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Best PCIe Card: $100 And Under

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: February 2011
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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
Max TDP:
48 W

I'm resurrecting this one for budget-minded gamers, as all of the other worthwhile cards cost $65 and above (far too close to the powerful Radeon HD 5670).

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

Now that we've seen Intel's Sandy Bridge-based desktop lineup (and subsequent pull-back from the market due to issues with the Cougar Point chipset that'll make the platform essentially unavailable for two more months), we know that the on-die HD Graphics 2000 implementation present on most desktop SKUs is barely able to beat previous-generation integrated graphics. The entry-level discrete market is fairly safe for the time being, it seems.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For $60:

Radeon HD 4670 (Check Prices)

Good 1680x1050 performance in most games

Radeon HD 4670
Codename: RV730
Process: 55 nm
Universal Shaders: 320
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 750
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (2000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 10.1/SM 4.1
Max TDP:59 W

If you can find it for $60, the Radeon HD 4670 is a good upgrade over the 4650, its faster memory enabling performance just shy of Radeon HD 5570 levels (and maybe even a tad better, in some cases).

These cards are floating around for this price if you do some digging. But don't pay more than $65 for one because the vastly superior Radeon HD 5670 sells for $80. If you can afford the upgrade, jump straight to the Radeon HD 5670.

Best PCI Express (PCIe) Card For $80:

Radeon HD 5670 (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 5670
Codename: RV830
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 400
Texture Units: 20
ROPs: 8
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:61 W

The Radeon HD 5670 is the most powerful card you can buy that doesn't require an auxiliary PCIe power cable.

This card offers DirectX 11 compatibility, along with all of the other Radeon HD 5000-series features, such as multi-display support and high-def audio bitstreaming. Folks planning to buy one for a budget-oriented triple-monitor Eyefinity setup have to pay attention, as some manufacturers don't include the DisplayPort output needed to use three monitors simultaneously.

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