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In Pictures: The Best Graphics Card Values In History

In Pictures: The Best Graphics Card Values In History
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You Don't Have To Be The Fastest To Be Great

In August, we published a list of the 23 Greatest Graphics Cards Of All Time. While our readers generally enjoyed the trip down memory lane, some folks took offense at the title. The term "greatest" can mean a lot of things, and not everyone links it to the fastest hardware. While the flagships are always fun to look back on, more of us actually owned the budget-oriented options. Aren't the lower-priced cards that made great performance available to the masses just as deserving of honor and respect?

Indeed they are! Frankly, it was always our intention to follow up with a list of the greatest values in graphics technology, represented by models that enabled impressive performance for less than $200.

Now, let us pay our respects to these reasonably-priced trench fighters, arranged chronologically, of course.

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  • 0 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , January 10, 2012 4:09 AM
    Great article. I still have my GeForce 3 Ti 200 (fan died a while ago though), and I'm still running a GTS 250 in my backup system. Both were excellent values.
  • -5 Hide
    we_san , January 10, 2012 4:20 AM
    just my thought. how about voodoo banshee ? against voodoo2+you must have/buy a 2d card.
  • 9 Hide
    michalmierzwa , January 10, 2012 4:33 AM
    Epic, I loved this article. I get emotionally attached to my GPU's as my childhood dreams were based on moving away from playing software rendering Quake 2 to OpenGL. That was my 1st step. Than came Quake 3 and oh boy my dreams come true when a budget card did the trick :-))) Amazing!
  • 0 Hide
    joytech22 , January 10, 2012 4:44 AM
    Thanks for the compilation.
    I enjoyed seeing my first dedicated GPU (7600GT) in there, I was like.. 12 when I got my very first desktop (that I could call my own) and the 7600GT was the card I decided to put into it.

    Ah the memories.. (Even though it wasn't long ago -.-)
  • 0 Hide
    dirtmountain , January 10, 2012 4:49 AM
    Great piece, sure brings back some memories.
  • 5 Hide
    Tamz_msc , January 10, 2012 4:54 AM
    Ah! The 6600GT, my first dedicated GPU - thou has served me well.
  • 0 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , January 10, 2012 5:02 AM
    I built my first gaming PC with a 6600GT when I was 14. I remember playing HL2, UT2004, farcry,Doom3 etc..Good old days :D 
  • 0 Hide
    theuniquegamer , January 10, 2012 5:27 AM
    My first was TNT 2 then 6600 then 8800gt and 4670 and now i will upgrade to 7000 or 700 series
  • -4 Hide
    hmp_goose , January 10, 2012 5:27 AM
    When did Ledtek get out of the States?
  • -2 Hide
    eklipz330 , January 10, 2012 5:32 AM
    8800 gt and hd 4850 need to be on this list. needs. to.

    *edit* now that ive looked through it, im glad to see they made the list! even more awesome, my current 6850 is on it tooo

    but i have a request tom.... as a previous owner of crossfired 2900xt's, i think you guys should make a list of WORST video card values in history!

    ive had radeon 7200 pro, 9600 pro, x800 xl, cf'd 2900 xt's, cf'd hd 4850's, and an hd 6850.

    funny thing is, this generation of amd cards is back to 7000! lollll
  • 0 Hide
    Onikage , January 10, 2012 5:41 AM
    Ah yes Memories memories !!!!!!!!!
    Such a nostalgic Article !!!
    they put in there almost all of my Videocards,
    voodoo 2, Geforce 2mx, 9600 pro 256mb ! the Mythical 6600GT ! and of course the legendary G92 gpu, in my case was 8800GTS 512 which was essentially a 9800gtx ( 250)
  • 7 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , January 10, 2012 5:49 AM
    eklipz3308800 gt and hd 4850 need to be on this list. needs. to.

    umm... they are.
  • 0 Hide
    Eman25th , January 10, 2012 5:49 AM
    Nostalgic is right, i see my old Ti 200 up there(which is also still have) ^.^ i like these articles
  • 0 Hide
    JeTJL , January 10, 2012 6:23 AM
    Wondering what's going to be the next best great card.

    Came from a 9600 GSO to a Ati 5670 to my current Amd 6870.
    And now in my laptop AMD 6520D and a Amd 6550M

    There should really be a article on the value of apus.

    Before that I was using Horrible Intergrated graphics. I'm Definitely not going back.
  • -1 Hide
    gondor , January 10, 2012 6:54 AM
    Where is ISA Tseng Labs ET4000 ? That thing did more for PC graphics than any of cards pictured here.
  • 0 Hide
    reyshan , January 10, 2012 6:56 AM
    I love the article. Thank you Don. It's so nostalgic looking at these cards down the memory lane. I first wanted a 8600gt but i got a 9600gso then a 5770 and now a 6950 2gb.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 10, 2012 7:02 AM
    Guys, on Picture 13 of 22 (GeForce 8800 GT), that's 9600 GSO by Gigabyte, granted, I still have one in my rig.
  • 4 Hide
    belardo , January 10, 2012 7:03 AM
    Before I read this article, here is what I consider Greatest cards, based on priceperformance... Some of them, I owned.

    (order of age)
    0 - Amiga (Because back then... PC was pretty much 16 colors, if that)
    1 - 3DFX Banshee $99 / 1999 (Not quite as fast or expandable as the Voodoo2, but cheaper with 2D support)
    2 - GF2-MX $125~150 / 2000 (128bit version), cheaper than the GF2 GTS & Ultra, get 24bit pallet for cheap.
    3 - GF2-Pro $150~175 / 2000 (OEM card originally - far cheaper than the Ultra while almost as fast)
    4 - GF3-Ti200 / 2001 (Half the price of the original GF3, DX8 is new)
    5 - GF4-Ti4200 $200 / 2003 (blows GF3 out of water)
    6 - ATI 9500/9600 / 2003 (First serious ATI cards)
    7 - GF-5700/5900 (Fixed the screw ups from the rest of the GF5"FX" line)
    8 - GF-7600 = At $185~200, it smoked any 6000 series card for the cheap.
    9 - GF-8800GT = Hitting the market at $250, not quite as fast as the $650 8800GTX - but far cheaper.
    (This GPU gets re-named, repackaged about 5-8 times from Nvidia, even ends up as a 200 series card)

    10 - ATI 3850/70 = $175~200, ATI returns to the market with a good-enough card without the heat. Starts price war with Nvidia.

    11 - ATI 4670 = $90~100. Equal to the 3870 but half the price. (Still what I use today)

    After that... my list pretty much ends. The ATI 5700 series is decent at -$100 pricing. At this point, we're past the classic pricingperformance.
  • 1 Hide
    belardo , January 10, 2012 7:31 AM
    Now that I read the article… my response.
    What Voodoo2 3000? ERROR! There was the Voodoo3 2000!

    While I replaced my Banshee (back when TOMS was a Voodoo/Banshee site) with the V3-2000, in reality – the Banshee and V3 share many of the same functions. We’d piss off V3 owners calling it the “Banshee 2”.

    Back in the day, I think the Banshee was better than the TNT in value because Glide was API used in most popular games. The Banshee could play DX games… which began the death of Glide/3Dfx. Of course 3Dfx business move to piss off their partners is what kill them.

    Kyro II = garbage… yeah it was cheap, but look at the old reviews. Many games didn’t work right. They did teach the others how to do tile-based rendering… in software. If this card was good, they would have made it…

    Agreed on the 6600GT/ATI800.

    I don’t agree on the ATI 6800 series…
    What makes a card become a CLASSIC BEST, is the introduction to the market with an excellent priceperformance. The 6800 series are on par with the 5800… at best.
    As of today, they are becoming yesterdays 4800 series with the 6870 hitting $140~150.
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