Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: December 2011
By

Seasons greetings are accompanied by information about the new GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core, a list of products that are suffering availability, seasonal price increases, and some rumors regarding the next-gen Radeon HD 7000 and GeForce 600 families.

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, GTX 560 Ti 448 Core 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!

Display all 53 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 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...
Display more comments