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The Best Gaming Graphics cards for the Money: February 2008

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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February 4, 2008 10:17:38 AM

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. Here's our report for February 2008.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/04/best_cards_february_2008/index.html
February 4, 2008 11:58:36 AM

8800GT 512's finally getting reasonable. Just picked up an EVGA version for $233 with shipping!
February 4, 2008 12:22:39 PM

It's great to have a current survey of the field, and I hope THG can update it frequently. There are so many contenders even within each range, and the numbering and technology is so confusing, that I cna't keep it straight myself. A very useful reference I will check back on frequently.

Arbie
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February 4, 2008 1:28:43 PM

ratbert said:
8800GT 512's finally getting reasonable. Just picked up an EVGA version for $233 with shipping!


Yes prices drop for those who wait (but not all of us can).

Despite the 3870 price drop and availability, I was so tired of waiting for the best card, that for once in my life, I decided to spend $449 for an overclocked MSI 3870x2 (and it went up to $499 the next day). Can't wait for it to arrive.

The one kvetch I have about the February list is that it has the 3870x2 as a tie with the 8800gt 512 in SLI. While the Nvidia card is good, SLI doesn't scale as well as Crossfire. Also, comparing a single card with a two card SLI solution only in regard to resolutions of 1920 x 1200 and DX10 is a bit lame because it misses the point.

The big advantage of the 3870x2 is that it provides Crossfire performance in one slot. I'm even switching my Athlon X2 4600+ from an Nvidia 405 chipset board to an AMD690V board so I can use this card.

So, the 3870x2 is aimed at a different market entirely. I wouldn't expect anyone with a Crossfire board and a 3870 to go for it instead of just adding another 3870. Anyone with an SLI board and an 8800GT (or even an old 8800gts 320) wouldn't go for it either. They'd simply add another Nvidia card.

Yet, most people don't have Crossfire or SLI boards, so the 3870x2 is a winner and it will be interesting to see it compared to Nvidia's dual PCB monstrosity. Now why couldn't Nvidia use their expertise to actually do what ATI did? Why are they duplicating their design of the 7950gx2? I doubt they'll have the 7950gx2's driver issues, but they'll still have an unwieldy dual PCB monstrosity. In this generation, they could do better.

Arbie said:
It's great to have a current survey of the field, and I hope THG can update it frequently. There are so many contenders even within each range, and the numbering and technology is so confusing, that I cna't keep it straight myself. A very useful reference I will check back on frequently.

Arbie


They need to update the GPU interactive charts, and the CPU interactive charts more frequently, if not as frequently as their "best card articles".
February 4, 2008 1:36:23 PM

They update this monthly. I found a BFG 8800 GT OC at Best Buy for $239 last month! I couldn't believe they had 5 in stock when they were impossible to find even on-line. It came with about a 5% overclock and I was able to push it even further to about 15% with the stock cooler.
February 4, 2008 1:50:10 PM

travish82 said:
They update this monthly. I found a BFG 8800 GT OC at Best Buy for $239 last month! I couldn't believe they had 5 in stock when they were impossible to find even on-line. It came with about a 5% overclock and I was able to push it even further to about 15% with the stock cooler.


I picked the exact BFG 8800GT OC (Although it was NOT OC, gpu-z, nibitor, read it as stock 600/1800) at BB for $237 (after getting price matched 2x) back in November. Still, I had it at that time for cheap and it OC well. On stock voltage the best I could get was 710/2080. Not bad. Best I recently read a benchmark with gaming at high resolutions, in detail at 1920x1200. And it seems as thought the 3870 kept on par at the minimum FPS, which is all that really matters. The 8800GT did have the higher average, but what difference would it make if both the 88GT and 3870 hit literally almost the same min fps. One good example was a crysis bench where the 3870 was getting 17fps min while the 8800Gt was getting 18fps min. Now going by this wouldn't it make sense to recommend a 3870, since its very close to performance, and maybe cheaper? Although I don't think it is, since you can pick up the 88GT now for $230 shipped. I haven't checked prices for the 3870 recently but if it was cheaper would efficient buy be the 3870?
February 4, 2008 2:30:29 PM

One glaring omission on the 8800GTS 512: the fan!! I bought this card over a GT because of it's ability to overclock and its temp/noise profiles. This can be an important issue and shouldn't be left out of a reference type article.
February 4, 2008 2:44:11 PM

prodystopian said:
One glaring omission on the 8800GTS 512: the fan!! I bought this card over a GT because of it's ability to overclock and its temp/noise profiles. This can be an important issue and shouldn't be left out of a reference type article.


A good point, I wish the 8800GT had a dual slot cooler. Although I love my accelero S2 w/fans and how it's dead quiet under the hottest load, it still would have saved me a little time and money. Then again maybe the price of drilling down dual slot coolers would have upped the MSRP price.
February 5, 2008 1:21:56 AM

I'm still stuck between getting an 8800GT 512 or the 8800GTS 512. I like the dual slot cooler and my current setup isn't very quiet. I love the price/performance ratio of the GT but for only a little bit more there sits the 512 GTS. Slightly better performance but I guess the real question is:

Quote:
"Is it really worth the extra $30 - $50 for the dual slot cooler and a few extra FPS?".


Maybe, maybe not, but I will grab the bong and see what the future holds.
February 5, 2008 12:15:29 PM

SinxarKnights said:
I'm still stuck between getting an 8800GT 512 or the 8800GTS 512. I like the dual slot cooler and my current setup isn't very quiet. I love the price/performance ratio of the GT but for only a little bit more there sits the 512 GTS. Slightly better performance but I guess the real question is:

Quote:
"Is it really worth the extra $30 - $50 for the dual slot cooler and a few extra FPS?".


Maybe, maybe not, but I will grab the bong and see what the future holds.


Another important question is whether or not you want to overclock. If you do, the GTS is more attractive.
February 8, 2008 8:56:18 PM

I did a bit of checking (read: Froogle search), and I'm seeing the 7900 GS, formerly recommended at the $120 price point, for about $100. Still a good buy at that price, or should I drop the extra 20 bucks or so for the 8600 GTS? I don't care about DX10 at all, since I have no plans to go to Vista.
February 12, 2008 5:26:19 PM

As for bang for the buck... I bought a EVGA 8800 GTS 320mb card that is smokin fast... only paid $219- newegg. Check the charts, this card out perfoms many that cost lots more money and have triple the memory on quite a few games. Definitely worth the cost.
Check the charts.
February 12, 2008 8:20:48 PM

carrizojim said:
As for bang for the buck... I bought a EVGA 8800 GTS 320mb card that is smokin fast... only paid $219- newegg. Check the charts, this card out perfoms many that cost lots more money and have triple the memory on quite a few games. Definitely worth the cost.
Check the charts.


You can get an 8800GT 512MB for that price today...
February 25, 2008 2:25:57 PM

Toms hardware articles are great. been reading them as long as I can remember in the past 5+ years or so.
If to be concerned with an aging agp (That is all I have ever used, and still do. of course pci express is next for me. great stuff)
My example is a 2.8e p4 1m cache. 1gb dual channeled ram.Not a small system mind you, in fact there is two logical cpus listed in winxp, showing how close it is to today (closer than some don't think about).It is on a large msi platinum board with a fast chipset called an "865pe". Avoiding the biggest baddest agp around is good advice.Having a buzzing large cooling system on any agp with those tiny tiny connections is not good regardless of system. I have proven it with more burnt cards than care to recall.

I did find an ati 2600pro agp (a 256mb and 512) that will do dx10 and has the HD hardware built in, ddr2 vid ram should be friendly for my 1gb pc3200 pc in its current maxxed state (not overclocked). The vid card claims 800mhz, and that just happens to match maxxed pc23200 dual channeled.I liked what ati did with basic dvd 10 years ago (remember rage lt pro anybody?).That too, had no fan and saved cpu cycles for intense digital video.(horrible at gaming, but I could still care less, my goal is dvd/HD dvd video ).the 2600pro agp also has pipe cooling like my current agp has just a heatsink (also ati- the 9550se).That is a better match for my piped xp90 heatsink on the cpu. very nice mate.There is a good choice for agp and evolving a good "aging" (mine is barely 2 years) system, even though breaking frame rate records is not the goal, it is the work getting acheived.

I recommend the ati 2600pro agp and msi version has pipe cooling..and the cost overseas anyway, is still quite real for small build budget.
I hope I find it in america at a favorite place soon..
February 25, 2008 6:05:13 PM

Why 8800GT isnt in top tier confuses me. It is LEAPS ahead of 8800GTS 640 yet only just behind the 8800GTS 512.. I dont get it?
February 25, 2008 10:13:51 PM

Hatman said:
Why 8800GT isnt in top tier confuses me. It is LEAPS ahead of 8800GTS 640 yet only just behind the 8800GTS 512.. I dont get it?

Then that means the 3870 has to be in the top tier.
!