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Best Graphics Cards For The Money: November '09

Best PCIe Card: ~$200 To $300

Best PCIe Card For ~$200:

Two Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

Two Radeon HD 4850 in CrossFire Configuration
Codename:2 x RV770
Process:55nm
Universal Shaders:1,600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units:80 (2 x 40)
ROPs:32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:625
Memory Speed MHz:993 (1,986 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model:DX 10.1/SM 4.1

With the price of the Radeon HD 4850 at $100, two of these cards in CrossFire are going to deliver great performance.

This setup provides a startlingly powerful solution for such an attractive price point, easily beating out a single Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 275 at a similar cost. The only drawback: you'll need a CrossFire-compatible motherboard and a decent power supply. Fortunately, CrossFire is now quite prevalent, so finding a compatible board for your platform of choice shouldn't be a problem.

Best PCIe Card For ~$250:

Two Radeon HD 4870 512MB in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)

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

Two Radeon HD 4870 in CrossFire Configuration
Codename:2 x RV770
Process:55nm
Universal Shaders:1,600 (2 x 800)
Texture Units:80 (2 x 40)
ROPs:32 (2 x 16)
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:750
Memory Speed MHz:900 (3,600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model:DX 10.1/SM 4.1

Do you want the performance of ATI's new Radeon HD 5870, but don't want to pay $390 for the privilege? No problem, just run a couple of Radeon HD 4870s in CrossFire. For $250, your performance will actually come close to that of the new Radeon HD 5870 on average. Just remember, you'll need a CrossFire-compatible motherboard and a decent power supply to take advantage of the savings.

Best PCIe Card For ~$290: None

Honorable Mention: Radeon HD 5850 (Check Prices)

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

Radeon HD 5850
Codename:Cypress
Process:40nm
Universal Shaders:1,440
Texture Units:72
ROPs:32
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:725
Memory Speed MHz:1,000 (4,000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model:DX 11/SM 5.0

Two Radeon HD 4870s in CrossFire will school the new Radeon HD 5850 when it comes to raw frame rates, but the new 5850 has some definite advantages. It doesn't need a CrossFire-compatible motherboard, it uses a lot less power thanks to its 40nm manufacturing process, and it sports DirectX 11 capabilities (plus Eyefinity). For this reason, it gets an honorable mention, and to many of you it may be a more attractive purchase than two Radeon HD 4870s in CrossFire.

Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

  • wintermint
    Ahh the article finally came out :D
    Reply
  • dirtmountain
    The 2 monthly articles by Mr. Woligroski (Best Graphic Cards for the Money and Best Gaming CPUs for the Money) are some of the best and most informative articles here at THW and should be required reading for anyone posting questions about a new gaming build or an gaming upgrade.
    Reply
  • Onyx2291
    Finally another! Was wondering when it'd come out. November is a good month to take a look at this.
    Reply
  • liquidsnake718
    A year and a half ago when I upgraded my 8800gt to a 9800gtx+ that card was considered one of the best and most efficient at a pricing/preformance standpoint. Now that card or any of its counterparts are nowhere to be seen..... Good job Ati for putting out the dismal 4850.....
    Reply
  • noob2222
    would also be noteworthy to mention that the 58xx cards can be xfired for even better futureproofing. Honorable mention at 5850 290, recommended at $580 imo since its considerably faster than the 295 for $120 extra.
    Reply
  • avatar_raq
    It makes sense to put the 5800 cards as honorable mentions, after all they are extremely hard to find online..I'm waiting to see their performance in DX11 games, probably I'll wait for the 2Gb version of 5870.
    Reply
  • Isn't the 8600M GT a mobile variant?
    Reply
  • To Nivdia.

    ATI
    .....
    .......
    .........
    ...........
    .............
    ..
    ..

    Merry Xmas from ATI, 2009
    Reply
  • coonday
    Honorable mentions are lame.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Thanks for the great article as usual! This time around it was more fun to read than the other times for some reason.

    I also caught one typo in the hiearchy chart: HD 485?
    Reply