Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Best PCIe Card: Over $320

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2010
By

Best PCIe Card For ~$350: None

Honorable Mention: GeForce GTX 470 (Check Prices)

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

GeForce GTX 470
Codename: GF100
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 448
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 40
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 607 / 1,215
Memory Speed MHz: 837 (3,348 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

Along with the GeForce GTX 480 flagship, the GeForce GTX 470 is one of Nvidia's next-generation DirectX 11 cards and performs between the Radeon HD 5850 and Radeon HD 5870, on average.

The card appears to be widely available now at the suggested $350 MSRP, which is a positive sign.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 470 for more information on the card and its underlying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$400: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5870 (Check Prices)

Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5870
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600
Texture Units: 80
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 1,200 (4,800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0

For $100 less than the price of this card, a couple of Radeon HD 5770s easily deliver exceptional performance in the games that matter today. From a raw price/performance standpoint, this makes the Radeon HD 5870 a hard sell. But that is not to say this card is underpowered: it is the fastest single-GPU Radeon option available, sporting relatively low power usage (remarkably low at idle), and the hardware prowess needed to accelerate DirectX 11-based games. For folks without a motherboard that supports CrossFire and a hefty power supply, the new Radeon HD 5870 is definitely a more-than-viable option.

For those thinking at the other end of the performance spectrum, a pair of Radeon HD 5870s in CrossFire also make this an attractive card.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5870 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, on paper, 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). While the GeForce GTX 470 has arrived in force, availability of the 480 has so far been extremely limited.

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

Best PCIe Card For ~$620:

Two Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

2 x Radeon HD 5850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV870 "Cypress"
Process: 40nm
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 behold, with power almost equaling a single Radeon HD 5970 for $80 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

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 should improve 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.

Display all 71 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 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?
Display more comments