Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best PCIe Card: $275 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: January 2011
By

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.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 61 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    joelmartinez , January 7, 2011 4:31 AM
    Dual 6950s would be the most I would spend
  • 2 Hide
    mattmock , January 7, 2011 4:33 AM
    I would really love for the GTX 570 to drop to about $275. I am ready to upgrade from my current GTX 260 SLI set-up and I really want to double my fps for about $500 total, but it will probably be another 4-6 months before that is possible.
  • 0 Hide
    duk3 , January 7, 2011 4:47 AM
    You still have the dual 6870 and dual 470 from last month as a tie on this month's winner the dual 6870s.
  • 7 Hide
    rmmil978 , January 7, 2011 5:09 AM
    Best value for the money is obviously the Radeon 6950, unlocked to a 6970.
  • 3 Hide
    geniusreddy , January 7, 2011 5:40 AM
    I'm seeing on the Newegg that the 5750 and GTS 450 are priced almost identical...maybe ATi has already responded to the 450 dropping in price?
  • 2 Hide
    brendonmc , January 7, 2011 8:08 AM
    GTX 580 has always been in short supply...don't blame it on the Christmas rush for this. But if you can get your hands on one, it would be gaming utopia! (at a price)
    I agree with rmmil978. Get yourself a 6950 and unlock its true potential, as shown on Techpowerup. Awsome value.
    I chose the upgrade path and crossfired my old 5850 by snapping up one of the last ones available (in Oz). Hit and miss really...probably not worth the effort. I run a single 1920x1200 monitor and some games just don't benefit at all (ie NFS Hot Pursuit 2010). But getting a Vantage GPU score of over 27000 (overclocked) does make you feel good!
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , January 7, 2011 8:40 AM
    Hasn't moved much, I think.
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 7, 2011 9:31 AM
    I'm beginning to think the 6950 is the way to go. I just wish the prices weren't so high.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , January 7, 2011 10:43 AM
    From article: "At this time, the Radeon HD 5570 is easy to find at $130, and at that price, its hard to recommend the $120 Radeon HD 5750."
    I'm assuming the first reference should be to the HD5770?

    Nice reference, as always.
  • 0 Hide
    carver_inc , January 7, 2011 11:10 AM
    I grabbed an HD 5870 on sale for $215, which just goes to show if you dig around and have some patience, you can find some sweet deals.

    I'm loving mine.

    As always, interesting read.
  • 2 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , January 7, 2011 12:22 PM
    GTX580 or HD5970 has no chance against two 6950s in crossfire..great performance at only $600 ! :D :D 
  • 0 Hide
    jp182 , January 7, 2011 12:34 PM
    Just a heads up that Sapphire has two rebates out on most of their ATI cards right now through Amazon. I just bought a 5770 for $130 but there's $30 in rebates which appears to be a really good deal.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 7, 2011 12:48 PM
    Don, Don, Don. Been eating worms? "we wait with baited breath"
    (the word you wanted there is 'bated' which has an entirely different meaning to 'baited')

    That said, the 'graphics card report' is one of the best things on THD.
  • 3 Hide
    scook9 , January 7, 2011 12:59 PM
    I really like the inclusion of TDP numbers this month. Please continue doing that!
  • 1 Hide
    caamsa , January 7, 2011 2:02 PM
    Is it just me or is everyone else sick of all of those rebates....it is like every single video card has a rebate.....ugggg

    BTW nice review. ;-)
  • 2 Hide
    JackNaylorPE , January 7, 2011 3:14 PM
    Huh ? A category for $360 and another for $370 ????? ... why no $350 category ? And the $370 tie is shared between a $350 card and a $370 card ?????

    The cards should be picked to fit categories, not pick the categories to make sure a card makes the list.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , January 7, 2011 3:28 PM
    Pixel13Don, Don, Don. Been eating worms? "we wait with baited breath"(the word you wanted there is 'bated' which has an entirely different meaning to 'baited')That said, the 'graphics card report' is one of the best things on THD.


    LOL, sorry about that Pixel, I should have caught that in editing. 'Baited' is a particular pet peeve of mine ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 7, 2011 3:31 PM
    I would love to see a note of the best passively cooled gfx aviable at the marketing everything month.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , January 7, 2011 3:38 PM
    shudn't this be done at the end of the month?
  • 0 Hide
    tid01217 , January 7, 2011 4:05 PM
    I realize the list is aimed at gaming graphics, but it would be nice to add a section for 1 or 2 graphics cards recommended for HTPCs that handle heavy video tasks with occasional gaming.
Display more comments