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Best PCIe Card: $250 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$340:

Radeon HD 5870 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5870 1 GB
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

For $90 less than the price of this card, a GeForce GTX 470 delivers exceptional performance in the games that matter today. For ~$30 more, a pair of Radeon HD 6850s or GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards will up the ante considerably. From a raw price/performance standpoint, this makes the Radeon HD 5870 a harder sell.

But that is not to say the Radeon HD 5870 is underpowered. It is the fastest single-GPU Radeon option available, sporting relatively low power usage (remarkably low at idle), and the hardware prowess needed to accelerate DirectX 11-based games. The Radeon HD 5870 definitely remains viable.

For those thinking at the other end of the performance spectrum, a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire is an attractive option.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$370: Tie

Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI easily beat down a single GeForce GTX 480, as demonstrated in this article by Thomas Soderstrom. Early indications suggest that the Radeon HD 6850 scales well in CrossFire mode, and should offer good competition for a couple of GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards.

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI Configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI
Codename: GF104
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 672 (2 x 336)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

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

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1920 (2 x 960)
Texture Units: 96 (2 x 48)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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