This month we discuss AMD's Radeon HD 6570 and 6670, dish the truth on the company's Radeon HD 6750 and 6770, and point out an impressive online deal that might save you a significant amount of cash if you're buying a graphics card in the near future!
Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
So, if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right card, then fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
Despite the flood of graphics card launches we reported in last month's update, two more models were introduced on April 19th: the Radeon HD 6570 and 6670. Both of these cards use the new Turks GPU equipped with 480 ALUs, 24 texture units, and eight ROPs. You may notice that this is a slight upgrade compared to AMD's Radeon HD 5570/5670's 400 ALU, 20 texture unit, and eight ROP configuration. And, and since the new cards run at similar clock rates, game performance is only marginally improved over the older products.
There are a handful of superficial additions, though. For instance, the UVD3 engine proves to be very effective, and the 6570/6670 cards provide the same high-definition video quality enhancements as higher-end Radeon cards, as demonstrated by the HQV 2.0 benchmark results we generated. In any case, gamers won't be impressed with the current price points of these new cards: at $80 the Radeon HD 6570 DDR3 performs far below the $75 Radeon HD 5670, and the $100 Radeon HD 6670 is priced far too close to the superior Radeon HD 5750 and GeForce GTS 450. The Radeon HD 6670 has one thing going for it, though: it is the most powerful reference card available that does not require a dedicated PCIe power cable, and as such it gains an honorable mention for upgraders who don't want to spend money on a power supply. To learn more, check out our Radeon HD 6570/6670 review.
There are two other new products that you might see at retail: The Radeon HD 6750 and 6770. Unfortunately, these aren't new at all. They're simply re-branded Radeon HD 5750 and 5770 cards. That's not to say they're bad buys at the right price, but it's important to note that they do not offer Radeon HD 6000-series features like UVD3 or the ability to accelerate Blu-ray 3D playback over HDMI. Re-badging a product for marketing purposes is something we're never happy to see because of the confusion it can create, so hopefully this is a one-off slip-up, and not the start of a trend at AMD.
(Update, May 12/2011: It turns out that the Radeon HD 6750/6770 purportedly features an improved firmware that allows for Blu-ray 3D playback acceleration, despite the fact that these cards are equipped with the exact same hardware as AMD's Radeon HD 5750/5770. The new BIOS does not add any other benefits inherent to UVD3.)
While we try to keep our recommendations generic, occasionally a specific deal comes to our attention that we feel needs mentioning: Sapphire's Radeon HD 5850 Xtreme can be had on NewEgg for $140 at the time of writing this [EDIT: it seems to be gone now, but it hopefully it's a stock issue], and should perform on par with the $210 Radeon HD 6870. We're not sure how long this deal will last, but if you're considering a Radeon HD 6870 or GeForce GTX 560 Ti, this Sapphire card will save you a lot of money, assuming it's around when you go to look for it.
Aside from this there's not a lot to report except slight price increases across the field. Many products have gone up by five dollars or so over the past month. Check our specific recommendations to learn more!
Chris Angelini On High-End Cards
I have, for a while now, thought about taking retrospective looks at graphics card launches with the intention of keeping AMD and Nvidia more honest. Ahead of a big debut, both companies will scramble to slice their prices or devise new overclocked SKUs that better position one against the other.
There's all of this frenzied jockeying, and then nothing. Nobody follows up to make sure those aggressive tactics were really in the best interest of you, the gamer.
Well, the Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590 launches were particularly heated (in more ways than one). So I thought I'd circle back to see how the two competitors are faring with regard to pricing and availability. Almost not surprisingly, there isn't a single GeForce GTX 590 for sale, though you can get in line for one if you're alright spending $750 on it. Radeon HD 6990s are a little more plentiful, which again, is hardly a surprise to me given how much noise they generate under load. But you won't find them for AMD's $700 launch price; expect to pay $730 or more.
Given the current state of high-end graphics, I stick by the conclusions I made in both dual-GPU reviews: buy a pair of GeForce GTX 570s or two Radeon HD 6950s if you want a performance-oriented graphics subsystem. You'll get similar frame rates, you'll manage your thermals more effectively, and you'll save a boatload of money.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, then the cards on this list are more expensive than what you really need. We've added a reference page at the end of the column covering integrated graphics processors, which is likely more apropos.
- The criteria to get on this list are strictly price/performance. We acknowledge that recommendations for multiple video cards, such as two Radeon cards in CrossFire mode or two GeForce cards in SLI, typically require a motherboard that supports CrossFire or SLI and a chassis with more space to install multiple graphics cards. They also require a beefier power supply compared to what a single card needs, and will almost certainly produce more heat than a single card. Keep these factors in mind when making your purchasing decision. In most cases, if we have recommended a multiple-card solution, we try to recommend a single-card honorable mention at a comparable price point for those who find multi-card setups undesirable.
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t base our decisions on always-changing pricing information, but we can list some good cards that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest, along with real-time prices from our PriceGrabber engine, for your reference.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new card prices. No used or open-box cards are in the list; they might represent a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.