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Conclusion And Recommendations

Tom's Graphics Card Guide: 32 Mid-Range Cards Benchmarked
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Conclusion

For most folks, it's not necessary to spend more than $200 to get a graphics card that performs admirably. None of the cards we tested deserve our highest Best of Tom's award, nor does one stand out for a Recommended Buy honor. Rather, we want to pick three winners from the long list of boards we tested in several different categories to receive our Tom's Hardware Approved nod.

The results from our benchmarks prove that the market for graphics cards is over-saturated and that the cheapest cards are hardly worth more than the materials of which they're made. At the low end of the scale, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti does not convince us at the current pricing. The cheapest models are still too expensive to justify a purchase, while the Radeon HD 6790 offers decent performance for similar money. The GeForce GTX 560 (without the Ti suffix) doesn't stand a chance against the Ti version. Here, too, the price is simply too high.

In terms of performance, the GeForce cards are generally ahead of the Radeons, but they are also more expensive and handicapped by higher power consumption. This has a negative impact on their efficiency. There is also room for improvement when it comes to performance per watt.   

Efficiency Winner (Gaming Performance/Watt)
1.
MSI Radeon HD 6870
TwinFrozr II










These three cards receive our Approved badge for their outstanding graphics performance in relation to power consumption.
2.
MSI Radeon HD 6850
Cyclone Power Edition


3.
HIS Radeon HD 6850

   

Gaming Performance Winners (Gamer Index)
1.
Point of View
GTX 560 Ti Beast










 The winners receive this Approved badge for their overall gaming performance, regardless of power consumption and noise-level.
2.
MSI GTX 560 Ti Hawk
TwinFrozr III


3.
Colorful iGame
GTX 560 Ti


   

Low-Noise Winners (under load)
1.
MSI Radeon HD 6870
TwinFrozr II







The Approved badge is granted to the three cards with the lowest noise level under full load, regardless of power consumption and performance

If noise level under load were put in relation to gaming performance, positions 1-3 would be reversed.
2.
Gainward GTX 560 Ti
Phantom


3.
Point of View
GTX 560 Ti Beast
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