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In Pictures: The Best Graphics Card Values In History

Radeon HD 6850 And 6870

AMD's Barts architecture was introduced at the end of 2010. The 40 nm GPU is used in its Radeon HD 6850 and 6870, but configured differently for each. The Radeon HD 6850 has 960 shader cores, a 775 MHz core, and memory running at 1000 MHz, while the Radeon 6870 has 1120 shader cores, a 900 MHz core, and 1050 MHz memory. Both models share a 256-bit memory interface, and both use GDDR5 graphics RAM.

Those specifications beget impressive performance, and the Radeon HD 6850's $180 price tag quickly made it the sub-$200 card to beat. Nvidia followed with price reductions on the similarly-performing GeForce GTX 460 1 GB, and both competing cards continue battling at $160.

The faster Radeon HD 6870 began its life at $240, which was impressive considering its very GeForce GTX 470-like performance. At the time, Nvidia's card went for $300. Of course, that number was reduced in order to compete. While the GTX 470 was retired a while ago, Nvidia recently introduced the GeForce GTX 560 to keep pressure on AMD's Radeon HD 6870. Today, both products fight for the $180 market. Sub-$200 performance has never been this impressive.

That's All For Now, Folks!

Here we are at the end of our journey, having passed through the history of the most notable sub-$200 graphics card values. The best part is that new cards keep getting added to this prestigious list with greater frequency. As every new generation of products is released and prices are reduced on the old ones, we keep getting better deals. It's probable that many of today's high-priced products like the Radeon HD 6950 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti will qualify for this list in the near future. Things only get better for budget performance enthusiasts in the PC world.

  • dragonsqrrl
    Great article. I still have my GeForce 3 Ti 200 (fan died a while ago though), and I'm still running a GTS 250 in my backup system. Both were excellent values.
  • we_san
    just my thought. how about voodoo banshee ? against voodoo2+you must have/buy a 2d card.
  • michalmierzwa
    Epic, I loved this article. I get emotionally attached to my GPU's as my childhood dreams were based on moving away from playing software rendering Quake 2 to OpenGL. That was my 1st step. Than came Quake 3 and oh boy my dreams come true when a budget card did the trick :-))) Amazing!
  • joytech22
    Thanks for the compilation.
    I enjoyed seeing my first dedicated GPU (7600GT) in there, I was like.. 12 when I got my very first desktop (that I could call my own) and the 7600GT was the card I decided to put into it.

    Ah the memories.. (Even though it wasn't long ago -.-)
  • dirtmountain
    Great piece, sure brings back some memories.
  • Tamz_msc
    Ah! The 6600GT, my first dedicated GPU - thou has served me well.
  • Achoo22
    The author is too young and unqualified to write such an article - I'm pretty sure there were some crucially important budget CGA/etc cards back in the 80s without which home computing for entertainment purposes would've never caught on.

    Once upon a time, pretty much every version of BASIC was specific to a particular video card - much like all PC games before VGA/UNIVBE/Direct X. As a result, you can argue pretty strongly that the cards back then were much more important, historically, than anything on this meager and ill-conceived list. Even if the focus was explicitly on modern cards, the choices were poor. We are not impressed.
  • hardcore_gamer
    I built my first gaming PC with a 6600GT when I was 14. I remember playing HL2, UT2004, farcry,Doom3 etc..Good old days :D
  • theuniquegamer
    My first was TNT 2 then 6600 then 8800gt and 4670 and now i will upgrade to 7000 or 700 series
  • hmp_goose
    When did Ledtek get out of the States?