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PCI Express Interface: $325 and up

Best Video Cards For The Money: Oct '08
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Best PCIe Card For $340:

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail

2x Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire Configuration
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1986 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

In the 4850 CrossFire benchmarks we’ve seen so far, AMD has really learned to squeeze the performance out of its new cards. It looks like while a single Radeon HD 4850 performs in the same realm as the GeForce 9800 GTX, two 4850’s in Crossfire mode will completely decimate the dual-GPU GeForce 9800 GX2 and even put the hurt on the powerful new GeForce GTX 280. Remember, the GeForce GTX 280 costs about $80 more than two Radeon HD 4850 cards!

Best PCIe Card For Over $500:

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

In this author’s opinion, with exponentially increasing prices over $350 offering smaller and smaller performance increases, we have a hard time recommending anything more expensive than two Radeon HD 4850s. While the 4870, GTX 260 and GTX 280 perform impressively in multiple card configurations, there’s just not enough of a gain compared to two 4850s in Crossfire mode unless you play at resolutions beyond 1920x1200.

So while we recommend AGAINST purchasing any graphics card more than $350 from a value point of view, there are those of you for whom money might not be much of an object; who can afford a 30” LCD monitor; and who require the best possible performance money can buy. For those of you, we recommend the Radeon 4870 X2, the fastest video card the planet currently offers. It costs $550 at the time of writing:

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

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  • 6 Hide
    Duncan NZ , October 6, 2008 8:20 AM
    Nice, glad to see a Tom's article actually acknowledging the existance of the 4870X2. Biggest complaint, you put a $340 config in the $350 and up section...
  • 2 Hide
    johnbilicki , October 6, 2008 8:37 AM
    I like how you guys added relative resolution/performance estimates. It's good to see 1920x1200 wide screen LCD's starting to flirt with the $300 mark. Five years ago I paid what I did for my KDS 24 inch wide screen for a regular 19 inch LCD with only a resolution of 1280x1024. I'm not going to hold my breathe on resolutions greater then 1920x1200 though with the price mark around $1,200!

    You guys may want to also consider wide-screen resolutions for performance estimates as well. Oddly enough I fired up Warcraft III and it doesn't have a 1920x1200 option though rather 1920x1440? Thanks for the article, it's one of my monthly joys to watch the prices fall. :-)
  • -4 Hide
    Luscious , October 6, 2008 9:02 AM
    Would be nice if you guys included the 9600M GT and 9800M GTS in your hierarchy there, laptops have been shipping with them for the last few months.

    I don't see how you cannot recommend a 4870x2 for folks serious about gaming, especially when $1800 easily gets you a "complete" gaming rig to your door with one of those in it. You may think it's overkill, but with all the newer and more demanding games coming out, you want a video card that can scream framerates and eye-candy, not bog down and force you to upgrade a year from now.
  • 3 Hide
    spaztic7 , October 6, 2008 12:09 PM
    YES!!! GOOD ARTICLE! Thank you so much for including the 4870X2! Although it sounded like you are was being pulled, I am just glade that you guy put it in there.
  • 1 Hide
    romioforjulietta , October 6, 2008 12:19 PM
    the best GPUs for the buck are:
    1-HD4870x2 > 280gtx in SLI in all the games.
    2-HD4870 1 GIG version >280gtx in all the games at 2560.1600 RES.
    3-HD4870 512 version>280gtx at 1680.1050 and 1920.1200.
    4-HD4850 devastating power for 150$>9800GTX+ in what ever you want.
    5-HD4670 >>>>>>>>>>>>>9600GSO for LOVE.









  • 0 Hide
    homerdog , October 6, 2008 12:28 PM
    Minor nitpick: The table for the HD3870 incorrectly states that it's a 128 bit card :-/

    For the record I just ordered a factory OCed GTX260 for $240, $199.99 after rebate! I think I'll actually send this rebate in just say I got a GTX260 for $199.99 :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Leandri , October 6, 2008 1:42 PM
    Good article. Not much change from last month, as expected. I'm also glad to see 4850 CF is still a good choice, I plan on upgrading my rig eventually, just need to get that other 4850.
  • 6 Hide
    Annisman , October 6, 2008 1:49 PM
    Yes, thank you for mentioning the 4870X2 Toms. I hope they continue to include the top ranking card in every "best card for the money" articles, because let's face it: if I have pleanty of money in my pocket, the best card for my money is the best one.
  • -3 Hide
    10boohee , October 6, 2008 2:10 PM
    im probably gonna sound like an idiot but what was the conclusion for the best card?
  • 2 Hide
    computerninja7823 , October 6, 2008 2:16 PM
    what about the gtx 280 core 216? great article though
  • 1 Hide
    computerninja7823 , October 6, 2008 2:18 PM
    the best card 10boohee depends on your price range. i have 8800gt 512mb and i love it! crysis maxed out 1240x768!!!
  • 3 Hide
    cleeve , October 6, 2008 2:41 PM
    Duncan NZ[/nom}Biggest complaint, you put a $340 config in the $350 and up section...


    Not $350 and up... it's ~$350

    "~" means "about"
  • 5 Hide
    cleeve , October 6, 2008 2:45 PM
    LusciousYou may think it's overkill, but with all the newer and more demanding games coming out, you want a video card that can scream framerates and eye-candyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_candy , not bog down and force you to upgrade a year from now.


    Well... IMHO, two 4850's aren't going to become obsolete notably faster than a 4870 X2.

    But you guys wanted the recommendation, so there it is! Nobody can say I don't listen to the readers. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    BlakHart , October 6, 2008 2:52 PM
    Good to see the 1gb 4870 in there...Just bought one lol. should have it tomorrow.
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , October 6, 2008 3:03 PM
    Duncan NZBiggest complaint, you put a $340 config in the $350 and up section...


    Ah crap, I see what you mean. i'll fix it.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2008 3:18 PM
    I am surprised you didn't take power consumption into consideration when rating these cards. The HD 4670 is a 60W card so it only needs a standard power supply and no external power connector - that is very appealing for a 75W and requires a non-standard power supply and external power connector - very unattractive at this price point.
  • 4 Hide
    cleeve , October 6, 2008 3:29 PM
    shgamingI am surprised you didn't take power consumption into consideration when rating these cards.


    The monthly list is about performance per dollar. I try to focus on that, I sometimes mention HD video playback or power consumption but those are really side issues when dealing with performance per dollar, IMHO.
  • 4 Hide
    homerdog , October 6, 2008 3:37 PM
    Quote:
    The monthly list is about performance per dollar. I try to focus on that, I sometimes mention HD video playback or power consumption but those are really side issues when dealing with performance per dollar, IMHO.

    Ah, but where I live power costs dollars :hello: .

    Just joshin, I genuinely have no complaints about this month's list... aside from the error in the 3870 specifications table :fou: 
    :) 
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