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Best PCIe Card: $100 And Under

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2010
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Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For Under $50:

Radeon HD 4650 (Check Prices)

Great 1280x1024 performance in most games, 1680x1050 with lowered detail

Radeon HD 4650
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 400 (800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

You will not find a card that packs more punch than ATI's Radeon HD 4650 at the alluring $50 price point. With solid stock performance and an overclockable GPU, this card is an excellent starting point for our list of recommendations, and a wholly worthwhile upgrade if you're currently stuck using a motherboard limited to integrated graphics.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For ~$80:

GeForce 9800 GT (Check Prices)

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

GeForce 9800 GT
Codename: G92
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 112
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 600
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (1,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

The GeForce 9800 GT remains a powerful sub-$100 performer, and at $80 it has enough breathing room between it and the $100 Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce GTS 250 to garner a solid recommendation. It will outperform the Radeon HD 5670 by a notable margin in most games, and the card remains a powerful choice, despite the G92 graphics processor's age, which is another testament to Nvidia's original GeForce 8800 architecture.

Radeon HD 4850 512MB (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.

Availability is waning, and these products probably won't be around much longer now that the Radeon HD 5750 and even the 5770 are encroaching on their territory. If you're looking for attractive value, now's the time to jump on the Radeon HD 4850.

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  • 17 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 10, 2010 6:51 AM
    Quote:
    Speaking of rumors, there is also talk of an overclocked Radeon HD 5870 called the 5890, designed to challenge the GeForce GTX 470./quote]

    The 5870 already beats the GTX 470, you would mean GTX 480 right?
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    SpadeM , May 10, 2010 6:15 AM
    Quick note, isn't the GTS250 a 55nm part? I'm asking since the table show's it as a 65nm.
  • 3 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 10, 2010 6:23 AM
    Nvidia doesn't have much of a showing in the lower segments..... I wonder when they will release their lower priced DX11 cards? Give the 5750 and 5770 some competition. Right now a lot of radeons are competing against each other, like 4850 and 5750, or 4890 and 5830.
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , May 10, 2010 6:31 AM
    I kind of expected to see Nvidia start offering 400 series derivatives.

    Even though this article is about video cards for gaming I still find it useful. I am interested in ATI's multiple monitor capabilities so I can increase professional level productivity. Between the two Eye Infinity articles and this article I should be able to make an informed decision.

    I just wish prices would drop a little more.
  • 3 Hide
    njkid3 , May 10, 2010 6:39 AM
    nvidia isnt releasing their lower priced cards till some time in fall and by that time ATI is going to have a refresh of their product lineup
  • 17 Hide
    IronRyan21 , May 10, 2010 6:51 AM
    Quote:
    Speaking of rumors, there is also talk of an overclocked Radeon HD 5870 called the 5890, designed to challenge the GeForce GTX 470./quote]

    The 5870 already beats the GTX 470, you would mean GTX 480 right?
  • -6 Hide
    avatar_raq , May 10, 2010 7:36 AM
    Is the performance talk in this article regarding the GTX 400 cards is based on the latest geforce driver? I heard it gives these cards a more pronounced lead over ATI 5800 series. I hope ATI drivers were that good...I wonder when will they fix the issues plaguing their cards.
  • 9 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , May 10, 2010 8:27 AM
    haha, they mention is cf 5770 that added costs in mobo and psu prevents it form being a full option, yet they fully support cf 4850s which suck down a lot more power...
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 10, 2010 9:14 AM
    Kinda sick how my 4870x2 is still in the second highest tier. Even on a 'small' 22" monitor I can stress it enough to not run farcry2 or dragon age fluidly (granted, with aa and for dragon age an improved texture pack) - not to even speak of metro with aa on.
  • -6 Hide
    kallemankan , May 10, 2010 9:14 AM
    I'm getting tired of this article writer saying the same thing month after month that a 5850 is better than two 5770 in CF when in fact they are beating the 5870 in most games! Get your facts right or look at the graphics chart published here at Tom's Hardware from 2009 where it is absolute clear that 5770 CF crushes the 5850!!
  • 0 Hide
    drowned , May 10, 2010 10:32 AM
    I'm planning on spending $1000-$1500 to build a gaming rig but I'm holding back right now for a lot of the reasons mentioned in the article. With my budget I can't afford top shelf 470/480/5870 gfx cards, but I want to wait for nvidia to put some price pressure on ATI in the 5850 performance segment before I pull the trigger and start purchasing. And I'd also like to see USB 3 and SATA 3 mobos become more mainstream (and lower in price), but that's a tangent.

    So c'mon nvidia/ati, fight each other for my dollars!
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , May 10, 2010 10:42 AM
    I just realized how quiet it's been for the last month. Kinda sad to not have any real rumors to comment about, really.

    I wonder where the fully-functional Fermi cards (GTX 490?) will show up. Yields must be improving with time.
  • -6 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 10, 2010 11:30 AM
    drownedI'm planning on spending $1000-$1500 to build a gaming rig but I'm holding back right now for a lot of the reasons mentioned in the article. With my budget I can't afford top shelf 470/480/5870 gfx cards, but I want to wait for nvidia to put some price pressure on ATI in the 5850 performance segment before I pull the trigger and start purchasing. And I'd also like to see USB 3 and SATA 3 mobos become more mainstream (and lower in price), but that's a tangent.So c'mon nvidia/ati, fight each other for my dollars!


    Get a p55 with an i3, and you should be able to afford two 5850 in cf (serveral p55 boards have cf options) I think - depending on country and local taxes etc ofc.
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , May 10, 2010 11:48 AM
    I was going to go with an ATI card, but according to the hierarchy, a $20 9500 GT (on Tigerdirect) is way too good of a deal to pass on.
  • 0 Hide
    matt314 , May 10, 2010 12:23 PM
    neiroatopelccGet a p55 with an i3, and you should be able to afford two 5850 in cf (serveral p55 boards have cf options) I think - depending on country and local taxes etc ofc.

    For that price range get a AMD 955, GA-770TA-UD3and 2x 5850 or a 5970. I just built that for
  • 1 Hide
    saint19 , May 10, 2010 1:13 PM
    Very nice article, I'm waiting to upgrade my GPU but I don't know yet if go with two 5770 in Crossfire, one 5850 or one GTX470 (I always prefer nVidia but ATI seems deliver a better performance for the price)
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , May 10, 2010 1:55 PM
    If a 9800GT "will outperform the Radeon HD 5670 by a notable margin in most games," why are they on the same tier?
  • 0 Hide
    ksampanna , May 10, 2010 2:24 PM
    Quote:
    there is also talk of an overclocked Radeon HD 5870 called the 5890, designed to challenge the GeForce GTX 470


    typo
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 10, 2010 2:33 PM
    matt314For that price range get a AMD 955, GA-770TA-UD3and 2x 5850 or a 5970. I just built that for


    That'd do too.
  • 0 Hide
    samssf , May 10, 2010 3:07 PM
    I clicked the "check prices" link for the 4650 and didn't see any for $50 or less. You need to be more realistic with the listed prices. $60 for the 4650 is a 20% error.
  • 0 Hide
    triculious , May 10, 2010 4:18 PM
    once again, I like this... I'm still waiting for 5850s to go for their intended MSRP of 250... I was counting on nvidia to get enough pressure over ATI in order to start a price war, alas, doesn't seem any of them are interested on it

    on other topic: can the hierarchy chart include the standings of dual card configurations?
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