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The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: December 2006

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: December 2006

Complex graphics card specifications and reviews are great if you have the time to do the research, but at the end of the day what a gamer really needs is to find the graphics card their money can buy. So if you don't have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don't feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not! We at Tom's Hardware Guide have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards on offer for the money.

Keep a few simple guidelines 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 in this list are more expensive than you need.
  • Prices and availability changes on a daily basis. We can't keep up-to-the-minute accurate on pricing, but we can list some good cards that you probably won't regret buying at the price ranges we suggest.
  • The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or retail channels, your mileage will most certainly vary.
  • These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but are out of the scope of what we're trying to do.

November Review And December Updates

Nvidia has released their next-generation DirectX 10 GeForce 8800 line of graphics cards in November. These have proven themselves to be exceptionally powerful, easily beating out ATI's former single-GPU champ, the Radeon X1950 XTX. The 8800s come in two flavors - the top of the line GTX, and the slightly slower GTS. Even the 8800 GTS will usually overpower the dual-GPU 7950 GX2 in high resolution testing. With both the X1950 XTX and 8800 GTS in the $400 - $500 range, it is difficult to recommend ATI's X1950 XTX any longer. ATI did make some notable introductions in November, with the new X1950 XT showing up in the ~$270 price point and dominating the entire $200 to $400 range. These cards are incredibly powerful for the price. On the other hand, the new X1650 XTs that have shown up in retail are too expensive for $150 to $200. With the excellent 7600 GT offering similar performance for as low as $120 online, it's a hard sell. X1950 PROs seem to have risen a bit in price during the past month. At introduction these cards were seen for as low as $160, but now seem to be firmly in the $220 range. With the 7900 GS offering slightly less performance for about $180, and their X1950 XT brethren offering much more performance for $260, the X1950 PRO is no longer a recommended buy unless they can be found for $200 or less in December. The overclockable 7900 GS is recommended, however. In AGP, the upcoming X1950 PRO hasn't arrived yet, but they should be coming very soon. Time will tell if their price is reasonable enough to recommend them, however. If they cost about $240 on release, they may be worth purchasing for AGP users with fast systems.

Check the The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money Series Overview for more articles in this series.

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