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Best PCIe Card: Over $400

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: June 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$440:

Two Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x Radeon HD 5830 in CrossFire
Codename: RV870
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2,240 (2 x 1,120)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

Two Radeon HD 5830 cards in CrossFire will beat out a single Radeon HD 5870, just like a dual Radeon HD 4890 setup does. But the newer Radeon HD 5830 cards offer all the DirectX 11 and Eyefinity goodies, too.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$500: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 480 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 480
Codename: GF100
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 480
Texture Units: 60
ROPs: 48
Memory Bus: 384-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 700 / 1,401
Memory Speed MHz:   924 (3,696 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Nvidia is a competitive company. And while the Radeon HD 5970 maintains its title of fastest video card in the world, Nvidia has reclaimed the honor of selling the fastest single-GPU graphics card. This is, of course, the GeForce GTX 480, which performs notably faster than the Radeon HD 5870, on average.

It's hard to justify the $100 price premium over AMD's Radeon HD 5870, but it's pretty easy to justify a $200 savings compared to the Radeon HD 5970, so I suppose the card is positioned correctly--assuming cards continue selling at MSRP (many are going for as much as $100 more). For buyers who value the GeForce GTX 480's value-added features like PhysX, 3D Vision, and CUDA, the card is a viable buy. But raw GeForce GTX 480 game performance is often close to the $100 cheaper Radeon HD 5870, so the GeForce gets an honorable mention.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 480 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$580:

Two Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Great 2560x1600 performance in most games

2 x Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2,880 (2 x 1,440)
Texture Units: 144 (2 x 72)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Two Radeon HD 5850 cards in CrossFire are a force, to be sure, with power almost equaling a single Radeon HD 5970 for $120 less, coupled with abundant availability. This configuration has become the de facto standard setup for folks who want serious power from a high-end machine.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$700: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5970 (Check Prices)

Great 2560x1600 performance

Radeon HD 5970
Codename: 2 x RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 3,200 (2 x 1,600)
Texture Units: 160 (2 x 80)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 725
Memory Speed MHz: 1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

3,200 shader processors. There isn't much more we need to say about the brutal rendering muscle that characterizes the world's fastest graphics card, the Radeon HD 5970. With two Radeon HD 5870 GPUs onboard, the only things we can complain about are scant availability and an extremely high price tag. Availability has improved over time; the price not so much. But if you're in the market for this card, price probably isn't an issue.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5970 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
    cobot , June 3, 2010 12:23 PM
    Quote:
    how about writing some real articles instead of this "best something for the money" B.S.



    These best GPU and CPU lists are very appreciated by most of us, so shoo.
  • 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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