Detailed 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 available for a particular price.
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. We update every month, and it's now time for the August 2007 version of the best gaming graphics cards for the money.
July Review And August Updates
July saw the availability of ATI's new low and lower-midrange cards: the Radeon 2400 and 2600 series. Like the Geforce 8500 GT, the Radeon 2400 is not a card that a gamer would consider, but the Radeon 2600 is a good competitor for the Geforce 8600 GT, as well as the older Geforce 7600 GT and Radeon X1650 XT. Since it can be found around $110, the Radeon 2600XT has made the best buy list Compare Prices on Top Video Cards.
In the sub-$100 PCI Express category, the 7600 GS has lowered in price enough to retake the top spot, edging out its 7300 GT DDR2 cousin.
Another notable development is that the Radeon X1950 XT has dropped in price to as low as $165, which is an absolute steal for this powerful card. Its only drawback is that it's a DirectX 9.0c class card, but the only DirectX 10 class card in the same price range - the Geforce 8600 GTS - isn't nearly powerful enough to compete with the X1950 XT.
Remember folks: game developers would not cut their own throats by ignoring the massive DirectX 9 user base. If anyone dared to make a DirectX 10 only game, they would limit their market so severely that they'd have to struggle to make any profit at all. Therefore, even brand new PC games that feature DirectX 10 graphics will also support DirectX 9 cards for years to come.
Otherwise, things are pretty quiet. We're all waiting for ATI or Nvidia to step up to the plate and give us a powerful ~$200 midrange card with DirectX 10 capability. Perhaps a Geforce 8800 GS or the upcoming dual-GPU Radeon 2600 "Gemini" will fit the bill.
On the AGP front, things are pretty quiet. There are low-end DirectX 10 cards rumored to come out for the AGP interface, but that's not really relevant to gamers, because the current X1950PRO and XT cards will be far more powerful anyway.
The Best Gaming Graphics Cards For The Money
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind as you read:
- 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 change 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 if buying 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 that's outside the scope of what we're trying to do.