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Best PCIe Card: ~$400 And Up

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: February '10
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Best PCIe Card For ~$400:

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5870 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5870
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1,200 (4,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

For the same price as this card, a couple of Radeon HD 4890s will perform better in the titles that matter today. And for $110 less, a Radeon HD 5850 offers near the same class of speed, plus the same DirectX 11 support. From a raw price/performance standpoint, this makes the Radeon HD 5870 a hard sell. But that is not to say this card is underpowered: it sports the fastest single GPU on the planet, relatively low power usage (remarkably low at idle), and the hardware needed to accelerate DirectX 11-based games. For folks without a motherboard that supports CrossFire and a hefty power supply, the new Radeon HD 5870 is definitely a more-than-viable option.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$680: None

Honorable Mention:
Radeon HD 5970

Great 2560x1600 performance

Radeon HD 5970
Codename: 2 x RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40nm
Universal Shaders: 3,200 (2 x 1,600)
Texture Units: 160 (2 x 80)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

3,200 shader processors. There isn't much more we need to say about the brutal rendering muscle that characterizes the world's fastest graphics card, the Radeon HD 5970. With two Radeon HD 5870 GPUs onboard, the only things we can complain about are scant availability and an extremely high price tag. Availability should improve over time; the price not so much. But if you're in the market for this card, price probably isn't an issue.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5970 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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Top Comments
  • 16 Hide
    cleeve , February 10, 2010 1:24 PM
    sacreHmm, would be nice if you threw in some nVidias too, considering not all people enjoy ATI for their own personal reasons.


    I'm not going to recommend cards with poor price/performance ratios just because of brand preferences.
  • 16 Hide
    jennyh , February 10, 2010 9:25 AM
    Strange thing, it's been months now but I never seem to get tired of seeing Radeons dominating this list.

  • 14 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 10, 2010 9:40 AM
    OMG! Check out the Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart at the end Intel's best GPU is the same as a Geforce 3 ti500 lol.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    falchard , February 10, 2010 5:13 AM
    Amazing, a nVidia card actually made the list.

    Whats the best IGP?
  • 0 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , February 10, 2010 5:17 AM
    Radeons 3300 on the 790GX chipset.. cant see intels thg on the clarkdales though
  • -5 Hide
    barmaley , February 10, 2010 5:38 AM
    How come there is no Radeon 5xxx mobility on the chart? I already saw a laptop for sale with 5870 onboard...
  • 4 Hide
    shrapnel_indie , February 10, 2010 5:39 AM
    Nice to get a rough pic of mobility types in the hierarchy list.
  • -5 Hide
    notty22 , February 10, 2010 6:21 AM
    If the low end Radeons get unusable paper features mentioned as positives over and over again like eyefinity and dx 11 (too underpowered to use) why not mention Physx and Cuda cores for Nvidia cards.
  • 2 Hide
    jamesedgeuk2000 , February 10, 2010 6:36 AM
    you should point out if the 4650 your recommending is the DDR2 or DDR3 version
  • -4 Hide
    darthvidor , February 10, 2010 6:55 AM
    forgot the "none" for Best PCIe Card For ~$400:
  • 0 Hide
    Ramar , February 10, 2010 7:08 AM
    There's a 9600GT on Newegg for 69.99 at the moment.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814141108
  • 9 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 10, 2010 7:24 AM
    It's amazing just how the fortunes of battle can turn, just two years ago ATI were the ones getting pounded when Nvidia launched the 8000 series and had ATI's number in just about every segment and now it's Nvidia who can't see to catch a break.
  • 4 Hide
    masterjaw , February 10, 2010 7:58 AM
    There's seemingly no abrupt changes since last month (except for the comeback of 4850). You guys should also consider updating the hierarchy charts to reflect the latest mobile GPUs in the market. (That should include the latest ones from ATI, Nvidia, and although it is hard to mention, Intel too)
  • 7 Hide
    stridervm , February 10, 2010 8:20 AM
    @notty22

    Sadly, the nVidia features you speak of aren't available in the lower end of their video card segment. While it is still available on the low end card of ATI.

    If you lower resolution and visual settings, eyeinfinity and DX11 can be done in low end ATI cards, sadly the same cannot be said of PhsyX and/or CUDA.
  • -7 Hide
    killerclick , February 10, 2010 8:34 AM
    Instead of having that hierarchy chart at the end, how about putting in a bit more effort and positioning every card on a plot chart according to its performance?
  • -5 Hide
    brendonmc , February 10, 2010 9:05 AM
    Good update and nice to see the 5850 earn a place in the lineup.
    Unfortunately AMD seem to have botched their latest hotfix to Catalyst 10.1 drivers (or maybe their hardware). It supposedly solves the problem of the dreaded grey screen of death, which does rear its ugly head on rare occasions.
    After installing it however, Dirt 2 became choppy and almost unplayable unless, even after the video settings were reduced.
    I don't know about you but I'll choose the occasional grey screen with smooth framerates over such a drastic slash in performance any day!
  • 16 Hide
    jennyh , February 10, 2010 9:25 AM
    Strange thing, it's been months now but I never seem to get tired of seeing Radeons dominating this list.

  • 14 Hide
    JeanLuc , February 10, 2010 9:40 AM
    OMG! Check out the Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart at the end Intel's best GPU is the same as a Geforce 3 ti500 lol.
  • -5 Hide
    shubham1401 , February 10, 2010 9:50 AM
    Eagerly waiting for Newer Nvidia cards!!

    This article will be much more interesting to read then!!
  • 1 Hide
    micky_lund , February 10, 2010 9:59 AM
    ahh...ATI wins again....hope nVidia gets their act together tho, so i can XFire my 5770s without spending too much more
  • -3 Hide
    fausto , February 10, 2010 10:12 AM
    I'M STARTING TO HATE THESE THINGS.

    Some of us don't have the 2 slots nor care about 2 card solutions. can you bring the focus back to single card price ranges and solutions?
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