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Best PCIe Card For ~$140

Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: August 2007
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Radeon X1950 PRO
Codename: RV570
Process: 90nm
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)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 9.0c / SM 3.0

With no high-performance DirectX 10 cards under $200 to compete against it, the relatively powerful X1950 PRO is having a field day. Yes, the 8600 GTS is a DirectX 10 card, but it's more expensive than the X1950 PRO, and isn't in the same performance league when higher resolutions are used.

The card's other competition is the 7900 GS, which the X1950 PRO will beat in most benchmarks at stock speeds. However, 7900 GS pricing seems to have recently risen to about $160, leaving the X1950 PRO free to reign in this price segment.

Best PCIe Card For ~$170

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)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 9.0c / SM 3.0

The X1950 XT is a powerful graphics card. 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, 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 $170 price point and I've seen it go for as low as $145 on Newegg after rebates. Many are $250 or higher though, and at that price it begins to tread too closely to the 8800 GTS which is more powerful.

Best PCIe Card For ~$280

GeForce 8800 GTS (320 MB 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)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

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 in many cases it will still beat powerhouse cards like the dual-GPU 7950 GX2. At $280, this card really brings unheard of performance for the price - it isn't notably slower than its 640 MB 8800 GTS cousin that costs almost $100 more.

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