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This month we discuss Nvidia's new GeForce GT 545, add a lot of new GPUs to the graphics card hierarchy chart at our readers' request, and discuss some conspiracy theories swirling around the introduction of next-generation products!
Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
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 at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
There weren't any official graphics card launches last month. At least, there weren't any we were invited to participate in. However, Nvidia did create a new product for OEMs called the GeForce GTX 545. This card sports the GF116 GPU from its GeForce GTX 550 Ti, but with one of its four Streaming Multiprocessors disabled. As a result, it has 144 shader cores, three PolyMorph Engines, and 24 texture units.
Complicating the issue even further, the DDR3-based GeForce GT 545 enjoys all three ROP partitions, yielding a 192-bit memory interface and 24 ROPs. But the GDDR5 version sees one of the partitions disabled, resulting in a 128-bit memory interface and 16 ROPs. That's probably done to keep the card from showing up more expensive models.
No matter how you slice it, the GeForce GT 545 has decent performance potential, and we've been waiting for Nvidia to introduce a product that can compete with AMD's Radeon HD 5670/6670. Let's face it; the GeForce GT 240 gets outclassed in that face-off. And we can't help but notice that the GeForce GT 240 is getting scarce anyway, with only two DDR3 models and a single GDDR5-based SKU available on Newegg the last time we checked. It might be wishful thinking on our part, but perhaps the retail market is being prepared for the introduction of the GeForce GT 545 as its replacement.
On a side note, EVGA announced it plans to offer a retail GeForce GT 545 DDR3 card. However, the $149 on its Web site, identical to the GeForce GTX 550 Ti's asking price, is humorously high. This card needs to be in the $85 range to make it a viable price/performance option.
We did notice that the Radeon HD 6970 and 6990 are in short supply. When we mentioned that to AMD, suggesting that we can't recommend products that aren't available, the company said it is encountering a supply issue and having trouble keeping up with demand. It is, however, purportedly taking steps to put more Radeon HD 6990s in the channel. We have to admit that high-end cards slowly disappearing makes us think next-gen hardware, especially after hearing rumors that the Radeon HD 7000-series is already in production. But even if AMD debuts its next round of boards early, this really isn't the right time of the year for an introduction.
At the request of our readers, we added the Radeon engines built into AMD's Fusion-based APUs to the hierarchy chart, in addition to the newest mobile GPUs from both major suppliers. Aside from those changes, there's very little to discuss this month. Prices dropped here and there, but none of the shifts were significant. Enjoy the last month of this quiet summer. We all know things get a lot more interesting when the kids go back to school.
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list: