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Best PCIe Card: $280 to $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: July 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$290:

Radeon HD 5850 (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 5850
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,440
Texture Units: 72
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Fortunately for value-seekers, the Radeon HD 5850 recently dropped back below the $300 price point where it belongs. Despite competition from Nvidia's GeForce GTX 470, the Radeon HD 5850 remains a superb performer for the money. It doesn't require a CrossFire-compatible motherboard, it sips power at idle, and the card sports DirectX 11 and Eyefinity capabilities. If sub-$300 price tags fit your budget, the Radeon HD 5850 is an obvious recommendation.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$310: None

Honorable Mention: 2 x Radeon HD 5770 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

2 x Radeon HD 5770 in CrossFire
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units: 80 (2 x 40)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

A pair of Radeon HD 5770s in CrossFire is a very effective high-end configuration for the dollar, often besting even AMD's Radeon HD 5850 on the performance front. The extra expense required by CrossFire manifested in high-end motherboards and power supplies prevents a clean recommendation, but this setup remains a viable option.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$330: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 470 (Check Prices)

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

GeForce GTX 470
Codename: GF100
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 448
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 40
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 607 / 1215
Memory Speed MHz: 837 (3348 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Along with the GeForce GTX 480 flagship, the GeForce GTX 470 is one of Nvidia's next-generation DirectX 11 cards, which performs between the Radeon HD 5850 and Radeon HD 5870, on average. Quite often it seems that the 470 performs more closely to the Radeon HD 5850, but in some cases, the GTX 470 really stands out.

Because of this, it's hard to give the GeForce GTX 470 a solid recommendation compared to the cheaper Radeon HD 5850. But its solid performance, coupled with PhysX, 3D Vision, and CUDA capabilities, can certainly make the GeForce GTX 470 an attractive buy for the gamer who values its strengths. And the price seems to be dropping, which takes the card a lot closer where it needs to be. At $315, the GeForce GT 470 would take a solid recommendation, but at $330 it gets an honorable mention. It's also worth mentioning that this board represents the best performance/price in Nvidia's GF100-based lineup.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 470 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$400: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5870 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5870
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 $100 less than the price of this card, a couple of Radeon HD 5770s (or a single Radeon HD 5850) can easily deliver exceptional performance in the games that matter today. From a raw price/performance standpoint, this makes the Radeon HD 5870 a harder sell. But that is not to say this card 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. For folks without a motherboard that supports CrossFire and a hefty power supply, the new Radeon HD 5870 is definitely a more-than-viable option.

For those thinking at the other end of the performance spectrum, a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire also make this an attractive card.

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

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    mitch074 , July 5, 2010 11:17 AM
    My 4850 is now entering its third year of faithful use - and it's still a recommendation! I can hardly believe it.

    It doesn't happen often, but this sure is a 'puter product that wasn't outdated 6 months after it came out.
  • 12 Hide
    cleeve , July 5, 2010 1:55 PM
    youssef 2010who said the 9600 disappeared.


    There's only three models of 9600 GT and two of 9600 GSO on Newegg, and they're all overpriced.

    For all practical purposes, the 9600 GSO is gone.
  • 10 Hide
    DjEaZy , July 5, 2010 10:04 AM
    ... it's ATi all over the place...
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    kckrich , July 5, 2010 6:12 AM
    God how I love Tom's.
  • 10 Hide
    touchdowntexas13 , July 5, 2010 6:22 AM
    I think I agree with the 5850 taking the solid recommendation and the gtx 470 not. The 5850 runs cooler, quieter, and uses less power.

    However I just got my GTX 470 with the EVGA lifetime warranty and free copy of Just Cause 2 for $330, so I am happy with that choice :) 

    Other than that, like the article states, it was a relatives quiet month for video card updates. Looking forward to ATI/Nvidia's next offerings as well as driver updates.
  • 0 Hide
    sprunth , July 5, 2010 6:52 AM
    Error on the 5770 article. Typed '5570' once in the middle.

    I just bought a 5770 like a week ago for $130 :) 

    The 5770 seems to be really good at OCing and economically better priced for X-fire.
  • -5 Hide
    misha87 , July 5, 2010 7:42 AM
    i thought that the 465 was going to be a little higher
  • -2 Hide
    notty22 , July 5, 2010 8:27 AM
    Quote:
    I think I agree with the 5850 taking the solid recommendation and the gtx 470 not. The 5850 runs cooler, quieter, and uses less power.

    However I just got my GTX 470 with the EVGA lifetime warranty and free copy of Just Cause 2 for $330, so I am happy with that choice :) 

    Other than that, like the article states, it was a relatives quiet month for video card updates. Looking forward to ATI/Nvidia's next offerings as well as driver updates.

    At $315, the GeForce GT 470 would take a solid recommendation, but at $330 it gets an honorable mention.
    Here is the GTX 470 at 299.99, sans rebate, free shipping. Read between the lines and the nod goes to Nvidia :) 
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127501&cm_re=gtx_470-_-14-127-501-_-Product
  • -6 Hide
    youssef 2010 , July 5, 2010 8:43 AM
    who said the 9600 disappeared.If you think so, kindly check the following links:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130360&cm_re=9600-_-14-130-360-_-Product

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814162030&cm_re=9600-_-14-162-030-_-Product

    for 9600GSO:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500149&cm_re=9600-_-14-500-149-_-Product
  • -5 Hide
    jordan009 , July 5, 2010 9:38 AM
    does crossfire even increase perofrmance by that much in games? (what if the games you paly arent optimised for it?) anyways :D  my card is in 4th of the list (5770)
  • 10 Hide
    DjEaZy , July 5, 2010 10:04 AM
    ... it's ATi all over the place...
  • -1 Hide
    FunSurfer , July 5, 2010 11:09 AM
    Why is the mobility HD 4860 is one tier lower than the mobility HD 4850?
  • 13 Hide
    mitch074 , July 5, 2010 11:17 AM
    My 4850 is now entering its third year of faithful use - and it's still a recommendation! I can hardly believe it.

    It doesn't happen often, but this sure is a 'puter product that wasn't outdated 6 months after it came out.
  • -3 Hide
    Petey1013 , July 5, 2010 12:56 PM
    I'm surprised there's no mention of GTX 470s in SLI, especially compared to a 5970.
  • 0 Hide
    Reynod , July 5, 2010 1:13 PM
    Don well done on an other great article.

    Gee the 9800gtx+ ... er GT250 is a steal at that price.

    Great card ... if a little hot on the old 65nm process.

    AMD need to drop the price another $10 on their remaining stock of 4 series GPU's and get them out the door ... and keep hammering NV on the 5 series front ... where is is more profitable anyway.



  • 12 Hide
    cleeve , July 5, 2010 1:55 PM
    youssef 2010who said the 9600 disappeared.


    There's only three models of 9600 GT and two of 9600 GSO on Newegg, and they're all overpriced.

    For all practical purposes, the 9600 GSO is gone.
  • 0 Hide
    DaeM , July 5, 2010 1:56 PM
    Best PCIe Card For ~$700: None

    lol trying to spend maximum allowable top-dollar geting ^^... none :p  lol
  • 1 Hide
    nerrawg , July 5, 2010 2:42 PM
    Great and simple guide as usual but I wonder Cleeve if the GFX hierarchy might benefit from adding a tier between the GTX 285/5850 and the GTX 260/4870 levels? This tier would be NVidia: GTX275, GTX280 and GTX 465; AMD: 4890 and 5830. I think such a tier might better reflect the descrepancy in GPU power between these cards and the GTX260/4870/5770 as well as the fact that there is at least a $50-100 separation in price between the preposed tiers.
  • -3 Hide
    scook9 , July 5, 2010 3:24 PM
    I disagree with the layout of the chart on the last page.

    The 4870x2 and 5870 are about equal and a GTX295 is not as good as a GTX 480. The GTX 295 and GTX 470 should be in that gap and the 5870 should be bumped up a notch
  • -5 Hide
    philiprudd , July 5, 2010 3:25 PM
    Nice for AMD again another month with a good lineup still unmatched in many price points but one that is bothering me is that you guys keep on showing the HD5870 is more powerful than a GTX470 but they look very close matched to me these last few weeks but with power and heat the HD cards is on there own with gr8 price/performance.

  • 6 Hide
    zooted , July 5, 2010 3:40 PM
    chriscusanoI thought the 5750 was dx10, not 11...

    All of the 5xxx series are dx11
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