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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.

Display all 63 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    anacandor , February 10, 2011 5:04 AM
    I love this competition, if only AMD's CPU's could compete at the same high level...

    Anyone else get the feeling that nVidia and AMD cut back on the performance of their cards simply to slot into a pricepoint?
  • 4 Hide
    haplo602 , February 10, 2011 5:44 AM
    can you include the e-350 iGPU 6310 in the charts since you do include the previous integrated GPUs ? I know it's slow but just to have the chart almost complete.

    I am missing DX version support information on the cards, since raw performance does not help with lacking features.
  • 1 Hide
    executor2 , February 10, 2011 6:27 AM
    I unlocked the HD 6950 and over clocked it to HD 6970 specs. Works great and stable in different games.
  • 1 Hide
    mi1ez , February 10, 2011 6:41 AM
    Hilarious how they put in vendor prices that show that their chosen cards at the lower price points aren't even close to retailing at the price point they claim!
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , February 10, 2011 6:45 AM
    And don't even get me started on the fact they're all US...
  • -2 Hide
    haplo602 , February 10, 2011 8:24 AM
    mi1ezAnd don't even get me started on the fact they're all US...


    these articles are compiled over some timeframe and the current prices do not have to reflect the prices when the article was finished.

    and since you are on a US site, do you expect Euro prices?
  • 2 Hide
    joytech22 , February 10, 2011 8:41 AM
    AMD makes great GPU's but can't even keep up in the CPU space?
    Better to be good at one thing than to be mediocre at both I guess.
  • 2 Hide
    maurbeast , February 10, 2011 9:41 AM
    one suggestion that i am obliged to make is to add to the hierarchy chart sli/crossfire configs as well.
    would be most useful!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 10, 2011 10:24 AM
    kinda have to agree with mi1ez, the prices listed here for the radeon 6800 series cards is a little inflated. i've been shopping around on newegg and tigerdirect for about a month, price optimizing a new system, and the 6850s can be had as low as $160 and the 6870s as low as $200 with mail in rebates. AMD currently has nvidia beat on prices, imo
  • -2 Hide
    cmartin011 , February 10, 2011 10:44 AM
    yawwnnn... my 295 gtx still near the top of the chart now there is a surprise
  • 1 Hide
    cmartin011 , February 10, 2011 10:47 AM
    so funny to see intel can't trade punches with a 8800gt yet wow who would have thought!
  • -1 Hide
    tony singh , February 10, 2011 10:50 AM
    My old 4650 still hangs on..
  • 1 Hide
    dirtmountain , February 10, 2011 10:54 AM
    A pretty big jump from $120 to $185 from the 5770 to the GTX 460 1GB. The GTX 460 768MB at $150-$160 would have been a great midpoint there.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127519
  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , February 10, 2011 11:47 AM
    joytech22AMD makes great GPU's but can't even keep up in the CPU space?Better to be good at one thing than to be mediocre at both I guess.


    that's a point of view question :-)

    I mean how much compute intensive tasks for an average user need a 6core i7 ? Even an Athlon II X4 is sufficient for 80% of people. So Intel taking the high end is just for show. Price is what sells today.
  • 1 Hide
    RazberyBandit , February 10, 2011 11:56 AM
    I've seen 5870's regularly priced below the $250 mark over the last couple weeks. With rebates, these same cards drop to $200-$220. That, to me, represents the best value in the $175 to $275 bracket, hands down.
  • -1 Hide
    vvhocare5 , February 10, 2011 1:22 PM
    haplo602can you include the e-350 iGPU 6310 in the charts since you do include the previous integrated GPUs ? I know it's slow but just to have the chart almost complete.


    This made my day!! An IGP? haha..... Man these parts arent even in the city where the ballpark is located
  • 0 Hide
    christop , February 10, 2011 1:32 PM
    I guess I will stick with my 5850 for now.
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , February 10, 2011 2:10 PM
    With the dollar soon to crash, the build I'm planning for late Spring/early Summer may be my last personal build for the foreseeable future. I'm thinking a GTX560Ti is probably where I want to be; higher than I need right now, but should remain viable for years.
  • 2 Hide
    caamsa , February 10, 2011 3:25 PM
    dirtmountainA pretty big jump from $120 to $185 from the 5770 to the GTX 460 1GB. The GTX 460 768MB at $150-$160 would have been a great midpoint there.http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814127519


    I agree with you. The big problem is that every single card you buy now has a dang rebate. So you can get some great deal if you are willing to take the chance with the rebate. Am I the only one who hates all these rebates?
  • 0 Hide
    nottheking , February 10, 2011 3:30 PM
    mi1ezAnd don't even get me started on the fact they're all US...

    No one's stopping you from going and putting together a complementary article for other (non-USA) markets. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised that if you put in the time and effort to consistently make a monthly update like Cleeve (Mr. Woligroski) here has, Tom's just might offer to post it up alongside these.

    cmartin011yawwnnn... my 295 gtx still near the top of the chart now there is a surprise

    Not really. The dual-GPU (especially nVidia's) cards tend to last a Looooong time. However, they tend to only hold up particularly well in older shader models, and without using AA; in those cases two GPUs from an older generation will easily thump nVidia's next big thing. The same went for the generation before, when I noted to people that for those who didn't use AA, a 9800GX2 curb-stomped the supposed "latest and greatest" GTX 280 at a lower price. (oh, and also actually even putting a damper on the 4870's parade, too)
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