Nvidia's misreported GeForce GTX 970 specs continue to dominate the graphics world news, with a public apology from the CEO and the launch of a class-action lawsuit. Of course, we also report the latest trends in graphics card pricing!
Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great, assuming you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, a gamer needs to know what the best graphics card is for their money. So, if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right card, then fear not. We've compiled a simple list of the best gaming cards offered in any given price range.
With no new products to report on since last month's update, the biggest news in the graphics world continues to be Nvidia's GeForce GTX 970 mea-culpa. Since the story about the company reporting incorrrect specifications about the card when it launched has become public knowledge, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang has Apologized For 'Miscommunication' On GTX 970 Specs, and a class-action Lawsuit was Filed Against Nvidia Over GTX 970 Specs Controversy. As we said when the story broke, the mis-reported specifications do not make the GeForce GTX 970 a bad buy - it's still one of the fastest cards on the planet for the dollar spent - but the perceived betrayal has left a very bad taste in gamer's mouths.
Now let's get down to pricing. The Radeon R9 290 has gone up an average of $30 to $300 since we checked last month, bringing this card too close to the $330 GeForce GTX 970 and forcing us to remove it from our list. The Radeon R9 290X has increased by $10, allowing it to retain it's shared recommendation with the GeForce GTX 970 under $350 for now, but if the spread increases that situation will change.
The good news is that a lot more Radeons have dropped in price: The Radeon R9 280 has shed $20 to $180, and the R9 280X has gotten $15 cheaper at $240, earning it a fresh place on our hallowed recommended list. The Radeon R9 285 and R7 250 DDR3 have both dropped $10 to $210 and $90, respectively. Finally, the Radeon R9 270 and R7 250 GDDR5 have shaved $5 off to $160 and $85.
There's been far less price movement from Nvidia, where the GeForce GT 650 has gotten $10 cheaper at $103, and the GT 750 is $5 less pricey at $110. The GeForce GT 730 DDR3 card gained $10 to $70, though.
As for news and rumors, we have heard that there will be some interesting announcements at this month's Game Developer's Conference (GDC), so stay tuned to Tom's Hardware as we have correspondents covering the event. Aside from that, we recently reported an exclusive that DirectX 12 Will Allow Multi-GPU Between GeForce And Radeon, which is worth a read for some tidbits about some surprising capabilities we've learned that the upcoming graphics API will offer.
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, the cards on this list are more expensive than what you really need. We've added a reference page at the end of the column covering integrated graphics processors, which is likely more apropos for home, office, and basic multimedia usage models.
- Be sure to check out our new performance per dollar comparison page, where you can overlay the benchmark data we’ve generated with pricing, giving you a better idea where your ideal choice falls on the value curve. The criteria to get on this list are strictly price/performance.
- Recommendations for multiple video cards, such as two Radeon cards in CrossFire mode or two GeForce cards in SLI, typically require a motherboard that supports CrossFire/SLI and possibly a chassis with plenty of space to install multiple graphics cards. These setups also usually call for a beefier power supply than what a single card needs, and will almost certainly produce more heat than a single card. Keep these factors in mind when making your purchasing decision. In most cases, if we have recommended a multiple-card solution, we try to recommend a single-card honorable mention at a comparable price point for those who find multi-card setups undesirable.
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t base our decisions on always-changing pricing information, but we can list some good cards that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest, along with real-time prices for your reference.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will almost certainly vary.
- These are new card prices. No used or open-box cards are in the list. While these offers might represent a good deal, it’s simply outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.