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Budget Graphics Card Roundup

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the looking-good-for-less dept.

Graphics 186

Anonymous Coward writes "Not all of us are prepared to drop $500 for a killer graphics card. Generally, the sweet spot in price and performance is in the budget category of GPUs. Joel Durham Jr. over at ExtremeTech reviews nine current graphics cards, all of which are below $250, some below $150, to determine which cards are worth the time and money for the gamer on a budget. In the sub $150 category, the ATI Radeon 4770 performed the best for its price. Spend a little more and Joel recommends the GeForce 260."

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But can they render... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034081)

...first posts?

Duke Nukem takes forever to First Post. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035989)

That's why he's going back in time, Huey Lewis style! And he's going to kick some bubble-gum and chew some ass! Lucky for us, he'll be toothless when he gets to you.

Frist Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034085)

First Post!!!!

Re:Frist Post (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034153)

Phailed again, cock gobbler.

Extended Windows OS Tax (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034097)

Haven't had to upgrade my graphics cards in my Linux boxes for the last 5 years...

Re:Extended Windows OS Tax (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034253)

And look how far Tux Racer has advanced in that time!

Pull your head out of your a$$, Mike Simms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28036049)

There's more to Linux and accelerated graphics standards than benchmarking with Tux Racer. The mods for IOQUAKE3 alone are worth the drivers: Alien Arena, Urban Terror, Tremulous, et al.

I don't buy software from you because I don't want to support some Brittish store and it's tax schemes.

Re:Extended Windows OS Tax (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034355)

Haven't had to upgrade my graphics cards in my Linux boxes for the last 5 years...

Have you been avoiding a Trojan tax all these years, too?

First Poast (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034109)

Budget Goatse [goatse.fr] Roundup

Wrong... (5, Interesting)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034119)

...the sweetspot is in the mid range. The budget cards are only good for playing those 2-3 year old games you've been putting off forever. The midrange cards allows you to play the current games at modest framerates without having to break the bank. For $200 I can get a card that will play Crysis, STALKER Clear Sky, etc at a reasonable resolution. Try doing that with a budget card.

Re:Wrong... (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034213)

No problem, take two Radeon 4770 cards ($100 each) on a crossfire motherboard and they will run circles around cards in the $200 range. Together they will use less power than the $200-$300 cards, too. See this [tomshardware.com] for more info.

Re:Wrong... (5, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034421)

Yeah that works. But the money you are saving on the card(s) will be more than eaten up by the need to a crossfire compatible board (i.e. one with 2+ PCI x16 slots). Mobos with only a single slot are less than half the price.

Re:Wrong... (3, Informative)

log0n (18224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035443)

$235 for the SLI plunge here.

I've got dual 9800 GTs with a Zotac SLI board for $55, each 9800 was $90. Free shipping with the Negg.

Re:Wrong... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035581)

Not to mention the fact that you avoid SLI issues. Everytime a game comes out and I view the forums, people with SLI setups inevitably pop up with problems more often than you'd think they ought to otherwise..

Re:Wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035671)

Yeah SLI/crossfire seems like more trouble than it is worth

Re:Wrong... (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035747)

In that case, it would be interesting to see a release of 4770 X2 card and what price tag AMD would put on it. The HD 4870 X2 was surely a big hit.

Re:Wrong... (2, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035967)

Yeah that works. But the money you are saving on the card(s) will be more than eaten up by the need to a crossfire compatible board (i.e. one with 2+ PCI x16 slots). Mobos with only a single slot are less than half the price.

Also, uh, wouldn't two cheap memory cards for $100 be about the same as one of the "midrange" $200 memory cards in both performance AND cost?

$100 x2 = $200?

I don't know a whole lot about hardware, so maybe multiplication doesn't work the same inside a computer...

Re:Wrong... (4, Interesting)

winphreak (915766) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034667)

I remember that when SLI was new.
People would buy two mid range cards and it had enough kick to run everything for a few years at a decent rate.

Re:Wrong... (5, Insightful)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034269)

The summary mentions cards below $250.

I think the problem is the definition is changing. $200 used to be in the lower quadrant. Now it is definitely mid-range. The high-end has dropped out as there is no point to be pushing X trillion pixels.

Re:Wrong... (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034473)

I haven't paid over $100 for a video card in 12 years. I've always been able to max out the settings in every game I cared to buy that was available by the time I bought the card.

And in the first half of that period, I really cared about gaming and gaming performance. I'm sure Best Buy would like you to believe that $200 is a low end device, but you're seriously much better off getting a sub-$50 card now, and another sub-$50 card in a years time if you really need to.

Re:Wrong... (1)

crazypip666 (930562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034695)

I hate to break it to you, but a 4830 bought now is going to trounce any sub $50 card available right now (The best I can find is a 9500GT which isn't even a gaming card), and it will beat anything available at the sub $50 price point for at least the next year.

Here's a prectical question... (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034773)

Does anyone know of a video card that doesn't draw much more power than my old Radeon X1650 but is better? I want to upgrade one of my machines, but I don't want to replace the PSU. I'm holding out on a new system until the i7 machines start to come down in price and I see if Windows7 is worth bothering with.

I actually like playing last year's games. I bought Far Cry 2 for 15 bucks on Steam (they were having some sale a few months back). I like to wait a while before shelling out for the new games because a surprising number of them tend to suck, and the real reviews don't start showing up until well after the release, when most reviewers are drunk on hype.

The exception are the Half-Life 2 episodes. I buy those right away, hoping that Freeman is finally gonna bone that Alex chick. Now that would be some FPS I could get behind.

Re:Here's a prectical question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035733)

One of the reasons I went with a 4850 because it only required a single aux pcie power plug. It's also one of the rare cards that doesn't take up two slots on a system.

Re:Here's a prectical question... (2, Informative)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035849)

If you have a 450w power supply you can run pretty much any mid range and lower card. The HD 4770 uses 80w at max (5w more than the pci-e slot provides, meaning you still have to hook it up to a power supply) which is probably more than the x1650, but lower than most other cards in the same performance range.

Sub-$50 card (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035119)

> you're seriously much better off getting a sub-$50 card now, and another sub-$50 card in a years time if you really need to.

Not if you want to drive a large monitor over DVI. The cheap cards don't have dual-link DVI, so I'm stuck driving my 23" widescreen by analog because the DVI connection won't do 2048x1152 (native resolution). I didn't realize this was a factor when I bought the monitor to replace the 20" 4:3 I stupidly broke (which worked fine over single-link DVI at 1600x1200).

I painted myself into a corner. I had a Radeon 9500 Pro, so when I upgraded motherboards I deliberately bought one with AGP so I could continue to use it. Then the Radeon died, and now I'm limited to AGP cards that are simply not being updated. I'm limping along with a GeForce 6200 because all the decent cards are PCIe.

If there are any AGP cards with dual-link DVI (preferably BOTH ports being dual-link DVI but I'll accept one DVI and one VGA), I'd love to know about them.

Mal-2

Re:Sub-$50 card (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035291)

ATI (well, ASUS) manufactures an AGP version of the Radeon HD 3450, however, I don't know how it stacks up to the AGP version of the 6200.

Actually, for general comparison, I have a PCI-e Gigabyte Radeon HD 3450 in my work machine, and while I haven't run benchmarks, the PCI (vanilla PCI, not PCI-e) eVGA GeForce 6200 in one of my home machines seems to work better... it could just be drivers, though.

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:Sub-$50 card (2, Insightful)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035405)

I don't really care if it improves on the GPU speed, I just need dual-link DVI to properly drive a resolution of 2048x1152. Analog is annoying, though surprisingly adequate given the six foot extension cable in the signal path. It's slightly worse than it was without the extension, but it was worth it to exile the computer to another room (and keep all the goodies in here).

Whether a card's DVI links are single or double is something that generally is omitted from reviews, much to my consternation.

Mal-2

Re:Sub-$50 card (2, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035475)

Radeon 3850 [tigerdirect.com]

Radeon 2600 XT [tigerdirect.com]

Another Radeon 3850 [newegg.com]

Re:Sub-$50 card (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035721)

Thank you, that was exceptionally helpful, especially as your links clearly state dual-link DVI.

Mal-2

Re:Sub-$50 card (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035645)

Unless you're seriously pushing the limits of your RAMDAC, or you just have a shitty one, analog is not any serious limitation. Certainly, any decent VGA cable has more than enough bandwidth to carry 1080p. Seriously, you can do a fine job of carrying a 1080p signal over component cables and that's just three pieces of coax... which of course is what's attached to any high-end video cable's R, G, and B pins (and maybe syncs, too.)

Re:Sub-$50 card (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035769)

This setup is performing adequately with a 6 foot extension, so I'm not saying analog is intolerable. I just see the pulsing of waves in what should be pure black, and just enough horizontal smearing to annoy me. It's good enough that I'd rather run analog at native resolution than DVI at non-native resolution. Still, $99 for a recent Radeon, plus the cost of a new extension cable (or just one long one, no daisy-chain), is not at all unreasonable and leaves open the option of a second 23" Samsung 2343BWX. At less than $200 refurbished, it's a hell of a lot of monitor for the money.

Mal-2

Re:Sub-$50 card (3, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28036135)

Every time I think "Maybe now is the time when I can get a decent ATI driver" I'm disappointed. Maybe this is the time? But you chance it, I'm buying an nVidia card.

Re:Wrong... (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035561)

Max out settings? Which games? Crysis? Far Cry 2? Which screen resolution? 800x600?

Re:Wrong... (1, Interesting)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034401)

You know, just because it's not a FPS, doesn't mean it's a "2-3 year old game". Most of the games I play came out less than a year ago. In fact, I have a beta of StarCraft III (I know a guy) running on my system now that looks great with my GeForce 9500gs 512MB card. I think it was like $150 if that.

Re:Wrong... (4, Funny)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034681)

"I have a beta of StarCraft III (I know a guy)"

OMG StarCraft III?!? That's amazing considering StarCraft II is still in beta [shacknews.com]

Re:Wrong... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035767)

Like I said....I know a guy. Actually I meant to type StarCraft II....

Re:Wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035871)

That's nothing! I have a beta of "Duke Nukem Forever 2: The PR Machine", I know a guy called Itninja... he's kind of a dick, but I put up with him.

Re:Wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034415)

Only gamers care about games.

Re:Wrong... (5, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034645)

"For $200 I can get a card that will play Crysis, STALKER Clear Sky, etc at a reasonable resolution. Try doing that with a budget card."

RTFA [extremetech.com] Crysis, high settings, 1680x1050... 32.7 fps from the $100 Radeon 4770 [newegg.com] . Anyone want to argue that 1680x1050 isn't a "reasonable resolution"? And remember this was a benchmark, so no doubt there were 100 guys on the screen moving and shouting and explosions and all that stuff that never really happens when you're playing normally, crouching behind a tree trying not to be sniped.

If that's not enough, spend another $100 and run 1900x1200 at 43fps [tomshardware.com]

And we haven't even touched the 20% fps gains from overclocking [tomshardware.com] : "At 1680x1050, with 4xAA, you're looking at a greater-than 20% boost - nothing short of incredible."

Yes, I bought one and it's amazing for $100. Wonder what I'll be buying in 2-3 yrs? A $70 card?

Re:Wrong... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034799)

It is most definately the drive for higher resolutions that has pushed the video card market over the past 2 years. If you have a regular old budget 5:4 or 4:3 range LCD display (1.5 megapixels or less), the 512MB 8800GT is still most definately good enough for any game that has come out since its release (This includes Crysis, L4D, DeadSpace, Far Cry 2, Mirrors Edge, etc..) .. thats with all options on the highest allowed setting.

(normally I turn texture resolution down in order to minimize load time between levels unless it really makes a big difference)

Re:Wrong... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035857)

Sure, fine... if you want to run a POS ATI card. Good luck with those drivers!

Re:Wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035099)

$200 is not mid-range, it's cheapie high-end. This is where you'd buy something that was the lowest member of a high-end family.

Midrange tops out at about $150, but with the market shifting downward you can find midrange cards with scaling performance all the way down to $50 after rebates. It looks like AMD wants to take mid-range down to about $100. Good for them.

Hell, I use a budget-priced card (Radeon 4670, something like $75 nowadays) to play Crysis at 1280x960 (max resolution for my 17" CRT) at Medium detail. That qualifies as pretty reasonable to me. My system averages 40 fps, but that is with an X2 7750 CPU bottleneck -- this video card could handle a bit more resolution or High detail, just not FSAA.

Btw, Stalker's engine is from a 2 year old game, and Crysis is 1.5 years old. So you're using games that are pretty close to "forever" ago to justify buying your $200 card. Way to go. FWIW, my entire core upgrade (cpu, video, m/b, and 4gb of ram) cost about $220.

Re:Wrong... (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035665)

Crysis and Stalker clear sky will both run quite well on an hd3870, a card that cost just over $200 when it was released years ago. The 4770 will play them well also.

Exactly - play "old" games (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#28036093)

As a consummate geek, it is not like I, like, talk to anyone else, so they won't razz me for being "out of it". Also, I am old enough to tell where to stick it if they do. Anyhow, "old" games that I haven't played before, are "new", to me.

So, if I buy 3 year old games out of the bargain bin, I am good-to-go.

The latest, bleeding edge, tech needs time to debug anyhow.

Re:Wrong... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28036157)

Shit, I wish I was only putting off games for 2-3 years. On the plus side, I'm still getting mileage out of games ten years old, and more! I occasionally dust off dosemu for Populous 2. I only wish Populous 3 had been somehow related.

jew penis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034135)

you suck jew penises

Wait for the good deal... (4, Informative)

carp3_noct3m (1185697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034173)

As a long time PC gamer, I have come to the conclusion that there are only two reason to upgrade your video card. 1) A new fancy game you must play at high settings to enjoy needs more juice from your rig. 2) You find a good performance to price ratio card that fits your gaming needs. I tend to upgrade about once every year or year and a half. I am currently still running on the BFG OC 8800GT (for $200 in Dec 07). I play everything from the good old stand by counter-strike: source, left 4 dead, call of duty 4, far cry 2, ut3 and many more to the non graphically intense without so much as a hiccup. (I am always looking out for a new game that is worth my money and though I tend to stick to FPS I still like RPGs and MMORPGs and even the occasional RTS) Graphics != Good gameplay.

Re:Wait for the good deal... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034361)

3) Your current card fails.

My budget card from 2005 recently started producing artifacts during light use and failing in bigger ways during heavy use. It had served me well. I was unable to play some modern games (e.g. BioShock) but there are so many interesting older games that I still haven't had time to play. It seems like what I gain from the price of a video card diminishes as the selection of games grows.

Re:Wait for the good deal... (1)

cskrat (921721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034849)

What card couldn't play BioShock for you?

I enjoyed it with my 7900GT on an Athlon64 X2 4600 (939 Socket)

Re:Wait for the good deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035897)

It was a GeForce FX 5200. (Posting as anon for obvious reasons of embarrassment.)

Actually, I think it was from 2004, not 2005. My mistake. In any case, it didn't support the pixel shader 3.0 stuff necessary for BioShock.

Re:Wait for the good deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035913)

Bioshock required SM3. I played it on a 6800GT. ATi cards like the x800 were fast enough but were limited to SM2 and couldn't run it.

Re:Wait for the good deal... (2, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034387)

I have to agree with you. I always wait for the good deals.

I have an 8800GS, which I picked up for $45 in October 08. Just recently I spied a 9800GT for $60. I was tempted to buy it, but decided not, since all my current games still play fine.

Left4Dead sure is fun when you get a good team together in Versus. :D

All on one page please.... (5, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034177)

Here's the single page link: http://www.extremetech.com/print_article2/0,1217,a%253D240530,00.asp [extremetech.com]

Re:All on one page please.... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034233)

Groan - nevermind that doesn't actually work. Damn ASP.

Re:All on one page please.... (-1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034291)

Take That! *pasted from the print page* Battle of the Budget Gaming Graphics Cards May 20, 2009 By Joel Durham Jr. In graphics cards, does the brand matter? Sure it does, if you know of a brand that habitually puts out defective or weak hardware. On the other hand, if you know a particular GPU is cheap and powerful, shouldn't you get it for the best price you can regardless of the price? That's what we do. We tend to shop first by budget, then by GPU, and finally by brand. We also look at various extra goodies that manufacturers throw in to keep us interested. Today's graphics cards are getting more and more powerful for less and less money. This roundup looks at nine graphics cards comprised of parts from six different manufacturers. The GPUs come from ATI and Nvidia. We split them into two categories: $150 and down, and greater than $150 up to a maximum of $250. We look at performance, branding, and also give you a strategy to help you buy your next budget graphics card. Continued... We have quite a lineup this time around. We burned through a pile of nine graphics cards from six different brands. We're sort of separating the gang into two groups: those that cost between $150 and $250, and those that price at $150 or below. The pricing we used was generated from scouring through a number of computer parts Web retailers and creating an approximate average. The cards included in the roundup, and the GPUs they are based upon, are: $170 to $250: * PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 275 896MB (Nvidia GeForce GTX 275) * EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 (Nvidia GeForce GTX 260 core 216) * ASUS ENGTS250 DK G1 (Nvidia GeForce GTS 250) * AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 (well, duh!) and $150 and down: * Gigabyte GTS 250 (Nvidia GeForce GTS 250) * Gigabyte 9600GT (Nvidia GeForce 9600GT) * AMD ATI Radeon HD 4850 (like it says) * ASUS EAH4770 (ATI Radeon HD 4770) * XFX Radeon HD 4770 (ATI Radeon HD 4770) It's fairly obvious from each model name which chipset the card is based upon, and we've gone into deep architectural detail on each in article's past, which you can read by clicking on any of the GPUs above. We decided to see what each of these cards can do specifically for gaming. In this economy, not every gamer can afford the newest, dual-GPU, hot-enough-to-fry-eggs monstrosity that runs more than $600. That brings us to the best news of all: you no longer have to spend that much money to get an acceptable--and even impressive--gaming experience with newer titles. Many of these cards pulled down very nice frame rates in crushing games like Far Cry 2 and Crysis. Budget gamers no longer have to compromise--much, anyway--on detail levels and resolutions. Continued... Read message boards about computer hardware, and you'll end up reading a great deal about brand loyalty. A brand's reputation amongst builders comes not from clever advertising or big booths at trade shows, but from building parts that work well and last a long time. You'll notice something else, however. For everyone who loves one brand, there are plenty of people who love another. A lot of that is based on personal experience: Maybe Joe has had terrible luck with Brand A's stuff catastrophically failing on him, while Bob has had nothing but pleasant experiences with Brand A. Joe tries Brand B, it works, and he likes it. Now we have two people who dig different brands simply due to firsthand experience. To be more realistic, change that from two customers to tens of thousands, and from two brands to scores of them. Things get complicated very quickly. To make matters worse for manufacturers, the chipset makers that license to the parts manufacturers tend to have stringent control over exactly how the manufacturer builds parts. In other words, twenty different branded versions of Product A might be very, very similar to each other because the people who made the chips to be used on Product A only want them used in a certain way. Graphics cards fall under this umbrella. Besides fiddling with the cooling system, or maybe overclocking a chipset to a stable but slightly faster level, there's not a lot PNY or ASUS or Gigabyte can do to differentiate their GeForce GTS 250 cards. What's a marketing manager to do? The answer often lies in intangible extras: rebates, trade-up offers, generous and long lasting warrantees, and stuff like that. The company also wants to make perfectly sure that its products last until the user upgrades them out of his system; parts failures can quickly drive a consumer from one brand to another. We couldn't, of course, test longevity in an article with a deadline, but we did look hard at the extras each brand uses to entice a builder to consider its parts over a competitor's. Benchmarking for Game Performance Due to the large number of cards we tested, and at editor Loyd's suggestion (you do what the boss says, right?) we ran a limited series of benchmarks on these cards. In essence, we ran 12 trials: two on Futuremark's synthetic 3DMark Vantage (at High and Performance presets) and two each on four games (at high presets and midrange presets). The games include: * Crysis: Crytek's punisher of a first-person shooter. It features an amazing graphics engine, and not quite as optimized as that of Crysis Warhead. Thus, it's a more stringent test. * Far Cry 2: The phenomenal game on assassination in Africa. This one packs one of the prettiest graphics engines in existence. It's a tough test for any graphics card. * World in Conflict: A real-time strategy with stunning graphics and lots of particle effects. * Left 4 Dead: We use our own timedemo, created by analyst Jason Cross, to benchmark with this zombie-slaying co-op game. Here is our testbed, for your perusal: Component Product Processor Intel Core i7 920 Motherboard Gigabyte EX58-UD3R Memory 6GB (3x2GB DIMMs) OCZ Intel XMP Edition PC3 12800 Optical Drive Lite-On DVD +/- RW w/LightScribe Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200.12 SATA 3Gbps Audio Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit PSU FSP Group Power Mod 700 We used the Nvidia 185.85 and ATI 9.5 drivers for testing. We ran each game at 1680x1050 with midrange detail presets, and then at 1920x1200 at maximum presets. We refrained from using antialiasing in any of our tests. Continued... First, let's take a look at the 3DMark Vantage tests. The two graphs mirror each other nearly exactly: The clear winners are the PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 275 896MB, the EVGA GTX 260 Core 216 and the ATI Radeon HD 4870. Five of the cards fall right in the middle, and the poor Gigabyte 9600GT brings up the distant rear. Interestingly, the poorly performing ASUS ENGTS250 DK 1G is on the expensive side of the coin. It clearly shouldn't be, with its performance in this test. It ran about even with four other, cheaper cards. Continued... Our four gaming tests reinforce the synthetic results with real-world applications. For example, in Crysis, the three "winning" cards from the synthetic results are the only three cards to run over 40 frames per second. They were also the only ones to score over 50 fps in World in Conflict. The 9600GT continuously fell behind. Before we head on to our conclusions, let's look at how to pick out a budget graphics card. Continued... When we look at gaming graphics cards, we look at three factors, in order: 1. Our budget. 2. GPU Performance. 3. The brand. First, you have to decide how much you're willing to spend. You should always budget first, so you don't end up spending next month's rent to upgrade your gaming experience. GPU performance is next on our list. We look at the actual chip on board, and how well it runs games, before we decide on the brand. We'll take price into account, determine the best performing GPUs for the price, and finally find the best priced brand. Sometimes you can get lucky and nab something on sale or with a rebate; take such factors into account as well. As far as performance goes, let's look at a cross section of two games in our benchmarks. First, Far Cry 2. The first graph shows the performances of the five cards that cost $150 or less. Clearly the 9600GT is out of the question; we didn't even get to the branding part on that one. Those Radeon HD 4770 cards look good, though, don't they? Meanwhile, the second graph shows the cards costing $170 and more. Clearly, you'll want to price them all, except maybe the GTS 250 entry. But before we run off making rash decisions, let's break down one more game: Same graphs, different game. Interestingly, the 4850 did very well with Crysis. The 4770s also held their own. What do you come away with from this exercise? With your budget in mind, you know which cards that you can afford offer the best performance. Finally, we might look at the extras. The Gigabyte cards, for instance, have native HDMI ports (but most of the cards here come with DVI-to-HDMI adapters anyway). The EVGA card comes with a trade-up program called 90 Day Step-Up that allows you to trade in this card to get a better card. With all that in mind, it's finally time to start scouring stores and determining which has the card you want at the best price. Now, on to our conclusions! Continued... That Radeon HD 4870 is ATI's gift that keeps on giving. Even the 512MB version, tested here, did a terrific job against everything we threw at it. PNY's GTX 275 part has almost double the memory, at 896MB, and it has lots and lots of muscle, but its price isn't competitive to that of the Radeon 4870. Meanwhile, the GTX 260 proved to be a very cost effective part, at least in EVGA's hands. Its performance was close to that of the GTX 275 and the HD 4870, and its price is comparable to the latter. Our advice: Stay clear of the GTX 275 until it comes down in price; spend less for a GTS 250 or an HD 4870 and be happy that you did. Continued... Product: PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 275 896MB Company: PNY Price: Approx $240 (Check Price) Pros: Outstanding performance; best of the bunch in terms of benchmarking; Three years warranty out of the box; another two if you register it. Cons: Most expensive card here, and its performance edge doesn't justify the price. Summary: PNY makes a fast card and offers a very generous warranty. Rating: Product: EVGA GTX 260 Company: eVGA Price: Approx $175 (Check Price) Pros: Speedy for the price; limited lifetime warranty; includes overclocking utility; 90 Day Step-Up Program. Cons: There are cons? Summary: EVGA has always been a great brand, and it keeps getting better. With the lifetime warranty, this card is a winner. Rating: Product: ASUS ENGTS250 DK 1G Company: ASUS Price: Approx $170 (Check Price) Pros: Nifty-looking heat sink; decent performance, but... Cons: Overpriced for its performance. Should be cheaper and competitive with the less expensive cards. Summary: Look elsewhere; we love ASUS, but not the price of this card. Rating: Product: AMD ATI Radeon HD 4870 Company: ATI Price: Approx $175 (Check Price) Pros: Blistering performance; this card is still great after it's been out for some time. Cons: Gets very hot inside a cramped case. Summary: With its steady decline in price, this Radeon keeps getting more and more attractive. Rating: That ATI Radeon HD 4770 chip really has us impressed. It trumps the bejeezus out of the similarly-priced GeForce 9600GT (which, in its own right, shouldn't even be on the market anymore). It keeps up with the Radeon HD 4850 and the Nvidia GeForce GTS 250, each of which is more expensive by around $40 or so. The downside we discovered is the near-total lack of overclocking yield on the Radeon HD 4770. The GTS 250, the HD 4850, and the 9600GT all offered reasonable overclocks, but the HD 4770 wouldn't budge past about 50MHz in the core and memory interfaces. There's clearly not much in the way of overspec going on in this relatively recent chip's manufacturing process. Product: Gigabyte GTS 250 (GV-N250ZL-1GI) Company: Gigabyte Price: Approx $150 (Check Price) Pros: Terrific performance for the price; HDMI native. Cons: Trumped by superior pricing and similar performance of the new ATI HD 4770 GPU. Summary: When the price comes down, this one will be a contender. Rating: Product: Gigabyte 9600GT Company: Gigabyte Price: Approx $100 (Check Price) Pros: Cheap. HDMI native. Cons: This card is the lowest benchmark performer here. Gigabyte is fantastic, but it's time to pull the 9600GT chip off the market. Summary: Save yourself and look elsewhere. If you must buy Gigabyte, buy a better GPU. Rating: Product: Radeon HD 4850 Company: ATI Price: Approx $150 (Check Price) Pros: This was once the go-to card in the price/performance curve. Cons: Living in the past doesn't help. ATI killed this GPU with its own, similarly-performing but cheaper 4770. Summary: This once-awesome card has lost some luster, but it's still somewhat compelling. Rating: Product: XFX Radeon HD 4770 Company: XFX Price: Approx $105 (Check Price) Pros: Even the packaging is cool. This card is sitting at the pinnicle of the price/performance curve. Cons: It's speedy, it's cheap, but it's not as powerful as more expensive cards. Summary: If you're a budget gamer, this could be the card for you. compelling. Rating: Product: ASUS EAH4770 Company: ASUS Price: Approx $105 (Check Price) Pros: Terrific chipset and nifty card. Overall fantastic package. Cons: You can get better performance, but not likely at this price. Summary: This boils down to whom you like better: ASUS or XFX. Rating:

Re:All on one page please.... (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034331)

Jeez, some formatting would be nice...

Re:All on one page please.... (1)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034393)

tl;dr

Re:All on one page please.... (0, Flamebait)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034963)

DUDE! If you want /anyone/ to read that gibberish, there's this neat tag you might want to know about: <p>

Re:All on one page please.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035259)

how? tags don't work on slashdot anymore!

Re:All on one page please.... (2, Informative)

drizek (1481461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034885)

Just use the AutoPager Firefox extension. It loads all the pages for you and you can just scroll down.

YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (3, Insightful)

gun26 (151620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034197)

As the other components in a PC got steadily cheaper, video cards seem to have stayed stubbornly pricey until recently. But that's changing very fast. I'm astounded by the price/performance breakthroughs we've seen over the last year or so. AMD/ATI deserves full marks for taking the lead on this stuff lately, especially in using a 40 nm process for their GPUs and passing the resulting savings on to the customer.

Too bad that as a Linux user, I can't really consider running ATI video since their binary drivers seem to be of considerably lower quality than the ones turned out by their arch-rivals at Nvidia.

By the way, another great article on these new cheaper video cards is at Tom's Hardware: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-graphics,2296.html

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034451)

Not cheap enough. Seriously, $150 is a budget card? Hell you can buy an Xbox 360 for that. If I were to buy a $150 video card it would be the single most expensive component of my computer.

If you're on a budget, and you care about value, you'll get a lot more bang for your buck by simply turning down the quality settings. After all, it's about the game play right?

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034631)

Mod parent up. $150 is not a really a "budget" card when you can buy an entire computer including flat panel monitor for ~$400. Spending $150 on a video card is dangerously close to the "you'll be better off getting a console" price point.

I personally won't spend more than $100 on a video card, I won't upgrade to something with less than 2x better fill rate performance, and I won't use a card that consumes more than 50W.

I also only buy games once they reach the "game of the year" bargain-bin pricing status. :) And no, my current system won't play Crysis or UT-3 on full settings, but I don't care, because it plays Half-life 2 and UT 2004 just fine, and those are better games anyway.

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28036113)

It's a waste of money when you account that most AAA PC titles are just shoveled from xbox.

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (2, Insightful)

gun26 (151620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034867)

No, $150 is more midrange than budget, at least in my book. In the Tom's Hardware article I cited, they mention an ATI Radeon HD 4670 for $65 and an Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT for $80. Those are today's budget cards. I've had a 9600GT myself for a little over a year now and it gives me all the performance I need. I paid considerably more than $80 for mine a year ago - the price drop wouldn't have happened without the stiff competition from the HD 4670 and other ATI cards. The point is that we're getting a lot more bang for the buck now than we were a year ago.

Let's leave the Xbox 360 out of this particular discussion - I don't think anyone could argue that PC gaming is anywhere near console gaming in cost effectiveness. And there ARE other uses for accelerated video besides gaming, you know. :)

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (0)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035295)

Here's the thing, I don't WANT an Xbox 360. I loathe console gaming. The dumbed down games for the dumbed down interface suck, and I like the tons and tons of user-created downloadable content and mods for PC games. So what you might spend extra for a console, I can spend just for a video card because I already have a decent computer to stick it on.

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (1)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035345)

After all, it's about the game play right?

FFFHAAAHAHAHAHA!! /Publishing executive.

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034565)

What an action packed post! More same time next week!

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (3, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035861)

Or as Richard Stallman says, "Don't buy from ATI, enemy of your freedom [fsf.org] "...

Re:YES! Cheaper video cards at last! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28036193)

If I only purchased from RMS' list of acceptable hardware, I think I'd have the slowest PC on the planet for a price that really isn't bargain basement. Somehow the practical aspects of following his beliefs seem... not so acceptable.

Since I don't game.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034463)

I get integrated cards... yes, they do support hardware video decoding so I don't see any problems playing an hd video on my 24" screen.

Re:Since I don't game.. (2, Insightful)

gun26 (151620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034925)

Especially when it comes to laptops I'd agree with you. Or I would have until I saw how slowly Google Earth ran on my niece's otherwise perfectly capable 1-1/2 year old laptop with integrated Intel video. It was unuseable. My own 4 year old Toshiba Tecra M3 laptop, on the other hand, has Nvidia video - the modestly-performing GeForce Go 6200. Google Earth runs very well on it. And there's other good stuff coming to make use of the graphics chip - Nvidia's VDPAU for video playback is a good example.

Re:Since I don't game.. (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035499)

Well, that doesn't really count. Intel video is least-common-denominator; their chipsets haven't improved markedly in the last 6 years.

If you go integrated (as in, on-motherboard) go ATI or Nvidia. There's a huge difference.

What about the 4850 x2? (1)

deweyhewson (1323623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034493)

They should have included the 4850 x2 in the $170 to $250 range. The 1gb version can be had for around $240 (the 2gb for $260 or so) and regularly beats even the GTX 280.

It's on the upper edges of that budget, to be sure, but as long as you're looking in that price range it's worth considering.

Re:What about the 4850 x2? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034813)

yeah, the prices are out of date - hell I'd say even a week or two ago when the lineup was made the 4890 should have been on the table as an option, but right now not including it is just making them look ridiculous. currently there are currently 11 4890s on newegg with prices below $250 before rebates, which puts its price point a bit below the 275 and if you go rebate hunting they (both cards) can drop below $200, tbh my expectations are low to begin with considering the source is Extreme tech, but still - its a fairly large fuck up.

Radeon 4770 Discontinued (0)

SportyGeek (694769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034675)

What kind of conclusion is the Radeon 4770 as the best for its price for cards under $150? It's discontinued and you can't buy it from Newegg, Mwave, or ZipZoomFly. That seems to be a very poor suggestion to recommend a discontinued card that is probably only available used...

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034717)

Are we talking about the same video card? The 4770 just got released a little while ago.

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (4, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034719)

"Radeon 4770 as the best for its price for cards under $150? It's discontinued and you can't buy it from Newegg"

New here? Radeon 4770 just came out last month [tomshardware.com] . It was even covered on /. 3 weeks ago [slashdot.org] .

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (1)

SportyGeek (694769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035265)

Hmm, good call. It's not that they're discontinued...they're simply not available through those stores, yet. I spoke too soon and I now remember reading the very article you linked to.

And no, I'm not new here. My ID is pretty close to your own.

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035649)

It's not 'yet' It's 'they're sold out because there's no reason to buy anything else' :)

Seriously I checked a week or two ago and all of them were in stock on newegg. Checked back last Fri and all but 1 were out of stock, checked today and they ALL were.

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035655)

And no, I'm not new here. My ID is pretty close to your own.

Is it time to start another "you must be new here" cascade?

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (1)

crazypip666 (930562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034739)

The 4770 is less than a month old. It is sold out on newegg, but I assure you it has not been discontinued.

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (1)

mk_is_here (912747) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034743)

It was just announced and go on sale in April and you suggested that it was discontinued on May?

Check your news source.

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (1)

SportyGeek (694769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035343)

Yeah...I hope my original post gets modded into oblivion because it is certainly embarassing. Don't think I suggested that it was discontinued in May, though :)

Re:Radeon 4770 Discontinued (2, Informative)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034747)

What kind of conclusion is the Radeon 4770 as the best for its price for cards under $150? It's discontinued and you can't buy it from Newegg, Mwave, or ZipZoomFly. That seems to be a very poor suggestion to recommend a discontinued card that is probably only available used...

LOL, it's not discontinued. It just came out. You can't buy it from these retailers cause it's SOLD OUT. That's right, selling like hotcakes. But I gots mine . And these guys are calling $250 a *BUDGET* card? Are they INSANE?

yoDu fAil it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28034893)

NIGGER ASSOCIATiON

Re:yoDu fAil it. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035045)

GNAA needs a f1rst p0st, cock gobbler.

Try again.

eVGA GTX260 216 SC and CUDA (4, Interesting)

StarHeart (27290) | more than 5 years ago | (#28034985)

I just bought a eVGA GTX260 216(core) SC at Fry's for $200+$20 tax. But it had a mail in rebate for $50. Which will bring the price down to $150+$20 tax. I bought it not as a gaming card, but as a second CUDA card. I already had a PNY GTX260(192 core).

CUDA doesn't play nice with regular graphics usage. Your machine will be really jerky every few seconds. I also didn't have room in my main computer, motherboard or power supply wise. So I put it in my second desktop that I use for iSCSI and a third monitor via synergy. The machine already had a 6600GT, which then became the secondary card. I run X off it. Which leaves the eVGA card just for CUDA. Then I can run it all day and not even notice a performance hit.

hahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035615)

you think you're getting the rebate.

hahahahaha

Re:hahahahaha (1)

binarythoughts (1313065) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035653)

you think you're getting the rebate.

hahahahaha

You actually have point. Does anyone enforce rebates?

Re:hahahahaha (1)

scoot80 (1017822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28036225)

I certainly do. And I've never had problems getting the cash back.

Re:hahahahaha (1)

ForumTroll (900233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035881)

I bought one a few months ago and had absolutely no problem getting the $50 rebate.

Toms Hardware Monthly Feature (3, Informative)

dinsdale3 (579466) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035185)

Tom's hardware does a best graphics card for the money every month with a breakdown for various pricing tiers. It also has a hierarchy chart that groups cards by performance levels, which helps to compare different models other than the "best" for each category.

Here's the one for May. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-graphics,2296.html [tomshardware.com]

Product names (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035227)

Geforce 260... that can't be much better than Geforce 256, can it?

(Hint: Maybe it's around time NVidia thought a new product name.)

Budget? (5, Insightful)

sc0ob5 (836562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28035479)

Maybe I have a different opinion on what budget is.. Less than $100USD.. Here I was thinking that I'd read a hardware review on slashdot that may actually be useful to me. Alas no.

Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035579)

So how well do the cards work with linux?

Re:Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28036191)

The ATi HD4850 works very well.

But which ones work with Linux/X w/o proprietary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28035889)

drives?

Don't buy Nvidia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28036069)

Their hardware is undocumented and requires their proprietary piece of shit drivers. Buy AMD instead.
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