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The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: February 2008

Best PCI-E Card For ~$190

Radeon 3850 512 MB
Codename:RV670
Process:55nm
Universal Shaders:320
Texture Units:16
ROPs:16
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:670
Memory Speed MHz:833 (1666 effective)
DirectX / Shader ModelDX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The 512 MB version of the Radeon 3850 offers some high-resolution performance gains, as well as the ability to use ultra-high texture quality settings. This card battles the more expensive 256 MB version of the 8800 GT, which is somewhat limited by its lower amount of memory.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$230

Radeon 3870
Codename:RV670
Process:55nm
Universal Shaders:320
Texture Units:16
ROPs:16
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:775
Memory Speed MHz:1125 (2250 effective)
DirectX / Shader ModelDX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3870 is a lot of card for $230. The only reason not to buy a 3870 is the Geforce 8800 GT 512 MB, which can offer noticeably more performance for only slightly more money.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$250

GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB
Codename:G92
Process:65nm
Universal Shaders:112
Texture Units:56
ROPs:16
Memory Bus:256-bit
Core Speed MHz:600
Memory Speed MHz:900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader ModelDX 10 / SM 4.0

The 8800 GT offers incredible Geforce 8800 GTX-class performance at almost half the price. It beats the Radeon 3870 by a notable margin, but it does tend to be a bit more expensive. That said, if you have $250 to spend on a graphics card, you couldn't do better than a nice 8800 GT.