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Best PCIe Card: Under $90

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: April 2010
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Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For Under $50:

Radeon HD 4650 (Check Prices)

Great 1280x1024 performance in most games, 1680x1050 with lowered detail

Radeon HD 4650
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 400 (800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

You will not find a card that packs more punch than ATI's Radeon HD 4650 under the alluring $50 price point (at the time of writing, multiple models are available on Newegg for less than $50).

With solid stock performance and an overclockable GPU, this card is an excellent starting point for our list of recommendations, and a wholly worthwhile upgrade if you're currently stuck using a motherboard limited to integrated graphics.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$65:

Radeon HD 4670 (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4670 continues to offer modest performance and very low power usage, making this product a reasonable all-around value. Its accelerated clock rates and modestly-higher price tag are worth considering if you originally had your eye on the Radeon HD 4650.

It's worth noting that this card's closest competitor, the GeForce 9600 GSO, isn't making a very strong showing. The GeForce 9600 GSOs we could find for sale were crippled 48 shader/128-bit memory versions of the card. The models we'd want to see should be equipped with 48 shaders and a 256-bit memory bus, or alternatively 96 shaders and 128-bit memory bus.

Unfortunately, it seems that the low-priced Radeon HD 4670 cards with 512MB of RAM are getting harder to find. instead there are a lot of 1GB cards on the market. But at $75, the price is too close to the superior GeForce 9600 GT. Though this might be a temporary situation, we do expect the 4600-series to disappear entirely once the new Radeon HD 5570 becomes widely available.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$80:

GeForce 9800 GT (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

GeForce 9800 GT
Codename: G92
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 112
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The GeForce 9800 GT remains a powerful sub-$100 performer, and at $80 it has enough breathing room between it and the $100 Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 to garner a solid recommendation. It will outperform the Radeon HD 5670 by a notable margin in most games and remains a powerful choice despite the G92 graphics processor's age, which is another testament to Nvidia's original GeForce 8800 architecture.

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5670 (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 5670
Codename: RV830
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 400
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz:   1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

While the GeForce 9800 GT takes the official nod in the $80 price range, we can't totally ignore the Radeon HD 5670 now that the price has dropped. The GeForce has more raw power, true, but the Radeon HD 5670 isn't that much slower, and it offers DirectX 11 compatibility along with all of the other Radeon HD 5000-series goodies.

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