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Conclusion: Performance Per Dollar

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: September 2014
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In an effort to further express the performance you get for every dollar spent on our recommendations, we're charting out the hierarchy of cards from today's story. The red, black, and blue bars represent how each card fares at 1080p, 2160p, and the average of the two, while the orange line indicates cost. If you mouse over the bar chart, you get a pop-up that shows performance relative to AMD's Radeon R9 295X2 (our current 100% ceiling). Mousing over the dots on the orange line yields a low price easily attainable on Newegg. Clicking a bar or dot gives you the option to shop for that card, taking you to a link of our pick in each category. Often, our choices give you a lower price than the average displayed.

Price 1080p v R9 295X2 2160p v R9 295X2 Avg v R9 295X2
GeForce GT 730 64-bit GDDR5 72.02 Amazon 11 10 11
Radeon HD 7770, Radeon R7 250X 100 Amazon 23 16 20
Radeon R7 260X 139.99 Amazon 25 18 22
GeForce GTX 750 Ti 150 Amazon 27 22 25
Radeon R7 265 150.00 Amazon 31 25 28
Radeon R9 270X 180 Amazon 37 31 34
Radeon R9 280 220.00 Amazon 43 36 40
Radeon R9 280X 280.00 Amazon 49 43 46
Radeon R9 290 429.99 Amazon 61 58 59
Radeon R9 290X 500 Amazon 64 59 62
GeForce GTX 780 Ti 600.00 Amazon 67 60 64
Radeon R9 295X2 1000 Amazon 100 100 100

At the beginning of the chart, you see significant performance gains for every dollar spent. Clearly, the Radeon R7 250X is the price/performance card to beat under $150, while the Radeon R9 270X takes top honors under $200. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 750 Ti offers less performance than the Radeon R7 265 for a similar price. It might not be the best value play, but this Nvidia card remains attractive to gamers stuck with low-end power supplies they don't want to upgrade.

Between the Radeon R9 270X and Radeon R9 290, price increases steadily with performance. The Radeon R9 290 represents an impressive value for high-end hardware. Beyond that, performance-per-dollar gets progressively worse. Both the Radeon R9 290X and GeForce GTX 780 Ti offer relatively little frame rate increase for what you spend beyond the 290's price tag.

As you approach the upper echelon of frame rates, your dollar doesn't stretch as far. But if you're a hardcore gamer who wants to experience the highest resolutions and most taxing detail settings, the most expensive cards in this list might be attractive. Just keep in mind that two Radeon R9 290s are going to cost you $780, and they're not going to perform noticeably slower than a Radeon R9 295X2 at $1000.

Summary

There you have it folks, the best cards for the money this month!

And remember that the stores don’t follow this list. Things will change over the course of the month and you’ll probably have to adapt your buying strategy to deal with fluctuating prices. Good luck!

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  • 0 Hide
    adamovera , September 14, 2014 9:31 PM
    Archived comments are found here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-2250433/graphics-cards-money-january-2012.html
  • 6 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , September 14, 2014 9:49 PM
    AMD rules the charts :) 
  • 2 Hide
    blackmagnum , September 14, 2014 9:52 PM
    Please update Intel graphics. They can also game, you know.
  • 0 Hide
    Marius_Bota , September 14, 2014 10:19 PM
    Because TitanZ is included in the hierarchy chat, please include it in the performance/dollar chart for us to make an impression on card's performance.
  • 0 Hide
    kamhagh , September 14, 2014 11:07 PM
    a little tip, never ever ever ever get AMD for Linux :) 
  • 2 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , September 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    "The GeForce GT 750, 740 GDDR5, and 730 DDR3 shed $5 each to $15, $95, and $65."
    Where can I get these $15 gtx 750's?

    [EDIT by Cleeve]
    Derp! Fixed to $65 :p 
    [/EDIT]
  • 4 Hide
    Nuckles_56 , September 15, 2014 12:04 AM
    Also, why does the r9 290x need a 500W PSU and the GTX 780ti need a 600W one when the 780ti uses less power?
  • 0 Hide
    toms my babys daddy , September 15, 2014 12:18 AM
    is this just a repost of last month? the link was already purple for me. lol

    [EDIT by Cleeve]
    Not a repost. We simply re-use the same URL so people don't have to change links to the article. :) 
    [/EDIT]
  • 0 Hide
    qlum , September 15, 2014 12:35 AM

    Quote:
    a little tip, never ever ever ever get AMD for Linux :) 


    I can second that for gaming at least. However hardware acceleration in video is pretty great still under the open source drivers. My e350 still works perfectly at 1080p in about any format using those.

    I really which and got its shot together on the Linux driver front though.
  • 6 Hide
    chaosmassive , September 15, 2014 12:38 AM
    in the hierarchy chart if new card added in the list
    can you make a bold font of it
    to highlight that new card has been added it
    to ease people look up on the list since so many card in one column

    this is just a suggestion though...thx
  • -1 Hide
    cd000 , September 15, 2014 5:05 AM
    Quote:
    AMD rules the charts :) 


    Yep, AMD did it again!
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , September 15, 2014 5:25 AM
    Quote:
    is this just a repost of last month? the link was already purple for me. lol

    For quarterly roundups, they simply update the existing article and re-post it instead of creating a new article from a template and a new forum thread - see how this thread's title still says January 2012?

    Many people, myself included, find this quite annoying since it makes it impossible to go back to past versions to compare them against each other for things like tracking how recommendations progressed over time unless you archive them for yourself.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , September 15, 2014 5:39 AM
    Quote:
    Please update Intel graphics. They can also game, you know.

    Not very well though.

    But yeah, Haswell's HD4600 is up to 50% faster than Ivy's HD4000 and that should be enough to earn it a spot a few tiers higher, which should be noteworthy since it rules out some of the lowest-end and more ancient GPUs as viable "upgrades."
  • 0 Hide
    sincreator , September 15, 2014 5:59 AM
    This will be the third article in a row that I pose the same question. Why in the multi card section do you mention the 290 crossfire only from AMD? Is 2 x r9 280 for $400 not a good deal? What about 2 x r9 280x for $550? There are a lot of people out there that would possibly consider adding an extra one of these cards. That is the reason for that section right? So why recommend pretty much all Nvidia's SLI solutions, but only mention the r9 290 from AMD's side for crossfire?
  • 1 Hide
    hippenmoor , September 15, 2014 6:59 AM
    Several of the "gaming" laptops on the market are using the GeForce GT 750M. Could you add it to the hierarchy chart so we can see where it falls?
  • 0 Hide
    DrNLS , September 15, 2014 7:04 AM
    Guru Meditation #00000025.65045048
    You lost the GTX670 in the Hierarchy Chart. Press left mouse button to continue.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , September 15, 2014 7:09 AM
    Quote:
    So why recommend pretty much all Nvidia's SLI solutions, but only mention the r9 290 from AMD's side for crossfire?

    Because AMD's GPUs still have too many unresolved crossfire performance consistency issues so people buying from scratch are more likely to get an enjoyable playing experience out of a 290X than 2x280 for about the same price?
  • 0 Hide
    sincreator , September 15, 2014 7:24 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    So why recommend pretty much all Nvidia's SLI solutions, but only mention the r9 290 from AMD's side for crossfire?

    Because AMD's GPUs still have too many unresolved crossfire performance consistency issues so people buying from scratch are more likely to get an enjoyable playing experience out of a 290X than 2x280 for about the same price?


    What unresolved issues? Frame pacing was the big one, but that's fixed now afaik. So why mention the 290 xfire then? So you would recommend that someone that allready has a r9 280x to sell it and spend another $500+ on a single GPU card instead of picking up a second card. That is the main reason for the mutiple graphics section, is it not?

  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , September 15, 2014 7:45 AM
    Quote:
    So you would recommend that someone that allready has a r9 280x to sell it and spend another $500+ on a single GPU card instead of picking up a second card. That is the main reason for the mutiple graphics section, is it not?

    That's why I specified FROM SCRATCH - no existing GPU to start with.

    Once you are invested in one particular GPU and do not want to give it up, your upgrade path is already set regardless of where your existing GPU stands on the bang-per-buck chart.
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , September 15, 2014 7:54 AM
    Quote:
    This will be the third article in a row that I pose the same question. Why in the multi card section do you mention the 290 crossfire only from AMD? Is 2 x r9 280 for $400 not a good deal? What about 2 x r9 280x for $550? There are a lot of people out there that would possibly consider adding an extra one of these cards. That is the reason for that section right? So why recommend pretty much all Nvidia's SLI solutions, but only mention the r9 290 from AMD's side for crossfire?


    Sorry, I didn't notice this question before.

    I do this because AMD cards scale very poorly, until the Hawaii GCN update.

    Nvidia had frame pacing hardware built into their GPUs from some time, but Tahiti generation GCN parts have latency problems in multi-card configs. This is fixed in the bridge-free Hawaii (and presumably Tonga, although we haven't tested it yet) Crossfire configs.

    Hope that answers your question,

    - Don (Cleeve)

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