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Best PCIe Card: $300 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~$330: 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 new GeForce GTX 570 and Radeon HD 6970 took this price segment by storm, offering unmatched performance in the $330 range. In many cases, these cards perform similarly to a pair of GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI or Radeon HD 6850 cards in CrossFire. But they do so without the hassles associated with a multi-card rig.

The CrossFire- and SLI-based solutions take our recommendation for maximizing price-to-performance value, but 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:

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)

Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI beat down a single GeForce GTX 480 (and by extension, the new GeForce GTX 570 and Radeon HD 6970), as demonstrated in this article by Thomas Soderstrom. We also know that the Radeon HD 6850 scales well in CrossFire mode, offering strong competition for a couple of GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards.

The low $165 price tag doubles your savings when two are purchased in CrossFire, and the resulting $330 combo has a very powerful effect on the detail settings you can use in your favorite games..

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$420:

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, and the same can be said for a couple of GeForce GTX 560 Tis in SLI. Either of these options perform a little better than a single GeForce GTX 580 or Radeon HD 5970. But since the Radeon HD 6870 is notably cheaper right now, this option takes the recommendation.

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

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