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Best PCIe Card: $275 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: January 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~$300:

Radeon HD 6950

Excellent 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 6950
Codename: "Cayman"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1408
Texture Units: 88
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 1250 (5000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:200 W

The new Radeon HD 6950 offers slightly better performance than AMD's previous-generation single-GPU flagship, the Radeon HD 5870, but at a $300 price point. There's not much else to say except that this is a really strong gaming option at this price. Moreover, a pair of these cards in CrossFire can be very compelling.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6950 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$360: None

The new GeForce GTX 570 and Radeon HD 6970 have taken this price segment by storm, offering unmatched performance at $350. In many cases, they can perform closely to a pair of GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI or Radeon HD 6850 cards in CrossFire, but they do so without the hassles associated with a multi-card rig. The CrossFire and SLI solutions take the recommendation for price/performance value, but these $360 cards get an honorable mention for offering excellent single-card performance.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 570 and our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6970 for more information on these cards and their underlying architectures.

Honorable Mention:

GeForce GTX 570 (Check Prices)

Excellent 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 570
Codename: GF110
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 480
Texture Units: 60
ROPs: 48
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 732 / 1464
Memory Speed MHz: 950 (3800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:219 W


Honorable Mention:

Radeon HD 6970 (Check Prices)

Excellent 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 6970
Codename: "Cayman"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1536
Texture Units: 96
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 880
Memory Speed MHz: 1375 (5500 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:250 W

Best PCIe Card For ~$370: Tie

Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI can beat down a single GeForce GTX 480, as demonstrated in this article by Thomas Soderstrom. We also know that the Radeon HD 6850 scales well in CrossFire mode, offering strong competition for a couple of GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards.

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI Configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI
Codename: GF104
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 672 (2 x 336)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5
Max TDP:320 W (2 x 160 W)

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1920 (2 x 960)
Texture Units: 96 (2 x 48)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:254 W (2 x 127 W)

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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