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Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November '09

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a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 5:08:33 AM

Ahh the article finally came out :D 
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 5:32:46 AM

The 2 monthly articles by Mr. Woligroski (Best Graphic Cards for the Money and Best Gaming CPUs for the Money) are some of the best and most informative articles here at THW and should be required reading for anyone posting questions about a new gaming build or an gaming upgrade.
Related resources
November 5, 2009 5:39:43 AM

Finally another! Was wondering when it'd come out. November is a good month to take a look at this.
November 5, 2009 5:40:52 AM

A year and a half ago when I upgraded my 8800gt to a 9800gtx+ that card was considered one of the best and most efficient at a pricing/preformance standpoint. Now that card or any of its counterparts are nowhere to be seen..... Good job Ati for putting out the dismal 4850.....
November 5, 2009 5:46:29 AM

would also be noteworthy to mention that the 58xx cards can be xfired for even better futureproofing. Honorable mention at 5850 290, recommended at $580 imo since its considerably faster than the 295 for $120 extra.
November 5, 2009 6:11:05 AM

It makes sense to put the 5800 cards as honorable mentions, after all they are extremely hard to find online..I'm waiting to see their performance in DX11 games, probably I'll wait for the 2Gb version of 5870.
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 6:37:12 AM

Isn't the 8600M GT a mobile variant?
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 6:40:46 AM

To Nivdia.

ATI
.....
.......
.........
...........
.............
..
..

Merry Xmas from ATI, 2009
November 5, 2009 6:52:48 AM

Honorable mentions are lame.
November 5, 2009 7:35:55 AM

Thanks for the great article as usual! This time around it was more fun to read than the other times for some reason.

I also caught one typo in the hiearchy chart: HD 485?
November 5, 2009 9:10:25 AM

Typo in last page
Discrete: HD 3870 X2, HD 485, HD 5750

**HD 4850**
November 5, 2009 10:07:34 AM

September's hierarchy had the GTX295 one level above the 4870x2, this month they are on the same level.
November 5, 2009 11:16:49 AM

typo also in last page third tear mistake on the 4890
Discrete: HD 4870, HD 489, HD 5770
November 5, 2009 11:18:35 AM

Great article again. The ever changing GPU market keeps us on our toes.

Is there any merrit to suggesting CF setups with the note of minimum PCIe lanes? I know once you get into the boards that really start to saturate the lanes, you're in a budget that shouldn't be using x8/x8, but it might be worth noting when that happens.

Typo?
The 9600GSO is listed with a 256bit memory bandwidth. Never seen anything higher than 192.
November 5, 2009 11:30:07 AM

Hey Don, question/comment. It's great to have mobile and integrated chipsets added to the hierarchy chart, but the huge amount of added text saying "discrete" makes things less readable. I think a good compromise would be to have a note at the top or bottom of the chart saying that all parts listed are assumed to be discrete unless otherwise noted. This will have the added benefit of making it easier to spot the mobile/integrated chipsets for those who are actually interested.
November 5, 2009 11:45:46 AM

Ok, how likely is it that we'll be seeing exclusive DX11 games anytime in the next five years? The 5800 series gets a mention here because of their DirectX11 compatibility as 'Futureproofing'. I strongly suspect that even if games are released with DX11 support, they will run just fine on 9 and 10. That being said, we're probably better off with a pair of 4890's rather than a single 5870.
November 5, 2009 11:56:59 AM

4890 x2 not on the list. Should be tier 1.
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 12:28:37 PM

I'd like to point out that for really high resolution like 2560x1600, the limited 512MB of the 4870 in crossfire could be a limiting factor. Then again, if you were planning on spending only 250$ on a card to play at that resolution, you might be delusional :p .
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 12:32:50 PM

donovands4890 x2 not on the list. Should be tier 1.

The chart only include single cards, the X2 presents are for dual-GPU cards. Since there is no dual-gpu card based on the 4890, it isn't present. But if you are eager to see ATI on top, wait for the 5970 (aka 5870X2 ;) ).
November 5, 2009 1:41:56 PM

manwell999September's hierarchy had the GTX295 one level above the 4870x2, this month they are on the same level.


You noticed that, huh? :) 

Yes, I went and ran a ton of cuurent results through a spreadsheet. To my surprise, there was less than a 5% performance spread between the 295 and the 4870 X2. Looks like ATI's drivers have pushed the card in the past months, or maybe I just assumed a bigger performance spread between the two cards. In any case, I tweaked the heirarchy to reflect that.

The sad part is, based on availability it looks like the 4870 X2 is being end-of-lined. :( 
November 5, 2009 1:44:03 PM

xizeltypo also in last page third tear mistake on the 4890 Discrete: HD 4870, HD 489, HD 5770


Thanks! Fixed
November 5, 2009 1:44:40 PM

dirtmountainThe 2 monthly articles by Mr. Woligroski (Best Graphic Cards for the Money and Best Gaming CPUs for the Money) are some of the best and most informative articles here at THW and should be required reading for anyone posting questions about a new gaming build or an gaming upgrade.


Thanks dirt! very kind of you to say. :) 
November 5, 2009 1:46:19 PM

SkywalkerIsn't the 8600M GT a mobile variant?


Yes thanks, fixed!
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 1:47:09 PM

Nice article...
Good to see so many cards in the list!
a c 175 U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 1:50:53 PM

Excellent; glad to see it. Yes, there are a few missing "0"s on some of the upper-tier ATI GPUs, but we can figure them out.
I'll bet we see some awesome Black Friday deals...
November 5, 2009 2:11:41 PM

I agree that these articles are awesome and I really appreciate all that tomshardware has to offer, however it is shameful that there was not even an apology regarding the lack of an October article - making us loyal readers wait almost a full 2 months for this much-needed update.
Cleeve, the least you can do is apologize and promise not to miss another article, can't you? ;) 
November 5, 2009 2:15:19 PM

Cleeve, nice article and nice hierarchy chart, but I don't understand how do you put GTX 280 and HD 5850 in the same performance level. To my knowledge the HD 5850 is at least 20-30% faster.
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 2:19:54 PM

Another imnformative video card article for gamers.
Anonymous
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 2:23:32 PM

I think ATI should make a mobile version of the 4650!
It's perhaps a good card to run with a lower clocked ULV chip, in a 1366x768 pix screen laptop!
November 5, 2009 2:36:27 PM

Was hoping to see the 5850 with a recommendation, but I see it's average price is no longer the 260$ I paid, but 290$ guess I'll be waiting a while to crossfire. Nice article guys.
November 5, 2009 2:46:36 PM

I'd like to request a Dragon Age: Origins 2560x1600 in some future article. Yes, I'm one of :those: people.
November 5, 2009 3:06:53 PM

Does anyone think an upgrade from a 4850 to a 5770 would be a wise choice? I am only running at 1280X1024 on an AM2 6000+ or should I get a card with a little more power? I know I am really maxing out my cpu but it should last me a while longer. Maybe a monitor upgrade would make more sense ;-)
November 5, 2009 3:11:14 PM

My GTX 260 in SLI kicks ass.
My Sapphire Toxxic HD 3870 in CFX isn't too bad either.
November 5, 2009 3:27:44 PM

mikenygmailI agree that these articles are awesome and I really appreciate all that tomshardware has to offer, however it is shameful that there was not even an apology regarding the lack of an October article - making us loyal readers wait almost a full 2 months for this much-needed update.Cleeve, the least you can do is apologize and promise not to miss another article, can't you?


Well Mike, I humbly offer you and all the other readers my heartfelt apology. :) 

As far as a promise, well... life is what happens when you're making other plans. This job is unpredictable and demanding enough that it's not within my control to make that kind of promise.

I do promise to do my best, tho. :D 
November 5, 2009 3:28:23 PM

Why is the 4670 still the best card without an additional power connector? Are AMD and ATI in league with power supply makers? You would think a die shrink would help a lot bumping it up. You also think there would be a huge market for it with all the cheap slimlines running around.
November 5, 2009 3:29:45 PM

caamsa said:
Does anyone think an upgrade from a 4850 to a 5770 would be a wise choice? I am only running at 1280X1024 on an AM2 6000+ or should I get a card with a little more power? I know I am really maxing out my cpu but it should last me a while longer. Maybe a monitor upgrade would make more sense ;-)


I'd upgrade your CPU before moving to a better video card.

The new 965's are nice. :) 
November 5, 2009 3:36:55 PM


Cleeve,

I'd love to use a 965, but alas the evil entity that is Asus has
not bothered releasing BIOS updates for many of their AM2 boards.
Mine is also a 6000+, currently using an 8800GT.

Oh, I second the comments about the presence of 'Discrete' in
the tables. It would be better to state that all entries are
discrete by default unless otherwise stated. The text looks
kinda bloated atm.

Lastly, the article headings do say _card_, not cards, so surely
each initial suggestion where a 2-card solution is given ought
to be listed as the honourable mention, and the single-card option
given first?

Many users do not want to use more than one card. I don't mean
to say that SLI/CF options shouldn't be included (they should!)
but they ought to be listed after any single-card option, with
whatever relevant caveats given afterwards, eg. dual-card option
is faster/cheaper.

Thanks for all your hard work!!

Ian.

a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 4:02:27 PM

Another curious thing, the 4870 x2 and 5870 are in the same level that the GTX295. What happend nVidia? To expensive the GTX295 , and sometimes less performance that the 5870.

I still waiting for the GTX300 series.
a b U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 4:45:05 PM

dirtmountainThe 2 monthly articles by Mr. Woligroski (Best Graphic Cards for the Money and Best Gaming CPUs for the Money) are some of the best and most informative articles here at THW and should be required reading for anyone posting questions about a new gaming build or an gaming upgrade.


Excellent comment!
Yep, this is what continues to make Toms the site to come to for relevant hardware comparisons and knowledge. As someone mentioned the other day, it isn't the same site it used to be but that's not necessarily all bad news. I don't know about you but I'm totally jazzed about Dragon Age, and I am still becoming sick of the blood and red dragons being splashed all over everything. Ugh

It looks like the HD5870 and HD5850 are kinda overkill right now, esp in that price range. When prices eventually fall, they may look more compelling.

I was surprised by the lack of nvidia presence. Are they really resigned to ATI dominating the market until Fermi comes out? I would try to throw something interesting out there in the meantime.
November 5, 2009 5:12:02 PM

Good article, Don.

But doesn't the HD 5750 in crossfire at least deserve honorable mention around the $280~$290 range?

Here is a review: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5750-review-cro...

According to guru3d, the HD 5750 in crossfire trades blows with the HD 4870 1 GB in crossfire. I'd bet they would definitely beat the 512 MB version in crossfire. They usually beat the HD 5850 and sometimes the HD 5870. At $280 for a pair (newegg) and upside as drivers mature I think this configuration deserves more recognition.
November 5, 2009 5:19:35 PM

donovandsOk, how likely is it that we'll be seeing exclusive DX11 games anytime in the next five years? The 5800 series gets a mention here because of their DirectX11 compatibility as 'Futureproofing'.

Most like most games in far future will be compatible with DX9, but it does not mean that it is not worth of playing those games in DX11 mode.

There are so many DX9 compatible GPU's at this moment, even more if you think that most new laptop will be in DX9 for a long time... (Not mentioning some very expensive gaming laptops...) So game makers are going to support DX9 for many, many years! But real eye candy may move to DX11 platform guite quickly. If it really is so easy to make DX11 variant as some articles says.
All in all there will be bigger difference between "real-PC" and console-based games, untill next generation of consoles is released. So it allso depend on what kind of games you play with your PC, if the DX11 is relevant to you personally.
November 5, 2009 5:31:37 PM

hannibalMost like most games in far future will be compatible with DX9, but it does not mean that it is not worth of playing those games in DX11 mode. There are so many DX9 compatible GPU's at this moment, even more if you think that most new laptop will be in DX9 for a long time... (Not mentioning some very expensive gaming laptops...) So game makers are going to support DX9 for many, many years! But real eye candy may move to DX11 platform guite quickly. If it really is so easy to make DX11 variant as some articles says. All in all there will be bigger difference between "real-PC" and console-based games, untill next generation of consoles is released. So it allso depend on what kind of games you play with your PC, if the DX11 is relevant to you personally.


hannibal hit the nail on the head....Directx 11 will be quickly adopted, but Directx 9 should still be around awhile.

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...

If you scroll down to the bottom of that link it shows a bunch of games that are slated for DX11 support.
a c 175 U Graphics card
November 5, 2009 5:57:07 PM

Who is the drone who just runs down all the articles clicking "-1"? Can this drone be banned?
November 5, 2009 6:11:10 PM

Quote:
the GeForce GTX 295 offers very notable gains over the Radeon HD 5870 in the great majority of game titles


Huh??? In Tom's own review of the 5870, it performed at or better than a 295 at 1920x1200 res's and higher...when the high details were turned up (AA and AF). The 295 didn't even post any results at 2560x1600 res's in a lot of titles due to its memory constraints (only 896 mb per GPU).

Also, I still dont get these charts. Please pick only one "best card" per your increment of prices. I.E. There should be only one "best card" under $75. One "best card" between $80 and $130....and so on. There are alot of cards out now, all at different price points. A best card at $85 and a best card at $85.50 doesn't help buyers choose.

November 5, 2009 7:20:31 PM

Hmmm, that's odd, another moth goes by but still no Radeon HD 4730? Also I cant wait to see next months chart though, the 5700 series still lacks proper driver support still (Catalyst 9.10 didn't support them), I wonder how well they'll do with the proper software. Also isn't the GT 220 a bit high? From all the benchmarks I've seen it at best, ties the 4650 (GDDR3), I don't think I've seen any benchmarks where it was able to outright beat it.
November 5, 2009 7:35:05 PM

Love the article!!

The only thing missing is a power consumption comparison with the recently released video cards. Anyone can make a faster video card by just adding power, but the real winner will be the one who can do it with less power.
November 5, 2009 7:43:36 PM

I'll take a single GPU card over a SLIed/Crossfired video card that gets close to the same performance. I don't have to worry about dual videocard supported games or SLI/Crossfire profiles. Lets see how the 295 playes GTA4 vs a 5870.

Plus the experience of dual videocards has issues. Like stuttering. Even at relatively the same frame rate the single GPU is going to seem smoother. I'd take the 5870 over the 295 any day of the week. Twice on GTA4 day.
a b U Graphics card
November 6, 2009 4:50:07 AM

Nice article. Very informative as always. Definitely the first thing to do when you browse Toms is to read this article.
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