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Best PCIe Card: $250 To $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: September 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$250:

2 x Radeon HD 5750 1 GB in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x Radeon HD 5750 1 GB in CrossFire
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1440 (2 x 720)
Texture Units: 72 (2 x 36)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 700
Memory Speed MHz: 1150 (4600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Dual Radeon HD 5750s in CrossFire make for a much more powerful option than a single Radeon HD 5830, if you're willing to spend the extra money to be sure you have a compatible motherboard and a beefier power supply. Fortunately, AMD has been much more flexible than Nvidia when it comes to licensing, and a majority of enthusiast-class platforms already support the company's multi-card rendering technology.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5750 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$300:

GeForce GTX 470 (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 470
Codename: GF100
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 448
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 40
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 607 / 1215
Memory Speed MHz: 837 (3348 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Quite often, it seems like the GeForce GTX 470 performs closely to the Radeon HD 5850. But in some cases, the GeForce GTX 470 really stands out on its own, even giving the Radeon HD 5870 a run for its money. Now priced at $300 (and sometimes found online for even less) the GeForce GTX 470 gets the lone recommendation in this price range for being a powerful DirectX 11 card with extra functionality like PhysX and 3D Vision.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 470 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$360: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5870 1 GB (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5870 1 GB
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

For $60 less than the price of this card, a GeForce GTX 470 delivers exceptional performance in the games that matter today. From a raw price/performance standpoint, this makes the Radeon HD 5870 a harder sell.

But that is not to say the Radeon HD 5870 is underpowered. It is the fastest single-GPU Radeon option available, sporting relatively low power usage (remarkably low at idle), and the hardware prowess needed to accelerate DirectX 11-based games. The Radeon HD 5870 definitely remains viable.

For those thinking at the other end of the performance spectrum, a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire is an attractive option.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    jamesedgeuk2000 , September 20, 2010 10:36 AM
    So the GTS450 costs 20% more than the GTX260 yet its a tier lower? RIPOFF!
  • 15 Hide
    ray-ng , September 20, 2010 11:07 AM
    I occasionally see the Radeon 4870 for $99.99 on Newegg. How come it wasn't mentioned??
  • 15 Hide
    micr0be , September 20, 2010 8:15 AM
    after a year my 4870x2 is still the "best man" so to speak.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    nativeson8803 , September 20, 2010 6:16 AM
    I'm glad I purchased a GTX 460, it was a great upgrade from my 9800gtx+. I'm thinking of going SLI, but since I'm on a 775 platform (q9550 @3.5) I wonder if there would be a bottleneck there and maybe I should hold off?

    Hope to see a pricewar!
  • 7 Hide
    Opc , September 20, 2010 6:28 AM
    What is a GTS 45 ? I just love the GTX 460
  • 1 Hide
    Tamz_msc , September 20, 2010 6:29 AM
    I totally agree with the selection of cards in the 200+$ range.
  • 7 Hide
    darthvidor , September 20, 2010 6:33 AM
    nice to see nvidia competing finally with amd.
  • 5 Hide
    Reynod , September 20, 2010 6:33 AM
    Thanks Don ... nice roundup.

  • 9 Hide
    jgv115 , September 20, 2010 6:48 AM
    C'mon nvidia! Lower the GTS450 to 100 dollars!! You know you want to ;) )
  • -3 Hide
    nevertell , September 20, 2010 8:07 AM
    nativeson8803I'm glad I purchased a GTX 460, it was a great upgrade from my 9800gtx+. I'm thinking of going SLI, but since I'm on a 775 platform (q9550 @3.5) I wonder if there would be a bottleneck there and maybe I should hold off?Hope to see a pricewar!


    No. There was a test with 2 480's sli'd with both 16x/16x and 4x/4x, and there were no bandwidth bottlenecks.
  • 8 Hide
    basket687 , September 20, 2010 8:10 AM
    On newegg GTX 460 768MB is listed for $170.
  • 15 Hide
    micr0be , September 20, 2010 8:15 AM
    after a year my 4870x2 is still the "best man" so to speak.
  • 8 Hide
    Darkerson , September 20, 2010 8:54 AM
    Always love reading these best GPU / CPU articles. Keeps things in perspective! Keep up the good work!
  • 1 Hide
    RCPG , September 20, 2010 9:42 AM
    Completely agree with darkerson.

    Just a minor correction:
    Middle column, 8th row, HD HD 5670.

    And as opc said: "What is a GTS 45 ?"

    Thanks.
  • 13 Hide
    mitch074 , September 20, 2010 9:55 AM
    My goodness.

    My card is a recommendation. Again.

    Who'd a thought the HD4850 would be such a long-lasting value 2 years ago?
  • 18 Hide
    jamesedgeuk2000 , September 20, 2010 10:36 AM
    So the GTS450 costs 20% more than the GTX260 yet its a tier lower? RIPOFF!
  • -3 Hide
    joytech22 , September 20, 2010 10:53 AM
    My GTX470 SLI setup is a recommendation woohoo!! (well not mine, but you get the idea)

    I'm glad i got them, but now i have to sacrifice the upcoming AMD Processors because pretty much nobody will be making a SLI version of AM3+ or AM4...

    There are only 2 DDR3 SLI boards that i could find from almost EVERY major manufacturer for AMD boards.. and next generation will be lucky to have one..
  • 15 Hide
    ray-ng , September 20, 2010 11:07 AM
    I occasionally see the Radeon 4870 for $99.99 on Newegg. How come it wasn't mentioned??
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 20, 2010 12:15 PM
    Nice roundup... :) 

    But, just like Gamer's cards how about a nice roundup for HTPC oriented discreet cards? Many people are building their own HTPCs or going to something readymade (those ION boxes). But mot DIYers usually hit this question while finalizing the config, which discreet card with give bang-for-buck for HTPC?

    Something on that topics would be great help, especially if done a review roundup based around video decoding/de-interlacing/post-processing and overall picture quality perspective.
  • -4 Hide
    rantoc , September 20, 2010 12:36 PM
    480 GTX SLI in 2560x1600 FTW!
  • 8 Hide
    bujinyun , September 20, 2010 12:54 PM
    ray-ngI occasionally see the Radeon 4870 for $99.99 on Newegg. How come it wasn't mentioned??


    I completely agree with you. I just bought 2 4870 1GB for just $200 on newegg. It's quite shocking that it's not on the recommendation list.
  • 1 Hide
    liquidsnake718 , September 20, 2010 1:27 PM
    Ouch 3 months in a row going against the 5850 after being here for 9 months!!
  • 0 Hide
    gxpbecker , September 20, 2010 1:38 PM
    I love these articles. Debating on getting a 460 1g or just wait for the 6xxx series to come out ... along side price drops lol.
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