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Best PCIe Card: Under $100

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: August '09
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Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$50:

Radeon HD 4650 DDR3

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4650 DDR3
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1,400 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

We've seen some DDR3-equipped Radeon HD 4650 cards approaching the $50 price point, and this makes for a card that packs a lot more punch than its DDR2-equipped cousins. Overclocking this card might bring it surprisingly close to Radeon HD 4670-class performance, so it's an especially good value for tweakers.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$70:

Radeon HD 4670 (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4670's price has fallen somewhat and now undercuts most GeForce 9600 GSOs with a $10 spread - too much to ignore at this price point. Spending $10 more on the 9600 GT is a viable option, but the Radeon HD 4670 retains the distinction by being the most powerful PCIe card that doesn't require a dedicated power connector.


Best PCIe Card For ~$80:

GeForce 9600 GT (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

GeForce 9600 GT
Codename: G94
Process: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 64
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 650
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

A recent price drop lets us recommend the GeForce 9600 GT, which is now within spitting distance of the Radeon HD 4670 and GeForce 9600 GSO. The GeForce 9600 GT is a great performer thanks, in part, to its high-end 256-bit memory interface and speedy DDR3 memory. It's a killer choice if $80 is your budgetary limit.

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