Best Graphics Card for Star Citizen (2020)

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Star Citizen is a very demanding game. It’s supposed to be visual masterpiece (a space opera if you will) and so far, it’s been living up to that at least in the graphics department. That is exactly what most of what signed up for when Chris promised us a high-fidelity PC space sim.

The challenge though is that it can take a monster PC to run it at optimal settings. Some improvements will come from the developers as they fine tune the netcode, asset streaming and other programming stuff. But it will still need all the horsepower you can throw at it.

Before you buy a new graphics card or CPU, know that Star Citizen’s full release is still some years away.  So whatever you buy today, will probably not hold up a few years from now. Whatever you are buying, is for the next 2-3 years only or maybe a bit more.

Personally, I am fine with that. I used to play a lot of Arena Commander way back in 2014 and I bought top of the line stuff for Star Citizen even back then. It’s not like you can’t use it for other games. And the PU looks pretty good even right now.

Based on my own experience with SC, RSI’s user telemetry data, hours on the forums/ reddit and my experience with other very demanding VR sims, here are my top GPU recommendations.

Best Premium GPU

ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2080TI-O11G Overclocked 11G GDDR6 HDMI DP...
  • Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1665 MHz Boost Clock (OC Mode), 4352 CUDA cores and overclocked 11GB...
  • Supports up-to 4 monitors with DisplayPort 1. 4, HDMI 2. 0 and a VR headset via USB Type C ports

When it comes to the best GPU, the Nvidia 2080Ti clearly dominates. Not only is it a beast on paper, but actual RSI data shows that it dominates over all others when it comes to actual in-game performance. The 2080Ti overclocks well and has 11 GB of GDDR6 memory which means it should future proof you for several years. It also has Ray Tracing support which provides a but more future proofing.

With regards to which card manufacturer to go with, EVGA, Asus, MSI are all good options. Over the years, I have owned all of these brands and never had an issue. I personally use a water-cooled system and highly recommend that, but if you don’t want to bother with the hassle, even an air cooled one will do fine. It will just be slightly noisier.

Best Mid-Range

Asus GeForce RTX 2070 Super Overclocked 8G EVO GDDR6 Dual-Fan Edition...
  • Powered by NVIDIA Turing with 1845 MHz Boost Clock (OC Mode), 2560 CUDA Cores and overclocked 8GB...
  • Supports up-to 4 Monitors with 3x DisplayPort 1. 4 and 1x HDMI 2. 0 port

The 2070 Super is the best mid-range option. There are actually a lot of good cards in this price range and the difference between them is not too great. But I think the 2070 Super hits the sweet spot for the mid-tier budget segment.

Again, there are a lot of manufacturers that offer this card from ASUS to ZOTAC and EVGA and they are all good.  There is not much difference in cooling performance between them as they all have a dual fan design. So pick the one that is available or cheaper and a brand that you trust. I personally prefer Asus.

Best Budget/ Entry Level

The AMD Radeon RX 580 can hold its own in Star Citizen and it’s the lowest I recommend you go. It is actually a pretty decent card for most games. This card punched above its weight when it comes to price/ performance. In fact, it may actually be the price/ performance champion.

You might even consider a used option in case budget is tight. Just know that the card comes in both 8GB and 4GB variants and I recommend you go with the 8GB one. While 4GB also works ok with Star Citizen, the 8GB variant will give you a bit more future proofing.

About the Author

Gary (Flanker)

Gary has been "hard landing" into runways and driving his Mitsubishi Evo off of cliffs since the early 2000s. These days, he spends most of his precious hobby time with his favorite flight, racing and space simulations in VR. He also has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science which helps a lot with his obsession with optimizing PC hardware like CPUs, Graphics Cards, VR Headsets, HOTAS, Racing Wheels etc. for high end sims.