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Best PCI-E Card For ~$310

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: February 2008
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GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The 8800 GTS is essentially an 8800 GT with a little more firepower; it sports 128 universal shaders compared to the GT's 112. It bests its 8800 GT brother, but not by much, and it's more expensive - in most cases the GT will suffice, but if you have ~$310 to spend, this is your card. At higher price points than this, performance increases taper off quite a bit, and you'll only really see benefits at 1920x1200 or higher resolutions.

Best PCI-E Card For $350 - $425 : None

There's not much available in this price range that would make sense to purchase. As for multi-card options, you could set up two 512 MB Radeon 3850's in Crossfire mode for as little as $360, but with the 512 MB 8800 GTS at $310, we're not convinced it'd be worth it.

Best PCI-E Card For $450 - $500: Tie

Radeon 3870 X2
Codename: RV670
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 640
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 825
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

While multi-card solutions are far from perfect, they can offer significant performance increases for those with a high budget who demand high-resolution gaming performance.

At $450, the 3870 X2 is probably only a good buy if you need to play your games at 1920x1200 or higher resolutions. While it might be somewhat cheaper than two 8800 GT 512 MB cards in an SLI configuration, the 3870 X2 does seem to be performance limited in DirectX 10 applications for the time being. We hope ATI will correct this weakness in future driver releases.

2x GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB in SLI configuration
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 112
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

While two 8800 GT 512 MB cards might be more complex to install and configure than a single 3870 X2, it will probably beat the X2 more often than not - especially when it comes to DirectX 10 performance.

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