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PCI-EXPRESS INTERFACE: $0 to $110

The Best Graphics Cards for the Money: May 08
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Best PCI-E Card For under $100: Tie

Radeon HD 2600 XT
Codename: RV630
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 8
ROPs: 4
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1400 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The performance of the 2600 XT is usually a little better than that of the GeForce 8600 GT GDDR3 when antialiasing is disabled. While it’s true that the 8600 GT GDDR3 handles antialiasing a little better, neither card is really fast enough to run with AA enabled, so both cards are viable options.

GeForce 8600 GT GDDR3
Codename: G84
Process: 80nm
Universal Shaders: 32
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 540
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1400 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

Like the 2600 XT, the 8600 GT is s till a good gamer’s card on the cheap. The DDR2 version of the 8600 GT can be found for a few dollars less than the GDDR3 version, but the DDR2 memory provides crippled performance compared to its GDDR3 counterpart.

Best PCI-E Card For $105

GeForce 8600 GTS
Codename: G84
Process: 80nm
Universal Shaders: 32
Texture Units: 16
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 675
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (2000 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

Upon release, the 8600 GTS was grossly overpriced compared to the X1950 PRO, but now the X1950 PRO has all but disappeared, and the ones we could find were highly overpriced. In addition, the 8600 GTS can be found as low $105, about half the price at which the 8600 GTS was introduced. Because of this aggressive pricing, the 8600 GTS gets our wholehearted recommendation.

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