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The Best Gaming Video Cards for the Money: June 2007

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June 11, 2007 11:33:10 AM

Detailed video 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 video card within a certain budget.
June 11, 2007 2:11:39 PM

I'd like to hear your reasons for unambiguously preferring the 8800GTS to the 2900XT. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to know what the reasons are. :) 

Talking of the 8800GTS, you say about the 320MB model:
Quote:
This card really brings unheard of performance for the price - it isn't notably slower than its 640mb 8800 GTS cousin, which costs a good deal more.

And, about the 640MB version:
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The biggest downside to the 8800 GTS 640mb is that its cheaper 320mb cousin offers very close performance for much less scratch. However, if you plan to play your games at high resolutions 1600x1200 or above, it's worth the extra money for the 640mb version.

This strikes me as dangerously simplistic. The analysis is reasonable if you are not remotely interested in AntiAliasing or Anisotropic Filtering. However (according to initial benchmarks, anyway) as soon as AA and AF are switched on, the 320MB GTS collapses into a gibbering heap even at quite low resolutions. If you care about image quality as well as frame rates, then going from 320MB to 640MB versions does actually make a very large difference. (Unless Nvidia have rectified this in recent driver releases - I've not heard that they have).
June 11, 2007 2:23:42 PM

Quote:
I'd like to hear your reasons for unambiguously preferring the 8800GTS to the 2900XT. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to know what the reasons are. :) 


did you even read it?

Quote:
The big graphics card story in May was the introduction of the new Radeon HD 2900 XT. ATI's new flagship card, the HD 2900 XT trades blows with the 8800 GTS 640mb. The only problem is that the HD 2900 XT costs $410, while the 8800 GTS 640mb can be found for as little as $350. It's hard to justify the extra $60 for similar performance, so until the HD 2900 XT price becomes competitive with the 8800 GTS 640, we can't recommend it.


:lol: 
Related resources
June 11, 2007 2:48:27 PM

Strange, because I see nothing like that at all, I see no discussion of the decision in the £270 tier, and what I see on the opening page is:

Quote:
The big graphics card story in May was the introduction of the new Radeon HD 2900 XT. ATI's new flagship card, the HD 2900 XT trades blows with the 8800 GTS 640mb, and also beats it on average price: £250 / €360 for the HD 2900 XT, versus £280 / €390 for the 8800 GTS 640mb.


Which paints an entirely different story for the UK edition.

Stranger still, the evidence that I see paints an entirely different story again. A quick check on a reasonable online retailer puts their price ranges to be about equal (there's apparently been a recent price cut, the GTS 640 used to be more expensive, closer to £300). The later reviews of the HD2900HD also appear to be edging ahead of the 8800 GTS 640, after the rather horrible start, and given that the GTS has had longer for the drivers to mature, we can expect the HD2900 to pull further into the lead with time.

So I'm equally curious as to the decision that was made, especially given what I saw on the front page of the UK edition.
June 11, 2007 2:55:52 PM

interesting... the difference is strange.

prices though change daily, so I would be willing to skip that. The total difference in the opening page is interesting though...
June 11, 2007 3:47:43 PM

Quote:
I'd like to hear your reasons for unambiguously preferring the 8800GTS to the 2900XT. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'd just like to know what the reasons are. :) 


did you even read it?

Quote:
The big graphics card story in May was the introduction of the new Radeon HD 2900 XT. ATI's new flagship card, the HD 2900 XT trades blows with the 8800 GTS 640mb. The only problem is that the HD 2900 XT costs $410, while the 8800 GTS 640mb can be found for as little as $350. It's hard to justify the extra $60 for similar performance, so until the HD 2900 XT price becomes competitive with the 8800 GTS 640, we can't recommend it.

I'm in the UK, and, as Rosaline has noted, the corresponding section of the article is completely different here. Given that (in the UK) there is not a clear price advantage of the 8800GTS over the 2900XT (quite the reverse, if anything) I have to question why the recommendation for the 8800GTS is quite so unambivalent in the UK version of the article.
June 11, 2007 3:52:59 PM

yup, see that now... my bad. I apologize.

strange that there is such a price swing like that... :?
June 11, 2007 6:17:47 PM

hmmm... I guess the x1950gt don't cut it at 115 for dx9. Stabil and O/C to a pro, w/o dumping time & money into coolers fans artic silver yotta yotta yotta for the PRO. Personally at one one five, I'll take the x1950gt, ring-core, 256bit, and OC. Then upgrade to an equivilent DX10, the HD2800GTO. I think you missed the boat at one one fiver: Cripped DX10 over quality DX9. JMHO's

f61
June 11, 2007 6:51:59 PM

I write the article, but I write it based on US pricing.

I'm not even sure who edits/modifies it for the UK...
June 11, 2007 6:53:12 PM

Quote:
I guess the x1950gt don't cut it at 115 for dx9.


That'd work for me, I couldn't find any X1950 GTs for $115 though.

If I did, it'd be on the list...
June 11, 2007 6:59:48 PM

good stuff, cleeve. good article as far as this usa citizen concerned. like the first guy said, at the end of the day we want to know what is the best card within our budget.
June 11, 2007 7:20:05 PM

Well in always nicely follow the list with the cards around $100 :lol:  only thing is i first buy it and then the list shows up.

First the 6600, x800gto en now the 8600gt.

It's always nice that people update this list, it makes it much easier for people who don't understand very much of the graphic cards.
June 11, 2007 7:51:52 PM

Great article Cleeve! :trophy: (as usual)
June 11, 2007 8:36:49 PM

And if the poster had carefully read even the 1st few paragraphs, you clearly stated that the two cards traded blows in performance but one was prices $60 more so you went with the cheaper card until the other dropped in prices.

It is up to the reader to apply the very simple logic that if for whatever reason these equally performing cards reversed pricing conditions, the recommendation would follow since the only thing you stated as a serious differentiator was price.

I thank you a ton for your articles.
June 11, 2007 11:54:43 PM

Any chance we can get a word on how far off we are from seeing the 2900XT in the VGA charts?
June 12, 2007 8:50:55 AM

Quote:
And if the poster had carefully read even the 1st few paragraphs, you clearly stated that the two cards traded blows in performance but one was prices $60 more so you went with the cheaper card until the other dropped in prices.

I assume that's aimed at me? What you seem to fail to realise is that the paragraph you are talking about is not there if you're accessing Tom's Hardware from within the UK. The only version of the article that I can see at all is one that does not mention any price disparity between 8800GTS and 2900XT. Now that I know that the version of the article visible to US users is different from the one I can see, the conclusion makes sense in a US context; but the UK version of the article frankly doesn't, as it recommends the Nvidia card on the basis of data that, I'm far as I'm concerned, is missing.
June 13, 2007 6:17:18 AM

Quote:
Any chance we can get a word on how far off we are from seeing the 2900XT in the VGA charts?


When the 2900XT becomes a good price/performance product
June 13, 2007 12:11:28 PM

Any chance of a geforce 8500 being added to the list on page 6 ?
Given it's the cheapest geforce 8 card on the marked, it'd be nice to see what league it's in
June 13, 2007 12:59:18 PM

Under the 6600GT ... at least, thats what some people said, don't know if its true in all benchmarks :p  but it isnt the best performer
June 13, 2007 1:48:55 PM

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Any chance of a geforce 8500 being added to the list on page 6 ?


The 8500 GT *IS* there, on the same tier as the 6600 GT.

That's actually being a little generous, the 6600 GT usually beats it...
June 13, 2007 1:50:40 PM

I'm going to buy a Powercolor Ati x850XT pciex 256DDR3!
What do you think about this card?
June 13, 2007 1:52:16 PM

Good card, but it lacks SM3. I had an x800GTO and i really missed the SM3, hdr is always a nice effect. So it's up to you.

The 7600gt is just as fast (don't know about prices) and has SM3.0 support. But the 850XT is fine
June 13, 2007 1:53:41 PM

the card is cheap..i'm buying it second hand for about 80$
June 13, 2007 1:54:21 PM

Wich card you have at the moment?
June 13, 2007 1:55:55 PM

i've had a nvidia 6200 128DDR/128bit on agp and i've changed my mobo from asus a8v deluxe to abit kn8ultra with pciexpress!
I've sold my 6200 for 30$ :) 
June 13, 2007 1:56:55 PM

Oh well then go for the x850XT, you'll like the performance increase :D 

Good luck :wink:
June 13, 2007 1:58:34 PM

thanks!
I hope i'll get more FPS in CS:S :D 
I'll post some benches later in the night with this card!
June 13, 2007 2:04:17 PM

Of course you will get more fps :lol: 

Just between you and me: The 6200 isnt a really powerfull card :lol: 

But For $50 in total you have a nice card 8O (the $80 minus the $30 wich you sold your 6200 for)
June 13, 2007 2:09:37 PM

Quote:
the card is cheap..i'm buying it second hand for about 80$


dunno if you have access to newegg where you are at: (romania... is that price you quoted in your currency or US dollars?)

same price after rebate for 7600gt. Methinks you may be overpaying for that old card... but I could be wrong. Both are good performers, but like mentioned above... sm3.0 is nice. (and we are talking used vs. new)
June 13, 2007 2:23:14 PM

the price is in USD...
In Romania a new 7600GT is arround 150$!
June 13, 2007 2:24:21 PM

Then its an easy choice... go for the x850XT
June 13, 2007 2:39:11 PM

AFAIK games don't work with AA and HDR so it's not a big loss if the card doesn't have HDR beacause i'm going to use FSAA and aniso :) 
June 13, 2007 3:06:25 PM

bummer on the price mate, good luck w/ the 850... it will serve well. :) 
June 13, 2007 3:47:07 PM

Hello again, fellow TGers :D 

Well, following on from my posts in last months "Best Of... " thread, I thought I'd share my final thoughts for comments.

Regulars will remember that I currently have an Nvidia 6600GT on my P4 2.8Ghz system with 1GB RAM.

I have narrowed my choice down to (in price order) either the 8600GTS, ATI 1950XT or the 8800GTS.

Obviously I should buy the 8800 and be done with it ;)  but I'm just wondering if, given that I won't be using any higher res than my LCD monitor's default of 1280x1024, the performance increase I will get by spending more on the ATI or the NV 8800 over the NV 8600 can justify the extra expense.

If you see what I mean :) 
June 13, 2007 4:09:56 PM

my logic has always been: buy as much as you can afford on video cards... they last longer and perform better over that time. While your resolution on current games is fine w/ the lower card, once real dx10 games hit it may not be enough even on 1280. Heck, we really dont know HOW these cards will perform, and so more performance is better to help hold off obsolescence.

Just my 2 bits. :) 
June 13, 2007 4:40:20 PM

The X1950XT will wipe the floor with the 8600GTS in current DX9 games.
June 13, 2007 4:46:43 PM

Quote:
my logic has always been: buy as much as you can afford on video cards...

Absolutely :) 
Quote:
]Just my 2 bits. :) 

Did you get a hair-cut with that? ;) 

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The X1950XT will wipe the floor with the 8600GTS in current DX9 games.

Fair enough, but it's not DX10-compatible is it?

That said, while I don't envisage running Vista for some time, I suppose I'll have to eventually as I think MS have said that they're not releaseng DX10 for XP. Is that right?
June 13, 2007 5:05:01 PM

Yes, the X1950XT isn't DX10 compatible.
Yes, you will (eventually) need Vista to play DX10 games.

Anyway, I think the 8600GTS maybe won't be strong enough to play DX10 games in full glory, so you might have to go back to DX9 to play decently. And, what's the point of having a DX10 card if you have to play in DX9?

If that happens, the X1950XT would end up being a far better choice.
June 13, 2007 5:13:21 PM

it's a hardware issue, not the devs. You can dev around the hardware issue by not using openexr (like the source engine)... but that is the direction that HDR went. You mentioned similarly, but all all sm30 cards from nv before the gf8 could not do both. all sm30 cards for ati can.

so in part you are right that the devs could work around it (and source looks very good on the HDR front) it is primarily the fault of hardware. Nv made a call on it and for once devs moved faster than what Nv thought. err... something like that anyway. ;) 
June 13, 2007 5:35:41 PM

lol, nothing against you at all stranger... just thought I might help the OP with understanding what is going on. Meant no offense, I know you are aware of all of that... perhaps I should have made the replay less specific?

regardless, was not anything aimed at you... just adding more info to the mix. 8)

rock on.
June 13, 2007 5:40:55 PM

8)
June 13, 2007 7:28:19 PM

here is a pic of my score!
is it ok?
no overclock on vga...only on cpu! :) 

June 13, 2007 7:31:57 PM

The link of the picture isnt working here...
June 13, 2007 9:59:17 PM

Quote:
Yes, the X1950XT isn't DX10 compatible.
Yes, you will (eventually) need Vista to play DX10 games.

Anyway, I think the 8600GTS maybe won't be strong enough to play DX10 games in full glory, so you might have to go back to DX9 to play decently. And, what's the point of having a DX10 card if you have to play in DX9?

If that happens, the X1950XT would end up being a far better choice.


So, we can forget the 8600 and it's now between the ATI1950 and the NV8800. Okay. I can live with that :)  However, I'm even more confused now with this DX business :?

When games do come out that require DX10 that means that they can only be played on Vista. Is it that games makers won't be releasing DX10 games until such time as there are enough people with Vista on their machines to make it worthwhile? And what about those games who don't have Vista? Will they not be able to play these games at all?

When might we start seeing DX10 games? Or, to put it another way, is GTA4 (due for PC released Q1 next year, I think) likely to be DX10? (Oh, and the new NFS game in November ;) )

Speculation is fine, unless anyone has a time-machine :p :D 

Oh yes, also... I meant to say that isn't DX just a software thing anyway?

In other words, can't the ATI be made DX10-compatible simply by releasing new drivers, or does the new DX10 now include a hardware spec as well?

Yes, that probably was a stupid question and I really do have no idea what I'm on about ;) :D 

Time for bed I think!
June 13, 2007 10:40:41 PM

DX0 cards are backwards-compatible with DX9 games.
DX9 cards are... well, DX9 cards.

Yes, DX10 requires certain hardware specs, or architectural designs. It IS hardware-limited.

Besides, any 8800 will kill the X1950Pro, no doubt.
June 13, 2007 10:51:13 PM

k, not much time here. Will try to answer it all but quickly. ;) 
Quote:
When games do come out that require DX10 that means that they can only be played on Vista. Is it that games makers won't be releasing DX10 games until such time as there are enough people with Vista on their machines to make it worthwhile? And what about those games who don't have Vista? Will they not be able to play these games at all?

There is a "fallback" for any directX version, dx10 is slightly different in that there will be an abstraction layer rather than true dx9 code for the old hardware, but it will work fine. (There is more detail there, keeping it short)
Also, there are rumors and such of apps that will get dx10 running in xp. This will no doubt be unsupported my m$... but theoretically there should be no reason why it would not work
Quote:
When might we start seeing DX10 games? Or, to put it another way, is GTA4 (due for PC released Q1 next year, I think) likely to be DX10? (Oh, and the new NFS game in November ;) )

dunno about gta4, but there are dx10 demos out now (lost planet etc.) and dx10 games are all in the queue for this year. (and dx10 patches for older games too)

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Oh yes, also... I meant to say that isn't DX just a software thing anyway?

Yes, but software that requires certain hardware to work.

Quote:
In other words, can't the ATI be made DX10-compatible simply by releasing new drivers

No, you would need a hardware change.
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or does the new DX10 now include a hardware spec as well?

dx10 has always needed certain hardware attributes. Even if it was just a 3d accelerator, it is still a spec requirement. I do not remember if the first versions had specific accelerator(now gpu/vpu) hardware specs beyond that, but I believe since version 3 it has.

Quote:
Yes, that probably was a stupid question and I really do have no idea what I'm on about ;) :D 

Time for bed I think!

nah, no stupid Q's man... it's all good. 8)

You may get more/better explanations from others here, hope it all helps you out. rock on.
June 13, 2007 10:52:27 PM

Quote:
Besides, any 8800 will kill the X1950Pro, no doubt.


I think he is talking a 1950xt here... but you are right, if you can afford it go w/ any 8800 FTW right now.
June 14, 2007 6:36:28 AM

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I think he is talking a 1950xt here...

Indeed. Then again, the XT's better than the Pro anyway, I think. Right? :) 

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..but you are right, if you can afford it go w/ any 8800 FTW right now.

FTW?

...Looks up acronym on interenet...

Free The Wookies? :D 

Quote:
Besides, any 8800 will kill the X1950Pro, no doubt.

That bit I kinda figured out already ;)  It's mearly a money thing :) 
June 14, 2007 7:01:27 AM

Prices for AGP cards are getting down as well. For example you can get an XFX 7600GT AGP for $110 after rebate on TigerDirect (was $120 just a week ago). Same card for $120 on newegg. However, the article places it in the $170 range.
!