Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best PCIe Card: $95 To $165

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: March '09
By

Best PCIe Card For ~$100 :  Tie

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games; 1920x1200 in most titles with some lowered detail

Radeon HD 4830
Codename: RV770LE
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 640
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 575
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The new Radeon HD 4830 finally gives AMD something with which to compete against the legendary GeForce 8800 GT (as well as its identical sibling, the GeForce 9800 GT). Just as the GeForce 8800 GT is a crippled GeForce 8800 GTS 512, the Radeon HD 4830 is a crippled Radeon HD 4850. Both cards are excellent and which one wins over the other depends on the game or the image-quality settings.

GeForce 8800 GT / 9800 GT
Codename: G92
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 112
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 650
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (2,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The GeForce 9800 GT prices have dropped a little over the past few weeks, and Radeon HD 4830 prices have come up a tad, so the card rejoins the recommended list. Both are excellent options at the $100 price bracket, and which you choose should have more to do with whether or not your motherboard supports Nvidia's SLI or AMD's CrossFire for future expansion options.

Best PCIe Card For ~$130 :  Tie

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

GeForce 9800 GTX+ / GeForce GTS 250
Codename: G92
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 738
Memory Speed MHz: 1,100 (2,200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Sure, as long as the framerates stay the same. Even though the GeForce GTX 250 is a re-badged GeForce 9800 GTX+, the falling prices have kept this slightly older but still powerful graphics technology very much in the game.

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 (1,986 effective
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4850 hangs in there, competing with the GeForce 9800 GTX+ / GeForce GTS 250 twins at the same price point. Each card will claim some victories depending on how well it works with a particular graphics engine, but for the relatively low price of $130 neither will disappoint.

Best PCIe Card For ~$165 : None

While the Radeon HD 4870 512MB can be found at this price, it's 1GB sibling can be found for a mere $15 more, as well as the GeForce GTX 260 (Core 216 model). For an extra $15, it's hard not to recommend the upgrade to these full-featured cards.

React To This Article