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Best PCI-E Card For ~$290

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: March 2008
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GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB
Codename G92
Process 65 nm
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 ~$300 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 ~$360: Tie

2x Radeon 3870 in Crossfire Configuration
Codename RV670
Process 55 nm
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 ~$360, two Radeon 3870 cards are about $100 cheaper than a single dual-GPU Radeon 3870 X2 card. Since the performance is pretty much identical, two cards are the way to go.

2x GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB in SLI configuration
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

Two 9600 GT cards in an SLI configuration will offer a similar price/performance ratio to two Radeon 3870 cards in a crossfire configuration. Either way, performance is unprecedented at the ~$360 price point.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$460

2x GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB in SLI configuration
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

Frankly, the performance increase of two 8800 GTs over two 9600 GTs is usually not worth mentioning, but there are a handful of games where the 8800 GT will win by a notable percentage at high resolutions. If high resolution gaming with high image quality options enabled is your forte, and budget isn't a concern, two 8800 GTs might be justifiable for you.

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