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Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: June 2010
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What about this other card that’s not on the list? How do I know if it’s a good deal or not?

This will happen. In fact, it’s guaranteed to happen, because inventory levels and prices change quickly. So how do you know if that card you’ve got your eye on is a good buy in its price range?

Here is a resource to help you judge if a card is a good buy or not. The graphics card hierarchy chart groups graphics cards with similar overall performance levels into tiers. The top tier contains the highest-performing cards available and performance decreases as you go down the tiers from there.

You can use this hierarchy to compare the pricing between two cards, to see which one is a better deal, and also to determine if an upgrade is worthwhile. I don’t recommend upgrading your graphics card unless the replacement card is at least three tiers higher. Otherwise, the upgrade is somewhat parallel and you may not notice a worthwhile difference in performance.

At the request of readers, I have added mobile graphics and integrated chipsets to the hierarchy chart. I want to make it clear that there is very little performance data available for these graphics solutions. While the discrete video cards in the chart are placed in tiers based on a lot of information, many of the mobile and integrated devices in the chart are guesstimates based on their specifications. At worst, I don’t think they’re more than one tier away from their actual performance, but this is something to keep in mind when considering mobile graphics chipsets.

Graphics Card Hierarchy Chart
GeForceRadeonIntel

Discrete: HD 5970
Discrete: GTX 295, GTX 480Discrete: HD 4870 X2

Discrete: HD 4850 X2, HD 5870
Discrete: GTX 280, GTX 285, GTX 470 Discrete: HD 5850
Discrete: 9800 GX2, GTX 260, GTX 275, GTX 465 Discrete: HD 4870, HD 4890, HD 5770, HD 5830
Mobility: HD 5870

Discrete: 8800 Ultra, 9800 GTX, 9800 GTX+, GTS 250 Discrete: HD 3870 X2, HD 4850, HD 5750
Mobility: HD 4850, HD 5850

Discrete: 8800 GTX, 8800 GTS 512 MB
Go (mobile): GTX 280M, GTX 285M
Discrete: HD 4770
Mobility: HD 4860

Discrete: 8800 GT 512 MB, 9800 GT
Go (mobile): 9800M GTX, GTX 260M (112), GTS 360M (GDDR5)
Discrete: HD 4830, HD 5670
Mobility: HD 5770, HD 5750

Discrete: 8800 GTS 640 MB, 9600 GT, GT 240 (GDDR5)
Go (mobile): 9800M GTS, GTX 160M
Discrete: HD 2900 XT, HD 3870

Discrete: 8800 GS, 9600 GSO, GT 240 (DDR3)
Go (mobile): GTX 260M (96), GTS 150M, GTS 360M (DDR3)
Discrete: HD 3850 512 MB, HD 4670, HD 5570
Mobility: HD 3870, HD 5730, HD 5650

Discrete: 8800 GT 256 MB, 8800 GTS 320 MB, GT 220
Go (mobile): 8800M
Discrete: HD 2900 PRO, HD 3850 256 MB
Mobility: HD 3850

Discrete: 7950 GX2 Discrete: X1950 XTX, HD 4650 (DDR3)
Discrete: 7800 GTX 512, 7900 GTO, 7900 GTX Discrete: X1900 XT, X1950 XT, X1900 XTX
Discrete: 7800 GTX, 7900 GT, 7950 GT Discrete: X1800 XT, X1900 AIW, X1900 GT, X1950 PRO, HD 2900 GT
Discrete: 7800 GT, 7900 GS, 8600 GTS, 9500 GT (GDDR3)
Go (mobile): 7950 GTX
Discrete: X1800 XL, X1950 GT, HD 4650 (DDR2)
Mobility X1800 XT, HD 4650, HD 5165

Discrete: 6800 Ultra, 7600 GT, 7800 GS, 8600 GT (GDDR3), 9500 GT (DDR2)
Go (mobile): 7800 GTX, 7900 GTX
Discrete: X800 XT (& PE), X850 XT (& PE), X1650 XT, X1800 GTO, HD 2600 XT, HD 3650 (DDR3), HD 3670,
Mobility: X1900, 3670

Discrete: 6800 GT, 6800 GS (PCIe), 8600 GT (DDR2)
Go (mobile): 7800, Go 7900 GS
Discrete: X800 XL, X800 GTO2/GTO16, HD 2600 PRO, HD 3650 (DDR2),
Mobility: X800 XT, HD 2600 XT, 3650

Discrete: 6800 GS (AGP)
Go (mobile): 6800 Ultra, 7600 GT, 8600M GT, 8700M GT
Discrete: X800 GTO 256 MB, X800 PRO, X850 PRO, X1650 GT
Mobility: HD 2600

Discrete: 6800, 7300 GT GDDR3, 7600 GS, 8600M GS
Go (mobile): 6800, 7700
Discrete: X800, X800 GTO 128 MB, X1600 XT, X1650 PRO
Mobility: X1800, HD 5145, HD 5470 (GDDR5), HD 5450, 

Discrete: 6600 GT, 6800LE, 6800 XT, 7300 GT (DDR2), 8500 GT, 9400 GT
Go (mobile): 7600 (128-bit)
Discrete: 9800 XT, X700 PRO, X800 GT, X800 SE, X1300 XT, X1600 PRO, HD 2400 XT, HD 4350, HD 4550, HD 5550
Mobility: X800, 3470, HD 5470 (DDR3), HD 5430
Integrated: HD 3300

Discrete: FX 5900, FX 5900 Ultra, FX 5950 Ultra, 6600 (128-bit)
Go (mobile): 6800 (128-bit)
Integrated: 9300, 9400
Discrete: 9700, 9700 PRO, 9800, 9800 PRO, X700, X1300 PRO, X1550, HD 2400 PRO
Mobility: X1450, X1600, X1700, 2400 XT, X2500, 3450
Integrated: HD 3200, HD 4200

Discrete: FX 5800 Ultra, FX 5900 XT
Go (mobile): 6600, Go 7600 (64-bit)
Discrete: 9500 PRO, 9600 XT, 9800 PRO (128-bit), X600 XT, X1050 (128-bit)
Mobility: 9800, X700, X1350, X1400, X2300, HD 2400

Discrete: 4 Ti 4600, 4 Ti 4800, FX 5700 Ultra, 6200, 8300, 8400 G, G 210, G 310 Discrete: 9600 PRO, 9800 LE, X600 PRO, HD 2300
Mobility: 9700 (128-bit), X600, X1300
Integrated: Xpress 1250

Discrete: 4 Ti4200, 4 Ti4400, 4 Ti4800 SE, FX 5600 Ultra, FX 5700, 6600 (64-bit), 7300 GS, 8400M GS, 9300M G, 9300M GS Discrete: 9500, 9550, 9600, X300, X1050 (64-bit)
Mobility: 9600

Discrete: 3 Ti500, FX 5200 Ultra, FX 5600, FX 5700 LE, 6200 TC, 6600 LE, 7200 GS, 7300 LE
Go (mobile): 5700, 8200M, 9200M GS, 9100
Integrated: 8200, 8300
Discrete: 8500, 9100, 9000 PRO, 9600 LE, X300 SE, X1150
Mobility 9700 (64-bit)
GMA X4500
Discrete: 3, 3 Ti200, FX 5200 (128-bit), FX 5500,
Go (mobile): 5600, 6200, 6400, 7200, 7300, 7400 (64-bit)
Discrete: 9000, 9200, 9250
Mobility: 9600 (64-bit), X300

Discrete: FX 5200 (64 bit)
Go (mobile): 7200, 7400 (32-bit)
Integrated: 6100, 6150
Discrete: 9200 SE
Integrated: Xpress 200M, Xpress 1000, Xpress 1150
GMA X3000, X3100, X3500
Discrete: 2 GTS, 4 MX 440, 2 Ultra, 2 Ti, 2 Ti 200 Discrete: 7500 GMA 3000, 3100
Discrete: 256, 2 MX 200, 4 MX 420, 2 MX 400 Discrete: SDR, LE, DDR, 7000, 7200 GMA 500, 900, 950
Discrete: Nvidia TNT Discrete: Rage 128 Intel 740

Summary

There you have it folks; the best cards for the money this month. Now all that’s left to do is to find and purchase them.

Don’t worry too much about which brand you choose, because all of the cards out there are close to Nvidia’s and ATI’s reference designs. Just pay attention to price, warranty, and the manufacturer’s reputation for honoring the warranty if something goes wrong.

Also remember that the stores don’t follow this list. Things will change over the course of the month and you’ll probably have to adapt your buying strategy to deal with fluctuating prices. Good luck!

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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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