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PCI-EXPRESS INTERFACE: $175 to $260

The Best Graphics Cards for the Money: May 08
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BEST PCI-E CARD FOR $175

GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 112
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The 8800 GT offers incredible Geforce 8800 GTX-class performance at almost half the price. It beats both the Radeon 3870 and Geforce 9600 GT by a notable margin, and costs only a few dollars more. As far as raw performance goes, if you have $175 to spend on a graphics card, you couldn’t do better than a nice 8800 GT. Note that the reference 8800 GT has a single slot cooler, however, and there are those who prefer spending more for the dual-slot cooler on the GTS 512MB model.

BEST PCI-E CARD FOR $220:

GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

The 8800 GTS is essentially an 8800 GT with a little more firepower; it sports 128 universal shaders compared to the GT’s 112 — it bests its 8800 GT brother, but not by much. It is notable, however, that the dual-slot reference cooler on the 8800 GTS 512MB is quieter than the reference cooler on the 8800 GT, and also forces hot air out of the case. If silence and a cool case are important to you, the 8800 GTS 512 might be a better choice.

Best PCI-E Card For $260:

2x GeForce 8800 GS in SLI configuration
Codename: G92
Process: 65nm
Universal Shaders: 96
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 12
Memory Bus: 192-bit
Core Speed MHz: 550
Memory Speed MHz: 700 (1400 effective)
DirectX / Shader Model DX 10 / SM 4.0

Playing the multiple video card game has never been cheaper, and two 8800 GS cards in an SLI configuration will show some impressive gains over a single 8800 GTS in specific titles at particular resolutions. The gain might be worth the extra expense if you have a strong power supply and an SLI compatible motherboard.

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