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The Best Cards for the Money: May 2008

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  • Graphics Cards
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
May 5, 2008 4:00:05 PM

Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great — that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget. And that’s what we’re going to show you...

The Best Cards for the Money: May 2008 : Read more

More about : cards money 2008

May 5, 2008 4:58:21 PM

is this correct on page 3
"The 8800 GS is essentially a crippled 8600 GT ...".
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May 5, 2008 5:05:48 PM

oh, and the links at the bottom of page 7 are not really links, just plain text
"PCI Express: (LINK TO NEW VGA CHARTS)"

"GP: (LINK TO OLD AGP CHARTS)"
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a b U Graphics card
May 5, 2008 5:06:32 PM

I have to say, I love that you guys are updating this so often lately. Especially since the GPUs available from ATI and nVidia keep changing over the last few months.

Kudos to Tom's for providing us updates on graphics cards so often. I love keeping tabs on what's the best buy, as one of these days I'll be upgrading my GPU again.
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May 5, 2008 5:19:39 PM

9600 gx2 might need an 8 instead of a 6 ;p
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May 5, 2008 5:24:01 PM

What about this other card.
Well i have a GeForce 4 MX4000 which is not on the list. Could you please add it so i know what place it takes between the other cards?
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May 5, 2008 6:26:35 PM

What about all the 3000 series cards not included on the list? Like the HD3400, etc? Or what about the 780G Crossfire configuration with onboard video? I mean, you're excluding SO many cards! You should also include where the DDR2 versions and the DDR3 versions lie (as in the HD3600). You could also include the performance on the chart when combining with the 780G. Please. :) 

I'm really tempted to pick up a 70 dollar HD 3000 card and crossfire it with my 780 board but I wanna know if it's worth a damn.
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May 5, 2008 7:02:55 PM

jonsnow13: The reason these cards are not on the list is because they are not "the best video cards for the money". There are literally dozens of cards (if not hundreds) still available for purchase today, and having a list comparing every one of them to each other is just not feasible, especially to be updated every month. To compare cards to each other on that sort of scale, you can use the hierchy chart on the last page of the article as a general guide, but this article is written just to show the best cards at each price range.

For the other poster: the GeForce MX 4000 ranks way down the list, you'll notice it in the third-to-bottom tier of the hierchy. That card was not designed for gaming, regardless of what Wal-Mart advertised.
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May 5, 2008 9:11:40 PM

Same complaint as last month, put SLI in a separate category!

For a great many people the option of going SLI does not exist unless they are building new. You cover AGP for those people who are still using an AGP MB. You should cover single slot PCIe the same way. Saying put in two cards works just about as well as telling people with AGP to install a PCIe video card……… It does not work!

Finally, I would like to mention that your SLI option fails to take into account the cost of setting up SLI in the first place which more than often makes it NOT THE BEST option for the price range you quote.

“Spending more than $350 will provide very little extra in the way of performance. Two 8800 GTs will outperform the 9800 GTX or 9800 GX2 in the great majority of situations.”

That is nice, but the fact remains I can put a 9800 GTX in my P35 MB for under $400. Right now the price on the cheapest 780i MB with similar features is about $75 more than my P35. The price of buying a 700w PSU instead of a 550w PSU is approximately $25 more. So, your best option for $350 is actually more like $450. Now, taking all that into account makes the 9800 GTX for under $400 starts to look like a pretty sweet deal.

When the best option includes buying a new MB and PSU it quickly becomes no option at all. Please compare them as two different Interfaces because from a practical stand point they are.

Kat
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May 5, 2008 9:23:12 PM

Quote:
Same complaint as last month, put SLI in a separate category!

For a great many people the option of going SLI does not exist unless they are building new. You cover AGP for those people who are still using an AGP MB. You should cover single slot PCIe the same way. Saying put in two cards works just about as well as telling people with AGP to install a PCIe video card……… It does not work!

Finally, I would like to mention that your SLI option fails to take into account the cost of setting up SLI in the first place which more than often makes it NOT THE BEST option for the price range you quote.

“Spending more than $350 will provide very little extra in the way of performance. Two 8800 GTs will outperform the 9800 GTX or 9800 GX2 in the great majority of situations.”

That is nice, but the fact remains I can put a 9800 GTX in my P35 MB for under $400. Right now the price on the cheapest 780i MB with similar features is about $75 more than my P35. The price of buying a 700w PSU instead of a 550w PSU is approximately $25 more. So, your best option for $350 is actually more like $450. Now, taking all that into account makes the 9800 GTX for under $400 starts to look like a pretty sweet deal.

When the best option includes buying a new MB and PSU it quickly becomes no option at all. Please compare them as two different Interfaces because from a practical stand point they are.

Kat


First off, no one is forcing you to buy a 780 series board, you could get a 6 or 5 series sli, or own one already, so your $75 dollar point is not necessarily valid.
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May 5, 2008 9:26:04 PM

KatreatSame complaint as last month, put SLI in a separate category!
...
Kat

Ditto. Associated costs should be included in the overall decision. SLI motherboards are more expensive than mid-range (read: P35) motherboards!
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May 5, 2008 9:59:39 PM

I agree with Katreat and KyleSTL! SLI's should be in a seperate section! People who don't have an SLI MoBo would have to spend another few $100 for a new motherboard minimum!! Not to mention the time and effort to re-setup their system. What about those of us with a single PCI-E slot that want to spend $250 on a new graphics card? do we have no other options than to start from scratch?
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May 5, 2008 11:47:28 PM

jamesLis this correct on page 3"The 8800 GS is essentially a crippled 8600 GT ...".


No, I'm positive it should read 8800 GT, for 8600 GT.
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May 6, 2008 12:09:22 AM

aleluja, I hope you are not serious... every one of these cards is MAGNITUDES better than that thing.
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May 6, 2008 12:15:57 AM

The lack of 9800GTX on these charts is a bit disappointing, the review of the card on this very site site is over a month old now, and I've had this card in my new rig for over 2 weeks!

Thanks for the effort guys.
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May 6, 2008 12:20:06 AM

Quote:
The 8800 GS is essentially a crippled 8600 GT with a smaller 192-bit memory interface.


8600GT..think it should be 9600GT.
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May 6, 2008 12:55:51 AM

On page 3 it should be corrected that the 8800GS is a crippled *8800GT* since the bus is reduced from 256 to 192 bit.
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May 6, 2008 12:59:31 AM

aleluja said:
What about this other card.
Well i have a GeForce 4 MX4000 which is not on the list. Could you please add it so i know what place it takes between the other cards?

IIRC the MX4000 is the same as the MX400 on a AGP 8x bus, hope that helps, but I can't help but agree with everyone else that it truly does not belong on the list, unless Tom's comes out with a "Best [Old-School] Cards for the Money".
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a b U Graphics card
May 6, 2008 7:15:44 AM

Wild98600GT..think it should be 9600GT.
Nope, definitely 8800GT. The 8800GS is G92 whereas the 9600GT is G94.
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May 6, 2008 9:47:38 AM

I can't help but to notice people comain about the mx4000 - despite what some people think, it's not all that horrible. I have serveral socket a system running here and there with mx4 based cards, and they still play anno 1701 & worms forts just fine. They're definetly no match for anything in the geforce 6 series or better, but they're still performing better than anything onboard short of the ati x200 or better.
In short - for agp it's definetly worth upgrading from that s3 virge 3d or igp i815 chipset if you need - after all those cards can be had for free pretty much everywhere. (and I mean free)

ps. as noted on the previous page - is it correct that the charts meant 9800gx2 and not 9600gx2 at the top of the list (never heard of a 9600gx2)
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May 6, 2008 11:30:51 AM

Page 2 has the 2600XT, 8600GT, and 1950 in a 3 way win but I would think the 3650 ddr2 at $80 would be the best bang for the buck. At $80 the 3650 ddr2 only loss a few frames off the 2600XT and some times wins against the 8600GT. This slight loss in frame rate will be over turned soon as DX10.1 due to those cards needing to up sample to match quality or suffer a picture quality loss however you see the 3650 ddr2's advantage of DX10.1. The price difference of $20 should make the 3650 ddr2 a winner. An increase of $20 would have these cards against near the same price as the 3850.
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May 6, 2008 3:22:37 PM

couldn't agree more with the list, now is not really the time to buy a GPU I have a feeling in about 3-4 months we are gonna see the "Next Gen" cards from each company.
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May 6, 2008 3:31:31 PM

A question to TH:

TomsHardware have recommended 2x 8800GT over a single card like the 9800GTX for a few months now, but is added power consumption and extra heat (both of which are cost factors) considered when determining the 'best card for the money'?
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May 6, 2008 5:54:01 PM

Quote:
Two 8800 GTs will outperform the 9800 GTX or 9800 GX2 in the great majority of situations.


Why will it outperform a GX2? Isn't that kind of two 8800 GTS in SLI?

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May 6, 2008 9:00:16 PM

I know competition is good but does anyone else think there's a few too many nVidia cards? It's like the whole Geforce 4 Ti vs. geforce FX 5600 days again.
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May 7, 2008 3:52:59 PM

"TomsHardware have recommended 2x 8800GT over a single card like the 9800GTX for a few months now, but is added power consumption and extra heat (both of which are cost factors) considered when determining the 'best card for the money'?"

Yes, but Price/Performance are the main factors.

As far as those folks who are claiming that the 9800 GTX should be recommended vs. SLI solutions: the 9800 GTX is overpriced considering it's an overclocked 8800 GTS. When it gets cheaper compared to the GTS and dual 9600 GTs, it will be recommended.

But just because it's faster doesn't make it a good buy, like I said... it's about price performance.
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May 8, 2008 1:52:24 AM

I love this article because it gives me a better image of price preformance for the products out there. tough i miss your old charts. the new one's are very confusing.
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May 9, 2008 6:41:12 PM

KyleSTLIIRC the MX4000 is the same as the MX400 on a AGP 8x bus, hope that helps, but I can't help but agree with everyone else that it truly does not belong on the list, unless Tom's comes out with a "Best [Old-School] Cards for the Money".


Sorry, what i meant was that i wanted them to add this card to graphic card hierarchy, not the actual article. I'm not that dumb to realize that GF4 is way too old and bad to get on the list :)  [so many people thought i was talking about actual list and my post got negative rank :( ]
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May 9, 2008 7:09:50 PM

aleluja said:
Sorry, what i meant was that i wanted them to add this card to graphic card hierarchy, not the actual article. I'm not that dumb to realize that GF4 is way too old and bad to get on the list :)  [so many people thought i was talking about actual list and my post got negative rank :( ]

I knew you were talking about the the chart, that's why I compared it to the MX400 (which is on the chart).
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
May 9, 2008 11:29:42 PM

please add and place the HD3200 (AMD 380 chipset) in its place in this chart for comparisson...
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
May 10, 2008 7:31:10 AM

WOW - nice price-range difference...now I have all the information I need to make a choice between $5 in a purchase...
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May 11, 2008 5:42:13 AM

Where the hell are they getting 3870s for $150 ?
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May 11, 2008 11:49:35 AM

cleeve"TomsHardware have recommended 2x 8800GT over a single card like the 9800GTX for a few months now, but is added power consumption and extra heat (both of which are cost factors) considered when determining the 'best card for the money'?"Yes, but Price/Performance are the main factors.As far as those folks who are claiming that the 9800 GTX should be recommended vs. SLI solutions: the 9800 GTX is overpriced considering it's an overclocked 8800 GTS. When it gets cheaper compared to the GTS and dual 9600 GTs, it will be recommended. But just because it's faster doesn't make it a good buy, like I said... it's about price performance.


Yes it is about price/performance which is exactly the point I wanted to raise with the associated costs of extra power draw [over the 18 month average life span of a rig] and the extra cooling. If associated costs of an SLI equivalent to a single card solution is much extra over the 18 month period then it should be considered.

This is not a fair comparison if THG choose to ignore associated costs.
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May 14, 2008 4:35:09 PM

Hmm everytime i think to go down the SLI route I get talked out of it because of Driver issues, excessive cost, and for resolutions below 1920x1200 dont really benefit from it. I think maybe these should be added to the mix so people would know all the facts?
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May 14, 2008 5:15:02 PM

ap90033Hmm everytime i think to go down the SLI route I get talked out of it because of Driver issues, excessive cost, and for resolutions below 1920x1200 dont really benefit from it. I think maybe these should be added to the mix so people would know all the facts?


This benchmark is focussing purely on "bang for buck". Considering driver issues could be too subjective.
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May 15, 2008 2:47:54 PM

"perhaps you an anomalous motherboard that has both a dual-core CPU and AGP slot"

Just came across a computer with an ASRock MB which supports quad core cpu... but only DDR1 RAM and AGP graphics... what are they thinking?
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May 15, 2008 4:10:59 PM

deadcells"perhaps you an anomalous motherboard that has both a dual-core CPU and AGP slot"Just came across a computer with an ASRock MB which supports quad core cpu... but only DDR1 RAM and AGP graphics... what are they thinking?


They are offering processor power users who do not need/want the latest graphics cards or memory. It's also an easier upgrade path to those who want quad core processors but cannot afford to replace Mobo/RAM/CPU in one purchase.
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May 18, 2008 5:51:21 PM

I am having problems with the video card in a Malibal Series 9 laptop(Prostar). It is 2 years old and this is the second "PCI Express™ 16x NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7900 GTX 256MB DDR3" card to buy the farm on me. Is it a crummy card or is it a poor laptop. Should I replace it with another type of card? Thanks
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Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
May 27, 2008 8:33:10 PM

Wow awesome, by Don Woligroski this article was just what i needed. First read about cpu vs video card and then what video card was right. For me it was simple, just get another of what you have. I have the evga 640 geforce 640 mb and now i will run them as 2 sli. Without artilces, i would have been lost. You guys are great and I have been using your site for 5 years. Thanks. Koodos awesome. Love ya all.
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May 31, 2008 11:07:44 PM

im curious what video card or video cards in sli would be good for a person with a 24 inch monitor and simulation sickness
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