The Short List: the Best Gaming Videocards for the money

Discussion in 'Hardware Q&A' started by drvarunmehta, Oct 17, 2006.

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  1. drvarunmehta

    drvarunmehta New Member

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    I'd like to share this post from Tom's Hardware forums with everyone. I know the prices are in dollars but it still gives a reasonable estimate of which graphics card to choose.

    Source

    BEST GAMING VIDEOCARDS FOR THE MONEY:
    PCI-EXPRESS INTERFACE

    last edited September 27, 2006


    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR UNDER $100: TIE
    Radeon X800 GTO
    Codename: R420, 130 nanometer technology
    12 PixelShaders, 6 VertexShaders, 12 TextureUnits, 12 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit memory bus
    400 Mhz core, 350 Mhz DDR(700 Mhz Effective) Memory

    A card with 256-bit memory in the lowest price category? Bizarre. This card has been comfortably in the $100 - $150 price category, now under $100 it hands other cards in this league their respective asses - the vanilla 6600, X700, and X1300 PRO simply can't compete with an X800 GTO. Some people will complain about their lack of SM 3.0 capability, but in this category it really doesn't matter, the GTO will outpower the competition anyway. If you're making a gaming system on a rock-bottom budget, this card will make it viable.

    Geforce 7300 GT GDDR3
    Codename: G73, 90 nanometer technology
    8 PixelShaders, 4 VertexShaders, 8 TextureUnits, 8 RasterOpsProcessors
    128-bit memory bus
    500 Mhz core, 700 Mhz GDDR3 (1000 Mhz Effective) Memory

    Not to be confused with the slow DDR2 Version of the 7300 GT, the GDDR3 equipped 7300 GTs are pretty darn quick, at least keeping up with the 7600 GS. Another great sub-$100 choice that can make a cheap gaming rig a reality.


    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR ~$140:
    Geforce 7600 GT
    Codename: G73, 90 nanometer technology
    12 PixelShaders, 5 VertexShaders, 12 TextureUnits, 8 RasterOpsProcessors
    128-bit memory bus
    560 Mhz core, 700 Mhz DDR (1400 Mhz Effective) Memory

    The 7600 GT is an amazing card in this price range, sporting new SM 3.0 technology and very high clockspeeds to deliver excellent performance. It's weakest feature is it's 128-bit memory bus, but it's high memory speeds offset that disadvantage and make it competitive with 256-bit cards like the X800 XT/X850 XT.


    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR ~$200:
    Radeon X1900 GT
    Codename: R580, 90-nanometer technology
    36 Pixel shaders, 8 Vertex shaders, 12 Texture units, 12 Raster operations processors
    256-bit external memory bus (512-bit internal ring bus)
    Version 1: 575 MHz core, 600 MHz DDR (1200 MHz effective) Memory
    Version 2: 512 MHz core, 660 MHz DDR (1320 MHz effective) Memory

    The X1900 GT is based on the X1900 XT core, only crippled with some pixel shaders disabled and with a lower clockspeed. There are now two versions: the original 575 MHz core/600 MHz memory version, and the new 512 MHz core/6600 MHz memory version. Both perform similarly.
    The card’s main competition is the 7900 GS, which it soundly beats in almost every benchmark. The worst thing I can say about the X1900 GT is that it’s X1900 XT 256mb cousin performs much better for not much more money.



    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR ~$250:
    Radeon X1900 XT 256mb
    Codename: R580, 90 nanometer technology
    48 PixelShaders, 8 VertexShaders, 16 TextureUnits, 16 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit external memory bus (512-bit internal ring bus)
    625 Mhz core, 725 Mhz DDR (1450 Mhz effective) Memory

    The 256mb X1900 XT is a re-released X1900 XT with less memory and a new price that really entrenches it as the best $200 to $300 card you can buy today. Priced as low as $240 at the time this is written, there's nothing that can touch it, including the new Geforce 7950 GT.


    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR ~$340:TIE
    Geforce 7900 GTX
    Codename: G71, 90 nanometer technology
    24 PixelShaders, 8 VertexShaders, 24 TextureUnits, 16 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit memory bus
    650 Mhz core, 800 Mhz DDR (1600 Mhz Effective) Memory

    The Geforce 7900 GTX is Nvidia's counter to the X1900 XTX. Both of these heavyweights have their strengths and show superiority in different games and benchmarks, but neither will dissapoint. The 7900 GTX will have the advantage in texturing speed and the X1900 XTX will have the advantage in shader speed.


    Radeon X1900 XTX
    Codename: R580, 90 nanometer technology
    48 PixelShaders, 8 VertexShaders, 16 TextureUnits, 16 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit external memory bus (512-bit internal ring bus)
    650 Mhz core, 775 Mhz DDR (1550 Mhz effective) Memory

    One of the fastest gaming cards on the planet today, the Radeon X1900 XTX boasts slightly higher clockspeeds than it's XT brother. The Radeon differentiates itself from it's 7900 GTX competitor slightly with the ability to use OpenEXR High-Dynamic-Range lighting (HDR) and Antialiassing at the same time. The worst thing we can say aboiut it is that it's probably not worth the $100 premium over the excellent X1900 XT 256mb card.


    BEST PCI-E CARD FOR ~$500:
    Geforce 7950 Gx2
    Codename: G71, 90 nanometer technology
    2x24 PixelShaders, 2x8 VertexShaders, 2x24 TextureUnits, 2x16 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit memory bus
    500 Mhz core, 600 Mhz DDR (1200 Mhz Effective) Memory

    The money-is-no-object price segment will offer diminishing returns for the large amount of money spent. But if you have the money and need to play at the highest resolutions available with high levels of AA - SLI/Crossfire setups are the way to go.
    Probably the most reasonably priced and easy to use multi-GPU solution is the Geforce 7950 Gx2, which is actually a single card with two 7900 GPUs built in, and performs faster than any other single card available at ultra-high resolutions.

    Keep in mind though, if you’re playing at 1280x1024 resolution with 4xAA, you would be wasting money on the GX2, as cheaper single cards like the X1900 XTX and 7900 GTX can outperform it at those settings. But if you play at 1600x1200 with 6xAA, the 7950 GX2 can’t be beat by any7 single card out there.



    BEST GAMING VIDEOCARDS FOR THE MONEY:
    AGP INTERFACE

    last edited September 27, 2006


    BEST AGP CARD FOR UNDER $100:TIE
    Geforce 6600
    Codename: NV43, 100 nanometer technology
    8 pipeline
    128-bit memory bus
    300 Mhz core, 275 Mhz DDR (550 Mhz effective) Memory

    The 8-pipeline 6600 architecture has proven itself in the Geforce 6600 GT. Deprived of the GT's higher memory speeds, this is still probably the most powerful AGP/PCI-e card for under $100 online, and can be overclocked to good effect. Be wary of the 6600LE, which has 200Mhz DDR (400Mhz effective) memory that cripples the card.

    Radeon X700
    Codename: RV410, 100 nanometer technology
    8 pipelines
    128-bit memory bus
    400 MHz core, 300 MHz DDR (600 MHz effective) Memory

    The X700 might not have the newest technology, but it probably has the best frame rates of any new sub-$100 AGP card. With a higher clock speed than the 6600, it’s a bit faster at most things, but it doesn’t really dominate it at anything.


    BEST AGP CARD FOR ~$130: TIE
    Geforce 7600 GS
    Codename: G73, 90 nanometer technology
    12 PixelShaders, 5 VertexShaders, 12 TextureUnits, 8 RasterOpsProcessors
    128-bit memory bus
    400 Mhz core, 400 Mhz DDR (800 Mhz Effective) Memory

    With identical features compared to it's faster 7600 GT brethren, the 7600 GS lacks only the core and memory clockspeeds - however, the GT's clockspeeds are so much higher that the GS pales in comparison. Nevertheless, the 7600 GS is a great AGP card as it trumps the X1600 and 6600 GT for just a little more money, and is a good overclocker's choice due to the underclocked 7600 core - although it's unlikely it's memory will ever clock anywhere near the 700 Mhz (1400 Mhz DDR) of the 7600 GT. It's only real competition for the money is the X800 GTO, which is a bit cheaper and probably a bit more powerful, but doesn't offer newer SM 3.0 technology or the ability to peerform OpenEXR HDR.

    Radeon X1650 PRO
    Codename: R530, 80 and 90 nanometer technology
    12 Pixel Shaders, 5 Vertex Shaders, 4 Texture Units, 4 Raster Operations Processors
    128-bit memory bus (256-bit ring bus)
    600 MHz core, 700 MHz DDR (1400 MHz effective) Memory

    The new X1650 PRO is a re-dressed X1600 XT with slightly higher clockspeeds. The very high memory speed for this class, and efficient shaders help the X1650 PRO compare well to with the 12-pipeline 7600 GS, beating it by a small margin in most benchmarks.

    Radeon X800 GTO
    Codename: R420, 130 nanometer technology
    12 PixelShaders, 6 VertexShaders, 12 TextureUnits, 12 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit memory bus
    400 Mhz core, 350 Mhz DDR(700 Mhz Effective) Memory

    The X800GTO will beat the X1650 PRO and 7600 GS more often than not. It's probably the most powerful stock card in the sub-0$150 AGP category. Some people will complain about their lack of SM 3.0 capability, but the GTO will outpower the competition anyway. This is an AGP'ers good 'last stand' before going to a PCI Express system.



    BEST AGP CARD FOR ~$175:
    Geforce 7600 GT
    Codename: G73, 90 nanometer technology
    12 PixelShaders, 5 VertexShaders, 12 TextureUnits, 8 RasterOpsProcessors
    128-bit memory bus
    560 Mhz core, 700 Mhz DDR (1400 Mhz Effective) Memory

    The 7600 GT is an amazing card in this price range, sporting new SM 3.0 technology and very high clockspeeds to deliver excellent performance. It's weakest feature is it's 128-bit memory bus, but it's high memory speeds offset that disadvantage and make it competitive with 256-bit cards like the X800 XT/X850 XT. The 7600 GT is the AGP user's savior, a decently priced card that can actually perform well for the money.


    BEST AGP CARD FOR +$200:
    NONE

    And while it's safe to say that the best AGP card available for over $200 is the 7800 GS, it it very difficult to recommend at over $240 because at stock clockspeeds it performs similarly to the 7600 GT AGP, which costs much less.

    With this in mind, if you have money to spend on an AGP card, you are much better off getting a PCI-express video card as well as a PCI-express motherboard for a few dollars more.
    There are Intel Socket 478 and AMD Socket 740/939 PCI-express motherboards out there for those who wish to upgrade their current platform but keep their CPU and memory.

    The only real contemporary dead-end as far as upgrading motherboards is the AMD Socket A cpu, which has no PCI-express motherboard available... but even then it's worth a hard look at upgrading to a PCI-express system.


    Honorable Mention:
    Gainward Geforce 7800 GS+ silent 512
    Codename: G71, 90 nanometer technology
    24 PixelShaders, 8 VertexShaders, 24 TextureUnits, 16 RasterOpsProcessors
    256-bit memory bus
    450 Mhz core, 625 Mhz DDR (1250 Mhz Effective) Memory

    Gainward has the distinction of making the fastest AGP card on the planet. Their '7800 GS' is actually a '7900 GT', with 24 instead of 16 pipelines, 512 MB of RAM, and the best AGP framerates money can buy.
    While it's still hard to recommend an AGP card this expensive with 7900 GT's so cheap in the PCIe arena, if you absolutely HAVE to stay with your AGP system for another year or two, and your budget is unlimited, this is the card to get - although it is very difficult to source in North America.
     
  2. Third Eye

    Third Eye gooby pls

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    Thanks man !
     
  3. sam_1710

    sam_1710 New Member

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    ooof... da GeFORCE 7600 GS seems impressive!! ..
    n, thanks for the short listing! i was confused after reading the 60 odd grafix cards review in digit this month!! :) ... thanks once again!!
     
  4. hemant_mathur

    hemant_mathur -- No Easter Eggs here --

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  5. Tech Geek

    Tech Geek Wise Old Owl

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    Thanks for the information dude
     
  6. akshayt

    akshayt New Member

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    Sorry to hurt you but this info is of no use to us. We need info on cards available in India and how they are priced over here. Things change a lot over there, so there is no comparision. You can't even compare and say hat what is best for under 100$ there is best under 150$ here, that doesn't hold true at all.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    drvarunmehta

    drvarunmehta New Member

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    What changes in India is only the price. The GPU still remains the same. So even though the comparison is in dollars, it will still still indicate what the best GPU is in a given price range.
    The comparison is along broad categories like $100, $200, $250 etc.
    While you have to adjust for the price in India, it still gives you a good guide as to which card is the best in a given price range.

    Whatever your budget in rupees, convert to dollars, reduce the amount by about 35% and then use the above guide.

    Example 1.
    Budget is Rs. 10,000.
    That equals $217.
    Deduct 35%.
    That makes it $140 approx.
    That's the price of a 7600GT in the US.
    In India, you get a 7600GT for the original sum Rs. 10,000.

    Example 2.
    Budget is Rs. 35,000.
    That equals $761.
    Deduct 35%.
    That makes it $494 approx.
    That's the price of a 7950GX2 in the US.
    In India, you get a 7950GX2 for the original sum Rs. 35,000.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2006
  8. sabret00the

    sabret00the New Member

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    Guys I'am going to buy the XFX 7600GT on the 1st of Nov.(Gonna cost me Rs.10500/-in Calcutta)
    Guess I'am doing the right thing or do u guys think I shud wait for DX10 cards?
    Do u guys think the prices of GPUs are gonna fall in the next few months drastically or
    are DX10 cards gonna be within a similar price bracket?
     
  9. OP
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    drvarunmehta

    drvarunmehta New Member

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    Go ahead and buy it.

    DX firstly needs Vista which is still a few months away. True DX10 games will take still longer to arrive. The initial DX10 cards will be high-end ones which will cost well over 25k atleast. The midrange ones will take a few more months to appear. Anything first gen (including DX10) is bound to have some issues. Wait for them to be resolved before you buy DX10 GPU's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2006
  10. jz2linkinpark

    jz2linkinpark New Member

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    thankx for going through the trouble, dr.mehta, its very useful for so many people alike,, who are thinking of opting fo video-cards...:)
     
  11. sabret00the

    sabret00the New Member

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    @ dhruvan : hey thnx bro that really makes sense,even I was wondering that DX10 is not viable rite now.About the price of the XFX 7600 GT card do u guys think that's rite?
     
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