Complex graphics card specifications and reviews are great if you have the time to do the research, but at the end of the day what a gamer really needs is the best graphics card for his or her budget.
So if you don't have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don't feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not! We at Tom's Hardware Guide have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
Keep a few simple guidelines in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don't play games, the cards in this list are more expensive than you need.
- Prices and availability changes on a daily basis. We can't be up-to-the-minute accurate on pricing, but we list some good cards that you probably won't regret buying at the price ranges we suggest
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or retail channels, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal but it's out of the scope of what we're trying to do.
October Review And November Updates
ATI has refreshed its entire X1k lineup and these cards are starting to make it to market.
The most important change from October to November is that the Radeon X1900 XT and Geforce 7900 GTOs are becoming very scarce. This leaves a hole in the $250 price range right now. Hopefully the upcoming Radeon X1950 XT will fill it, but it's not available yet and we don't know its exact pricing.
The second big change is the introduction of the new Radeon X1950 PRO, a fantastic performer at below $200, which is now available.
The two things to watch out for in November will be availability of the AGP version of the Radeon X1950 PRO, which will likely be the new AGP performance king for a pretty good price. The X1650 XT is also rumored to be released in November, and may turn out to be a good competitor against the 7600 GT, but there are no prerelease benchmarks available to confirm this.
Best PCI-E Card For Under $100
Radeon X800 GTO 256mb
Codename: R420, 13-micron technology
12 Pixel Shaders, Six Vertex Shaders, 12 Texture Units, 12 Raster Operator Units
256 bit memory bus
400 MHz core, 490 MHz DDR (980 MHz Effective) Memory
A card with 256-bit memory in the lowest price category? Bizarre. For under $100 it hands other cards in this league their butts - the vanilla 6600 GT, X1300 XT and even X1650 PRO simply can't compete with an X800 GTO. Some people will complain about their lack of SM 3.0 capability, but in this category that really doesn't matter - the GTO has the power to pull the highest performance regardless.
Check the The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money Series Overview for more articles in this series.