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Best PCIe Card: $300 To $390

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: August '09
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Best PCIe Card For ~$300-$330: Tie

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, good 2560x1600 performance in most titles

Two Radeon HD 4870 1GB cards in CrossFire configuration  (Check Prices)

Two Radeon HD 4870 1GB in CrossFire Configuration
Codename: 2 x RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units: 80 (2 x 40)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Two Radeon HD 4870 cards are even more compelling when equipped with gobs of memory, and $40 is all it takes to up the ante from a pair of 512 MB cards to a pair of 1 GB cards. As usual, make sure you have a CrossFire-compatible motherboard and a good power supply so that you can enjoy the 3D horsepower these monsters offer.

Two GeForce GTX 260 (Core 216) cards in SLI configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, good 2560x1600 performance in most titles

Two GeForce GTX 260 (Core 216) cards in SLI Configuration
Codename: 2 x GT200
Process: 55/65 nm
Universal Shaders: 432 (2 x 216)
Texture Units: 144 (2 x 72)
ROPs: 56 (2 x 28)
Memory Bus: 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 576
Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1,998 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

If you have an SLI-only motherboard, you will be spending at least $330. But for that price, you get a pair of very fast graphics cards. As we noted with the single-card recommendations, two GeForce GTX 260 cards in SLI offer advantages in titles that run better with Nvidia's GT200 architecture. As with the single cards, we recommend the newer Core 216 versions, thanks to the similar price and enhanced performance.

Best PCIe Card For ~$370: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 4870 X2 (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, good 2560x1600 performance in most titles

Radeon HD 4870 X2 2 GB
Codename: 2 x RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units: 80 (2 x 40)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Two separate Radeon HD 4870 cards in CrossFire are notably cheaper than a single Radeon HD 4870 X2, which is why that setup scored the recommendation. Having said that, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is a single card, and is therefore viable for those of you with a single PCIe slot on your motherboard. For this reason, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 gets an honorable mention.

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