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Best PCI-E Card For ~$200

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: April 2007
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I had a hard time with this segment, because the GeForce 7900 GT can be had for about $200 now, and the 7950 GT can be bought for as low as $215.

These are both good cards, and both are better than the Radeon X1950 PRO and GeForce 7900 GS. So why didn't I recommend them? Simple: these cards are squeezed in by better deals.

Below this price level, the Radeon X1950 PRO and GeForce 7900 GS offer very good and fairly close performance for a price tag that is at least $30 cheaper. On the upper end, the GeForce 7950 GT is hard to recommend at $200-230 when the Radeon X1950 XT's price is down to $230 and it is so much more powerful.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$230

Radeon X1950 XT
Codename: R580+
Process: 90 nm
Pixel Shaders: 48
Vertex Shaders: 8
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 625
Memory Speed (MHz): 900 (1800 effective)

The X1950 XT is a powerful videocard. Its core runs a mere 25 MHz slower than that of the X1950 XTX, and its memory runs a full 250 MHz (effective) faster than the X1900 XTX. In English, this means it is on par with the previous X1900 XTX champ, and fast enough to run at high resolutions with nice eye candy. It will handily beat a 7950 GT, and even best a 7900 GTO or 7900 GTX at most tasks.

The X1950 XT is a great deal at the $230 price point, and I've seen it go for this price on Newegg. Many are $250 or higher, though, and at that price we begin to tread too close to the more powerful 8800 GTS.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$280

GeForce 8800 GTS (320mb version)
Codename: G80
Process: 90 nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 54
ROPs: 20
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 500
Memory Speed (MHz): 800 (1600 effective)

The GeForce 8800 GTS is the little brother of the 8800 GTX; both are based on the same Nvidia next-generation DirectX 10 GPU. The 8800 GTS is slightly crippled compared to the GTX, but it will still beat powerhouse cards like the dual-GPU 7950 GX2 in many cases. At the $300 price point, this card really brings unheard of performance for the price - it isn't notably slower than its 640mb 8800 GTS cousin, which costs almost $100 more.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$380

GeForce 8800 GTS (640mb version)
Codename: G80
Process: 90 nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 54
ROPs: 20
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core Speed (MHz): 500
Memory Speed (MHz): 800 (1600 effective)

The GeForce 8800 GTS is the little brother of the 8800 GTX; both are based on the same Nvidia next-generation DirectX 10 GPU. The 8800 GTS is slightly crippled compared to the GTX, but will still beat powerhouse cards like the dual-GPU 7950 GX2 in many cases. The biggest downside to the 8800 GTS 640mb is that its cheaper 320mb cousin offers very close performance for much less scratch.

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