Best PCIe Card: ~$260 To $300
Best PCIe Card For ~$290:
Radeon HD 5850 (Check Prices)
Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, 2560x1600 in most titles
|Radeon HD 5850|
|Core Speed MHz:|| 725|
|Memory Speed MHz:||1,000 (4,000 effective)|
|DirectX/Shader Model:||DX 11/SM 5.0|
With availability issues seemingly in the past, ATI's Radeon HD 5850 can now be found at the $290 price point it was originally intended to dominate, and thats exactly what it does. This card offers fantastic performance, it doesn't need a CrossFire-compatible motherboard, it sips power at idle, and it sports DirectX 11 and Eyefinity capabilities. If $300 fits your budget, you can't do better than this.
Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 5850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.
Best PCIe Card For ~$400:
Two Radeon HD 4890 cards in CrossFire Configuration (Check Prices)
Good 2560x1600 performance in most games
|2 x Radeon HD 4890 in CrossFire Configuration|
|Codename:||2 x RV790|
|Universal Shaders:||1,600 (2 x 800)|
|Texture Units:||80 (2 x 40)|
|ROPs:||32 (2 x 16)|
|Core Speed MHz:|| 850|
|Memory Speed MHz:||975 (3,900 effective)|
|DirectX/Shader Model:||DX 10.1/SM 4.1|
Two Radeon HD 4890 cards should, on average, perform on par or better than a single GeForce GTX 295, and will definitely beat out a single Radeon HD 5870. Plus, these Radeons cost less than either option. If you have a CrossFire-compatible motherboard and want some serious performance at high resolutions, this route is the way to go.
Read our full review of ATI's Radeon HD 4890 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.