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Best PCIe Card: $300 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: July 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~$325: None

Honorable Mention:
GeForce GTX 570 (Check Prices)

Excellent 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 570
Codename: GF110
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 480
Texture Units: 60
ROPs: 48
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 732 / 1464
Memory Speed MHz: 950 (3800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:219 W

The GeForce GTX 570 offers unmatched performance for $325, competing with the $350 Radeon HD 6970. In many cases, both cards perform similarly to GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI and Radeon HD 6850 cards in CrossFire, but they do so without the hassles associated with a multi-card rig.

But CrossFire'd Radeon HD 6850s and SLI'd GeForce GTX 460 1 GB solutions are significantly faster in most cases, and therefore earn our recommendation (despite a slight price premium). Nevertheless, the GeForce GTX 570 gets an honorable mention for offering excellent single-card performance.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 570 for more information on this card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$340: Tie

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1920 (2 x 960)
Texture Units: 96 (2 x 48)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:254 W (2 x 127 W)

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI
Codename: GF104
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 672 (2 x 336)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

300 W (2 x 150 W)

Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI beat down a single GeForce GTX 570 or Radeon HD 6970 most of the time. While the performance potential of these solutions is very high, keep in mind is that resolutions beyond 1080p may require more than 1 GB of on-board memory for the best performance, especially when using high levels of anti-aliasing.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$380: Tie

2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire (Check Prices)

Great 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2240 (2 x 1120)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 900
Memory Speed MHz: 1100 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:302 W (2 x 151 W)

Two Radeon HD 6870 cards are also a very powerful combination when paired in CrossFire mode. Just keep in mind that if you plan to combine resolutions higher than 1080p with high levels of anti-aliasing you may want to consider a pair of cards with more than 1 GB of RAM, such as a pair of Radeon HD 6950 2 GB cards.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

2 x GeForce GTX 560 in SLI (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

2 x GeForce GTX 560 in SLI
Codename: GF104
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 672 (2 x 336)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 810 / 1620
Memory Speed MHz: 1002 (4008 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

320 W (2 x 160 W)

The same can be said for a couple of GeForce GTX 560 Tis in SLI, which, when combined, often outperform a single GeForce GTX 580 at a notably lower price.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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