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Best PCIe Card: $110 To $200

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~$115:

Radeon HD 5770 (Radeon HD 6770) (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770/6770
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:108 W

The Radeon HD 5770 (also available re-badged as the Radeon HD 6770) is an extremely attractive $115 option, offering a worthwhile upgrade beyond the cheaper Radeon HD 5750 and GeForce GTS 450. This card is one of our price/performance favorites, and with Radeon HD 4870-class performance, it's an excellent starting point for the serious gamer.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5770 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$155: None

The GeForce GTX 460 768 MB and new Radeon HD 6790 deliver impressive performance for a reasonable price tag, but with the Radeon HD 6850 dropping to $175, it's hard to recommend those cards instead of spending an additional $20 bucks on a board that populates a more impressive tier.

Best PCIe Card For $175:

Radeon HD 6850 (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 6850
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 960
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 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:127 W

AMD's Radeon HD 6850 proved to be a worthy adversary for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 1 GB, and the AMD card's aggressive price forced Nvidia to drop its own MSRPs in order to stay competitive. Both boards offer DirectX 11 support and HD audio bitstreaming capabilities, but with Radeon HD 6850 priced at the $175 mark, it's affordable enough to earn the sole recommendation at this time.

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

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  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 9, 2011 4:20 AM
    It would be cool to add price range on the Graphics Hierarchy chart. Otherwise, I love these articles!
  • 4 Hide
    volks1470 , May 9, 2011 4:35 AM
    wow, AMD dominated those charts. Bravo to the 6000 series. Pretty impressive considering that they were only a revision of the 5000 series.

    Can't wait to get a 7000 series card!!
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 9, 2011 5:05 AM
    Hard to understand why sapphire 5850 extreme @ $150 isnt listed. That's a faster card than 6850 @ $175
  • 0 Hide
    dapneym , May 9, 2011 5:24 AM
    I may have overlooked it, but I don't believe I saw any mention of using two 6970s in CrossFire. Surely that would be better than a 6990 (quite a bit cheaper as well actually). Even just as an honourable mention that would be better.
  • 1 Hide
    Fokissed , May 9, 2011 6:04 AM
    mayankleoboy1why would anyone go for 2x6870? just get 2x6850 and set them at 6870 clocks. also, there are much more custom cards for the 6850 with better cooling/noise.

    The HD6870 has ~17% more SPs. The HD6870 will still perform ~17% faster at the same clocks.
  • -5 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , May 9, 2011 6:40 AM
    I hate to say it, but Tom's Hardware can be incredibly biased or simply misinformed at times. For example, starting at $100, you can pick up the Radeon HD 5750, a card that's faster than the 6670. At $150, the undisputed winner is the GeForce GTX 460 768MB. It handily beats the Radeon HD 6790 by 12% at 1680x1050, the target resolution. At $200, the Radeon HD 6870 simply makes no sense. For $30 more you can pick up a GTX 560 Ti, a card that beats it at 1920x1200 by 18%. Recommendations of the Radeon HD 6950 make no sense. Both the 1GB and 2GB versions are only slightly faster. The 1GB version is faster by wait for it... 1%... at 1920x1200. The 2GB version is an amazing 2% faster and costs $20 more for the cheap, non-reference models that won't unlock shaders and will end up being slower due to over-clocking less. The ones you want, the reference ones, cost $45 more. Unlocking the shaders gives you an amazing 3% performance boost, and when both are over-clocked/unlocked (in the case of the 6950), they end up with the same performance since the 560 OCs a bit better. Wonderful. Also, I don't understand the incessant bashing here on the Radeon HD 6990. From the looks of it, it has sold more than the GTX 590 and for a good reason: it's faster at 2560x1600, and doesn't blow up when you over-volt it. It's also an over-clocking monster, reaching 1GHz on the core and matching GTX 580 SLI. If you don't want the noise, you can just buy a water block with the money you saved from not getting a GTX 580 SLI.

    Tom's Hardware, I am disappoint.
  • 4 Hide
    alikum , May 9, 2011 7:33 AM
    appleblowsdonkeyballsI hate to say it, but Tom's Hardware can be incredibly biased or simply misinformed at times. For example, starting at $100, you can pick up the Radeon HD 5750, a card that's faster than the 6670. At $150, the undisputed winner is the GeForce GTX 460 768MB. It handily beats the Radeon HD 6790 by 12% at 1680x1050, the target resolution. At $200, the Radeon HD 6870 simply makes no sense. For $30 more you can pick up a GTX 560 Ti, a card that beats it at 1920x1200 by 18%. Recommendations of the Radeon HD 6950 make no sense. Both the 1GB and 2GB versions are only slightly faster. The 1GB version is faster by wait for it... 1%... at 1920x1200. The 2GB version is an amazing 2% faster and costs $20 more for the cheap, non-reference models that won't unlock shaders and will end up being slower due to over-clocking less. The ones you want, the reference ones, cost $45 more. Unlocking the shaders gives you an amazing 3% performance boost, and when both are over-clocked/unlocked (in the case of the 6950), they end up with the same performance since the 560 OCs a bit better. Wonderful. Also, I don't understand the incessant bashing here on the Radeon HD 6990. From the looks of it, it has sold more than the GTX 590 and for a good reason: it's faster at 2560x1600, and doesn't blow up when you over-volt it. It's also an over-clocking monster, reaching 1GHz on the core and matching GTX 580 SLI. If you don't want the noise, you can just buy a water block with the money you saved from not getting a GTX 580 SLI.Tom's Hardware, I am disappoint.

    Are you forgetting that they DO NOT write and publish the article on the same day they get their prices?
  • 0 Hide
    Assmar , May 9, 2011 7:36 AM
    dapneymI may have overlooked it, but I don't believe I saw any mention of using two 6970s in CrossFire. Surely that would be better than a 6990 (quite a bit cheaper as well actually). Even just as an honourable mention that would be better.

    I second that motion.
  • -2 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , May 9, 2011 8:11 AM
    assmarI second that motion.


    Except for the fact that what you're saying is COMPLETELY irrelevant because the prices of the cards I have mentioned have been so for more than a month now. The GTX 460 768MB has been $150 for around 2 months now, the Radeon HD 5750 has been $100 for almost a month now, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti has been at $230 for more than a month now, the Radeon HD 6950 2GB reference was earlier at $250 and now at $275,and the Radeon HD 6870 has been $200 for about two months. Yeah, nice try.
  • 0 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , May 9, 2011 8:12 AM
    Crap. This thing doesn't even quote people right. Comment directed at alikum.
  • 0 Hide
    roymustang , May 9, 2011 8:26 AM
    At least they mentioned the Sapphire 5850 Xtreme in the updates this time, but then they failed to put it in their price-point recommendations. Truly sad. I guess Tom's thinks that a 6950 2GB is better than two 5850 Xtremes in CrossFireX since they list it as their ~$275 recommendation.
  • 0 Hide
    alikum , May 9, 2011 8:34 AM
    appleblowsdonkeyballsExcept for the fact that what you're saying is COMPLETELY irrelevant because the prices of the cards I have mentioned have been so for more than a month now. The GTX 460 768MB has been $150 for around 2 months now, the Radeon HD 5750 has been $100 for almost a month now, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti has been at $230 for more than a month now, the Radeon HD 6950 2GB reference was earlier at $250 and now at $275,and the Radeon HD 6870 has been $200 for about two months. Yeah, nice try.

    Well then I guess you're looking prices very different from their sources. As much as you'd like to dispute with regards to your own price / performance, Don's recommendations are perfectly valid.

    Since you place a lot of emphasis on GTX460 768MB and the GTX560Ti, then let's debate on these 2 ranges. And since I believe we live in 2 very different countries, let's stick to prices mentioned in this article. Don did mention about the GTX460 760MB and the 6790 for their price range but did not recommend either. Firstly, GTX460 is old and the 6790 is too close to the 6850 to be worth your money. Secondly, with an additional 20 bucks, you get something better, the 6850.

    As for your emphasis on 560Ti, just for another 10bucks, you get 6950 1GB that performs better. Where did you get your numbers from? 1%?

    Lastly, I do second your point about 6990
  • 2 Hide
    alikum , May 9, 2011 8:36 AM
    roymustangAt least they mentioned the Sapphire 5850 Xtreme in the updates this time, but then they failed to put it in their price-point recommendations. Truly sad. I guess Tom's thinks that a 6950 2GB is better than two 5850 Xtremes in CrossFireX since they list it as their ~$275 recommendation.

    I don't think they'd put in custom cards into recommendation. Things will get very messy. That's why even the XFX 6870 black edition is not taken into account/
  • -2 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , May 9, 2011 9:15 AM
    alikumWell then I guess you're looking prices very different from their sources. As much as you'd like to dispute with regards to your own price / performance, Don's recommendations are perfectly valid. Since you place a lot of emphasis on GTX460 768MB and the GTX560Ti, then let's debate on these 2 ranges. And since I believe we live in 2 very different countries, let's stick to prices mentioned in this article. Don did mention about the GTX460 760MB and the 6790 for their price range but did not recommend either. Firstly, GTX460 is old and the 6790 is too close to the 6850 to be worth your money. Secondly, with an additional 20 bucks, you get something better, the 6850.As for your emphasis on 560Ti, just for another 10bucks, you get 6950 1GB that performs better. Where did you get your numbers from? 1%? Lastly, I do second your point about 6990


    No, I'm looking at the actual prices you can find today and have been able to for at least a month now. His recommendations are not valid.

    One, the GTX 460 768MB is 12% faster than the Radeon HD 6790 at 1680x1050. It should be recommended and the 6790 should be relegated to simply not being mentioned. Link

    Two, the Radeon HD 6850 is only 3% faster at the aforementioned resolution, but pulls out ahead at 1920x1200, widening the gap to 10%. At 1680x1050, it's not worth it. At 1920x1200, it is.

    Third, the Radeon HD 6950 1GB is 1% faster than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti at 1920x1200. For $10 more, that's not worth it. The 560 over-clocks more, too. Link
  • 1 Hide
    alikum , May 9, 2011 9:35 AM
    appleblowsdonkeyballsNo, I'm looking at the actual prices you can find today and have been able to for at least a month now. His recommendations are not valid.One, the GTX 460 768MB is 12% faster than the Radeon HD 6790 at 1680x1050. It should be recommended and the 6790 should be relegated to simply not being mentioned. LinkTwo, the Radeon HD 6850 is only 3% faster at the aforementioned resolution, but pulls out ahead at 1920x1200, widening the gap to 10%. At 1680x1050, it's not worth it. At 1920x1200, it is.Third, the Radeon HD 6950 1GB is 1% faster than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti at 1920x1200. For $10 more, that's not worth it. The 560 over-clocks more, too. Link

    Point 1 & 2, no need link for that. I mentioned about 6790 being too close to 6850 to be worth your money too. Sure GTX460 768MB has its price performance at its level, but think about it again. With an additional ~$20, you get so much more performance with the HD6850.

    Point 3 well, based on Tom's chart, it's not exactly 1% faster. Perhaps around 3 - 4%. Again, overclocking is based on personal preference. If we were to place overclockability into considerations, then the entire article would be useless. Let's compare stock clocks for the time being.
    3 - 4% performance increase for another 10bucks? Don't know about you, but it's a done deal for me.
  • -1 Hide
    AppleBlowsDonkeyBalls , May 9, 2011 9:45 AM
    alikumPoint 1 & 2, no need link for that. I mentioned about 6790 being too close to 6850 to be worth your money too. Sure GTX460 768MB has its price performance at its level, but think about it again. With an additional ~$20, you get so much more performance with the HD6850.Point 3 well, based on Tom's chart, it's not exactly 1% faster. Perhaps around 3 - 4%. Again, overclocking is based on personal preference. If we were to place overclockability into considerations, then the entire article would be useless. Let's compare stock clocks for the time being.3 - 4% performance increase for another 10bucks? Don't know about you, but it's a done deal for me.


    *sigh* I don't even know where to start. It looks like you're blind.

    Again, you don't get "a lot" more performance from the Radeon HD 6850 in comparison to the GeForce GTX 460 768MB. It's 3% faster at 1680x1050 and 10% faster at 1920x1200. Again, if you game at 1680x1050, it's not worth it. At 1920x1200/1080, it is.

    Tom's Hardware is using outdated drivers that do not count towards recent performance. Now it's a 1% gap. If you think 1% makes it worth $10 more, be my guest. Don't get jealous when we both OC and I'm almost 10% faster, though. I didn't use over-clocked settings for any of my comparisons. I merely mentioned the fact it over-clocks more as a benefit.

    It seems as if you're hell bent on not wanting to accept you're wrong.
  • 4 Hide
    alikum , May 9, 2011 9:51 AM
    appleblowsdonkeyballs*sigh* I don't even know where to start. It looks like you're blind.Again, you don't get "a lot" more performance from the Radeon HD 6850 in comparison to the GeForce GTX 460 768MB. It's 3% faster at 1680x1050 and 10% faster at 1920x1200. Again, if you game at 1680x1050, it's not worth it. At 1920x1200/1080, it is.Tom's Hardware is using outdated drivers that do not count towards recent performance. Now it's a 1% gap. If you think 1% makes it worth $10 more, be my guest. Don't get jealous when we both OC and I'm almost 10% faster, though. I didn't use over-clocked settings for any of my comparisons. I merely mentioned the fact it over-clocks more as a benefit.It seems as if you're hell bent on not wanting to accept you're wrong.

    Hell bent? I was only stating things from my own perspective. To me, 10% is good enough to justify the buy over the GTX460 768MB.

    And you can overclock all you want. But do remember, not everyone overclocks. Like me, I can't afford to do so because my country's ambient temp is just too high to allow me to do that. Again, perhaps you're right regarding drivers closing out the gap. I was only stating facts I found from Toms charts. So to call me hell bent? Meh
  • 0 Hide
    mactronix , May 9, 2011 10:20 AM
    Funny that, there were no comments earlier and now my comment isnt even listed ? just shows how good you guys are :( 
  • 0 Hide
    nickchalk , May 9, 2011 10:50 AM
    in greece one can find saphires 5850 extreme for 129€
    a pair gives performace better than HD6970 or GTX570 and costs ~100€ less
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 9, 2011 11:37 AM
    i could not agree with you more appleblowsdonkeyballs, THW has really gone down hill for reviews and recommendations.
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