Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
So if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid, with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
October Review and November Updates:
Graphics card news doesn’t seem to be slowing down—it seems for months there has been a non-stop flood of new hardware, and October 2008 didn’t disappoint either.
AMD’s new Radeon 4830 arrived in force—the company’s first answer to the tremendously long-running success of the GeForce 8800/9800 GT cards at the $125 price point. While the Radeon HD 4830 quickly established itself as a contender, it by no means erased the GeForce 8800/9800 GT as an option. It also helped that Nvidia cards received a small boost from the new “Big Bang II” driver.
Speaking of which—in addition to performance gains, this new driver also introduced multi-monitor configurations for SLI, something AMD has been doing for a while already with CrossFire. It also provides the first official SLI support for Intel chipsets—specifically, Intel’s X58 chipset for use with the new Core i7 CPUs. Licensing SLI on Intel chipsets has been a long time coming, and now Nvidia and AMD can engage each other’s multi-card solutions on the same platform. In this battle, the consumer will definitely emerge as the winner.
Other than that, we keep hearing rumors of an upcoming Radeon HD 4850 X2 card, although we haven’t seen any yet. We’ll keep our fingers crossed as we march forward into the holiday season.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, the cards on this list are more expensive than what you really need;
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing info, but we can list some good cards that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest;
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary;
- These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.