Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great - that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a particular budget. So, if you don't have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don't feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not. We at Tom's Hardware Guide have come to your aid, with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list include:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don't play games, the cards in this list are more expensive than you need
- Prices and availability changes on a daily basis. We can't offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing information, but we can list some good cards that you probably won't regret buying at the price ranges we suggest
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries, or at retail, your mileage will most certainly vary
- These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but are beyond the scope of what we're trying to do here.
March Review And April Updates
With no new SKUs released in March, all is quiet on this front. This is the calm before the storm as everyone waits for the new DirectX 10 cards to be announced this month: ATI's R6x0 top-to-bottom line and Nvidia's midrange G80 derivatives. Prices have remained fairly stable, with small decreases in some segments, but on the whole, everything is very stable.
There have been a few notable changes, however. The X1650 PRO has been removed from the sub-$100 PCI Express list as a best buy, because the market has been flooded with poorly performing DDR2 versions of the card. It's the GDDR3 versions of the X1650 PRO that offer good performance, but these are hard to find, and almost reach the price point of the X1650 XT and 7600 GT, which perform much better.
In AGP, the X1950 XT has been released by Gecube and is available online. This is, quite simply, the fastest card to ever grace the AGP interface. At ~$270 though, it's a tough sell unless you have a very fast AGP system that can take advantage of its power. Another factor is that many folks are waiting to see if any DirectX 10 cards will be announced for the AGP bus in the upcoming months.
Best PCI-E Card For Under $100
|GeForce 7600 GS|
|Core Speed (MHz):||400|
|Memory Speed (MHz):||400 (800 effective)|
With identical features to its faster 7600 GT brethren, the 7600 GS lacks only the core and memory clock speeds; the GT's clock speeds are so much higher, however, that the GS pales in comparison. Nevertheless, the 7600 GS is a good performer in the sub-$100 segment when compared to the X800 GTO and X1650 PRO.
Check the The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money Series Overview for more articles in this series.