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Best PCIe Card: $60 To $90

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: March '09

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$70: Radeon HD 4670

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
Raster-Operation Processors (ROPs): 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Why are we starting at the $70 Radeon HD 4670 this month instead of the $60 Radeon HD 4650? While the Radeon HD 4650 is an excellent gaming baseline, we really try hard to ensure there is a meaningful dollar amount spread between our recommendations. For a $10 difference, the 4670 is vastly superior. Its higher core clock speed and much faster DDR3 memory allow it to leave its Radeon HD 4650 sibling and GeForce 9500 GT competition far in the dust. Its closest competition is the GeForce 9600 GSO, but for $10 more, it's not worth the spread, especially with the superior GeForce 9600 GT available at $5 more.

Best PCIe Card For ~$85: GeForce 9600 GT

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

GeForce 9600 GT
Codename: G94
Process: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 64
Texture Units: 32
Raster-Operation Processors (ROPs): 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 650
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

A slim $15 spread gives us just enough room to recommend the GeForce 9600 GT, which offers enough performance over the Radeon HD 4670 to justify that price increase if you have it in your budget. The GeForce 9600 GT is a great performer thanks in part to its high-end 256-bit memory interface and speedy DDR3 memory. The worst thing we can say about the 9600 GT is that it's sandwiched between the ~$70 Radeon HD 4670 and the ~$100 GeForce 9800 GT cards.

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