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Best PCIe Card: $110 To $160

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~$110:

Radeon HD 5770/6770 (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

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, with the added bonus of Blu-ray 3D decode support) is an extremely attractive $110 option, offering a worthwhile upgrade beyond the similarly-priced 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 mainstream 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 ~$140:

Radeon HD 6790 (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

Radeon HD 6790
Codename: Barts LE
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 840
Memory Speed MHz: 1050 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:150 W

AMD's Radeon HD 6790 delivers DirectX 11 support, multi-display connectivity via Eyefinity, and HD audio bitstreaming capabilities in a modestly-priced gaming card.

Because the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB is now missing in action, we're now giving the sole recommendation to AMD's solution; this would have been a shared honor previously.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6790 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For $160: Tie

Radeon HD 6850 (Check Prices)

Good 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 against the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB, and the AMD card's aggressive MSRP forced Nvidia to drop its own suggested pricing in order to stay competitive. As a result, PC gamers win with exceptional performance at prices well under $200.

Both cards offer DirectX 11 support and HD audio bitstreaming capabilities. The main differentiators are Eyefinity multi-monitor support favoring the Radeon card, while the GeForce board has access to Nvidia's 3D Vision infrastructure that includes 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D support. It should be noted that the Radeon HD 6800-series' list of compatible stereoscopic devices is growing. However, it's nowhere near as large as Nvidia's. Only time will tell if AMD's 3D brand can gain the partner support it requires to serve as a notable feature.

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

GeForce GTX 460 1 GB (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
Codename: GF104
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 336
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

160 W

Of course, the Radeons can be CrossFire'd and the GeForces can be SLI'd, so motherboard support should be taken into account, too.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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  • 1 Hide
    alhanelem , November 9, 2011 4:32 AM
    my bday is pretty soon but i might get a new pc instead of a new gfx
  • 5 Hide
    Onikage , November 9, 2011 5:00 AM
    the logical step would be to wait, just 2-3 months, and then getting those 7000s 28nm sweetness....
    in my case its going to be operation "HIGH-JUMP" from the old 4000s (4870 1gb) to HD7950 !!!
  • 1 Hide
    ojas , November 9, 2011 6:23 AM
    Onikagethe logical step would be to wait, just 2-3 months, and to get those 7000s 28nm sweetness....in my case its going to be operation "HIGH-JUMP" from the old 4000s (48701gb) to HD7950 !!!

    yeah...i'm waiting till Feb, so i hope they're out by then. Will be moving from a 9600GT to a GTX 560 price equivalent, if it's out.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , November 9, 2011 6:55 AM
    I'll just hold on to my dual 5770s until this 7XXX series comes out. and then I'll wait 6 more months for the price to drop, and then I'll get them.
  • 4 Hide
    vaughn2k , November 9, 2011 7:19 AM
    HD5770, still there, 11 straight monhts!
  • 0 Hide
    tacoslave , November 9, 2011 7:57 AM
    im waiting for ivy bridge so i can get a whole knew settup since dudozer was a fail and get something high end again. Already bought 3 monitors and my phenom ii 940 and 6850 cant keep up its gonna be a good year next year.
  • 0 Hide
    JustPlainJef , November 9, 2011 8:38 AM
    I was hoping to get a new card in the spring. Good to know that something won't tempt me in the wintertime, as I just can't afford it...

    Quote:
    As for other news on the video card front, unfortunately, we don't have our finders crossed for new graphics architectures in the last couple months of the year.

    Oops. :bounce: 
  • 0 Hide
    DSpider , November 9, 2011 8:56 AM
    I thought the mainstream/low-end cards were expected to launch in late Q4 2011, while the high end cards would launch in Q1 2012: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/amd-HD-7900-XDR2-Rambus-Memory,13408.html

    The mainstream VLIW-4 architecture (28/32 nm) could still come in time for the holidays. I have my eye on a HD 7670. At 60 W it will draw power straight from the PCIe slot (75 W). But not before benchies... First I wanna know if it's worth picking over 5750/6750 or even a 5770/6770, performance-wise.
  • 5 Hide
    ewood , November 9, 2011 10:42 AM
    greghomeThat just means the HD7ks are being manufactured as we speak....i hope......

    i like your reasoning. i didnt see the 69xx series as enough of an upgrade over my 5870 to justify upgrading but maybe 7xxx series will change that
  • 0 Hide
    cappster , November 9, 2011 10:49 AM
    I am looking forward to the 7XXX series as that should mean a price drop on the 6XXX series. And that equals pairing up my 6870 with a twin!
  • 0 Hide
    chovav , November 9, 2011 10:56 AM
    "In addition, some users have unlocked shader cores artificially disabled by AMD through a firmware update, transforming this board into an underclocked 1 GB version of AMD's Radeon HD 6970"

    I thought it was only possible to do this with (certain) 2GB boards? as much as I know the 1GB board is completely different than the 6970..... I never saw anybody who successfully unlocked a 1GB 6950.
  • 3 Hide
    Uni-duni-te , November 9, 2011 11:06 AM
    chovavI thought it was only possible to do this with (certain) 2GB boards? as much as I know the 1GB board is completely different than the 6970..... I never saw anybody who successfully unlocked a 1GB 6950.


    There are severall people that were able to successfully unlock the shaders on the 1Gb boards. Just look at the techpowerup forums.
  • 0 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , November 9, 2011 12:23 PM
    I'll keep my 6850 by my side, maybe get another in CF and sell them both for a 7000 series when they are out. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    fomoz , November 9, 2011 12:49 PM
    Since you're including them in the choices, it would be cool if you included Crossfire and SLI options in the hierarchy. For example, GTX 590 ~ 2x GTX 570.
  • 3 Hide
    Rogue77777 , November 9, 2011 2:04 PM
    I'm always looking at the Hierarchy chart, so I can compare the performance of the upper tier card, but they never go pass the HD4800 series in CF. I'm using 2 HD5870's and would like to know where they stand performance wise when compared to the GTX 580 & HD 6970 series cards.
    So can you please start adding the upper tier SLI & CF cards in your performance chart?
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 9, 2011 4:55 PM
    I want to see xcrossfire 3-ways added to list.
  • 2 Hide
    Teslarifle , November 9, 2011 5:11 PM
    For some reason I can't find a single 6950 comes with a decent blower/vapor chamber style cooler that pushes the air out the back. How hard would it be for XFX to take the cooler they use on the 6970 and throw it on the 6950? Instead we get these fans that blow hot air off the heatsink right back into your case. Until the 6950's start coming with better coolers I'm going to hold off buying two.
  • 0 Hide
    Teslarifle , November 9, 2011 5:13 PM
    By the way PNY has the GTX 580 on sale for $450
  • 0 Hide
    mikeangs2004 , November 9, 2011 5:58 PM
    Quote:
    By the way PNY has the GTX 580 on sale for $450

    By the way the HD 5970 was on sale for $350. I can also get a used one for less than that price.
  • 2 Hide
    Teslarifle , November 9, 2011 6:12 PM
    mikeangs2004By the way the HD 5970 was on sale for $350. I can also get a used one for less than that price.


    That's like saying you can buy a used car for less than the price of the same one new. Kinda stating the obvious.
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