVGA GeForce GTX 970 Superclocked ACX 2.0
Model: GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 / 04G-P4-2974-KR
Reason: This is the top selling GTX 970 with amazing reviews. It is currently the best value for a GTX 970. This 4 GB card exceeds even the Witcher 3’s highest recommended system specs. They call for a GTX 770 or better, which this card beats by something like 30% depending on the benchmarks you use! It is also less power hungry and more efficient.This card will power through the Witcher 3 and be all you need for the next couple of years of high end gaming. Being an Nvidia card, this means you also have the option of using the Nvidia Hairworks graphics option in the Witcher 3. This provides hair physics and adds extra, moving hair or fur onto some monsters. There is a performance drop when enabling this setting, but with Nvidia cards it is much, much less of a drop than an AMD card.
This price level, above about $300, is what you have to look to spend if you want to get the ideal, recommended experience in the Witcher 3.
Free Batman: Arkham Knight Game with any GTX 970 at Amazon!
View full info on Amazon by clicking the product to the right.
Alternate Option: MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G
Depending on price fluctuations, rebates, and stock availability, this MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G is also a great option. However, we have found it to be out of stock or marked up in price lately. We recommend choosing whichever is cheaper at the current time (This MSI or the above EVGA GTX 970).
Get Batman: Arkham Knight for free when you purchase any GTX 970 (like this one) on Amazon!
Witcher 3 Video Card Settings recommended for around this extreme price range:
- Resolutions: 1920 x 1080 (1080p), 1920 x 1200, 2560 x 1600
- Graphics Quality: High to Ultra Detail, high level of AA and all other graphics features enabled
EVGA GTX 980 FTW ACX 2.0
Model # 04G-P4-2983-KR
Reason: Here we are at the absolute pinnacle of reasonable cost video cards. The only step further you can take would be spending over $1,000 or $1,500 on a GTX Titan X or Titan Z. The GTX 980 will have no issues running The Witcher 3 at maximum settings, with a smooth framerate and a high resolution. However you won’t want to run at a true 4k resolution of 3840×2160 if a nice, smooth framerate is important to you.
The GTX 980 is the obvious choice once you get in the $400-$600 price range unless you want to consider multiple GPU setups via SLI or Crossfire. However, it is still common for some games to have issues taking advantage of multiple graphics cards, so when possible one powerful GPU like the GTX 980 is better than two weaker GPUs.
There are many many versions of the EVGA GTX 980. Some of them are intended for watercooling. If not watercooling, the ones to look at are the FTW ACX 2.0 and SC ACX 2.0. If you have a small, hot case, get the SC ACX 2.0 because it will blow the hot air outside of the case. However the FTW version uses a better cooler as long as your case has good ventilation and isn’t already running hot. That makes the FTW version our choice.
Bonus: get Batman: Arkham Knight free with any GTX 980 GPU at Amazon!
Conclusion: The Best Witcher 3 Video Cards Complete List & Wrap-up
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has some serious system requirements. In order to meet the high end recommended requirement for the video card, you must choose a card at or above the $300 price level. However, it is definitely possible to enjoy the game with a lesser video card. The minimum suggested GPU will only run you about $120 (or less with rebate). Take into account your monitor resolution, your budget, and your desired detail level in game and compare it with the information offered in this article.
- Around $100 (no rebate): Gigabyte R7 250x OC 2GB
- Around $120 ($100 after rebate): Sapphire R7 260x 2GB
- Under $150: Sapphire R9 270x 2GB Dual-X OC
- Under $200: MSI GTX 960 GAMING 100 ME – Editor’s Choice for Value!
- Under $250: Sapphire R9 280X VAPOR-X 3GB
- Around $300: EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 –Editor’s Performance Choice!
(Bonus: get Batman: Arkham Knight FREE with a GTX 970 or 980 at Amazon)
- $400 – $600: EVGA GTX 980 FTW ACX 2.0
May Geralt guide you in your search for the best video card! This article will be updated as prices fluctuate and rebates or sales come around. Comment with any questions!