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.
1. Best Premium GPU
- NVIDIA Ampere Streaming Multiprocessors: The building blocks for the world’s fastest, most...
- 2nd Generation RT Cores: Experience 2X the throughput of 1st gen RT Cores, plus concurrent RT and...
When it comes to the best GPU, the Nvidia 3090 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 3090 is a beast and performs well even without overlocking and has 24 GB of GDDR6X memory which means it should future proof you for several years (in fact, it is overkill). It also has Ray Tracing support which provides a but more future proofing. Normally, I am not a fan of the Founder’s Edition versions but with the 3000 series, Nvidia has done pretty well. Feel free to get whatever version is in stock. ASUS is also what I always tend to use personally and I have never had any issues with their quality control.
The 3080 is second best option. It performs slightly below the 3090 (less than 5% difference in SC) but the price difference is massive. Which is why I feel comfortable recommending it without hesitation to anyone who doesn’t have cash to burn. The main difference between these cards is the VRAM. The 3090 has 24 GB which no game even comes close to using and this GDDR6X RAM is expensive. The 3080 comes with just 10 GB which is totally fine for even 4K gaming and this is the main reason for the price difference. There are some other differences in compute cores and bandwidth as well but it is up to you to decide if the extra price is worth it. The problem is that it is even harder to find in stock.
2. Best Mid-Range
- 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.
3. Best Budget/ Entry Level
- Equipped with XFX double dissipation cooling
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.
4. Best second hand/ used GPU
- Real Base Clock: 1556 MHz/Real Boost Clock: 1670 MHz; Memory Detail: 11264MB GDDR5X
- EVGA iCX Technology - 9 additional temp sensors to monitor Memory and VRM
The 1080Ti is the best option in this category. It has the same performance as the 2070 but it does not have Ray Tracing and uses slightly older architecture. I would not recommend you to pay full price to buy a 5 year old card at this point, but we all know how the GPU market is these days so this is a decent second hand option. It will perform better than most of the newer budget/ entry level options out there and you can use use it till the market supply of graphics cards improves.