Best GPU for CS:GO – The Ultimate Guide
It’s often said that CS:GO ‘runs on a toaster’ but if you want to be a competitive player you won’t want to be playing on a toaster. For a game that’s as (relatively) easy to run such as CS:GO the minimum competitive framerate limit very much sits at 240Hz, so you if you’re really serious about the game you will want to get yourself a monitor that can display 240 frames per second and then, of course, a system that can push enough frames.
Our analyst team has been taking a look at what’s out there, and they’ve poured it all down into this list of GPUs to consider.
What makes a GPU good for CS:GO?
Just a couple of years ago people were frantically discussing whether or not a 144 Hz monitor gives you a significant advantage over a regular 60 Hz monitor (despite the fact that CRT monitors kept being used by pros long after flat screens became commonplace because they often had higher framerates) but that debate is well and truly in the past if you’re asking us. There’s an abundance of advantages that you get from gaming at higher framerates, and the fact that not a single professional CS:GO player plays at 60 Hz should also tell you something. In fact, around 88% of all CS:GO pros in our database are playing on a 240 Hz setup (and over 5% have already switched over to a 360Hz monitor) meaning that we consider that to be the competitive standard for this game.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is pretty easy to run and reach a decent amount of frames on, but in a game without bullet magnetism or any sort of aim assistance you’ll definitely want to maximize your frames to get a clear view of the battlefield. Nvidia have made an excellent video on this topic that we’ve linked to the right in case you want a visual representation of the advantages that a setup like this can give you.
So we’ve established that you’ll need a decent graphics card to be able to run the game at the competitive framerate of 240+ frames per second, but luckily (this isn’t the case with every game that we analyze) you won’t need the latest and greatest kit to get there. Because of this reason we’ve pretty much only been looking at cards that can reach 240 frames per second, either straight up on all settings or by lowering the graphics. As is the case with every game you’ll need a decently balanced setup though. Especially for CS:GO (which is very CPU dependent) you will want to get a good CPU along with a decent amount of RAM and so on, so always make sure to consider your budget and build your rig around that. Don’t handicap yourself by going for a great GPU that gets bottle necked by subpar surrounding components.
NVIDIA is by far the most used GPU manufacturer in the gaming world. They’re on top with an extremely clear margin for every game that we’ve analyzed and it’s no different here with CS:GO. What’s interesting is that, despite CS:GO’s reputation to be extremely easy to run, professional players do tend to go for high end graphics cards. The RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti, for example, are currently used by around a quarter of pros despite arguably being ‘overkill’ for this game. The RTX 3080 and 3090 are already being used by over 10% of professionals.
For this list we’ve been considering cards that are still currently in production, so we haven’t included any GTX cards or what have you. That doesn’t mean that these cards can’t run the game properly, but in the interest of future proofing your build and keeping this article current we’re only listing cards that are currently officially being produced.
Note: the average FPS you get ingame will severely depend on your ingame settings, as well as the rest of your rig (CPU, RAM, …) so take these estimates with a grain of salt.
Most used GPU manufacturer in the pro CS:GO scene
1. RTX 3060 Ti
Best overall choice
Despite the fact that the pros like to use the best cards out there (because high framerates offer a lot of advantages aside from just looking smoother on the screen) it’s probably better for more casual players to consider cheaper cards, seeing as they will also run the game with ease and you don’t need to grasp every tiny advantage that you can possibly get if you’re not playing at the top level.
This RTX 3060 Ti is a perfect choice if you’re someone who primarily plays CS:GO and you want to get a stable 240Hz performance. CS:GO is rather notorious for dropping frames on certain maps or even in certain areas of maps but the 3060 Ti keeps a stable 240+ frames per second at all times, which makes this our choice for competitive CS:GO players who want to get a great value/performance card for their game of choice.
2. RTX 3080
Best ‘all out’ option
If you’re playing at the highest levels and/or you’re on your way there it makes sense to invest in the best possible gear. When every match can mean the difference between qualifying for the next round (or the main event) or dropping out, you want to grab every little percentage point of advantages that you can get, which is why we see a lot of pro players across all of our analyzed games go for higher tier cards, even if those can run the game with ease.
If you’re someone like that, or if you have a large budget and/or you also want to play other games (including graphically heavy single player games) this is the card for you. Naturally it runs CS:GO with absolutely no issues, reaching well over 240 frames per second, even at 4K resolution. For most players we’d consider this card to be ‘overkill’ but if you belong to one of the aforementioned groups then by all means go for the RTX 3080.
3. RTX 3060
The budget pick
Gaming at 240 frames per second is a tall order, even if you’re playing a game that’s famously easy to run. With GPUs becoming more and more powerful with every generation (luckily: otherwise there’d be no real point in releasing new GPUs) budget options are becoming more of an option though, even if you’re trying to reach that coveted 240 frames per second mark.
The RTX 3060 is an example of one such card. Despite the fact that it will dip a couple of frames below 240 every once in a while (but this is rare) it delivers a buttery smooth 240 FPS performance, making this a great pickup if you’re someone who mostly plays CS:GO at 1080p (or lower: most pros still use lower resolutions).
4. RTX 3070
The best ‘multi game gamer’ option
If CS:GO isn’t your sole focus as a game (say you also like to play some more casual shooters or a single player game where you like to turn up the graphics every now and again) the RTX 3070 is a great card. Its value/performance ratio is great, making it one of our favorite graphics cards out there at this point in time.
Naturally, when it comes to CS:GO, the card delivers in spades. It never dips below 240 frames per second, and with average framerates at 1080p in the 500s you can be sure that you’re getting some smooth gameplay out of this card. It’s also our GPU of choice if you plan on playing at 1440p 240Hz or 4K 144Hz; in both situations it won’t drop below those refresh rates at any point, making it a good choice if you’re someone who likes their eye candy when gaming.
Conclusion: The best GPU for CS:GO
As you’ve no doubt been realizing it’s not all that hard to reach the higher echelons of the framerate world in CS:GO (though, again, make sure your CPU and the rest of your system is up to par) so crafting a dedicated setup for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive doesn’t have to be extremely expensive, even if you’re starting from scratch.
If you’re on a budget you can always go for a 144 Hz setup; that’ll drastically lower your equipment costs but it is recommended to go 240 frames if you’re trying to reach the higher levels of the CS:GO competitive scene.
Professional players are always trying to maximize their framerates (even to the point of using lower resolutions and what not) even when they’re using monster GPUs such as the RTX 3080, so there’s definitely something to be said for maximizing the amount of frames that you’re getting, even if those frames greatly exceed your monitor’s refresh rate.
In reality it’s also important to consider that professional players are operating at a level most of us will not even get close to. For them, even the tiniest advantage matters, so it’s definitely possible to be competitive on a smaller budget if you’re not playing in the upper echelons of the competitive scene. We would definitely recommend going for (at the very least) a 144Hz setup though.
Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two, and thanks for reading!