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Best PCIe Card: Over $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: July 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$440:

Two Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

2 x Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire
Codename: RV870
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2240 (2 x 1120)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

Two Radeon HD 5830 cards in CrossFire will beat out a single Radeon HD 5870, just like a dual Radeon HD 4890 setup does. But the newer Radeon HD 5830 cards offer all the DirectX 11 and Eyefinity goodies, too.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$480: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 480 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 480
Codename: GF100
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 480
Texture Units: 60
ROPs: 48
Memory Bus: 384-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 700 / 1401
Memory Speed MHz:   924 (3696 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Nvidia is a competitive company. And while the Radeon HD 5970 maintains its title of fastest video card in the world, Nvidia has reclaimed the honor of selling the fastest single-GPU graphics card. This is, of course, the GeForce GTX 480, which performs notably faster than the Radeon HD 5870, on average.

It's hard to justify the $80 price premium over AMD's Radeon HD 5870, but it's pretty easy to justify a $220 savings compared to the Radeon HD 5970, so I suppose the card is positioned appropriately. We do feel it should probably be priced closer to the Radeon HD 5870 based on its performance, though. But for buyers who value the GeForce GTX 480's value-added features like PhysX, 3D Vision, and CUDA, the card is a "tank," as Nvidia's Ujesh Desai puts it.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 480 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$580:

Two Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

2 x Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2880 (2 x 1440)
Texture Units: 144 (2 x 72)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Two Radeon HD 5850 cards in CrossFire are a force, to be sure, with power almost equaling a single Radeon HD 5970 for $120 less, coupled with abundant availability. This configuration has become the de facto standard setup for folks who want serious power from a high-end machine.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$700: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5970 (Check Prices)

Great 2560x1600 performance

Radeon HD 5970
Codename: 2 x RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 3200 (2 x 1600)
Texture Units: 160 (2 x 80)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

3200 shader processors. There isn't much more we need to say about the brutal rendering muscle that characterizes the world's fastest graphics card, the Radeon HD 5970. With two Radeon HD 5870 GPUs onboard, the only things we can complain about are scant availability and an extremely high price tag. Availability has improved over time; the price not so much. But if you're in the market for this card, price probably isn't an issue.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5970 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
    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.
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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