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Best PCI-E Card For ~$280

Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: September 2007
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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, and 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 $280, this card really brings unheard of performance for the price, and it isn't notably slower than its 640 MB 8800 GTS cousin, which costs almost $100 more.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$380: Tie
GeForce 8800 GTS (640 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

This is the same card as the GeForce 8800 320 MB, but with double the graphics memory. This extra memory helps performance at resolutions higher than 1600x1200 and game titles that offer a high-resolution texture set that takes advantage of more than 320 MB. The biggest downside to the 8800 GTS 640 MB is that its cheaper 320 MB cousin offers very close performance for much less scratch. However, if you plan to play your games at very high resolutions 1600x1200 or above, it's worth the extra money for the 640 MB version.

Radeon HD X2900 XT
Codename: R600
Process: 80nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 512-bit
Core Speed MHz: 740
Memory Speed MHz: 825 (1650 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The Radeon HD 2900 XT debuted with mediocre performance compared to the GeForce 8800 GTS 640, especially when price was factored in. But ATI has stepped up to bat and introduced fresh drivers that really bring out the 2900's potential, even allowing it to challenge the 8800 GTX in some arenas.

Even so, the 8800 GTS 640 MB is still a great card and can challenge the 2900 XT in some titles, and on average you will find the 8800 GTS for less money. With this in mind, both cards are recommended in this price segment.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$500
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)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

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 low-priced 8800 Ultras starting at the $610 mark, it's hard to justify an extra $100 for an overclock.

In all honesty, even the $220 cheaper 8800 GTS 320 MB 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 a top-tier card - this is the card for you.

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