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Best PCIe Card: $90 And Under

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: August 2010

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For Under $55:

Radeon HD 4650 (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 4650
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
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

It's hard to find a card that packs more punch than ATI's Radeon HD 4650 at the low $55 price point. But as the Radeon HD 5550 DDR3's price drops, we hope it will displace the venerable Radeon HD 4650 soon, because the performance is notably better.

We're holding off on that recommendation because the Radeon HD 5550 DDR3 is still a little too expensive for the performance it delivers. Nevertheless, we're starting to get a little tired of seeing the last-generation Radeon HD 4650 at the entry-point of our recommendations month after month. Here it is, once more, though.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$75:

GeForce GT 240 GDDR5 (Check Prices)

Great 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

GeForce GT 240 GDDR5
Codename: GT215
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 550
Memory Speed MHz: 850 (3400 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

When the GeForce GT 240 was introduced, it represented poor value for the dollar. But prices have dropped a lot since then, and the GeForce 9600 GT is quickly becoming hard to find. Yes, the $90 GeForce 9800 GT and Radeon HD 5670 are faster cards. However, it's impossible to recommend those cards at $90 when the powerful Radeon HD 4850 is still selling for $10 more.

In addition, the GeForce GT 240 is a relatively power-friendly board, and it doesn't require an auxiliary PCIe power cable. As a bonus, it's one of a handful of GeForce cards that is able to accelerate Blu-ray 3D playback.

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  • 6 Hide
    BallistaMan , August 10, 2010 6:09 AM
    The chart at the end puts the 460 a bit low doesn't it? It benches at 285+ levels, leastways the 1GB one does (and ~260 SLI). Perhaps split the two up? 1GB gets bumped up one level and the 768 stays down a bit?

    Although without OCing it doesn't quite match a 5850 sooo...
  • -8 Hide
    techguy378 , August 10, 2010 6:17 AM
    If you don't need DX 11 support then the ATI Radeon 4770 is the best value. The Radeon 4770 is a budget graphics card only by its price tag, not by its performance. I've yet to find a DX 9 or 10 game that isn't playable at 1920x1080 resolution (single display) with 8x AA, and 16X AF. Clearly the numbers on the benchmarks don't tell the entire story. If ATI did as good of a job with the Radeon 5750 then there's probably no reason to spend more than $150 on a graphics card if you only use a single display.
  • 8 Hide
    mitch074 , August 10, 2010 6:32 AM
    @techguy378: since the 4850 costs pretty much the same as the 4770 but is, in most cases, a bit to quite more powerful, then no, the 4770 is not that good a deal. Not that it's BAD, mind you, it's just not the best deal.

    Well, my 4850 is no longer on the list: I have the 512 Mb version, and now only the 1 Gb version is recommended. I don't mind, 3 years as a recommendation is good enough.
  • 9 Hide
    theshonen8899 , August 10, 2010 6:35 AM
    fafkacwhere did ATI Radeon 5850 go o.O

    Yeah...I think the ~$280 5850 doesn't deserve to be kicked off the list guys. Did you forget to add it in?
  • 2 Hide
    andrewcutter , August 10, 2010 6:47 AM
    theshonen8899Yeah...I think the ~$280 5850 doesn't deserve to be kicked off the list guys. Did you forget to add it in?

    perhaps the falling price of 470 along with driver improvement
  • -8 Hide
    firedust , August 10, 2010 6:51 AM
    I appreciate these guides as much as the next guy, but you shouldn't assume that everyone buys from newegg. I personally buy from the local fry's electronics and the sub-90 gpu prices claimed here are way different.
  • 7 Hide
    Mark Heath , August 10, 2010 6:53 AM
    A great read as always :) 

    Thanks for including the Intel CPU graphics on the hierarchy chart.
  • -3 Hide
    SevenSacredSins , August 10, 2010 7:31 AM
    How is the 5870 on the same level as the 4850 x 2, using 9.1 drivers or something a 5850 was faster then that I think. 5870 easily compares to the 4870x2 and with the newest drivers it should be faster.
  • -2 Hide
    aznshinobi , August 10, 2010 7:46 AM
    Hmmm... I think the 5850 actually should be on the list as a 280$ card. The HIS iCooler V on newegg is near only 280$. Plus, it's temperature and overclock ability is much better than the 470. Since you can actually OC the 5850 to the point of a 5870. Plus the 470 is FREEAAKING ON FIRE. Well it's just that it runs very hot.
  • -4 Hide
    arcus_doom , August 10, 2010 8:13 AM
    Yay GTX 460!
  • -8 Hide
    Anonymous , August 10, 2010 8:19 AM
    but nVIDIA 460GTX 768 MB in sli better than ATI 5870 at the same price (400$)
  • 8 Hide
    TheStealthyOne , August 10, 2010 8:30 AM
    Competitors innovate and try to attract customers...

    Consumer wins!
  • 5 Hide
    ikaroh , August 10, 2010 9:12 AM
    "But not even the new GeForce GTX 460 can cop an easy win compared to the cheaper Radeon HD 5570."

    Is this a typo? You meant the Radeon HD 5770, right?
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , August 10, 2010 9:33 AM
    I wish I could remember where I read the benchmarks, but it looked like Intel's new HD graphics were in many cases slightly ahead of the AMD HD4200 and even HD3300 IGPs. I'll try to find it, although I'm getting ready for work now.
  • 2 Hide
    bearracuda , August 10, 2010 10:33 AM
    firedustI appreciate these guides as much as the next guy, but you shouldn't assume that everyone buys from newegg. I personally buy from the local fry's electronics and the sub-90 gpu prices claimed here are way different.

    ... Why wouldn't you buy from newegg? From my experience, newegg charges 30% less on computer parts than any brick and mortar store. If not cheaper.
  • -2 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , August 10, 2010 11:18 AM
    newegg doesnt ship internationally as far as i know. if they did the cost of shipping would outweigh thte difference. I dont like buying online either, i prefer if i have a problem with the card, to take it back to a store. HD4xxx series should not even be included in this list, they dont even sell that old tech where I live anymore.
  • 0 Hide
    theguyisback23 , August 10, 2010 11:48 AM
    oh my god! i have the ati radeon 4670 1gb from msi GDDR3 i have it 2 years and i still find the 4650 in the list of best buys here!
    im happy i didn;t throw much dollars and i have a good VGA than im happy to play with!
    here's what the specs are from gpuz!
    55nm process gpu clock 750mhz memory 873 mhz
    bandwidth 27.9 GB/s shaders 320 and all this for just 55 euros(72 dollars)
  • 5 Hide
    Tamz_msc , August 10, 2010 11:53 AM
    The 5850 is perhaps not here because the GTX 470 gives much better performance for a few bucks more.
  • 0 Hide
    Aditya nayyar , August 10, 2010 12:32 PM
    I think Raedon hd 5850 will be the best choice intihis range of buget
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