August gives you price reductions across the Radeon and GeForce line-ups. We also take a close look at AMD's Mantle graphics API, test PowerColor's new dual Radeon R9 290X and AMD's FirePro W8100, and talk about Nvidia's upcoming Maxwell-based cards.
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.
The only new graphics card to appear online in the last month was Nvidia's GeForce GT 730 64-bit DDR3, which we anticipated and talked about in July. At $70, it's the same price as the vastly superior GeForce GT 730 with GDDR5 memory on a 64-bit bus. That board dropped $5 on average, earning our only recommendation under $100.
Other GeForce cards became more affordable, too: the GeForce GTX 660, GTX 750 Ti, GTX 650, GT 630 GDDR5, and GT 620 sell for $5 less, landing at $180, $145, $105, $60, and $55, respectively. In addition, the $660 GeForce GTX 780 Ti and $240 GeForce GTX 760 both shed $10 in the last month.
Those changes don't alter our recommendations though, as AMD's prices also dropped. The Radeon R9 290X, R9 290, R9 280X, R9 280, R9 270, and R7 240 all cost $10 less than the last time we updated this column, landing at $520, $390, $290, $240, $170, and $60, respectively. The Radeon R9 270X became $20 cheaper, and at $180, it displaces the less capable but similarly-priced $170 Radeon R7 270.
As for GPU news, I recently took an in-depth look at AMD's Mantle. Those of you interested in a high-level overview of the API, along with the most detailed benchmarks available across a range of CPUs and graphics cards may enjoy AMD Mantle: A Graphics API Tested In Depth. Speaking of Mantle, we recently posted some news about future titles coded for AMD's API in our Report: GTA V to Have AMD Mantle Support.
Anyone looking for graphics card reviews to read should check out PowerColor Devil 13 Dual Core R9 290X 8 GB Review: Dual Hawaii on Air. Graphics professionals will also want to take a look at AMD FirePro W8100 Review: The Professional Radeon R9 290.
If you're looking for next-generation launch information, then join the club. We've heard plenty of murmurs about Nvidia's Mawell architecture (beyond what we already covered in our GeForce GTX 750 Ti stories, of course). With no official information circulating, we can't confirm any details. But other sites are reporting that we might see a GeForce GTX 880 in the September time frame.
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.
- Best Graphics Cards for the Money, August Updates
- Best Entry-Level Graphics Cards: $140 and Under
- Best Mid-Range Graphics Cards: $145 to $200
- Best Enthusiast Graphics Cards: $210 to $390
- Best High-End Graphics Cards: $400 to $800
- Best Extreme Graphics Cards: Over $800 and Multi-Card Configurations
- Graphics Card Performance Hierarchy Chart
- Conclusion: Performance Per Dollar