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 five 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, 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, 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 GTX 1080 Ti, for example, is last generation’s most powerful card and is still the most popular card to this date, followed by the GTX 1080 and then the RTX 2080 Ti which, as you may know, is the most powerful GPU in the world right now.
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 making sure that everyone who reads this article can get their hands on the cards that we recommend we chose to go for this approach.
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. All of these expected framerates are at 1080p.
Most used GPU manufacturer in the professional scene
1. RTX 2060 Super
Best pick for 240 Hz gaming
The Super line of cards has some of our favorite overall GPUs in them, and the 2060 Super is one of those. For CS:GO it’s a fantastic all-rounder, serving up a nice and smooth 255 frames per second on average with (most) settings set to max, and turning the settings down to low gives you just under 340 frames per second.
These are great numbers since it means that you’ll be able to utilize your shiny 240Hz monitor at its maximum potential in every single situation. Set everything to max in order to enjoy that shiny new knife? No problem. Want to maximize your frames for your next match with your team? This one will pump out more than enough frames to help you get those all-important one deags.
The RTX 2060 Super is one of our favorite GPUs of the moment because it’s powerful enough for high performance gaming (except for extremely demanding titles such as PUBG) and also delivers plenty of juice to enjoy recent single player games at decently high settings, so it’s a fantastic all-rounder for gamers who like to enjoy the vistas of Novigrad in between fragging sessions.
AVERAGE EXPECTED FPS
2. GTX 1660 Super
Good shout for competitive players
If gaming at higher settings isn’t your jam there’s really no reason to go for a super high powered GPU for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This GTX 1660 will serve you well if you don’t necessarily want to game at the lowest settings but don’t mind turning down a couple here and there either.
With almost everything set to high the 1660 Super delivers an average of 205 frames per second which, as you know, isn’t quite enough to get the most out of a 240 Hz monitor but dropping the settings will net you a solid 275 frames each second, making it a perfect choice if you’re a dedicated competitive CS:GO player who isn’t all that interested in graphical prowess and other distractions.
This is also one of two cards that are ideal for gamers who can’t afford a 240Hz setup (yet) as it will very reliably give you over 144 frames per second without hiccups, even at the highest graphical settings.
All in all this is a great choice for people who mainly focus on CS:GO as a competitive game and don’t have the budget for a more expensive card such as the 2060 Super and want to spend these savings on acquiring a 240 Hz monitor, for example.
AVERAGE EXPECTED FPS
3. GTX 1650
The budget pick
Gaming at 240 frames per second obviously isn’t the cheapest way to game, but you’d be wrong to assume you need to set aside dozens of Benjamins for it too.
This GTX 1650 is very much a budget card, and while it doesn’t get to the coveted 240 frames per second mark with the game’s graphics set to high it does get there if you lower a bunch of those settings, even if only barely. As such it’s a good one if you’re penny pinching or you’re new to this whole competitive gaming scene and want to build a starter setup that doesn’t break the bank.
Due to it being (generally, regional pricing may differ of course) the cheapest card in this article it’s also our top recommendation if you’re building yourself a 144 Hz setup; even at higher settings it gets there with relative ease. With the price difference between this and something like a 2060 Super you can get yourself a very decent 144 Hz monitor so if you’ve got budget restrictions going for a cheaper card is a no-brainer, though we would recommend saving up a bit more (if that’s at all possible) to try for a 240 Hz setup if you already have some experience with gaming and want to get competitive.
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AVERAGE EXPECTED FPS
4. RTX 2060
An alternative 240 Hz option
If the RTX 2060 Super is just outside of your price range (or not available at your favorite retailer or something like that) then the RTX 2060 is also a really solid option.
With the graphics set to high it’ll feed your monitor around 240 frames per second on average which is just about perfect for a 240 Hz monitor. It will obviously dip below the 240 during particularly hectic moments, so if you can’t stand that it’s a good idea to lower some settings.
Lower most of those settings and you’re sailing way above the 240 standard; with around 313 frames each second you can be sure that your frames won’t drop below your monitor’s refresh rate for any significant amount of time even when the molotovs and smokes are flying past your ears, so this is a great options for people who want a 240 Hz setup but are strapped for cash or don’t mind lowering just a couple of settings.
AVERAGE EXPECTED FPS
5. RTX 2080 Ti
For those who want absolute power
This isn’t a card that we’d recommend to most casual or even competitive CS:GO players, but since all of the cards in our list can reach 240 frames per second and we’ve got our bases covered as far as budget options go we thought it’d be fun to include the Godfather of all graphics cards at this moment: the 2080 Ti.
This card will easily run the game at any settings you can imagine with plenty of frames to spare, so this is a great card for players at the highest level who absolutely want to squeeze out every last drop of performance, or for players who just don’t want to worry about upgrading their GPU in the foreseeable future.
It goes without saying that this card will be a bit overkill for most regular users, but if you’re someone who likes to relax with some graphically demanding single player games or you also play games such as PUBG or Apex Legends competitively this is a great option. It’s obviously quite the investment but you can rest assured that you won’t be spending any money on an upgrade any time soon.
AVERAGE EXPECTED FPS
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 2080 Ti, 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.
That said; professional players are operating at a level most of us will not even get close to where even the tiniest advantage matters, so it’s definitely possible to be competitive on a smaller budget. 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!