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PCI Express Interface: $0 to $90

Best Video Cards For The Money: Nov '08
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Best PCIe Card For Below $50:

Passable 1024x768 performance in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 4350
Codename: RV630
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 80
Texture Units: 8
ROPs: 4
Memory Bus: 64-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 400 (800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 4350 joins the list not because it’s a great gaming card, but because it can be found for only $40, while the 9400 GT starts at $50.

The cheapest true gaming cards are the Radeon 2600 XT and 9500 GT, but with these cards at the $60 price point they are impossible to recommend due to the fact that the $80 4670 and 9600 GSO are so much superior for just a few dollars more.

So, this round, the 4350 gets the nod as a baseline gaming card for playing at 1024x768. Frankly, though, it’s better suited as an HTPC card for video playback, low power use, and 7-channel audio over HDMI.

Best PCIe Card For $80: Tie

Good 1600x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670 GDDR3
Codename: RV730
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (2000 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon HD 4670 slaps previous generation high-end performance squarely in the jaw of mid-range pricing. With 320 shader processors, this card means business, and will provide awesome 1600x1200 gaming. Compared to the 9600 GSO, its main advantage is a low power requirement. It doesn’t need an external power cable, which for some upgraders is a really important feature.

GeForce 9600 GSO (aka GeForce 8800 GS)
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 12
Memory Bus: 192 or 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

Previously a high-end card crippled and transformed into a high-to-mid-range card, the release of the Radeon HD 4670 has forced the 9600 GSO to a lower price to remain competitive—which it does. It’s an excellent alternative to the 4670, as long as the buyer compares clock speeds, and makes sure they have one of the desirable models (manufacturers seem to be following the reference speeds very loosely).

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  • 0 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 6:59 AM
    Good write up. Thanks for the chart, helps to pick between ATI and nVidia on price points :) 
  • 1 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 7:03 AM
    BTW, first 4850x2 card on Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102809&Tpk=4850
  • -2 Hide
    cobra420 , November 10, 2008 7:09 AM
    the 4850x2 belongs in the spot between the 4870 and 4870x2 ? lol
  • 3 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 7:19 AM
    Not quite sure on that though. At $430, the price is a little high for it though as a crossfire of 2x 4850s would only run about $320. I would rather invest that extra $100 in a better motherboard.
  • -6 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 10, 2008 7:21 AM
    "It doesn’t need an external power cable, which for some upgraders is a really important feature."

    Actually I was wondering how important that really is. My best friend lives a long way from me, so to avoid having to carry heavy computers with serveral terabytes of harddrives etc I built a lightweight pc with a brisbane, a zalman 9700, 3 raptors and a dvdrw drive in a lanfire (3kg) chassis. It's power by a puny xilenz (or spelled another way) 450W psu. When my friend visits he just plugs in his 8800gtx and plays. We power it via two converters from molex to the 6pin plugs - and it runs just fine when I got to his place and use my hd4870 in it - so I'm actually wondering if it's that big a deal if the psu is adequate or not. For longterm use it may be, but in the 4 months I've had the system, we haven't see any problems with it. So even without pcie power on the psu you can get a decent lan gamer it would appear.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , November 10, 2008 7:26 AM
    This "big bang 2" driver was total rubbish, only thing it did was cause my first BSOD for this year in Vistax64.

    Noticed no improvement during the three minutes I played on it prior to bsod either..
  • 3 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 7:34 AM
    neiroatopelcc"It doesn’t need an external power cable, which for some upgraders is a really important feature."Actually I was wondering how important that really is. My best friend lives a long way from me, so to avoid having to carry heavy computers with serveral terabytes of harddrives etc I built a lightweight pc with a brisbane, a zalman 9700, 3 raptors and a dvdrw drive in a lanfire (3kg) chassis. It's power by a puny xilenz (or spelled another way) 450W psu. When my friend visits he just plugs in his 8800gtx and plays. We power it via two converters from molex to the 6pin plugs - and it runs just fine when I got to his place and use my hd4870 in it - so I'm actually wondering if it's that big a deal if the psu is adequate or not. For longterm use it may be, but in the 4 months I've had the system, we haven't see any problems with it. So even without pcie power on the psu you can get a decent lan gamer it would appear.


    Using less power means saving $$$ in the form of lower electric bills. Also, that card would be great for any individual looking to build a machine with low power consumption without sacrificing too much performance(on-board chipsets are horrid for gaming).
  • -3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 10, 2008 7:39 AM
    asdasd555999This "big bang 2" driver was total rubbish, only thing it did was cause my first BSOD for this year in Vistax64.Noticed no improvement during the three minutes I played on it prior to bsod either..

    Then be glad you ain't got an ati card! while my vista64 doesn't generate bsod, it does frequently crash the display driver (and successfully recover it) when I'm running media player classic on the secondary monitor while playing world of warcraft on the primary one in window mode. (both with 8.9 and 8.10)

    @Slomo4sho : Ye sure it's useful for that, but that's not what I was talking about. The article does seem to assume the card will be used for gaming, and most gaming systems are not built to be cost effective on the power bill ; or at least I don't know of anyone who cared for efficiency when building a gaming pc. My point was, that it doesn't seem to matter if the psu has pcie connectivity or not in order to use a card requiring it.
  • -2 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 7:51 AM
    "The Radeon 4350 joins the list not because it’s a great gaming card, but because it can be found for only $40"

    The article indicates that they are aware the 4350 is not the top contender for a gaming PC. But anyone with a budget system and a 17" inch screen would find it worthwhile over on-board graphics. I am actually thinking about using the 4350 in a build for my parents :) 
  • -3 Hide
    vochtige , November 10, 2008 7:55 AM
    Now at $100, the Radeon HD 3870 is an easy recommendation, lying between the GeForce 8800 GT and the new Radeon HD 4670. It is still a force to be reckoned with at 1600x1200, and even at 1920x1200.

    isn't 4670 the wrong number you meant? because who want to pay $100 for a card that performs like a $dollar gpu?

    like always a good article
  • -8 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 10, 2008 7:57 AM
    Slomo4shO"The Radeon 4350 joins the list not because it’s a great gaming card, but because it can be found for only $40"The article indicates that they are aware the 4350 is not the top contender for a gaming PC. But anyone with a budget system and a 17" inch screen would find it worthwhile over on-board graphics. I am actually thinking about using the 4350 in a build for my parents

    Hey kid don't take it out of context! the card you're quoting isn't the one they point out the feature of no extra pcie on. That card is infact futher down the page, and being passed on as a decent cheap gaming card - which it probably is.
  • 2 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 8:06 AM
    neiroatopelccHey kid don't take it out of context! the card you're quoting isn't the one they point out the feature of no extra pcie on. That card is infact futher down the page, and being passed on as a decent cheap gaming card - which it probably is.


    First off, there is no need for name calling as I am probably older than you are. Secondly, the quote is not out of context. The quote is the introduction to the write-up on the
  • 0 Hide
    stridervm , November 10, 2008 8:22 AM
    On page 3 :

    Even though the Radeon HD 4830 offers the 8800/8900 GT its first competition in its price class, the card remains a strong contender, and is still a viable option.

    8900GT?
  • -2 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 8:24 AM
    Slomo4shOFirst off, there is no need for name calling as I am probably older than you are. Secondly, the quote is not out of context. The quote is the introduction to the write-up on the


    grr seems half of my post got cut off somehow...

    As I was saying, the quote is the introduction to the write-up
  • 1 Hide
    Doltron , November 10, 2008 9:02 AM
    Hmm 260+ but not 4870 1GB? The Asus card can be had for $270. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121277
  • 0 Hide
    Marvelous Marv , November 10, 2008 9:44 AM
    sapphire made a custom Radeon HD 4850 X2 2gb.
  • -8 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 10, 2008 9:46 AM
    Slomo4shOgrr seems half of my post got cut off somehow...As I was saying, the quote is the introduction to the write-up

    Fine that is what you interpret it as, but I do not.
    In the intro it sais it's for gamers, not for home cinema systems.
    And as for kid, fine you may not be one, but you're still either taking it out of context, or not understanding it even remotely the way I think it's meant.
  • -2 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 10:13 AM
    neiroatopelccor not understanding it even remotely the way I think it's meant.


    Either your perception is right or I am wrong. Either way, the 4350 and 4670 are both low power consumption cards and both can be considered for gaming on budget systems on which a individual plans on playing low resolution.
  • -3 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 10, 2008 10:36 AM
    Read what I quoted in bold and underlined. What you perceive to be true may not be true for another individual. Each individual has their own interpretation of reality.

    Either way, its almost 5 AM, I am going to bed :p 
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