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Best PCIe Card: $130 To $180

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: June '09
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Best PCIe Card For ~$130: Radeon HD 4850 1GB (Check Prices)

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4850 512 MB
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

For $25 more than the 512 MB version, you can get a Radeon HD 4850 1 GB, which is still $20 less than the 1 GB version of the GeForce GTS 250. For those who can afford it, the extra memory may help at certain resolutions and detail settings.


Best PCIe Card For ~$170:  Tie

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 260 (Core 216) (Check Prices)

GeForce GTX 260 (Core 216)
Codename: GT200
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 216
Texture Units: 72
ROPs: 28
Memory Bus: 448-bit
Core Speed MHz: 576
Memory Speed MHz: 999 (1,998 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10/SM 4.0

While these cards might not sport a full 1 GB of RAM, they do offer advantages in titles that run better on the GeForce GT200 architecture. Once again, a little diligence is required on the part of the buyer to find out which card is the best adapted for his or her favorite titles and whether or not the motherboard supports SLI or CrossFire. (Ed.: Check out our recent Radeon HD 4890 review, which has numbers for the 512 MB and 1 GB Radeon HD 4870s, along with the GeForce GTX 260 Core 216).

Note that we are recommending the newer Core 216 version of the GeForce GTX 260 instead of the older version with 192 shader processors, which is now becoming hard to find. Regardless, check the specifications of any card before you purchase.

Check the lowest price we could find on a GeForce GTX 260

Radeon HD 4870 (Check Prices)

Radeon HD 4870
Codename: RV770
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1

The Radeon HD 4870 keeps pace with its close rival the GeForce GTX 260. For a few dollars less you can purchase the 512 MB version, and for a few dollars more than the GeForce GTX 260, you can find the 1 GB version. Both are solid choices.

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