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Best card for the buck

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Last response: in Graphics Cards
February 23, 2011 1:38:32 AM

I'm in the process of choosing components for a new homebuilt gaming system, and now I'm dwelling over the graphics card and wondering which one to choose. I don't have much faith in synthetic or gameplay benchmarks on the net and so I'm looking for opinions on THW. My graphics budget is about $400 USD, give or take $50.

I have chosen an AMD 3GHz quad core CPU (AMD Athlon II X4 640), the ASUS M4N98TD EVO Socket AM3 mobo (though I may change mobo for another better one later), and I've accounted for a 650W PSU. I will play recent games (crysis, just cause 2 for instance) and older ones (WoW, ...) on native resolution 1920x1080, on the highest settings possible (can still remove useless fps killers such as ultra high detailed insane 4-dimensional shadows or whatever). I'll be happy with a minimum of 35 fps at all times. I would prefer a single card versus a SLI/crossfire build. Which card do you recommend? I had those in mind:

- GTX 460 (1.5GB) : not too expensive but doesn't seem to deliver much if it's not in SLI mode
- GTX 470 (2GB) : a bit pricey but according to reviews it gives pretty decent framerates even with lots of action
- GTX 580 (2GB) : probably the most powerful single card out there with the Radeon 5970 but waaay too expensive.
- Radeon 5850 (2GB) : people seem to like this one for its low power consumption and good performance, not too expensive
- GTX 570 (1.25GB) : price midpoint between GTX 470 and GTX 580 but unsure about how it performs

Which one would you recommend for my budget (even if it's not on the list!). And if you possess the card you're recommending do you have any real-life "benchmarks" or hints on how well it does its job in games for instance? Thanks guys :) 

More about : card buck

February 23, 2011 3:06:37 AM

Personally my vote goes to the HD 6950 2G for the best overall value but its pretty high end.

Hmm I was considering the 6950 but it's not very accessible where I live (NZ), THW's article seems to rate it at $275 USD but where I live it goes for $350 minimum :( 

For lower end card, probably a GTX 460 768MB.

IMO it's the GTX 460. Can overclock from 600mhz core to 800+mhz core quite easily.

The GTX 460 is an option, as it is much more accessible. Would improving the GTX 460 from 768MB to 1GB be a smart move for $40 or is it just a waste of money? I think modern games require a lot of gfx memory to store their very detailed textures, but is 1GB too much or not enough?

Otherwise what would you think of a GTX 570 1.25GB which is just a little bit above my budget (I found one at $415), is it a sensible upgrade from the 460 which is only $260?
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February 23, 2011 3:15:17 AM

Going to do everything at 1920x1080 and so I would like a card that can handle gaming pretty well at this resolution - didn't buy a 1080p monitor to stretch low-res games :D 
February 23, 2011 3:24:13 AM

At that resolution get the 1GB card

Thanks! What about the GTX 570? It's 1.25GB so not too much of a waste and isn't too expensive either, but is it overkill for highest settings at 1080p for a fluid 40-45 fps average in most games?

PS : lol we got the same star-trek guy in our avatars, looks kinda confusing from far away :D 
February 23, 2011 4:56:10 AM

Best answer selected by Bacterius.
February 23, 2011 4:57:19 AM

GTX 570 has been having some issues with VRM's blowing when overclocked so they should be avoided.

All right, I think I'll stick to the GTX 460, and if I get some more money later on I can buy another one and SLI them I guess. Thanks for your helpful advice :) 
a c 169 U Graphics card
February 23, 2011 11:13:54 AM

This topic has been closed by Maziar