Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best PCIe Card: ~$100 To $190

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: July 2010
By

Best PCIe Card For ~$105: Tie

Radeon HD 4850 512 MB (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 4850
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4850 can still be found at the ~$100 price point after a brief hiatus, and while we keep waiting for availability to dry up in the face of Radeon HD 5000-series successors, we hope it lasts.

Then again, the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 seem determined to stay on the market for as long as possible. Could it be just a glut of inventory? Perhaps.

GeForce GTS 250 (Check Prices)

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

GeForce GTS 250
Codename: G92
Process: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 738 / 1836
Memory Speed MHz: 1100 (2200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

As fast as the Radeon HD 4850 is, Nvidia's GeForce GTS 250 remains a viable option with similar gaming performance.

With an eye to the future, your choice between these $100 cards probably relies more on whether or not your motherboard is CrossFire- or SLI-compatible. At this point in the development in DirectX 11, it doesn't make much sense to favor AMD's last-generation GPU for its DirectX 10 support.

Best PCIe Card For ~$125:

Radeon HD 5750 1 GB (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 5750 1GB
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

The price of the 1 GB Radeon HD 5750 remains quite low, and it's enough for us to take away the recommendation from the 1 GB versions of AMD's Radeon HD 4850 and Nvidia's GeForce GTS 250.

Although it costs a few dollars more, the 5750 is more appealing due to its DirectX 11 hardware capabilities. There are other benefits too, such as Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming and Eyefinity triple-display output support, making this card an easy $125 choice on all fronts.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$155:

Radeon HD 5770 1GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770
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

While AMD's new Radeon HD 5770 isn't any faster than the older Radeon HD 4870 (we've found that it's even slightly slower in many instances), it does have something the Radeon HD 4870 doesn't have: full DirectX 11 and Eyefinity support. Indeed, while the Radeon HD 5770 doesn't run away with any performance crowns in this category, it does look good from a longevity/value standpoint.

Perhaps more importantly, at the $155 price point, there is nothing to compete against this card now that the Radeon HD 4870 is at the end of its effective life. Nvidia claims that its GeForce GTX 260 remains the last GT200-based card in its lineup, but supply is definitely not what it used to be (nor is the card's price tag, which usually hovers around $200 now). Until Nvidia can offer some new competition at this price point, the Radeon HD 5770 will remain one of the most powerful gamer's cards for the price.

(Ed.: Keep an eye out in the next two weeks. Don's foreshadowing might just turn into something concrete!)

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

React To This Article