Upgrading the components in an old gaming PC can be challenging, especially if you’re not exactly a tech pro and don’t know how to balance the system correctly. Let’s take the Ryzen 5 2600, for example. This processor was launched in 2018 and was designed to work with GPUs like the Radeon RX 580 or 590. But what if your original graphics card broke down?
Over five years after the processor’s launch, you still have options. To avoid comparing specs and save some time, check our ranking of the best GPUs for the Ryzen 5 2600 you can buy in 2023.
- #1 Best Overall: XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600
- Best for Ultra Gaming: EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Ultra
- Best for 4K Games: MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
- Best for Overclocking: ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC Edition
- Best Budget-Friendly: XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
#1 Best Overall: XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600
- Memory Speed:14 Gbps
- 8 GB GDDR6 RAM
- AMD RDNA 2 architecture elevates and unifies the gaming
- Boost Clock: up to 2491 MHz
- Features the XFX Speedster SWFT210 Dual Fan Cooling
At a current price point of under $250, the Radeon RX 6600 GPU is the perfect match for your Ryzen 5 2600 processor.
According to AMD, this graphics card was built to compete with the NVIDIA 3060. It doesn’t quite live up to expectations in that sense, but it works wonderfully for most graphically demanding applications. You can run your favorite games at 1080p and expect a stable 60 fps even when using ultra settings. If you don’t mind a bit of compromise on frames per second, you can even run games at 1440p.
While designed for Windows, the card works beautifully with most operating systems, including Linux. It also works with a vast array of monitors, including old VGA kinds. The speed might not be the best, but you’ll likely notice an improvement if you’re upgrading from an older RX version.
The two oversized fans also do a good job of keeping the card cool, and they are fairly quiet except under a heavy load. Gaming aside, this graphics card also supports photo editing and video rendering with programs like the Insta360Studio.
|This graphics card can run most graphically demanding apps.||Some games may stutter at 1440p unless you compromise on other settings.|
|The card is compatible with Windows and Linux systems.|
|It is compatible with older VGA monitor types.|
Check out the Radeon RX 6600 GPU on Amazon.
Best for Ultra Gaming: EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Ultra
In an optimal gaming PC case setup, the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Ultra is the best GPU for the Ryzen 5 2600 that allows you to play with all settings maxed out.
The secret to using this graphics card successfully is upgrading the cooling system on your PC. If you don’t have a big enough case, consider getting one and switching from air to liquid cooling. In this way, you can max out all of your game’s settings while keeping your processor from heating up. With appropriate cooling, the older processor won’t go into thermal throttling, a thing that will dramatically improve performance.
We also like the card’s double fan that keeps it cool even under heavier loads. The unit isn’t noisy either, and it’s a good choice for a gaming PC set in a small room.
Sure, this GPU doesn’t have enough VRAM for accurate raytracing, which does mean that video rendering might take a hit. The card also lacks voltage control, meaning that it’s not the best for overclocking. That said, if you want a GPU for ultra gaming at 1080p 60fps, this model is what you need.
|It pairs seamlessly with the Ryzen 5 2600 and is ideal for ultra gaming.||This GPU isn’t the best choice for overclocking or raytracing.|
|A dual fan system prevents overheating without producing too much noise.|
|This graphics card can run most games, including 2023 releases.|
Check out the EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO Ultra on Amazon.
Best for 4K Games: MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 Ti
- Comes with a massive dual cooler
- Fast and quiet operation
- Delivers steady 60 fps on ultra settings at 1440p
- It can run most games in 4K resolution
The MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is a great GPU for the casual gamer who wants high-end graphics.
It doesn’t come with any accessories, but it works with a variety of graphically demanding games, including the Red Dead 2 and Doom Eternal. For most of these games, you’ll have to settle for lower frames per second if you want to play them in 4K, but at 1440p, the GTX 1080 Ti delivers steady 60 fps on ultra settings.
Like most NVIDIA graphics cards reinterpreted by MSI, the GTX 1080 Ti comes with a massive dual cooler that isn’t seen on other versions and around 330W of software-selectable power target that allows for aggressive tuning.
MSI’s customizations translate to a heavier and bulkier GPU that needs three free slots and around half of a centimeter of space at the back — something to keep in mind if your system uses a large CPU cooler. As far as aesthetic goes, this graphics card sports the brand’s flagship red and black colors and a backlit logo that becomes a highlight in a clear case setup. Paired with the Ryzen 5 2600, it is fast, quiet, and one of the best options for this processor.
|This GPU delivers steady 60 fps on ultra settings at 1440p.||It is one of the heaviest and largest graphics cards compatible with the Ryzen 5 2600.|
|It can run most games in 4K resolution.|
|MSI customizations include a larger cooling fan, a backlit logo, and around 330W of power target.|
Check out the MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 Ti on Amazon.
Best for Overclocking: ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC Edition
- Triple fan ensures enough headroom for overclocking
- 60 fps when playing in ultra mode at 1440p
- Comes with a dual BIOS switch
- Improved power efficiency
The ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC Edition delivers impressive built quality, superb thermals, and sufficient overclocking headroom to allow for improved performance.
It pairs with the Ryzen 5 2600 just barely, and the slower CPU could lead to some bottlenecking. That said, this mid-range GPU is actually a flagship model in disguise, bringing the performance you could hardly get from other models.
The greatest highlight is the built quality ensured by the ASUS TUF division. You can expect impressive cooling delivered by a triple fan, which actually means enough headroom for overclocking — this graphics card will rarely exceed 60°C. These features translate to no-compromise performance and steady 60 fps when playing in ultra mode at 1440p.
We also like that it’s dead-silent and comes with some nice extras, such as a dual BIOS switch and a second HDMI port. Other highlights include superior raytracing compared to the AMD GPUs in the same range, but the low memory can limit some of its 4K gaming potential.
|The GPU’s exceptional cooling system delivers enough headroom for overclocking.||Performance differences between the CPU and GPU could lead to GPU bottlenecking.|
|This graphics card delivers steady performance at 1440p for most games.|
|ASUS equips this graphics card with a dual BIOS switch and a secondary HDMI port.|
Check out ASUS TUF RTX 3060 Ti OC Edition on Amazon.
Best Budget-Friendly: XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition
The XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition offers native compatibility with the Ryzen 5 2600 and is also one of the cheapest GPUs you can pair with this processor.
AMD released this graphics card back in 2017, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that it’s less powerful than newer options. Despite this downside, the RX 580 GTS surprises us with loads of capabilities, including its VR-ready design.
We also like the proprietary Radeon Chill feature that limits the fps when not much is going on in the scene being rendered. This factor cuts down power consumption, which consequently means a lower heat output and more silent operation.
Overall, this model is a solid option for 1080p gaming at ultra settings, and it can even handle 1440p if you don’t mind sub-60 frames per second. What we don’t really like is the fact that it is rather bulky for a card in this class, and it isn’t very fast even though it is power-hungry.
|This GPU offers native compatibility with the Ryzen 5 2600.||It is rather slow for such a power-hungry GPU.|
|It is one of the most affordable graphics cards for this processor.|
|The Radeon Chill feature prevents overheating and ensures silent operation.|
Check out the XFX Radeon RX 580 GTS XXX Edition on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best GPU for Ryzen 5 2600: Step-by-Step
When choosing a GPU for the Ryzen 5 2600 processor, there are five main considerations for most users.
- CPU compatibility
- Motherboard compatibility
- Case compatibility
Let’s see how each of these factors can affect your decision-making.
Considering the compatibility with your CPU should be high on the list of priorities when you need a GPU for a specific processor. AMD released the Ryzen 5 2600 in 2018 and paired it with the (then) best graphics cards from the brand. By today’s standards, you can only aim to pair this processor with a mid-range graphics card, like the GTX 1080 Ti or the Radeon RX 6600. Higher-end GPUs, such as the NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti, can provide good graphics, but the slower processor could lead to bottlenecking. Alternatively, you can choose an entry-level GPU to save a buck.
The next thing to check is the GPU’s compatibility with your motherboard. Nowadays, most GPUs require at least one free PCIe slot, so if you have an older motherboard, you should consider upgrading. Some graphics cards, including the NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti, require two or even three free slots, so that’s something to check before buying. The motherboard’s electrical lanes and bandwidth also determine GPU compatibility.
When upgrading their PC, most people don’t consider the GPU and computer case compatibility. However, if you don’t check this factor beforehand, you might end up with a graphics card that doesn’t fit in your computer case. Determining whether a GPU fits in your case is easy by simply assessing how much free space you have inside the case and whether the GPU is compact enough to fit in with the other bulky components, such as the CPU coolers.
The only thing creators and gamers want from a graphics card is good graphics, but there are some specs to consider if you want to avoid disappointment. The number of shader or CUDA cores, the memory clock speed, the core clock speed, and the amount of RAM can all determine the graphics card performance. In all these cases, the greater the number, the better.
Ryzen 5 2600 is a rather old CPU that will likely become obsolete in the near future. For this reason, most folks using this processor for gaming or creative tasks might not want to spend a lot on components such as compatible graphics cards. You can find plenty of solid options in the $200-$300 price range. More affordable graphics cards also exist, but you can’t expect them to run the latest games or photo and video editing programs. Investing in a newer (and more expensive) GPU is also an option, especially if you plan to upgrade the CPU in the near future. You shouldn’t consider a graphics card newer or better than the RTX 3060 Ti, however, as the pairing with this processor would lead to massive bottlenecking.
What to Know Before Buying a GPU for Ryzen 5 2600
AMD launched the Ryzen 5 2600 in 2018, and while the processor pairs with 2019 or even newer graphics cards, the combo might not deliver the expected performance. To prevent bottlenecking, you should opt for an AMD or NVIDIA card with a performance lower than the RTX 3060 Ti.
Most of these cards support new games and other graphically demanding applications, but you might have to adjust the settings to lower resolution or frames per second. This processor might not allow a graphics card such as the RTX 3060 Ti or newer to reach peak performance, but investing in a higher-end option might be your best bet if you don’t want to upgrade the GPU again in the near future.
Using a GPU for Ryzen 5 2600: What It’s Like
Using a GPU for Ryzen 5 2600 might take you a few years back in time, but it is generally a good experience. Most compatible graphics cards support 1440p gaming at 35 fps, and some are even powerful enough to support steady 60 fps at the same resolution. A handful of options even allow for steady 4K gaming at lower frames per second, or they are VR-ready.
Considering the variety of graphics cards you can choose from, you can decide whether to pair this processor with an older GPU for an affordable solution or a higher-end one that could serve you for the years to come.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Zoomik/Shutterstock.com.