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PCI-E Interface

Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: April 08

Best PCI-E Card For Under $100

Radeon HD 2600XT
Codename: RV630
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 8
ROPs: 4
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1400 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

(Compare Prices on Radeon HD 2600 XT Cards)

The performance of the 2600 XT is very close to that of the GeForce 8600 GT GDDR3, but at $75 online, the 2600XT is cheaper and takes the recommendation this month. The 8600 GT DDR2 can be found at this price, but the DDR2 version has crippled performance compared to its GDDR3 sibling.

Best PCI-E Card For $100

GeForce 8600 GTS
Codename: G84
Process: 80nm
Universal Shaders: 32
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 675
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (2000 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

At launch time, the 8600 GTS was grossly overpriced compared to the X1950 PRO, but now the X1950 PRO has all but disappeared, and the ones we could find were highly overpriced. In addition, the 8600 GTS can be found for as low as $100, which is about half the price the 8600 GTS was introduced at. Because of this aggressive pricing, it’s the first time the 8600 GTS can get our wholehearted recommendation.

Best PCI-E Card For $135

Radeon 3850 256 MB
Codename: RV670
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 670
Memory Speed MHz: 833 (1666 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3850 has been found as low as $135 online, and at this price, it’s an absolute steal, offering the consumer AMD’s highest-performing GPU at lower clockspeeds than the 3870 and an extremely aggressive price. If you’re looking to get the best possible performance for the dollar, this card hits the sweet spot.

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