Recommend an inexpensive video card that will run 1080p at high/ultra ~60 FPS?

I’m building a new computer just for Zwift. I’ve done a lot of research here looking for what works well and what struggles with Zwift, but it’s difficult to find clear answers. 

Full working parts list here. 

  • CPU Intel Core i3-4170 3.7GHz Dual-Core Processor 
  • Memory 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 
  • Storage 240GB 2.5" SSD 
  • Video Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB 

Based on the recommended specs and the reports that the Alienware Alpha runs Zwift very well, I think this ought to do it.
The Alienware Alpha has an i3, so does my build. The Alpha has 4GB RAM, I went with 8GB.

I’m concerned about the video card. Will the GTX 750ti run Zwift at high or ultra at 1080p?  
Do I need to step up to a 950? Something else?


Hi Rick,

The 750ti should run at high. If you want to run at Ultra on 1080p, I highly recommend the 950. The Alienware Alpha contains a custom, overlcocked version of the GTX 860M.

But that 950 will be pretty awesome and future-proof. Morty.

My guess is that the 750ti won’t run Zwift at 1080p and 60 FPS consistently.

I run a 950 at 1080p and get between 30-60 FPS. when the framerate changes, you get stuttering. the amount of stuttering in Zwift is high/often. because of this, I use the Adaptive V-Sync Half Refresh rate option for nVidia cards to clamp the framerate to 30 FPS. Zwift plays well at 30 FPS. remember, this isn’t Call of Duty or similar.

I would recommend the 950 because of its price vs. performance score. To get a rock-solid consistent 60 FPS, I would think you would need either a 970 or 980 though.


Thanks. Two great answers.  


Michael, your comment about stuttering when the frame rate changes is interesting. I take your point that 30 fps is fine with Zwift. And you’ve locked it at 30 fps with a vsync setting. How are things when you leave the vsync off? Is there excessive  tearing? 


In any case, I’m going to revise my parts list to include a 950. In for a dime, in for a dollar. 

micro-stuttering is exhibited. i have not observed tearing, although it is possible.

if you turn off v-sync with the 950, you will observe frequent micro-stuttering as the framerate bounces between 60-30 FPS.



I have that same processor and I run a GTX 960, 1080p ultra settings, not sure what frame rate but it’s smooth and never slows. 

It’s not the cheapest card but it’s not top of the range expensive either.

Keep us in the loop as I’m looking to build a machine also.  I keep going back and forth on build a full on 4k machine on a simple Zwift only machine.  Would be great to have some pc partpicker profiles to look at in future.

Im running a GTX660TI card in ultra and its butter smooth. My laptop just was not cutting it, so I went on craigslist and found a desktop for 425.00. Intel I5, 8gb ram, GTX660TI. I tested Zwift on my gaming rig which only has a GTX560 and ran perfectly smooth on Ultra.

I ordered a GTX 950.  I’ll need a few days for the parts to arrive and to assemble them, install the OS, etc.  I’ll try to provide an update by next weekend.  

Cool thanks

I am running the game at high quality only with the integrated card from the new skylake processors (I5-6500 with HD 530 graphics). I even use two monitors and youtube music videos running in the second monitor while i am biking.


I’ve been able to get the Alienware Alpha, the base model with the i3 processor, to run 1080p at high, around 60fps. I’m still messing around with settings, but tonight I rode an hour of Richmond and 2256/2450 of the time I was getting 60fps.

Although the base model, it is upgraded with 8gb of RAM, and the Samsung EVO 850 SSD. Also, the GPU is overclocked using MSI Afterburner. And, since the monitor is limited to 60hz, I found that adaptive vertical sync (which restricts fps greater than 60 to 60) helps things run just a little bit cooler.

Before these upgrades, I was tempted to trade in the Alienware Alpha and its out-of-the-box 20fps on something twice the price and much more robust. I don’t think this would work well for any higher resolutions though.

Brand new to gaming computers.

How do you tell what the frame rate is?

What temperature should the GPU be running when at 60FPS?

Hi Rick

I just yesterday finished building my Zwift computer.  My first gaming build.


I screwed up on the power supply and ordered something that ended up not fitting.  This requied an emergency trip to Best Buy, where i bought the Thermaltake. 

The mini tower case is pretty tight. I probably don’t have good airflow. I’ve run Zwift only one time and that was a “just watch”. The GPU ran around 62 deg. Smooth like butter!  My Kickr Snap is still in the box.


You can use FRAPS on Windows.

On Mac you can use the OpenGL Profiler, which is part of Xcode but you have to download it separately.


You usually only worry about GPU/CPU temps when you are overclocking. They can easily reach temps over 100C. If you haven’t messed with aftermarket cooling solutions or overclocking, then you shouldn’t be concerned with their operating temps so much.

@Cleve thanks for the list, do you have any pics of your build?


The TV wall mount slides up and down, so my wife can use it for Yoga as well as my Zwifting. The empty boxes from the build are strewn everywhere. The Snap is in the big box.

I am SO NOT a cable management guru. The really ugly wires are on the other side. You can see on the top down view that the video card is wedged in. I had to remove the CD-ROM cage in order to get the video card to fit. Also the tabs on the empty  memory slots had to be up. If I wanted to add more memory, I would have to remove the cage and the video card.

Right now I have a 50 ft length of Cat5 that runs along the floor to the modem in the living room. My wife loves that! Soon I plan on having an electrician run it properly.

Congrats on the setup and thanks for sharing the pics.  You might want to grab a larger case if you had to add anything just to make it easy to work with.


Okay, here’s my parts list, as built:


I finally had a chance to go for a ride yesterday.  It looks amazing.  Such a huge increase over my CAD workstation (NVIDIA Quadro K1100).  My monitor is 1080p, and I set the quality to “Ultra (1440p)”

With vsync off and graphics set to Ultra, Fraps reports 50-60 fps around a lap of Watopia (flat).  No tearing, no stuttering, no jerkiness.  

At $530, it’s about half the price of Cleve’s very nice build.  I used a Core i3 processor instead of an i5. Stock CPU cooler, less expensive motherboard, and no optical drive. I already had a spare Windows license. The single biggest price difference is in the video card.  The 950 is about half the price of the 970.  I added a $20 WiFi card so I don’t annoy the wife with a Cat5 cable strung around the house.  :)