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Best PCIe Card: $350+

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: Feb. '09
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With exponentially increasing prices over $300 offering smaller and smaller performance boosts, we have a hard time recommending anything more expensive than a Radeon HD 4850 X2. While the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and the GeForce GTX 295 perform impressively in multiple-card configurations, there’s just not enough of a gain compared to a Radeon HD 4850 X2, unless you play at resolutions beyond 1920x1200.

Then again, while we often recommend against purchasing any graphics card that retails for more than $300 from a value point of view, there are those of you for whom money might not be much of an object, who can afford a 30” LCD monitor, and who require the best possible performance money can buy. For those of you, we recommend the following cards:

Best PCIe Card For ~$380:

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles (some with lowered detail)

Two Radeon HD 4870s in CrossFire Configuration
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.0

Read Customer Reviews of Powercolor's AX4870 512MD5

While it has been deposed by the new GeForce GTX 295, the former king isn't quite dead—it's just a lot cheaper. With the introduction of the GeForce GTX 295, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 has taken a massive $70 price reduction.

However, since the single-GPU Radeon HD 4870 card has also taken a large price cut, we have a more attractive option: two Radeon HD 4870 cards can now be purchased for less than $400. That's right, a CrossFire single-GPU Radeon HD 4870 setup can now be had for $380. Compared to a month ago, this is an extremely powerful and compelling choice for the money.

If you don't have a CrossFire motherboard, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is also a viable purchase, but at some $50 more than a pair of Radeon HD 4870s, you'll save a lot of scratch with dual cards or you can justify putting that $50 towards a motherboard upgrade. No matter how you slice it, at $120 less than a GeForce GTX 295, the choice of two Radeon HD 4870 cards is an option that cannot be ignored.

Best PCIe Card For ~$500:

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance in most games, 2560x1600 in most titles (some with lowered detail)

GeForce GTX 295
Codename: 2 x GT200b
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 2 x 240
Texture Units: 2 x 80
ROPs: 2 x 28
Memory Bus: 2 x 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 576
Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1,998 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10 / SM 4.0

Read Customer Reviews of BFG's BFGEGTX2951792E

Nvidia's GeForce GTX 295 sporting SLI-on-a-card is the most powerful single graphics card on the planet. Essentially two attached GeForce GTX 280 cards that have been merged, underclocked, and stripped of a few ROPs, the GeForce GTX 295 offers very notable gains over the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in the great majority of game titles and does so while consuming less power than AMD's flagship does, which is no small feat.

If you want the best of the best, this is the card to get. The only way to get more performance is perhaps to triple-SLI some GeForce GTX 285s or quad-CrossFire two Radeon HD 4870 X2s, but unless you have a 30" monitor, that would likely be a gratuitous waste of money.

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