The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: March 2008

Best PCI-E Card For ~$180: Tie

GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB
Codename G92
Process 65 nm
Universal Shaders 64
Texture Units 32
ROPs 16
Memory Bus 256 bit
Core Speed MHz 650
Memory Speed MHz 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The new 9600 GT is Nvidia's answer to the Radeon 3800 series: cheap, powerful, and efficient. The 9600 GT usually performs a bit below the 3870 with no antialiasing, and a bit faster than the 3870 when AA is enabled. Both cards are in the $180 range, and both are excellent buys that make sub-$200 high-resolution gaming a reality.

Radeon 3870
Codename RV670
Process 55 nm
Universal Shaders 320
Texture Units 16
ROPs 16
Memory Bus 256 bit
Core Speed MHz 775
Memory Speed MHz 1125 (2250 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3870 is a lot of card for $180. The 9600 GT has forced 3870 prices down, and if you have $200 to spend on a graphics card, either card offers an incredible gaming experience for the dollars spent.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$230

GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB
Codename G92
Process 65 nm
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

The 8800 GT offers incredible Geforce 8800 GTX-class performance at almost half the price. It beats the Radeon 3870 by a notable margin, but it does tend to be a bit more expensive. That said, if you have $230 to spend on a graphics card, you couldn't do better than a nice 8800 GT.

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  • Anonymous
    i have ati 9550 and im gonna buy the agp 8x 3850 512mb radeon, i was trying to figure out how many fps i will get with the change of these cards iv got my pc overclock at 3.000 mhz i got 800 fsb i got 1.5gig ram 3200 and got that overclock from 400mhz to 440mhz and i use a ram releaseso ram never runs out, at the moment i got the 9550 ati over clocked from 250 core too 420 and memory from 200 to 230,
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  • Goatlips
    Cheers Woli.

    I should be able to see a massive improvement for just £45 if I replace my original GeForce FX 5500 (256MB) with a 8600 GT 512MB or 8600 GTS 256MB...But which is best, a 512MB GT or a 256MB GTS?

    Anything else I'd need to improve for under £50? Anything else I need to know?

    ...Anyone?
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