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PCI Express (PCIe) Interface: $0 To $85

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: Jan. '09
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Best PCIe Card For $65:

Good 1440x900 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4650
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
Raster-Operation Processors (ROPs): 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 500 (1000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

The Radeon HD 4650 is a really attractive budget-gaming option that takes us past the old budget 1280x1024 limitation. The HD 4650 is simply an underclocked Radeon HD 4670, which by now has a reputation as being a very fast mainstream card with low-power requirements. Well, the HD 4650 requires even less power and offers very good gaming performance for the price.

The HD 4650 is also an exemplary choice for a home-theater PC (HTPC) because it can even accelerate HD video without breaking a sweat, and since it’s a single-slot solution, the card won’t use up too much space in your HTPC.

The only problem with the HD 4650 is that its price has gone up a few dollars while HD 4670 prices have been dropping a little. If you're serious about gaming, the HD 4670 is definitely worth the price difference.

Best PCIe Card For $80 : Tie

Good 1600x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670 GDDR3
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 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 offer awesome 1600x1200 gaming. Compared to the 9600 GSO, its main advantage is a low-power requirement—the 4670 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: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 12
Memory Bus: 192- or 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 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 HD 4670, as long as the buyer compares clock speeds and makes sure he or she has one of the desirable models (manufacturers seem to follow the reference speeds very loosely).

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