Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
So if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to make the right decision, fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware Guide have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
July Review and August Updates:
July saw some of the fastest dropping prices on high-end cards that we’ve ever seen in the history of these “best gaming graphics cards for the money” articles. While there are always some fluctuations, the prices we researched for July’s article were ancient history halfway through the month!
Things have tapered off a little by now, but we’ll use this opportunity to remind our readers that this article is only a guideline for the prices we’ve seen at the beginning of the month! You’re letting yourself down if you’re not looking for deals when you decide to purchase.
Other than pricing, July started to see availability of Nvidia’s new GeForce 9500 GT, which looks like it will be replacing the 8500 and 8600 series, carrying similar specifications and somewhat slower clock speeds. Even though the raw specifications of the 9500 don’t look all that impressive compared to its older sibling, performance looks promising, and seems to meet or slightly beat its predecessor. It has been rumored that there might be some problems with the 8500/8600 series GPUs, so the 9500 GT could be here to remedy that situation.
Finally, we’ve started to see glimpses of AMD’s soon-to-arrive high end Radeon 4870 X2, which will sport two 4870 GPUs in a Crossfire configuration on a single card. While we don’t know pricing or availability yet, the preliminary performance numbers look promising—keep your eye out for it!
Some notes about our recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, the cards in this list are more expensive than you need;
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t offer up-to-the-minute accurate pricing information, but we can list some good cards that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest;
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail, your mileage will most certainly vary;
- These are new card prices. No used or open box cards are in the list; they might be a good deal, but that’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.