Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best PCIe Card: Under $85

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: December '09
By

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$50:

Radeon HD 4650 (Check Prices)

Great 1280x1024 performance in most games, 1680x1050 with lowered detail

Radeon HD 4650 DDR3
Codename: RV730
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 400 (800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

You will not find a card that packs more punch than ATI's Radeon HD 4650 under the alluring $50 price point. With solid stock performance and an overclockable GPU, this card is an excellent starting point for our recommendations, and a wholly worthwhile upgrade if you're currently stuck using a motherboard with integrated graphics.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$65:  Tie

Radeon HD 4670 (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670
Codename: RV730
Process: 55nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

With the release of Nvidia's GeForce GT 240, ATI's Radeon HD 4670 is no longer the most powerful reference card without a dedicated power connector. However, it remains a compelling solution under the $75 price point, which Nvidia's solution simply hasn't hit yet.

Performance is excellent and power usage is very low, making this product an impressive performer all-around. Its accelerated clock rates and modestly-higher price tag are worth considering if you originally had your eye on the Radeon HD 4650.

GeForce 9600 GSO (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

GeForce 9600 GSO
Codename: G94/G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 48 (G94) / 96 (G92)
Texture Units: 24 (G94) / 48 (G92)
ROPs: 12
Memory Bus: 256-bit (G94)/128-bit (G92)
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 550/1,375
Memory Speed MHz: 800 (1,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The GeForce 9600 GSO is seems to be getting quite hard to find, and is likely being end-of-life'd soon in favor of the new GeForce GT 240. Nevertheless, as long as it is available, the GeForce 9600 GSO remains a powerful competitor compared to the Radeon HD 4670. While the GeForce requires a dedicated PCIe power connector to supply more juice than the Radeon, it does offer better performance in some situations.

Best PCIe Card For ~$85:

GeForce 9600 GT (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

GeForce 9600 GT
Codename: G94
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 64
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 650
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The GeForce 9600 GT is a great performer, thanks in part to its high-end 256-bit memory interface and speedy DDR3 memory. It's a great choice on an $85 budget, even if the architecture on which it centers is showing its age.

Certainly, this card's continued presence here is a testament to Nvidia's engineering work dating back almost two years ago. With that said, we'd certainly like to see the company's latest DirectX 10.1 cards drop in price to compete against ATI's strong offerings.

React To This Article