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Best PCIe Card: $100 To $170

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$130: Tie

The raw performance of these cards is quite close to the older and cheaper Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250, but the new cards do offer support for DirectX 11 compatibility and high-def audio bitstreaming over HDMI. The GeForce GTS 450's raw performance is slightly higher than the Radeon HD 5750, although the Radeon appears to perform a little better when anti-aliasing is employed (probably due to its higher memory bandwidth).

GeForce cards tend to scale better than their Radeon counterparts when paired in SLI, so the GeForce GTS 450 is probably the better investment if you plan to snag a second card somewhere down the line. The GeForce GTS 450 offers Blu-ray 3D playback acceleration, but the Radeon HD 5750 features the Eyefinity multi-monitor option.

GeForce GTS 450 (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered details

GeForce GTS 450
Codename: GF106
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 192
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz:   783 / 1566
Memory Speed MHz: 902 (3608 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTS 450 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Radeon HD 5750 1 GB (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 5750 1 GB
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 720
Texture Units: 36
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 700
Memory Speed MHz: 1150 (4600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5750 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$145:

Radeon HD 5770 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770 1 GB
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Even with the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB dropping to $160, the Radeon HD 5770 1 GB remains a viable $140 option, as it offers a worthwhile upgrade beyond the cheaper Radeon HD 5750 and GeForce GTS 450.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5770 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$160:

GeForce GTX 460 768 MB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 460 768 MB
Codename: GF104
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 336
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 24
Memory Bus: 192-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

The GeForce GTX 460 768 MB delivers impressive performance and a reasonable price tag, low noise output, and remarkably low power usage compared to GF100-equipped cards like the GeForce GTX 470 and 480.

This is the first card that has really blown us away at $200 since AMD's Radeon HD 4890 was phased out, and the introduction of the new Radeon HD 6800-series recently forced prices even lower. Where it sits, the GeForce GTX 460 is an undeniable value.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

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