Best graphics cards for the money

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Kyoji, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. Kyoji
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  2. Kyoji
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    PCI Express (PCIe) Interface: $0 To $85
    1. 1 – Best Cards For The Money: December Review/January Updates
    2. 2 – PCI Express (PCIe) Interface: $0 To $85
    3. 3 – PCIe Interface: $90 To $140
    4. 4 – PCIe Interface: $150 To $240
    5. 5 – PCIe Interface: $250 And Up
    6. 6 – Best Gaming Graphics Cards For The Money: AGP Interface
    7. 7 – Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart
    PCI Express (PCIe) Interface: $0 To $85

    Best PCIe Card For $65:

    Good 1440x900 performance in most games

    Radeon HD 4650
    Codename: RV730 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 320 Texture Units: 32 Raster-Operation Processors (ROPs): 8 Memory Bus: 128-bit Core Speed MHz: 600 Memory Speed MHz: 500 (1000 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    The Radeon HD 4650 is a really attractive budget-gaming option that takes us past the old budget 1280x1024 limitation. The HD 4650 is simply an underclocked Radeon HD 4670, which by now has a reputation as being a very fast mainstream card with low-power requirements. Well, the HD 4650 requires even less power and offers very good gaming performance for the price.

    The HD 4650 is also an exemplary choice for a home-theater PC (HTPC) because it can even accelerate HD video without breaking a sweat, and since it’s a single-slot solution, the card won’t use up too much space in your HTPC.

    The only problem with the HD 4650 is that its price has gone up a few dollars while HD 4670 prices have been dropping a little. If you're serious about gaming, the HD 4670 is definitely worth the price difference.

    Best PCIe Card For $80 : Tie

    Good 1600x1200 performance in most games

    Radeon HD 4670 GDDR3
    Codename: RV730 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 320 Texture Units: 32 ROPs: 8 Memory Bus: 128-bit Core Speed MHz: 750 Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    The Radeon HD 4670 slaps previous-generation, high-end performance squarely in the jaw of mid-range pricing. With 320 shader processors, this card means business and will offer awesome 1600x1200 gaming. Compared to the 9600 GSO, its main advantage is a low-power requirement—the 4670 doesn’t need an external power cable, which for some upgraders is a really important feature.

    GeForce 9600 GSO (aka GeForce 8800 GS)
    Codename: G92 Process: 65 nm Universal Shaders: 96 Texture Units: 48 ROPs: 12 Memory Bus: 192- or 128-bit Core Speed MHz: 600 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

    Previously a high-end card crippled and transformed into a high- to mid-range card, the release of the Radeon HD 4670 has forced the 9600 GSO to a lower price to remain competitive (which it does). It’s an excellent alternative to the HD 4670, as long as the buyer compares clock speeds and makes sure he or she has one of the desirable models (manufacturers seem to follow the reference speeds very loosely).
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  3. Kyoji
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    Topics: PCIe Interface: $90 To $140

    PCIe Interface: $90 To $140

    Best PCIe Card For $95 : Tie

    Good 1600x1200 performance in most games; 1920x1200 in most titles with some lowered detail

    Radeon HD 3870
    Codename: RV670 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 320 Texture Units: 16 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 775 Memory Speed MHz: 1,125 (2,250 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    At $95, the Radeon HD 3870 is an easy recommendation, positioned between the GeForce 8800 GT and the new Radeon HD 4670. It is still a force to be reckoned with at 1600x1200 and even at 1920x1200.

    GeForce 9600 GT
    Codename: G92 Process: 65 nm Universal Shaders: 64 Texture Units: 32 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 650 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

    The 9600 GT is a good match for the Radeon 3870 as both are excellent choices at the $95 price point.

    Best PCIe Card For $115 : Tie

    Good 1600x1200 performance in most games; 1920x1200 in most titles with some lowered detail

    Radeon HD 4830
    Codename: RV770LE Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 640 Texture Units: 32 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 575 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    The new Radeon HD 4830 finally gives AMD something to compete against the legendary GeForce 8800 GT (as well as its identical sibling, the 9800 GT). Just as the 8800 GT is a crippled 8800 GTS, the Radeon HD 4830 is a crippled HD 4850. Both cards are excellent, while one winning over the other depends on the game or the image-quality settings.

    GeForce 9800 GT (aka 8800 GT 512 MB)
    Codename: G92 Process: 65 nm Universal Shaders: 112 Texture Units: 56 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 600 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

    While the Radeon HD 4830 offers the 8800/9800 GT its first competition in its price class, the card remains a strong contender and is still a viable option. However, it has been reported that some 9800 GTs have been found in the wild with 3-way SLI support.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  4. Kyoji
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    PCIe Interface: $150 To $240

    Best PCIe Card For $150 :

    Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

    Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 800 Texture Units: 40 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 625 Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective) DirectX / Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    The Radeon HD 4850 is the new people’s champion, instantly bringing yesterday’s $300 performance level down to the mainstream $160 price point. This card has a lot of potential when used on its own, and becomes a devastating force when paired with a second 4850 in a CrossFire configuration.

    Best PCIe Card For $170 :

    Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

    Radeon HD 4850 1 GB
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 800 Texture Units: 40 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 625 Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    For a few dollars over the base-model Radeon 4850, a 1 GB version is available. While raw performance is not all that different, the extra video RAM is helpful in some situations and with some game titles.

    Best PCIe Card For $210 : Tie

    Good 1920x1200 performance

    Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 800 Texture Units: 40 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 750 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    The Radeon HD 4870 offers the same architecture that the HD 4850 series does, except it is paired with its secret weapon: brand-new GDDR5 memory. This technology provides about twice as much throughput as the GDDR3 does, so its 900 MHz clock speed is comparable to a 3,600 MHz effective memory speed. This edge allows the 4870 to up the ante and offer a very compelling level of performance for the price. It even competes with the more expensive GTX 280 in some titles.

    GeForce GTX 260
    Codename: GT200 Process: 65 nm Universal Shaders: 192 Texture Units: 64 ROPs: 28 Memory Bus: 448-bit Core Speed MHz: 576 Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1,998 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

    The GeForce GTX 260 offers a compelling level of performance now that its price has been reduced to $220, allowing it to trade blows with the Radeon HD 4870 on its own turf. This is one of those situations where a buyer really should look at which card is best for the games he or she plans to play (although you really can’t go wrong with either card).
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009
  5. Kyoji
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    PCIe Interface: $250 And Up

    Best PCIe Card For $250: Tie

    Good 1920x1200 performance


    GeForce GTX 260+
    Codename: GT200 Process: 65 nm Universal Shaders: 216 Texture Units: 72 ROPs: 28 Memory Bus: 448-bit Core Speed MHz: 576 Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1,998 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

    We designate the new version of the GeForce GTX 260 with a "+" symbol to differentiate it from its identically named older sibling. While there is no official difference between the two cards, the new GTX 260+ has some very tangible performance increases over the original version. For example, the number of shaders have been increased from 192 to 216, which are within spitting distance of the GeForce GTX 280’s 240 shaders. ROPs have been increased from 64 to 72, once again approaching the GTX 280’s 80 ROPs.


    The result is a card that performs almost as well as the expensive GeForce GTX 280 does, but for much less money. It even beats the GTX 280 when overclocked. You must carefully search for the GeForce GTX 260+ by looking hard at the specifications, but it is certainly worth the price premium over the original GTX 260.


    Radeon HD 4870 1 GB
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 800 Texture Units: 40 ROPs: 16 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 750 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0


    It turns out that the Radeon 4870, when equipped with a whole gigabyte of GDDR5 RAM, can up the ante to compete against the GeForce GTX 260+ in some titles. As usual when it comes to these two tough competitors, it pays to look at the benchmarks and see which title you play more, as they tend to trade blows depending on the game.


    Best PCIe Card For $300:

    Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail


    2x Radeon HD 4850 512 MB in CrossFire Configuration (Or Radeon 4850 X2 1 GB)
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 1,600
    Texture Units: 80 ROPs: 32

    Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 625 Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1986 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0


    In the 4850 CrossFire benchmarks we’ve seen so far, we’ve found that AMD has really learned to squeeze the performance out of its new cards. Two 4850s in CrossFire mode will beat the dual-GPU GeForce 9800 GX2—and even put the hurt on the more expensive GeForce GTX 280.


    Best PCIe Card For $330:

    Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail


    2x Radeon HD 4850 1 GB in CrossFire Configuration (Or Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB)
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 1,600 Texture Units: 80 ROPs: 32 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 625

    Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

    A full 2 GB of RAM will allow these options to outperform Nvidia’s flagship GeForce GTX 280 for less money. Two 4850s in CrossFire mode will do the trick and those of you without a CrossFire-compatible motherboard will find the 4850 X2 2 GB more convenient (just make sure your case and power supply can accommodate either option).


    Best PCIe Card For $500:

    Good 2560x1600 performance in most games, some with lowered detail


    Radeon HD 4870 X2
    Codename: RV770 Process: 55 nm Universal Shaders: 1,600 Texture Units: 80 ROPs: 32 Memory Bus: 256-bit Core Speed MHz: 750 Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective) DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

    In this author’s opinion, with exponentially increasing prices over $350 offering smaller and smaller performance boosts, we have a hard time recommending anything more expensive than two Radeon HD 4850s. While the 4870, GTX 260, and GTX 280 perform impressively in multiple-card configurations, there’s just not enough of a gain compared to a Radeon 4850 X2, unless you play at resolutions beyond 1920x1200.


    Then again, while we often recommend against purchasing any graphics card that retails for more than $330 from a value point of view, there are those of you for whom money might not be much of an object, who can afford a 30” LCD monitor, and who require the best possible performance money can buy. For those of you, we recommend the $500 Radeon HD 4870 X2, the fastest video card on the planet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2009

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