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PCI-Express Interface

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: October 2006

Best PCIe Card For Under $100

Radeon X800 GTO 128 MB

Codename: R420, 13 micron technology
12 Pixel Shaders, Six Vertex Shaders, 12 Texture Units, 12 Raster Operations Processors
256 bit memory bus
400 MHz core, 350 MHz DDR (700 MHz Effective) Memory

A card with 256 bit memory in the lowest price category? Bizarre. This card has been comfortably in the $100 - $150 price category, but now that it retails for less than $100, it hands other cards in this league their butts - the vanilla 6600, X700, and X1300 PRO simply can't compete with an X800 GTO. These cheap X800 GTOs usually come with slower memory and clock speeds than their 256 MB counterparts, but they are still amazing for the price. Some people will complain about their lack of SM 3.0 capability, but in this category it really doesn't matter, the GTO has the power to pull good performance regardless.

Geforce 7300 GT GDDR3

Codename: G73, 90 nm technology
Eight Pixel shaders, Four Vertex shaders, Eight Texture units, Eight Raster operations processors
128 bit memory bus
500 MHz core, 700 MHz GDDR3 (1000 MHz Effective) Memory

Not to be confused with the slower DDR2 Version of the 7300 GT, the GDDR3 equipped 7300 GTs are pretty darn quick; they at least keep up with the 7600 GS. It holds up well against the X800 GTO, and is another great sub-$100 choice that can make a cheap gaming rig a reality.

Best PCIe Card For ~$140

Geforce 7600 GT

Codename: G73, 90 nm technology
12 Pixel shaders, Five Vertex shaders, 12 Texture units, Eight Raster operations processors
128 bit memory bus
560 MHz core, 700 MHz DDR (1400 MHz Effective) Memory

The 7600 GT is an amazing card in this price range, sporting new SM 3.0 technology and very high clock speeds to deliver excellent performance. Its weakest feature is its 128 bit memory bus, but its high memory speeds offset that disadvantage and make it competitive with 256 bit cards like the X850 XT.

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