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Best PCIe Card: $400 And Up

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: January 2011

Best PCIe Card For ~$460:

2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire (Check Prices)

Great 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2240 (2 x 1120)
Texture Units:   112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 900
Memory Speed MHz: 1100 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:302 W (2 x 151 W)

Two Radeon HD 6870 cards are a very powerful combination when paired in CrossFire mode, delivering notably more graphics muscle on average than a single Radeon HD 5970 or GeForce GTX 580.

While a couple of GeForce GTX 470 cards in SLI demonstrate similar performance, power usage should be some 200-300 W less for the Radeons under load conditions. This might not be much of an issue for folks with solid power supplies, but it is something to keep in mind

More importantly, the price spread between Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 470 cards average at about $30 right now, making a dual-card GeForce solution $60 more expensive. This spread is too high when relative performance is so close, so the Radeon HD 6870 CrossFire setup takes the lone recommendation for now.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$510: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 580 (Check Prices)

Great 2560x1600 performance

GeForce GTX 580
Codename: GF110
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 512
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 48
Memory Bus: 384-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 772 / 1544
Memory Speed MHz:   1002 (4008 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:244 W

Nvidia has come up with a card that can challenge the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970's title as the fastest graphics card in the world. The GeForce GTX 580 wins its share of battles against the previously undisputed king-of-the-hill, and while it's outperformed by dual-card solutions like Radeon HD 6870s in CrossFire and GeForce GTX 470s in SLI, the GeForce GTX 580 scores a well-deserved place on the honorable mention list.

The Radeon HD 5970 has become so scarce that the GeForce GTX 580 takes the lone honorable mention on our list, although the supply of this Nvidia flagship is far from plentiful right now.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 580 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

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  • 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 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.
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