Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great - that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
If you don't have the time to research the benchmarks, or don't feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not. We at Tom's Hardware Guide have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming graphics cards offered for the money.
February Review and March Updates
February has been a great month for graphics card buyers: prices have been dropping hard across the board. A possible reason for this is the introduction of Nvidia's new 9600 GT.
The new Geforce 9600 GT 512 MB offers performance just below that of the 8800 GT - and on par with the Radeon 3870 - for the exceptionally low price of ~$180. ATI has responded to this threat by lowering Radeon 3870 prices to the same range; indeed, the entire Geforce and Radeon lines seem to have been lowered in what looks to be a bit of a price war. The end result can only be good news for consumers, as it is now possible to buy a graphics card capable of real-world 1920x1200 gaming for less than $200!
This price shift makes it difficult to recommend the $450 dual-GPU Radeon 3870 X2 anymore. Two full-fledged Radeon 3870 cards can be bought and placed in a Crossfire configuration for almost $100 less!
Other than price changes, a notable change has been the availability of the AGP Radeon 3850 card in the $215 range. In the near future, Tom's Hardware will be reviewing graphics cards for one last AGP hurrah, to see if this card can deliver the performance we expect from it on the AGP bus.
The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don't play games, the graphics cards in this list are more expensive than you need.
- Prices and availability changes on a daily basis. We can't offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing info, but we can list some good graphics cards that you probably won't regret buying at the price ranges we suggest.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or if buying retail, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new graphics card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but that's outside the scope of what we're trying to do.