Best GPU for Valorant - The Ultimate Guide
When Riot initially announced their plans to release a competitive shooter (then still called 'Project A') the (gaming) world obviously got extremely excited. The developers behind arguably the esport of the past decade taking a dive into the wonderful world of competitive shooters? Sounds great! Of course there were (and still are) doubters: with little to no experience with the genre it's extremely easy to miss the mark completely, but if we look at the amount of hype and the community behind Valorant it's clear to see that Riot are doing everything they can to make what they feel is the perfect competitive shooter.
With a serious first person shooter also come serious players: if you want to make it to the top ranks you'll need your aim to be on point and keep your wits about you, but you'll also want to make sure that you get enough frames per second. Pretty much every competitive shooter player is playing on a rig and monitor that's capable of displaying at least 144 frames per second, which gives them an undeniable advantage over players on a 60Hz rig. Valorant might not be the hardest game to run (as per Riot's promise) but if you want to get to that magical 240Hz mark (which is where the vast majority of pros are playing) you'll need a decently powerful GPU.
We've unleashed our analysts and had them come up with this list of graphics cards that should suit every budget and build out there so that you don't have to do the research and can just get to fragging!
What makes a GPU good for Valorant?
Every single one of our analyzed Valorant professionals is using a setup that's capable of displaying at least 144 frames per second, with 90% being on a 240Hz (or higher) setup. Going by what the pros use it's thus a certainty that you'll want a GPU that's capable of displaying the game at 240 frames per second.
With previous generations of GPUs you could've had some issues reaching that mark, but these days graphics cards are powerful enough to run a game such as Valorant at those framerates, even if you're on a budget.
Of course it's quite possible that your card can churn out enough frames but that you don't have the budget for a 240Hz monitor, so we're aware of the fact that a 240 frames per second isn't for everyone. If you are tight on money you can definitely go for 144 but we wouldn't recommend going any lower if you're at all serious about the game. For games such as Valorant, going for a higher refresh rate offers plenty of benefits that can and will make you a better player. It's not a magic 'go up X amount of ranks' kind of thing (that doesn't really exist) but as you can read in our article the benefits are well worth the investment.
So, you'll need a dedicated graphics card that's capable of pushing at least 144 frames per second (but ideally 240) if we're going by what the pros are doing. Luckily Riot made good on their promise and they didn't make Valorant a super demanding game, meaning that you don't automatically have to go for the most expensive, top tier GPUs depending on what your expectations are as far as framerates go. We've listed a bunch of options so that you can make an informed decision that suits your budget and build, but don't forget that it's important that you get a balanced build. It doesn't make sense to go for an RTX 3080 if you're going to be pairing it with a budget CPU and 8GB of RAM, for example.
With the release of their 30 series of cards, Nvidia also released their 'Reflex Low Latency Technology', which is (in their words) a 'low latency gaming platform.' This is a technology that allows you to do two things: namely measure your system latency (and as such find out if there's a latency problem somewhere) and reduce your system latency. The low latency mode does that by making your CPU work together with a Reflex-capable GPU (GeForce 900 series and up) more efficiently. How this works exactly takes a long explanation (see here for Nvidia's article and here for our own more surface level article) but it's safe to say that a lower system latency is always better so this is definitely a feature that's worth experimenting with. If you already have a high tier setup the results won't be as noticeable, but if you come from a 60Hz setup there are some real gains to be made here.
Do note that the latency analyzer feature doesn't work with all peripherals. You need a compatible monitor and compatible peripherals. See here for an updated list.
Most popular manufacturer
We've been doing these GPU guides for all of our analyzed games, and it's blatantly clear that Nvidia is the choice of the professionals at this point in time. Around 99% of our analyzed pros are using an Nvidia card so it's only natural that we're recommend their cards in this article as well.
You'll also notice that we're not recommending something like the GTX 1080. That's because these older cards aren't officially in production anymore, and we've chosen to only go for cards that are being produced right now. With the COVID-19 crisis there's been a bit of a shortage, but Nvidia's 30 series cards offer a fantastic value/performance proposition, so if you're in the market for a new GPU we would definitely recommend going for one of those cards as opposed to a card from the (now discontinued) 20 series, though of course if you can get an older card at a great clearance sale or second hand from someone you trust you can always consider that.
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 - all analyzed games
1. RTX 3060 Ti
Best for dedicated Valorant players
The RTX 3060 Ti offers a fantastic value for money proposition if you're someone who is not going to play a lot of highly demanding games along with your main competitive fix in the form of Valorant. Even with the settings turned up you're going to get above 240 frames per second, making this a fantastic card for anyone who is not interested in running the latest eye candy games at their absolute maximum settings.
If you're someone who also plays some more demanding games (such as Apex, Fortnite, and PUBG) at competitive levels you might want to consider looking a bit further up the ladder, but as a dedicated card for Valorant and other less demanding games this is a wonderful buy.
2. RTX 3070
Best overall card for gaming
If you're someone who enjoys playing a variety of games (including more graphically demanding single player games) on the side after you've gotten your competitive fix then it's hard to beat the RTX 3070. The performance that you get from this card rivals what you get out of last generation's top tier card (the 2080 Ti) and it does that at a fraction of the price.
Naturally, this card will have no problems running Valorant at higher refresh rates, and it will keep churning out enough frames to enjoy a buttery smooth 360Hz refresh rate even at 1440p, should you want to play at that resolution. Playing at a 4K resolution is not something that we recommend if you're a competitive gamer (we'd even suggest sticking to 1080p, but with GPUs and CPUs becoming ever more powerful 1440p can start to become an option for some) but this card should be able to handle that without a lot of issues even at higher refresh rates.
This might be our favorite card of the 30 series, so we can't recommend it enough.
3. RTX 3080
Best 'all out' card
The RTX 3080 is a behemoth of a GPU, and it is probably a bit too powerful for Valorant for the average player if we're being honest. If you've got a large budget and you want to go all out (complete with a 360Hz monitor or perhaps a 4K 144Hz monitor or something like that) then this is the one to go for, but otherwise it is probably a good idea to look at cards that are a bit below this one if you're going to mainly be focusing on competitive titles such as Valorant.
Of course this is a fantastic choice if you like to max out your settings while still keeping your performances up to par (this mostly goes for other games though, as Valorant will run like butter with a card like this) or if you simply want to get the absolute maximum amount of frames you can get. There is an argument for that (more frames does equal a more responsive game, though there are diminishing returns of course) which is why we see that pros who have switched over to the 30 series are primarily on the 3080 and even 3090 right now, so whether you think this is 'overkill' or not will mostly depend on your budget and what your goals are. If you're already playing at the highest levels this is a good card to get, as you want to take every advantage you can get at those levels, but otherwise you may want to look elsewhere.
There is also the RTX 3090 of course but that is more than double the price of the 3080 (at least at MSRP) so we are choosing to focus on these cards for now. If you want the absolute best of the best you can always go for that one though.
4. RTX 3060
The budget RTX option
This is the 'budget option' in the sense that it is the cheapest available RTX card, but that doesn't mean that you're going to get budget performances out of it in Valorant. All of these cards are powerful enough to run a game like Valorant with relative ease, so this RTX 3060 will run the game without any hiccups at 144 frames per second, 240 frames per second, and even 360 frames per second (though we would recommend a more powerful card if you're going to invest in a 360Hz monitor).
If you're planning on gaming at higher resolutions this will still get the job done (except on 4K, but again: we don't recommend playing at higher resolutions if you're a competitive gamer) so if you're absolutely sure that you're going to be focusing on Valorant and you will never want to play more demanding games (or you don't mind turning the settings down for those) this is a great buy.
Conclusion: The best GPU for VALORANT
As you've no doubt been able to see VALORANT isn't a very demanding game. Riot set out to make a game that runs well even on budget hardware and as far as we can tell they've really succeeded on that front.
Reaching the competitive standard refresh rate of 240 frames per second is an absolute breeze for the newest generation of GPUs, so which one you get will mostly depend on your budget and your other gaming needs to be honest.
Pros of course always go for the best of the best (you can read why here) so they always trend towards the higher end cards. If budget is no issue you can of course do the same but otherwise a mid to low tier current gen card seems like the best option for this game.
Thanks for reading!