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 pick the right card, 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.
June Review and July Updates:
The most interesting update we've made this month is the addition of Intel's integrated graphics processors to the hierarchy chart. People have been asking for this for some time and I finally got off my duff and added them. For those of you who aren't yet acquainted with just how badly these integrated GPUs perform, the hierarchy chart will serve as a rude awakening.
Aside from this, June has been quiet on the graphics front, with no new products released or announced. With information about Nvidia's and AMD's next-generation graphics processors hard to come by, the brightest star on the horizon is the upcoming integrated Radeon HD 4200, which should up the ante for integrated graphics by another notch or two. If the rumors are true, this might even be the first integrated graphics solution that can actually play modern games at 1024 x 768. So let's keep our fingers crossed.
Although there have not been any new products introduced, there has been an incredible amount of price movement. It seems like the Radeons keep getting discounted and the GeForces follow suit. This is nothing to complain about from the perspective of the consumer, to be sure.
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, then the cards on this list are more expensive than what you really need.
- The criteria to get on this list are strictly price/performance. We acknowledge that recommendations for multiple video cards, such as two Radeon cards in CrossFire mode or two GeForce cards in SLI mode, typically require a motherboard that supports CrossFire or SLI and a case with more space to install multiple graphics cards. They also require a beefier power supply compared to what a single card requires and will likely produce more heat than a single card. Keep these factors in mind when making your purchasing decision. In most cases, if we have recommended a multiple-card solution, we try to recommend a single-card honorable mention at a comparable price point for those who find multi-card setups undesirable.
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing information, 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 represent a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.