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Best PCIe Card For ~$200

The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: June 2007
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Radeon X1950 XT
Codename: R580+
Process: 90nm
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, 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 things.

The X1950 XT is an incredible deal at the $200 price point, and I've seen it go for as low as $190 on Newegg. Many are $250 or higher, though, and at that price it begins to tread too closely to the more powerful 8800 GTS.

Best PCIe Card For ~$280

GeForce 8800 GTS (320mb version)
Codename: G80
Process: 90nm
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. At $280, 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 PCIe Card For ~$360

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

This is the 640mb version of the card described just above. The biggest downside to the 8800 GTS 640mb is that its cheaper 320mb cousin offers very close performance for much less scratch. However, if you plan to play your games at high resolutions 1600x1200 or above, it's worth the extra money for the 640mb version.

Best PCIe Card For ~$540

GeForce 8800 GTX
Codename: G80
Process: 90nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 24
Memory Bus: 384-bit
Core Speed MHz: 575
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)

The introduction of the 8800 Ultra - essentially an overclocked 8800 GTX - relegated the GTX to second-fastest-videocard-in-the-world status. But with the 8800 Ultra weighing in at the $800 mark, who in their right mind would pay an extra $260 for an overclock?

In all honesty, even the $250 cheaper 8800 GTS 320mb would probably serve anyone well at resolutions below 1600x1200. But if you've got money to burn, play at high resolutions, and will only settle for the top of the line, this is the card for you.

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