Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great - that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
If you don't have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don't feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not. We at Tom's Hardware Guide have come to your aid, with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
October Review And November Updates
October saw the 2900 PRO come in numbers and get sold out almost as quickly Compare Prices on Top Video Cards. It's certainly a lot harder to find the card now, and it's become apparent that the 2900 PRO was possibly a model created only to get rid of the remaining 2900 XT GPUs before the next generation midrange arrives: the Geforce 8800 GT and the Radeon 3800 series.
The veil has been lifted off the 8800 GT specifications and performance, and WOW, does this card perform. This new midrange champion - supposedly for the $200 to $250 price point - has shown itself to be markedly faster than the GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB, and on the heels of the former 8800 GTX champ. This card probably should have been called the 8900 GT, because it messes with the standard GeForce GS-GT-GTS-GTX hierarchy / naming scheme by jumping ahead of the GTS. But it does the job, so who cares what it's called? The only questions now are when will we see the 8800 GT on the streets, and how much will the street price be?
The upcoming Radeon 3800 series has a lot to live up to, now that we've seen the 8800 GT performance numbers. It's been announced that the new Radeons will fully support DirectX 10.1, but this is almost a non-issue since there are precious few games that support the current DirectX 10 standard. The upcoming Radeon has to be able to compete against the 8800 GT on the frames-per-second front, or it's in trouble. Hopefully ATI will release the card in the next few weeks, and it will give the 8800 GT a run for its money.
Other than that, we've seen some prices drop across the board. The 8600 GT GDDR3 and 7900 GS have been reintroduced to the list due to price cuts. On the AGP side of things, the 2600 XT is an affordable and worthwhile choice, as is the X1950 GT.
The Best Gaming Graphics Cards For The Money
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list include:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don't play games, the cards in this list are more expensive than you need.
- Prices and availability changes on a daily basis. We can't offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing info, but we can list some good cards that you probably won't regret buying at the price ranges we suggest.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or retail, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but it's outside the scope of what we're trying to do.