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Best PCIe Card: $390 And Up

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: September '09
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Best PCIe Card For ~$390:

Two Radeon HD 4890 cards in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x Radeon HD 4890 in CrossFire Configuration
Codename: 2 x RV770
Process: 55nm
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: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 975 (3,900 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Two Radeon HD 4890 cards should, on average, perform on par or better than a single GeForce GTX 295. And the Radeons cost less.

If you have a CrossFire motherboard and want some serious performance at high resolutions, this is the way to go.

Best PCIe Card For ~$430: None

Honorable Mention: Two GeForce GTX 275 cards in SLI Configuration (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x GeForce GTX 275 in SLI Configuration
Codename: GT200b
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 480 (2 x 240)
Texture Units: 160 (2 x 80)
ROPs: 56 (2 x 28)
Memory Bus: 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 633
Memory Speed MHz: 1,134 (2,268 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

Once again, if your motherboard only supports SLI, the Radeon cards are not an option. You'll have to spend a little more, but a pair of GeForce GTX 275 cards paired up will perform similarly to a pair of Radeon HD 4890 cards in CrossFire.

It's funny that we're recommending two GeForce GTX 275 cards in SLI over a single GeForce GTX 295, when you consider that each GeForce GTX 275 is essentially half of a GeForce GTX 295. Saving the $100 compared to the GeForce GTX 295 doesn't result in a performance penalty, though. If anything, a pair of GeForce GTX 275s will display a slight performance edge due to their faster clock speeds.

Best PCIe Card For ~$470: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 295 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 295
Codename: 2 x GT200b
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 480 (2 x 240)
Texture Units: 160 (2 x 80)
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

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 295 with SLI-on-a-card is the most powerful single graphics card on the planet. Essentially two conjoined GeForce GTX 275 cards, the GeForce GTX 295 offers very notable gains over the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in the great majority of game titles. Even more impressive is that it does so while consuming less power than ATI's flagship card (no small feat).

To get more performance than what Nvidia's GeForce GTX 295 brings to the table, you'd have to look at extreme solutions such as multiple GeForce GTX 285s in SLI or Radeon HD 4870 X2s in CrossFire. But unless you have a 30" monitor, that would be a gratuitous waste of cash considering the small performance gains you'd get for spending a whole lot more money.

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