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The Best Gaming Graphics Cards for the Money: March 2008

Best PCI-E Card For ~$180: Tie

GeForce 9600 GT 512 MB
CodenameG92
Process65 nm
Universal Shaders64
Texture Units32
ROPs16
Memory Bus256 bit
Core Speed MHz650
Memory Speed MHz900 (1800 effective)
DirectX / Shader ModelDX 10 / SM 4.0

The new 9600 GT is Nvidia's answer to the Radeon 3800 series: cheap, powerful, and efficient. The 9600 GT usually performs a bit below the 3870 with no antialiasing, and a bit faster than the 3870 when AA is enabled. Both cards are in the $180 range, and both are excellent buys that make sub-$200 high-resolution gaming a reality.

Radeon 3870
CodenameRV670
Process55 nm
Universal Shaders320
Texture Units16
ROPs16
Memory Bus256 bit
Core Speed MHz775
Memory Speed MHz1125 (2250 effective)
DirectX / Shader ModelDX 10.1 / SM 4.0

The Radeon 3870 is a lot of card for $180. The 9600 GT has forced 3870 prices down, and if you have $200 to spend on a graphics card, either card offers an incredible gaming experience for the dollars spent.

Best PCI-E Card For ~$230

GeForce 8800 GT 512 MB
CodenameG92
Process65 nm
Universal Shaders112
Texture Units56
ROPs16
Memory Bus256 bit
Core Speed MHz600
Memory Speed MHz900 (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 $230 to spend on a graphics card, you couldn't do better than a nice 8800 GT.

  • i have ati 9550 and im gonna buy the agp 8x 3850 512mb radeon, i was trying to figure out how many fps i will get with the change of these cards iv got my pc overclock at 3.000 mhz i got 800 fsb i got 1.5gig ram 3200 and got that overclock from 400mhz to 440mhz and i use a ram releaseso ram never runs out, at the moment i got the 9550 ati over clocked from 250 core too 420 and memory from 200 to 230,
    Reply
  • Goatlips
    Cheers Woli.

    I should be able to see a massive improvement for just £45 if I replace my original GeForce FX 5500 (256MB) with a 8600 GT 512MB or 8600 GTS 256MB...But which is best, a 512MB GT or a 256MB GTS?

    Anything else I'd need to improve for under £50? Anything else I need to know?

    ...Anyone?
    Reply