As a college student, I’m cheap as hell but I also love playing Overwatch. The different play styles that each hero brings to the game makes for a fascinating variety of gameplay combinations. Getting that final push, in overtime, to win the game can be so sweet.
Playing Overwatch on my low-end PC was an interesting experience. Building a respectable gaming PC on a budget can be tough. Trying to upgrade a graphics card on a part-time, minimum wage was not fun. I imagine many others out there have been in a similar position as me. Luckily, Overwatch is a game that is capable of running on even some of the weakest PCs. It’s very well optimized which makes shopping for a GPU that much easier.
Helping others maximize their Overwatch experience by upgrading with budget GPU is why I wrote this guide. I’ve been gaming on low end PCs most of my life. Making due with pre-built Dell Inspirons and scraping enough together to get discount components it something for most of my life. Gaming cheap ain’t easy, but the below GPUs will allow you to better play Overwatch on multiple settings.
Discrete Desktop Graphics
Nvidia GTX 1050 TI
I was the proud owner of a Nvidia GTX 1050 TI For a long time (I’ve since upgraded and sold the card). But when I was using it as my main card it would kick butt for Overwatch. With Ultra settings, I could easily get 60 FPS at 1080p and very rarely drop any lower. At low settings I was able to get in the 120-150 FPS range at 1080p, which is useful if you have a 120hz or 144hz monitor.
With 4gb of GDDR5 memory, DirectX 12 support and no need for an extra power connector, it’s perfect for a budget friendly build. The GTX 1050 TI is more than enough to run Overwatch and almost any other game you could throw at it. Fortnite and CS:Go all run fantastic at 1080p. Even something more intense like GTA V would run at 60+ FPS.
AMD Radeon RX 560 and Nvidia GTX 1050
Both the RX 560 and GTX 1050 are slightly weaker, but also cheaper, versions of the GTX 1050 TI. In fact, according to Techspot’s benchmarks, 90+ FPS was easily obtained at high settings and the GTX 1050 TI only out performed them by about 6%. These cards are about $40-$50 cheaper too. If all you’re looking to play was Overwatch, I’d save the money and buy either the RX 560 or GTX 1050.
Nvidia GT 1030
A while ago, my dad purchased a Nvidia GT 1030 so he could scratch that gamer itch of his. Obviously, he’s not exactly a pro-gamer but it was the perfect card for him. It’s low profile, so this GPU fits into his slim, pre-built computer. The processor paired with it is a 7th generation Intel Pentium G so there was no throttling. He gets solid performance in all his favorite games, Counter Strike: Go and Fortnite. And most importantly, this card is less than $100 dollars, so he didn’t need to spend a bunch of money to upgrade his computer to play games
Anyway, the GT 1030 gives him pretty solid performance in Overwatch. At medium settings, 1080p is playable at 50-60 FPS. Looking over his shoulder and from what I play tested on his machine, it certainly feels smooth. Dropping down to low settings will see a higher FPS in the 80-100 FPS range.
Similar Card: AMD RX 550
Nvidia GT 710
Shockingly, Overwatch is totally playable on a GT 710 (or 710m or 840m, it’s mobile equivalents). These cards are definitely not meant for gaming but, with low settings, 1080p at 50-60 FPS is completely achievable. Frame dips will be a problem in hectic gameplay but staying above 30 FPS is possible.
The GT 710 is really meant for small office computers that need multiple display outputs. As a result it’s passively cooled which means no noise. With only 1.8 gbps DDR3 memory, this card’s tech is a few generations old, however, there’s just enough horsepower to play Overwatch and other eSport titles.
AMD Vega 8 (Ryzen 3 2200g)
If you’re looking to build a new gaming rig, but need to save some money, buy an AMD Ryzen 3 2200g and use the Vega 8 APU instead of a dedicated graphics card. This is what I did initially before upgrading to my new video card.
I was able to achieve a very serviceable 50-60 FPS playing Overwatch at 1080p with medium settings. Using an APU does have some disadvantages in terms of gaming performance and other costs. The Vega 8 shares memory with the overall system. Ideally, I had to set aside 2 GBs of VRAM for optimal performance. Even then I found I occasionally dipped down to 35 FPS. A dedicated graphics card would see less severe drops.
Cost is also an issue when considering AMD’s APU. The Ryzen series requires a motherboard with an AM4 socket and DDR4 memory. Both of those have only recently been released. As a result, you’ll likely have to buy new hardware to utilize the Vega 8 making this a viable solution only with new builds. If you do opt to build around the Vega 8, you’ll have a solid gaming PC with a nice upgrade path if you choose to purchase a dedicated graphic card in the future.
Intel HD 630, Intel UHD 620, Intel UHD 630
Intel CPUs also have an onboard graphics chip so dedicated graphics aren’t necessary. From my play testing on a friend’s computer , the Intel HD and UHD chips are not nearly as powerful as the Vega 8. They are capable of playing Overwatch, however, the closest I could get to 60 FPS was at 720p with low settings. All the feedback I’ve found online seem to confirm this fact.
Finding a Deal and Buying Used
It can be difficult buying used graphic cards in this day and age. Specifically due to cryptocurrency mining and the high stress this process puts on the card. After about a year, these miners will dump the card on the market hoping to make some money back.
Generally speaking, I don’t recommend buying used GPUs to most of my friends. However, if you find a reputable dealer, preferably with solid reviews, it can be worth taking the dive. With used cards it’s all about price vs performance. If you do go down this route, here are some older generation cards that you could scout for:
- HD 7850
- RX 460
- GTX 950
- GTX 750 ti
Thank goodness Overwatch is so well optimized for low-end PCs. It makes being a broke gamer so much easier. The GTX 150 and RX 560 are probably the best deals out there right now if you’re looking for a GPU at a reasonable price. But honestly, Overwatch is playable on pretty much any hardware; So, choose the best card you can afford and get to playing.
If you have a question about the right GPU for you, leave a comment below.