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PCI Express Interface: $150 to $300

Best Video Cards For The Money: Nov '08
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Best PCIe Card For $160:

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

Radeon HD 4850
Codename: RV770
Process: 55nm
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

The Radeon HD 4850 is the new people’s champion, instantly bringing yesterday’s $300 performance level down to the mainstream $160 price point. The Radeon HD 4850 will usually best the GeForce 9800 GTX, and even the more expensive 9800 GTX+. This card has a lot of potential when used on its own, and becomes a devastating force when paired with a second 4850 in a CrossFire configuration.

Best PCIe Card For $230: Tie

Good 1920x1200 performance

Radeon HD 4870
Codename: RV770
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon HD 4870 offers the same architecture as the 4850 series, paired with its secret weapon: brand new GDDR5 memory. This technology provides about twice as much throughput as GDDR3, so its 900 MHz clock speed is comparable to a 3600 MHz effective memory speed. This edge allows the 4870 to up the ante and offer very compelling performance for the price, even competing with the more expensive GTX 280 in some titles.

GeForce GTX 260
Codename: GT200
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 192
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 28
Memory Bus: 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 576
Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1998 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The GeForce GTX 260 offers compelling performance now that its price has been reduced to the $220 price point, allowing it to trade blows with the Radeon HD 4870 on its own turf. This is one of those situations where a buyer really should examine the game titles he or she plans to play, and do some research into which performs better for them (although you really can’t go wrong with either card).

Best PCIe Card For $290:

Good 1920x1200 performance

GeForce GTX 260+
Codename: GT200
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 216
Texture Units: 72
ROPs: 28
Memory Bus: 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 576
Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1998 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

We designate the new version of the GeForce GTX 260 with a “+” symbol to differentiate it from its identically named older sibling. Even though there is no “official” difference between the two cards, the new GTX 260+ has some very tangible performance increases over the original version. For example, the number of shaders has been increased from 192 to 216, within spitting distance of the GeForce GTX 280’s 240 shaders. ROPs have been increased from 64 to 72, once again approaching the GTX 280’s 80 ROPs.

The result is a card that performs almost as well as the expensive GeForce GTX 280, for much less money, even beating it when overclocked! You must carefully search for the GeForce GTX 260+ by looking hard at the specifications, but it is certainly worth the price premium over the original GTX 260. Its biggest problem is its price, which comes a little close to that of a pair of Radeon 4850s in Crossfire (which would be much more powerful). However, if you wish to avoid multiple card configurations for whatever reason, the 260+ is a great option.

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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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