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Best PCI-E Card For ~$120: Tie

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: April 2007
Radeon X1650 XT
Codename: RV560
Process: 80 nm
Pixel Shaders: 24
Vertex Shaders: 6
Texture Units: 8
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 575
Memory Speed (MHz): 675 (1350 effective)

The X1650 XT has recently come down in price, and is a good competitor to the 7600 GT. Overall performance is a bit faster than that of the 7600 GT, but they trade blows depending on the game. The bottom line is that you can get a really good gamer's card in the $120 price segment.

GeForce 7600 GT
Codename: G73
Process: 90 nm
Pixel Shaders: 12
Vertex Shaders: 5
Texture Units: 12
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 560
Memory Speed (MHz): 700 (1400 effective)

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.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$160: Tie

Radeon X1950 PRO
Codename: RV570
Process: 90 nm
Pixel Shaders: 36
Vertex Shaders: 8
Texture Units: 12
ROPs: 12
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 575
Memory Speed (MHz): 690 (1380 effective)

The X1950 PRO is similar to the X1900 GT: the main difference is that it is not based on the X1900 XT, but rather a whole new and less power-hungry core. The card's main competition is the 7900 GS, which the X1950 PRO will beat in most benchmarks at stock speeds. However, the 7900 GS tends to be cheaper, and the X1950 PRO does not overclock well, so they are both good buys depending on how you plan to use them.

GeForce 7900 GS
Codename: G71
Process: 90 nm
Pixel Shaders: 20
Vertex Shaders: 7
Texture Units: 20
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 450
Memory Speed (MHz): 660 (1320 effective)

Essentially, the card is an overclocked 7800 GT, sporting a 256-bit memory bus and decent clock speeds. It's a very good performer and a solid card for the money. While the X1950 PRO is also a stronger performer, it's a bit more expensive. The 7900 GS also has a good overclocking reputation, while the X1950 PRO does not.

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