Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

PCI Express Interface: $0 To $130

Best Video Cards For The Money: August '08
By

Best PCI-E Card For under $100:

GeForce 9500 GT GDDR3
Codename: G96
Process: 55/65nm
Universal Shaders: 32
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 550
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1400 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The 9500 GT GDDR3 is essentially a reworking and optimization of the popular 8600 GTS GPU on a smaller process. Even though the clock speeds are lower than those of its 8600 GTS brethren, the 9500 GT GDDR3 performs a bit faster in the limited benchmarks we’ve seen, and the card has been found in stock for as low as $70 online. The extra $30 is well worth stepping up to a Radeon 3850, but if you want the absolute cheapest gaming card and don’t plan to go higher than the 1280x1024 resolution, the 9500 GT is a good option. Just be sure to get the faster GDDR3 version, not the slower DDR2-equipped cards.

BEST PCI-E CARD FOR $100:

Radeon 3850 512MB
Codename: RV670
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 670
Memory Speed MHz: 833 (1666 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3850 is the only high-performance 512MB card for about $100; this is an absolute steal for the powerful level of performance this card will supply. Easily capturing the best price/performance segment at $100, the Radeon 3850 will game at 1650x1080 with relative ease, even breaking into 1920x1200 territory.

BEST PCI-E CARD FOR $125: Tie

GeForce 9600 GT 512MB
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 64
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 650
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The new 9600 GT is Nvidia’s answer to the Radeon 3800 series: cheap, powerful, and efficient, the 9600 GT usually performs a bit below the 3870 with no antialiasing, and is a bit faster than the 3870 when AA is enabled. The 9600 GT is usually a few dollars cheaper than the 3870, although the prices are close enough that both cards are now recommended buys.

Radeon 3870
Codename: RV670
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1125 (2250 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3870 is a speedy card for the price, and has a slight advantage versus its 9600 GT competitor when antialiasing is disabled; when AA is enabled the tables are turned and the 9600 GT claims the advantage. With both of these cards within spitting distance as far as price is concerned, though, both are easy recommendations.

React To This Article