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Best PCIe Card: $175 To $275

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: February 2011
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Best PCIe Card For $185: Tie

Radeon HD 6850 (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 6850
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 960
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:127 W

AMD's Radeon HD 6850 proved to be a worthy adversary for the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB, and the AMD card's aggressive price forced Nvidia to drop its own MSRPs accordingly in order to stay competitive. As a result, PC gamers win with heretofore unseen performance at prices under $200.

Both cards offer DirectX 11 support and HD audio bitstreaming capabilities. The main differentiators are Eyefinity multi-monitor support for the Radeon, while the GeForce has access to the 3D Vision infrastructure that includes 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D support. It should be noted that the Radeon HD 6800-series supports 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D playback on commercial televisions, but there are no monitors available in North America yet. Only time will tell if AMD's 3D solution can gain the partner support it requires.

Of course, the Radeons can be CrossFire'd and the GeForces can be SLI'd, so motherboard support should be taken into account.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

GeForce GTX 460 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 460 1 GB
Codename: GF104
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 336
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

160 W

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~$240: Tie

Radeon HD 6870  (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance, 2560x1600  in most games with lowered detail

Radeon HD 6870
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1120
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 900
Memory Speed MHz: 1050 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:151 W

At $250, the new GeForce GTX 560 Ti is an impressive card, and from a price/performance perspective it offers a very similar value proposition to the card it's replacing, the GeForce GTX 470.

On the other hand, the Radeon HD 6870 continues to be good competition in this price range, available for as little as $235 (with a couple models even cheaper than that). With GeForce GTX 560 Ti performance a little higher than the Radeon HD 6870 on average, the price spread is justified and both cards come in as recommended buys.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6870 for more information on this card and its accompanying architecture.

GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance, 2560x1600  in most games with lowered detail

GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Codename: GF114
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 384
Texture Units: 64
ROPs: 32
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 822 / 1644
Memory Speed MHz: 1002 (4008 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

170 W

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 560 Ti for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

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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