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Best PCIe Card: $200 To $300

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May '09
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Best PCIe Card For ~$200:

2x Radeon HD 4770 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance

2x Radeon HD 4770 in CrossFire Configuration
Codename: RV740
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1280 (2 x 640)
Texture Units: 64 (2 x 32)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 800 GDDR5 (3,200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Two Radeon HD 4770s in CrossFire are a deadly combination for the price, besting much more expensive and powerful cards like the Radeon HD 4890, the GeForce GTX 275, and probably coming close to the GeForce GTX 285 (we saw the pair matching wits with a GTX 280 in our review). This level of performance has never before been seen at the $200 price point, so it makes for an easy recommendation, as long as your motherboard supports CrossFire.

Best PCIe Card For ~$235: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 4890 (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance

Radeon HD 4890
Codename: RV790
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 850
Memory Speed MHz: 975 (3,750 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4890 was a little overpriced on release, and frankly it's bested by a $200 Radeon HD 4770 CrossFire setup. Why are we recommending it as an honorable mention? For those of you who don't have a CrossFire motherboard available, the Radeon HD 4890 is a fast single card with a reputation for providing stellar overclocks for tweakers who are inclined to coax them out of the card. Now that prices are down a little, the Radeon HD 4890 is looking a bit better, especially compared to the GeForce GTX 275, which offers similar performance but at a higher price.

Best PCIe Card For ~$260: Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance, 2560x1600 in most titles with some lowered detail

Radeon HD 4850 X2 2 GB
Codename: 2 x RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 1,600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units: 80 (2 x 40)
ROPs: 32 (2 x 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 X2 is essentially two Radeon HD 4850s in CrossFire mode on a single card, and it will beat the more expensive GeForce GTX 280 hands-down. It will even put the hurt on the new, more expensive GeForce GTX 285.

We're still pleased that the Radeon HD 4850 X2 can now be found on Newegg for $260. At this price, it's cheaper than two Radeon HD 4850 cards, but is more accessible in that it will work with any PCIe motherboard (rather than just those supporting CrossFire connectivity). In either case, that's a lot of performance for the admission price.

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