|Best PCIe Card: $390 To $800|
|Best Gaming Graphics Card for ~$400|
|Product||Radeon HD 7970|
|Analysis||AMD's Radeon HD 7970 is the only top-tier card we recommend for the price. You might be able to find a Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition card selling in the $400 range. If you do, that'd be a good buy too. But, at the $450 most GHz Edition models are currently selling for, we'd skip them. As they stand, the standard Radeon HD 7970s are quite overclockable, meaning you can coax much of the performance difference out of the cheaper card anyway.
There's not much reason to pay an extra $50+ for a similar-performing GeForce GTX 680 unless the Nvidia card's 55 W-lower thermal ceiling is necessary in your small form factor enclosure. In that case, spending more for better efficiency might make sense.
Read our full preview of AMD's Radeon HD 7970 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.
|Performance (indexed to 100%)
|Core (Shader) Clock||925 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1375 MHz GDDR5|
|Memory Bandwidth||264 GB/s|
|Memory Capacity||3 GB|
|DirectX, Shader, OpenGL Capability||11/5.0/4.2|
|Max. TDP||250 W|
|Aux. Power Connector(s)||1 x 6-pin and 1 x 8-pin PCIe|
|Min. Power Supply||500 Watt|
Honorable mentions over $400:
Assorted Multi-Card Configurations
The Radeon HD 7970 delivers such strong performance at $400 that we find it hard to recommend higher-performing (but sometimes-inconsistent) multi-card configurations for more money.
We'll call out some of the most promising options, though, mostly for folks with one of these cards already installed: two GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2 GB cards in SLI for $340, two Radeon HD 7870 LEs in CrossFire for $490, two GeForce GTX 670s in SLI for $740, and finally, two Radeon HD 7970s in CrossFire for $800.