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Best PCIe Card: ~$100 To $190

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: August 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$105: Tie

Radeon HD 4850 1 GB (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 4850
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4850 never seems to die. It just keeps on delivering great gaming value. At the $100 price point, Nvidia's GeForce GTS 250 and AMD's Radeon HD 4850 hang on in an eternal battle to deliver fantastic performance to budget-oriented gamers. We don't think you can go wrong with either of these cards.

GeForce GTS 250 1 GB (Check Prices)

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

GeForce GTS 250
Codename: G92b
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 738 / 1836
Memory Speed MHz: 1100 (2200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

Just as tenacious as the Radeon HD 4850, the GeForce GTS 250 hangs on at $100.

With an eye to the future, your choice between these affordable products probably depends more on whether or not your motherboard is CrossFire- or SLI-compatible. Neither the Radeon HD 4850 nor the GeForce GTS 250 offer DirectX 11 support.

Best PCIe Card For ~$135:

Radeon HD 5750 1 GB (Check Prices)

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

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

Although it costs a few dollars more than the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250, the Radeon HD 5750 is more appealing due to its DirectX 11 hardware capabilities. There are other benefits too, such as Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming and Eyefinity triple-display output support, making this card a solid $135 choice.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$155:

Radeon HD 5770 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1200 (4800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

At $155, nothing compares with the Radeon HD 5770. It offers a worthwhile upgrade beyond the $135 Radeon HD 5750. But not even the new GeForce GTX 460 can cop an easy win compared to the cheaper Radeon HD 5770. This card continues to offer excellent performance for the asking price, and makes a good foundation for building a CrossFire-based gaming PC, too.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5770 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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