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Best PCIe Card: $110 To $180

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: December 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 6750 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 ~$130:

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. It runs circles around the similarly-priced GeForce GTX 550 Ti, and now that the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB is missing in action we're 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 $170:

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.

At the moment, AMD's Radeon HD 6850 garners the sole recommendation, as the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB is priced too close to the more powerful GeForce GTX 560 and Radeon HD 6870.

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

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  • 6 Hide
    alhanelem , December 8, 2011 3:49 AM
    im still saving up cash and eagerly waiting for the GTX 600's and HD 7000's
  • 1 Hide
    Yargnit , December 8, 2011 4:16 AM
    Where'd you find 2x GTX 560ti's to SLI for $370? That would be more than an honorable mention if it were true. ;) 

    Perhaps you meant 2x GTX 460's?
  • 0 Hide
    Onikage , December 8, 2011 4:49 AM
    Hey tom i'd like to see where 6870x2 would fit in Hierarchy Chart and who could be its closest competitor from both camps,
  • -6 Hide
    Dacatak , December 8, 2011 4:56 AM
    December has barely started!?????

    Might as well paste November's article.
  • -5 Hide
    Dacatak , December 8, 2011 5:05 AM
    YargnitWhere'd you find 2x GTX 560ti's to SLI for $370? That would be more than an honorable mention if it were true. Perhaps you meant 2x GTX 460's?


    I got my 560 Ti brand new (PNY OC version) for $180 (no tax, free shipping, and no need for BS MIR).
    I could've gotten two for SLI at $360 even, but I don't like microstutter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOtre2f4qZs

    Where? eBay of course. Where every day is Cyber Monday.
    (I even saw some manufacturer refurbs for $175)

    Never buy retail again.
  • 0 Hide
    theuniquegamer , December 8, 2011 6:04 AM
    The anandtech has recently got some info about the upcoming 7000 desktop and mobile entry level and 600m entry level gpu specs. The 7000 are going to be revealed today.
  • -2 Hide
    Gamer-girl , December 8, 2011 6:54 AM
    Under Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 6950 2 GB
    Quote:
    In our testing, this product shows no advantage over the cheaper 1 GB flavor of Radeon HD 6970 unless you're playing high resolutions


    Is there such a card or is it a typo?
  • 0 Hide
    DSpider , December 8, 2011 8:52 AM
    The Radeon HD 6670 isn't really much of an upgrade over the Radeon HD 5670. However, we're going to give it an honorable mention for being the fastest card (at least compared to reference versions from AMD and Nvidia) that doesn't require an auxiliary PCIe power cable. That is to say its power requirements are entirely satisfied by a second-generation PCI Express x16 slot.

    What if my motherboard only has PCIe x16 1.0 ?
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , December 8, 2011 9:03 AM
    The $85 HD6750 you mentioned is probably so cheap because it uses DDR3; how would it perform compared to a GDDR5 version? The second thing I noticed about it is that it doesn't need a PCIE power connector. Would it outperform a HD6670, or does the slower RAM make that much difference?

    Also, the HD6850 seems to be mostly in the $130-$150 range (some after MIR), not $160.
  • 0 Hide
    jemm , December 8, 2011 9:10 AM
    As always another good gpu reference.
  • 1 Hide
    cmcghee358 , December 8, 2011 9:34 AM
    Kinda surprised there was no mention(side bar, not a real recommendation) of that 5970 during neweggs Black Friday deal, that also carried into the next week. $299 on BF, 329 until discontinued.
  • 3 Hide
    vaughn2k , December 8, 2011 10:48 AM
    HD5770 for one straight year! Still the best!
  • -1 Hide
    ojas , December 8, 2011 11:49 AM
    Hmmm....a suggestion for the "Best Things for the Money" Articles:

    Why not have an average performance chart page for the hardware? As in, one with just the selected best price/performance winners and the honourable mentions...apart from the hierarchy chart.

    You know, just as a quick reference for the critical moment before pressing the 'buy' button. :) 
  • -2 Hide
    DSpider , December 8, 2011 12:13 PM
    ojasHmmm....a suggestion for the "Best Things for the Money" Articles:Why not have an average performance chart page for the hardware? As in, one with just the selected best price/performance winners and the honourable mentions...apart from the hierarchy chart.You know, just as a quick reference for the critical moment before pressing the 'buy' button.

    Probably because the term "best" is very subjective. Some people can game just fine at 15-22 fps, while others won't even look at anything lower than 35-40 fps.

    Another reason would be that prices fluctuate all the time. It's been asked for this countless times now... "Price/performance" doesn't apply to other countries or even multiple vendors within the US. Sometimes the same model by a different brand will be so expensive that it bites the heel of the next (superior) model, pricing-wise.

    There's also the second hand market, which you can find some very good cards, and in excellent condition as opposed to the cards from a few years back. Because of competition quality has gone up and technology lasts longer these days. Almost everything has solid capacitors these days.

    So yeah. A price/performance chart would be pretty much useless as it can become very quickly outdated.
  • 2 Hide
    badtaylorx , December 8, 2011 12:55 PM
    holy crap!!! almost a total win for the red team!!!
  • -1 Hide
    ksampanna , December 8, 2011 1:33 PM
    When the 5850 drops out of the top five groups, I'l buy a second one (retail/second hand). When the 5970 drops out of the top five, it's time for me to replace the Xfired 5850s :) 
  • -2 Hide
    ojas , December 8, 2011 1:42 PM
    DSpiderProbably because the term "best" is very subjective. Some people can game just fine at 15-22 fps, while others won't even look at anything lower than 35-40 fps.Another reason would be that prices fluctuate all the time. It's been asked for this countless times now... "Price/performance" doesn't apply to other countries or even multiple vendors within the US. Sometimes the same model by a different brand will be so expensive that it bites the heel of the next (superior) model, pricing-wise.There's also the second hand market, which you can find some very good cards, and in excellent condition as opposed to the cards from a few years back. Because of competition quality has gone up and technology lasts longer these days. Almost everything has solid capacitors these days.So yeah. A price/performance chart would be pretty much useless as it can become very quickly outdated.


    You missed my point entirely. I said performance chart for the cards they've selected, not price/performance. So people know what to expect. Like you said, some will be fine at a lower FPS. If they see the 6770 and 6670 listed on a benchmark instead of just tiers, it'll help more IMO. THIS is what i was saying.

    They've listed price/performance winners anyway, that's what this article is about: Best xyz for the money = best bang for the buck = price/performance win.

    I don't even live in the US, so i'm fully aware that the prices aren't the same.
  • -4 Hide
    caamsa , December 8, 2011 3:18 PM
    I got 2 GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards off craigslist for 150 bucks.....beat that toms ;-P
  • -3 Hide
    ojas , December 8, 2011 4:14 PM
    caamsaI got 2 GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards off craigslist for 150 bucks.....beat that toms ;-P

    I remember factory OC 1GB 460s drom MSI i think selling for $120 back when BestConfigs was going on...sad newegg doesn't exist here where i live.
  • -2 Hide
    tuffjuff , December 8, 2011 4:37 PM
    Hmm, 6870 or 560 when ordering my video card next month? Decisions, decisions...
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