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Best PCIe Card: ~$120 To $150

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: January 2010

Best PCIe Card For ~$125: Tie

GeForce GTS 250 1GB (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTS 250 1GB
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 738 / 1,836
Memory Speed MHz: 1,100 (2,200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

For $15 more than the 512MB version, an interested gamer can get the benefit of a full gigabyte of memory. At the highest resolutions and levels of anti-aliasing, this extra memory might provide a performance boost, though it's unlikely the GeForce GTS 250 is powerful enough to run at those detail levels. Still, many buyers might find the slight $10 price increase worthwhile in something like Grand Theft Auto IV.

Radeon HD 4850 1 GB (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 4850 1GB
Codename: RV770
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Like its 512MB brethren, the Radeon HD 4850 1GB cards have also resurfaced with limited availability, allowing buyers a choice between the Radeon and GeForce in this price segment. Just remember, though, that more modern alternatives are available in the Radeon HD 5700-series for a few bucks extra.

Best PCIe Card For ~$145: None

Honorable Mention:
Radeon HD 5750 (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40nm
Universal Shaders: 720
Texture Units: 36
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 700
Memory Speed MHz: 1,150 (4,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

While the Radeon HD 5750 offers similar gaming performance to it's less-expensive competition (the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250), it has better longevity appeal with DirectX 11 support. Sporting Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio and three monitor outputs, the 5750 might appeal to those who want a low-power gaming card appropriate for an HTPC.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5750 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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