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Best PCIe Card: $200 To $350

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: Feb. '09
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Best PCIe Card For $200 - $250: None

The new GeForce GTX 260 is a great card, but its price has remained in the $240 range while the Radeon HD 4870 can now be found for under $200. At a $45 spread we can no longer recommend it over the Radeon HD 4870, but Nvidia will likely drop the price to remain competitive in due time.

Best PCIe Card For ~$260:

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail

Radeon HD 4850 X2 1 GB
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

Read Customer Reviews of Sapphire's 100260SR

In the Radeon HD 4850 CrossFire benchmarks we’ve seen so far, we’ve found that AMD has really learned to squeeze the performance out of its new cards. Two Radeon HD 4850s in CrossFire mode will beat the dual-GPU GeForce 9800 GX2—and even put the hurt on the new, more expensive GeForce GTX 285.

We're baffled that the Radeon HD 4850 X2 can now be found on Newegg for $260—and for as low as $240 with a rebate. At this price, it's cheaper than two Radeon HD 4850 cards. This is probably the best bang-for-the-buck pick in this month's recommendations and is a great card for an extremely low price.

HONORABLE MENTION: Best PCIe Card For ~$310: Tie

I'm putting in the following recommendations in case the $265 Radeon HD 4850 X2 deal doesn't last. For ~$310, a pair of GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards or a single Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB card will deliver about the same performance. With the price spread, you can see why I'm recommending the Radeon HD 4850 X2 1 GB so highly.

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail

2 x GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI Configuration
Codename: G92
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 128 (256 in SLI)
Texture Units: 64 (128 in SLI)
ROPs: 16 (32 in SLI)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 738
Memory Speed MHz: 919 (1,836 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

Read Customer Reviews of Sparkle's SFPX98GTX+512D3H

Two GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards in an SLI configuration can be a wonderful thing and more powerful even than the strongest single-GPU card, the GeForce GTX 285. This setup will probably cost a little less than a Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB, but the Radeon HD 4850 X2 1 GB appears to be much cheaper right now and will offer similar performance.

However, if Radeon HD 4850 X2 1 GB prices rise or availability dries up and you already own an SLI-capable motherboard that doesn't support CrossFire, a pair of GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards will serve you very well.

Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 625
Memory Speed MHz: 993 (1,986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

Read Customer Reviews of Sapphire's 100270SR

A full 2 GB of RAM (1 GB per GPU) will allow the Radeon HD 4850 X2 to stretch its legs at high resolutions with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled. In addition, the 2 GB version of the Radeon HD 4850 X2 will likely cost $20 more than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards, but if you've researched the benchmarks and know your favorite game title can take advantage of the extra memory, it might be well worth the money over two GeForce 9800 GTX+ cards. However, the 2 GB version of the Radeon HD 4850 X2 is likely not worth the ~$50 price increase over the 1 GB version, which we recommend buying instead if you can.

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