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Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: October 2011
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What about this other card that’s not on the list? How do I know if it’s a good deal or not?

This will happen. In fact, it’s guaranteed to happen, because inventory levels and prices change quickly. So how do you know if that card you’ve got your eye on is a good buy in its price range?

Here is a resource to help you judge if a card is a good buy or not. The graphics card hierarchy chart groups graphics cards with similar overall performance levels into tiers. The top tier contains the highest-performing cards available and performance decreases as you go down the tiers from there.

You can use this hierarchy to compare the pricing between two cards, to see which one is a better deal, and also to determine if an upgrade is worthwhile. I don’t recommend upgrading your graphics card unless the replacement card is at least three tiers higher. Otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel and you may not notice a worthwhile difference in performance.

At the request of readers, I have added mobile graphics and integrated chipsets to the hierarchy chart. I want to make it clear that there is very little performance data available for these graphics solutions. While the discrete video cards in the chart are placed in tiers based on a lot of information, many of the mobile and integrated devices in the chart are guesstimates based on their specifications. At worst, I don’t think they’re more than one tier away from their actual performance, but this is something to keep in mind when considering mobile graphics chipsets.

Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart
GeForceRadeonIntel
Discrete: GTX 590Discrete: HD 6990
Discrete: GTX 580Discrete: HD 5970
Discrete: GTX 295, GTX 480, GTX 570
Discrete: HD 4870 X2, 6970

Discrete: GTX 470, GTX 560 Ti Discrete: HD 4850 X2, 5870, 6950

Discrete: GTX 560
Go (mobile): 580M
Discrete: HD 5850, 6870
Mobility: 6990M

Discrete: 9800 GX2, GTX 285, GTX 460 1GB, GTX 465 Discrete: HD 6850
Mobility: 6900M

Discrete: GTX 260, GTX 275, GTX 280, GTX 460 768 MB, GTX 460 SE, GTX 550 Ti
Go (mobile): 570M
Discrete: HD 4870, HD 5770, HD 4890, HD 5830, HD 6770,  HD 6790
Mobility: HD 5870, 6800M

Discrete: 8800 Ultra, 9800 GTX, 9800 GTX+, GTS 250, GTS 450
Go (mobile): 560M
Discrete: HD 3870 X2, HD 4850, HD 5750, HD 6750
Mobility: HD 4850, HD 5850

Discrete: 8800 GTX, 8800 GTS 512 MB, GT 545 (GDDR5)
Go (mobile): GTX 280M, GTX 285M, 555M (GDDR5)
Discrete: HD 4770
Mobility: HD 4860

Discrete: 8800 GT 512 MB, 9800 GT, GT 545 (DDR3)
Go (mobile): 9800M GTX, GTX 260M (112), GTS 360M (GDDR5), 555M (DDR3)
Discrete: HD 4830, HD 5670, HD 6670
Mobility: HD 5770, HD 5750, 6600M/6700M (GDDR5)

Discrete: 8800 GTS 640 MB, 9600 GT, GT 240 (GDDR5)
Go (mobile): 9800M GTS, GTX 160M
Discrete: HD 2900 XT, HD 3870, HD 5570 (GDDR5), HD 6570 (GDDR5)
Mobility: 6500M (GDDR5), 6600M/6700M (DDR3)

Discrete: 8800 GS, 9600 GSO, GT 240 (DDR3)
Go (mobile): GTX 260M (96), GTS 150M, GTS 360M (DDR3)
Discrete: HD 3850 512 MB, HD 4670, HD 5570 (DDR3), HD 6570 (DDR3)
Mobility: HD 3870, HD 5730, HD 5650, 6500M (DDR3)

Discrete: 8800 GT 256 MB, 8800 GTS 320 MB, GT 440 GDDR5
Go (mobile): 8800M
Discrete: HD 2900 PRO, HD 3850 256 MB, 5550 (GDDR5)
Mobility: HD 3850

Discrete: 7950 GX2, GT 440 DDR3
Discrete: X1950 XTX, HD 4650 (DDR3), 5550 (DDR3)
Discrete: 7800 GTX 512, 7900 GTO, 7900 GTX, GT 430, GT 530
Go (mobile): 550M
Discrete: X1900 XT, X1950 XT, X1900 XTX
Discrete: 7800 GTX, 7900 GT, 7950 G, GT 220 (DDR3)
Go (mobile): 525M, 540M
Discrete: X1800 XT, X1900 AIW, X1900 GT, X1950 PRO, HD 2900 GT, HD 5550 (DDR2)

Discrete: 7800 GT, 7900 GS, 8600 GTS, 9500 GT (GDDR3), GT 220 (DDR2)
Go (mobile): 7950 GTX
Discrete: X1800 XL, X1950 GT, HD 4650 (DDR2), HD 6450
Mobility: X1800 XT, HD 4650, HD 5165, 6400M
Integrated: 6620G, 6550D

Discrete: 6800 Ultra, 7600 GT, 7800 GS, 8600 GS, 8600 GT (GDDR3), 9500 GT (DDR2)
Go (mobile): 7800 GTX, 7900 GTX
Discrete: X800 XT (& PE), X850 XT (& PE), X1650 XT, X1800 GTO, HD 2600 XT, HD 3650 (DDR3), HD 3670
Mobility: X1900, 3670
Integrated: 6520G, 6530D

Discrete: 6800 GT, 6800 GS (PCIe), 8600 GT (DDR2), GT 520
Go (mobile): 7800, Go 7900 GS, 520M, 520MX
Discrete: X800 XL, X800 GTO2/GTO16, HD 2600 PRO, HD 3650 (DDR2),
Mobility: X800 XT, HD 2600 XT, 3650
Integrated: 6410D, 6480G

Discrete: 6800 GS (AGP)
Go (mobile): 6800 Ultra, 7600 GT, 8600M GT, 8700M GT, 410M
Discrete: X800 GTO 256 MB, X800 PRO, X850 PRO, X1650 GT
Mobility: HD 2600
Integrated: 6370D, 6380G

Discrete: 6800, 7300 GT GDDR3, 7600 GS, 8600M GS
Go (mobile): 6800, 7700
Discrete: X800, X800 GTO 128 MB, X1600 XT, X1650 PRO
Mobility: X1800, HD 5145, HD 5470 (GDDR5), HD 5450, 

Discrete: 6600 GT, 6800LE, 6800 XT, 7300 GT (DDR2), 8500 GT, 9400 GT
Go (mobile): 7600 (128-bit)
Discrete: 9800 XT, X700 PRO, X800 GT, X800 SE, X1300 XT, X1600 PRO, HD 2400 XT, HD 4350, HD 4550, HD 5450
Mobility: X800, 3470, HD 5470 (DDR3), HD 5430, 6300M
Integrated: HD 6310, HD 6320
Integrated: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Discrete: FX 5900, FX 5900 Ultra, FX 5950 Ultra, 6600 (128-bit)
Go (mobile): 6800 (128-bit)
Integrated: 9300, 9400
Discrete: 9700, 9700 PRO, 9800, 9800 PRO, X700, X1300 PRO, X1550, HD 2400 PRO
Mobility: X1450, X1600, X1700, 2400 XT, X2500, 3450
Integrated: HD 3200, HD 3300, HD 4200, HD 4250, HD 4290, HD 6250, HD 6290 

Discrete: FX 5800 Ultra, FX 5900 XT
Go (mobile): 6600, Go 7600 (64-bit)
Discrete: 9500 PRO, 9600 XT, 9800 PRO (128-bit), X600 XT, X1050 (128-bit)
Mobility: 9800, X700, X1350, X1400, X2300, HD 2400
Integrated: Intel HD Graphics (Core i5-6x1), 2000
Discrete: 4 Ti 4600, 4 Ti 4800, FX 5700 Ultra, 6200, 8300, 8400 G, G 210, G 310
Go (mobile): 315M
Discrete: 9600 PRO, 9800 LE, X600 PRO, HD 2300
Mobility: 9700 (128-bit), X600, X1300
Integrated: Xpress 1250
Integrated: Intel HD Graphics (Core i3 5x0, Core i5-6x0)
Discrete: 4 Ti4200, 4 Ti4400, 4 Ti4800 SE, FX 5600 Ultra, FX 5700, 6600 (64-bit), 7300 GS, 8400M GS, 9300M G, 9300M GS Discrete: 9500, 9550, 9600, X300, X1050 (64-bit)
Mobility: 9600
Integrated: Intel HD Graphics (Pentium G)
Discrete: 3 Ti500, FX 5200 Ultra, FX 5600, FX 5700 LE, 6200 TC, 6600 LE, 7200 GS, 7300 LE
Go (mobile): 5700, 8200M, 9200M GS, 9100
Integrated: 8200, 8300
Discrete: 8500, 9100, 9000 PRO, 9600 LE, X300 SE, X1150
Mobility 9700 (64-bit)
Integrated: GMA X4500
Discrete: 3, 3 Ti200, FX 5200 (128-bit), FX 5500,
Go (mobile): 5600, 6200, 6400, 7200, 7300, 7400 (64-bit)
Discrete: 9000, 9200, 9250
Mobility: 9600 (64-bit), X300

Discrete: FX 5200 (64 bit)
Go (mobile): 7200, 7400 (32-bit)
Integrated: 6100, 6150, 7025, 7050
Discrete: 9200 SE
Integrated: Xpress 200M, Xpress 1000, Xpress 1150
Integrated: GMA X3000, X3100, X3500
Discrete: 2 GTS, 4 MX 440, 2 Ultra, 2 Ti, 2 Ti 200 Discrete: 7500 Integrated: GMA 3000, 3100
Discrete: 256, 2 MX 200, 4 MX 420, 2 MX 400 Discrete: SDR, LE, DDR, 7000, 7200 Integrated: GMA 500, 900, 950
Discrete: Nvidia TNT Discrete: Rage 128 Discrete: Intel 740

Summary

There you have it folks; the best cards for the money this month. Now all that’s left to do is to find and purchase them.

Don’t worry too much about which brand you choose, because all of the cards out there are close to Nvidia’s and ATI’s reference designs. Just pay attention to price, warranty, and the manufacturer’s reputation for honoring the warranty if something goes wrong.

Also remember that the stores don’t follow this list. Things will change over the course of the month and you’ll probably have to adapt your buying strategy to deal with fluctuating prices. Good luck!

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Top Comments
  • 15 Hide
    Zero_ , October 19, 2011 4:45 AM
    So, atleast AMD is winning the graphics war...
  • 13 Hide
    Martell77 , October 19, 2011 5:54 AM
    On Newegg the price difference between the 560ti and 6950 1gb is $20, until you add in the rebates, lowering the gap tp $10. Then you add in shipping: 560ti - $7.56, 6950 - Free. Gap closes to $2 for a faster (on average) card.

    That is probably why the 6950 gets the recommendation.
  • 12 Hide
    AbdullahG , October 19, 2011 5:04 AM
    I honestly think the HD 6750 is a great buy for under $100 (it's $99 on Newegg; from Diamond and HIS). Anyway, seems as though not a lot changes in the Best GPUs for the Money until prices drop. Then again, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    Zero_ , October 19, 2011 4:45 AM
    So, atleast AMD is winning the graphics war...
  • 10 Hide
    wolfram23 , October 19, 2011 5:04 AM
    So... Southern Island and Kepler will be out when? :D 
  • 12 Hide
    AbdullahG , October 19, 2011 5:04 AM
    I honestly think the HD 6750 is a great buy for under $100 (it's $99 on Newegg; from Diamond and HIS). Anyway, seems as though not a lot changes in the Best GPUs for the Money until prices drop. Then again, if it isn't broken, don't fix it.
  • -6 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , October 19, 2011 5:30 AM
    Keep ignoring GTX 560 Ti much?
  • 1 Hide
    Pekish79 , October 19, 2011 5:39 AM
    I dont understand why at $220 you dont conside at all the GTX560ti

    it cost 20 dollar less then HD6950 1gb (20$ over 220 it's almost 10% less)

    and not only it's cooler use lot less power when idle is quieter


    according to this it's RARELY 10% slower and in few games is even faster
  • -5 Hide
    Pekish79 , October 19, 2011 5:40 AM

    i guess i cant put picture here is the url for my previous post
  • 13 Hide
    Martell77 , October 19, 2011 5:54 AM
    On Newegg the price difference between the 560ti and 6950 1gb is $20, until you add in the rebates, lowering the gap tp $10. Then you add in shipping: 560ti - $7.56, 6950 - Free. Gap closes to $2 for a faster (on average) card.

    That is probably why the 6950 gets the recommendation.
  • 0 Hide
    Darkerson , October 19, 2011 6:27 AM
    Thanks for the updated list! Been starting to plan out my upgrades for tax time, and some new cards to shake things up a little would be nice. Shouldnt be too much longer, hopefully.
  • -3 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , October 19, 2011 6:29 AM
    So... you just released an article stating there's zero advantage to getting a (single) 6950 2GB. Yet you still give it a recommendation. Wat.
  • 7 Hide
    kyuuketsuki , October 19, 2011 6:30 AM
    KyuuketsukiSo... you just released an article stating there's zero advantage to getting a (single) 6950 2GB. Yet you still give it a recommendation. Wat.

    For clarification: zero advantage relative to a single 6950 1GB.
  • -2 Hide
    Lunarion , October 19, 2011 7:09 AM
    Yeah there appears to be no gtx 560ti love.
  • 1 Hide
    felduque , October 19, 2011 7:57 AM
    Agree with the lack of 560. I own both a 6950 and a 560. They,re very similar in performance but the 560 is a few inches shorter so it fits nicely in my media center. the 6950 is on my gaming PC. At the very least the 560 should get an honorable mention or more appropriately a tie.
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , October 19, 2011 8:04 AM
    nice article. good to see ati amd rocking the charts.
    with similar max tdp, radeon hd 6870 is a far better card than radeon 6790. and one can get an hd 6850(lower max tdp than 6790) or a geforce gtx 460 1gb for a new bucks more.
    waiting for southern island cards to get released.:) 
  • 1 Hide
    gio2vanni86 , October 19, 2011 9:00 AM
    I'm still glad the 580GTX is still considered the fastest single GPU. That makes me glad i bought it 5 months ago =D I could do Sli but Sli never showed me amazing FPS with my 9800GTX+ setup so i will stick with this till the new king is released =D.
  • 0 Hide
    stereopsis , October 19, 2011 9:04 AM
    I am hoping the Radeon 7000s will be PCI-e 3.0 enabled.
  • 1 Hide
    DSpider , October 19, 2011 9:41 AM
    stereopsisI am hoping the Radeon 7000s will be PCI-e 3.0 enabled.

    Maybe the high-end ones. Hmmm... Have the HD69XX tapped out PCIe x16 2.0 yet? Because I remember a HD 5870 benchmark (remember that 6870 was a 5850 upgrade, not 5870's successor like the name would imply), where it ran on x16, x8 and x4 slots at various resolutions - meaning the x8 would be the equivalent of PCIe x16 1.0 (half the bandwidth).

    The difference? ~1%, 2% tops.

    So if they release something that fits in the hierarchy chart lower than a HD 5870 (or GTX 470, GTX 560 Ti)... it would be pretty much pointless to release it on PCIe x16 3.0. Anyway, I would stay away from the first generation PCIe x16 3.0 cards.
  • 5 Hide
    vaughn2k , October 19, 2011 12:00 PM
    My HD5770 is still there! 10 straight months!
  • 1 Hide
    billybobser , October 19, 2011 12:14 PM
    pretty much and AMD clean sweep.

    Disappointing really, we need some real competition from nvidia to keep em honest xD
  • 2 Hide
    billybobser , October 19, 2011 12:20 PM
    as an added note, it's still interesting to see my 4870x2 still kicking it up there.

    I picked one up second hand for under £100
  • 2 Hide
    nerrawg , October 19, 2011 12:30 PM
    For gaming at 1080p the 6870 really appears to be the sweet spot. You pay $15 for a 5-10% increase in performance over the 6850 (sometimes better). Going up to the 6950 1gb the increase is a shocking $80! From what I have seen of benches there is only 10% in it in terms of performance, so you are paying a hefty premium for that larger, hotter, more power consuming chip. Don't understand how this is justified really, other than that it probably costs AMD a lot more to make the silicon, it certainly isn't good value for the consumer, $80 for an extra 10%!? To me it looks like poor marketing, either the 6870 should be more expensive ($200) or the 6950 should be cheaper, obviously as a consumer I would prefer the latter.
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