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If you’re looking to buy a new GPU to pair with an i5-6400, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, I’ll run you through all the things you need to consider first, and then offer some recommendation to consider.
To give you the quick answer, for most people, the best option is an Nvidia GTX 1060.
Our Top Recommendation
Our top recommendation for a GPU to pair with an i5-6400 is a GTX 1060. The i5-6400 isn’t a particularly powerful CPU and it will hold back higher end GPUs than the GTX 1060. This combination will perform reasonably well in most games at 1080p, however, newer games will struggle to consistently stay above 60 FPS. This is due more to the CPU than the GPU though. You might want to consider a more powerful GPU like the RTX 2060 if you plan on upgrading your CPU in the near future.
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Things to Consider
Before we take a look at the best GPUs to pair with an i5-6400, I first want to run you though some things to consider. This is important to help you choose the right graphics card for your situation. There is a lot to consider here, so once I’ve gone through the list, I will show you a cool way to see how well a GPU runs specific games at different resolutions
- The games you play: Some games are more graphically demanding than others and require a more powerful GPU in order to run well. If you only play older or less demanding games (most e-sports games like CS:GO fall into this category), you’re not going to need a top-end graphics card. However, if you play new and/or demanding games (like The Witcher 3), you will need a more powerful graphics card to run these games well.
- Your monitors resolution: Higher resolutions require more powerful graphics cards. Let’s say you have a 1440p monitor, then you will want a better graphics card than if you have a 1080p monitor, even if you’re playing the same games.
- Your monitors refresh rate: Refresh rate refers to how many times the screen is refreshed per second. This ties in with FPS which is how many frames per second your computer can output. You want the FPS to be as close as possible to the refresh rate in order to get the most out of your monitor. Having higher FPS than refresh rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there isn’t much of an advantage since your monitor won’t be able to display the additional frames. If you have a monitor with a high refresh rate, you will generally want a more powerful GPU to maximise FPS and get the most out of your monitor. However, it is important to note that your CPU has a big effect on FPS too. Even the most powerful GPU will struggle to output higher FPS if the CPU is weak.
- FPS you’re happy with: Although I mentioned you want to achieve an FPS as close to your monitors refresh rate as possible, this often isn’t possible for more demanding games. If you have a 144hz monitor, as long as your PC can hit at least 90 FPS in most of the games you play, then I’d be quite happy with that.
- G-Sync and FreeSync: Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync technologies sync the graphics card to the monitors refresh rate. This gives a much smoother gaming experience. It functions in a similar way to v-sync but without the input lag. It used to be the case that G-Sync only works with Nvidia GPUs and FreeSync only works with AMD GPUs. However, Nvidia GPUs can now make use of certain supported FreeSync monitors (and even some unsupported monitors). If you have one of these monitors, then there isn’t much in it when it comes to choosing between AMD and Nvidia. If you have a FreeSync monitor that is not supported, an AMD card would be a good choice. If you have a G-Sync monitor, you will definitely want to go with Nvidia.
Although you probably found this information somewhat useful, it doesn’t tell you which specific GPU is best suited for your situation. What I recommend is to head over to YouTube and search for a specific game you like to play followed by your monitor’s resolution, your CPU, and a GPU you are interested in buying. e.g. “battlefield 4 1080p i5 6400 gtx 1060”. For more popular games, there will be quite a few videos. This will give you a good idea of how well a game will run if you were to purchase that GPU. If for example, the average frames per second is around 90 FPS, and you have a 144hz monitor, the GPU would be a reasonable choice.
Best GPUs for an i5-6400
Now you should have a better idea of what you want from your graphics card, now let’s look at some options to consider that pair well with an i5-6400.
- Nvidia GTX 1060: Our top recommendation for a GPU to pair with an i5-6400 is a GTX 1060. The i5-6400 isn’t a particularly powerful CPU and it will hold back higher end GPUs than the GTX 1060. This combination will perform reasonably well in most games at 1080p, however, newer games will struggle to consistently stay above 60 FPS. This is due more to the CPU than the GPU though. You might want to consider a more powerful GPU like the RTX 2060 if you plan on upgrading your CPU in the near future. – Find the GTX 1060 on Amazon.
- AMD Radeon RX 580: If you have a FreeSync monitor which doesn’t support Nvidia graphics cards, then the Radeon RX 580 is a good choice as long as you can find it similarly priced to the GTX 1060. It performs about the same as a GTX 1060 but it will be compatible with all FreeSync monitors. – Find the Radeon RX 580 on Amazon.
- Nvidia RTX 2060 (for future-proofing): The RTX 2060 will be held back by the i5-6400 in most games so it isn’t the ideal combination. However, if you plan on upgrading your CPU any time soon, then the RTX 2060 is a good option for future-proofing. – Find the RTX 2060 on Amazon.
- AMD Radeon RX Vega 56: The Vega 56 performs similarly to the RTX 2060, and as long as you can find it for a good price (similar to the RTX 2060), then it’s a good option if you have a FreeSync monitor that doesn’t supports Nvidia graphics cards. – Find the Vega 56 on Amazon.
Last update on 2019-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API