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Best PCIe Card: ~$100 To $190

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: June 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$100: Tie

Radeon HD 4850 512 MB (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

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 can still be found at the ~$100 price point after a brief hiatus, and while we keep waiting for availability to dry up in the face of Radeon HD 5000-series successors, we hope it lasts. Then again, the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 seem determined to stay on the market for as long as possible.

GeForce GTS 250 (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1680x1050 performance in most games, 1920x1200 in most games with lowered detail

GeForce GTS 250
Codename: G92
Process: 65 nm
Universal Shaders: 128
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 738 / 1,836
Memory Speed MHz: 1,100 (2,200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

As fast as the Radeon HD 4850 is, the GeForce GTS 250 remains a viable option with similar gaming performance. With an eye to the future, your choice between these $100 cards probably relies more on whether or not your motherboard is CrossFire- or SLI-compatible.

Best PCIe Card For ~$125:

Radeon HD 5750 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5750
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 720
Texture Units: 36
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 700
Memory Speed MHz: 1,150 (4,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

The price of the 1 GB Radeon HD 5750 is quite low, and this month, it's enough to take the recommendation from the 1 GB versions of the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250.

Although it costs a few dollars more, the 5750 is more appealing due to its DirectX 11 hardware capabilities. There are other benefits too, such as Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio bitstreaming and Eyefinity triple-display output support, making this card an easy $125 choice on all fronts.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5750 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$155:

Radeon HD 5770 1GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5770
Codename: RV840 "Juniper"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1,200 (4,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

While AMD's new Radeon HD 5770 isn't any faster than the older Radeon HD 4870 (we've found that it's even slightly slower in many instances), it does have something the Radeon HD 4870 doesn't have: full DirectX 11 and Eyefinity support. Indeed, while the Radeon HD 5770 doesn't run away with any performance crowns in this category, it does look good from a longevity/value standpoint.

Perhaps more importantly, at the $155 price point, there is nothing to compete against this card now that the Radeon HD 4870 is at the end of its effective life. Nvidia's claims that its GeForce GTX 260 remains the last GT200-based card in its lineup, but supply is definitely not what it used to be (nor is the card's price tag, which hovers around $200 now).

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5770 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    alikum , June 3, 2010 7:09 AM
    xurwinno gtx 465?

    Take a close look at intro
  • 11 Hide
    xc0mmiex , June 3, 2010 6:34 AM
    4850 & 4870 are still the kings of value, and it doesn't seem they are going away anytime soon
  • 11 Hide
    cobot , June 3, 2010 7:32 AM
    pinkfloydminnesotaHow on earth can you give an honorable mention to the 5970 when it's about equal to the Xfired 5850s and 20% more $$? Do you really believe single slot motherboards exist on any systems with $600 invested in graphics?


    Tom's always gives the currently fastest card an honorable mention because of the simple reason that it is...the fastest..
Other Comments
  • 9 Hide
    The_King , June 3, 2010 6:26 AM
    The best investment I made my 4870x2 and really if you own one why upgrade? Still awesome too bad there was not a 4890x2 !


  • 3 Hide
    enzo matrix , June 3, 2010 6:33 AM
    Still no reason to upgrade from a radeon 3870 to any new card below $100.
  • 11 Hide
    xc0mmiex , June 3, 2010 6:34 AM
    4850 & 4870 are still the kings of value, and it doesn't seem they are going away anytime soon
  • -4 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , June 3, 2010 6:35 AM
    Kinda annoying reading the same blurb for all the cards each month....
    Monthly updates is the most interesting part, be interesting to see where the 5550 end up in a review performance wise compared to last gen cards
  • 3 Hide
    stickmans88 , June 3, 2010 6:51 AM
    Don't know about enzo matrix ,but I need to update my tri 3870... Any ideas with a $200 budget?
  • 12 Hide
    alikum , June 3, 2010 7:09 AM
    xurwinno gtx 465?

    Take a close look at intro
  • 9 Hide
    ta152h , June 3, 2010 7:25 AM
    pinkfloydminnesotaHow on earth can you give an honorable mention to the 5970 when it's about equal to the Xfired 5850s and 20% more $$? Do you really believe single slot motherboards exist on any systems with $600 invested in graphics?


    The performance isn't equal, and with very high end parts, the last few percent do tend to cost a lot more. But more to the point, if you have your 5850s cross-fired, that's as far as you go. If you have a one-slot solution, you still have possible expansion.

    Also consider the brain-damaged lga1156 platform. Many of the solutions use PCIe lanes from the processor for the USB 3.0. Even without that you'd be forced to use them with 8-lanes instead of 16, but with it you'd see some degradation either in USB or your video card.

    Also, some motherboards have PCIe 16 slots kind of close to each other, and the cooling can be an issue. One card allows for better airflow.

    So, there are good reasons for wanting the one card solution, some of which depend on the existing platform and configuration.
  • 3 Hide
    The_King , June 3, 2010 7:27 AM
    stickmans88Don't know about enzo matrix ,but I need to update my tri 3870... Any ideas with a $200 budget?


    You running three 3870s ? I think you maybe got a 3870x2 and and 3870 x-fire setup I don't think you going to get much of an improvement with the $200 budget since the 3870x2 has the similar performance to the 5830 which is $220.

    If your budget excludes selling the 3870's try selling them and going for a 5850
  • 11 Hide
    cobot , June 3, 2010 7:32 AM
    pinkfloydminnesotaHow on earth can you give an honorable mention to the 5970 when it's about equal to the Xfired 5850s and 20% more $$? Do you really believe single slot motherboards exist on any systems with $600 invested in graphics?


    Tom's always gives the currently fastest card an honorable mention because of the simple reason that it is...the fastest..
  • 6 Hide
    tharkis842 , June 3, 2010 8:25 AM
    Hm, i dunno. Prices are still too high to "upgrade" at this point. I don't see any reason to re-buy a card i already have with a couple extra features at a higher price point.
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , June 3, 2010 8:32 AM
    Quote:
    Dual Radeon HD 5750s in CrossFire make for a much more powerful option than a single Radeon HD 5830, if the buyer is willing to pay the extra money required for a CrossFire motherboard and a beefier power supply.

    Or, skip the bigger PSU, keep your microATX mobo, and use the money on the more powerful single HD5850.
  • 1 Hide
    fizzr , June 3, 2010 9:00 AM
    Well 5750s in CrossFire don't need any bigger PSU than for a single 5850. In the worst possible case the energy intake can be a max. 30watts higher during Furmark. They're more silent in 2D and use less energy. And for the mainboard these two are fine with just 8x PCIe lanes to work at their full potential.
  • 5 Hide
    mitch074 , June 3, 2010 9:01 AM
    Two years after it single-handedly swept the market, the 4850 is still a recommendation.

    Long term investment usually doesn't rhyme with It, but dang, is it reaching for the name of '440BX of GPUs'!

    (note: the 440BX, although limited in tech, was sold en masse for more than 3 years after it came out due to its unparalleled performance and incredible stability - even on a +70% overclock)
  • 4 Hide
    bebangs , June 3, 2010 9:08 AM
    err i guess gtx 260 and gtx275 has been removed.
    mostly ati are the winners in terms of value.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , June 3, 2010 9:12 AM
    Sad to see my secondary's HD4670 finally dropped off the list. Oh well, life goes on. I'll probably use it to test the low end on my upcoming mini-ITX build, then either get a HD5670 or HD5750 for it since it will probably be too weak for 1920x1080.
  • 6 Hide
    jgv115 , June 3, 2010 10:18 AM
    Haha!! I've had my 4850 for agesssssssssss now and it's still going strong! I can play most games at 1920x1080 maxed out (well not with full anti-aliasing but who needs that anyway?)

    4850 for the win!!!!!!!
  • 5 Hide
    guid_aaa000001 , June 3, 2010 11:46 AM
    Good timing for me. I am upgrading my Graphics card after 4 year, saving for months for a Radeon 5850. Finally buying this f#%k*!$ card.... :) 
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