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Best PCIe Card: High-end

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: October 2011
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Best PCIe Card For ~£260:

GeForce GTX 570

Excellent 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 570
Codename: GF110
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 480
Texture Units: 60
ROPs: 40
Memory Bus: 320-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 732 / 1464
Memory Speed MHz: 950 (3800 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:219 W

The GeForce GTX 570 offers unmatched performance at this price point, competing with the Radeon HD 6970, which is priced similarly, but is still more expensive. In many cases, both cards perform slightly slower than GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI and Radeon HD 6850 cards in CrossFire, but they do so without the hassles associated with a multi-card rig (such as micro-stuttering).

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 570 for more information on this card and its underlying architecture.

Honourable Mention:
2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6850 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1920 (2 x 960)
Texture Units: 96 (2 x 48)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 775
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:254 W (2 x 127 W)

We already know that two Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire are fast. However, based on our recent exploration of micro-stuttering, there's a fair chance that enthusiasts sensitive to this phenomenon might not be satisfied with the way a pair of these cards behave. If you already know this doesn't affect you, then you're in the clear.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6850 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Honourable Mention:
2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI

Exceptional 1920x1200 performance, Good 2560x1600 performance

2 x GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI
Codename: GF104
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 672 (2 x 336)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

300 W (2 x 150 W)

Two GeForce GTX 460 1 GB cards in SLI or Radeon HD 6850s in CrossFire beat down a single GeForce GTX 570 or Radeon HD 6970 most of the time. While the performance potential of these solutions is very high, keep in mind is that resolutions beyond 1080p may require more than 1 GB of on-board memory for unconstrained frame rates, especially when using high levels of anti-aliasing.

Again, both this pairing and the one above get dropped to honourable mentions as a result of our findings in Micro-Stuttering And GPU Scaling In CrossFire And SLI coverage.

Read our full review of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~£270: None

Honourable Mention:
2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire

Great 2560x1600 performance

2 x Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFire
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 2240 (2 x 1120)
Texture Units: 112 (2 x 56)
ROPs: 64 (2 x 32)
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 900
Memory Speed MHz: 1100 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:302 W (2 x 151 W)

Two Radeon HD 6870 cards are also a very powerful combination when paired in CrossFire mode. Just keep in mind that, if you plan to combine resolutions higher than 1080p with high levels of anti-aliasing, you may want to consider boards with more than 1 GB of RAM, such as a pair of Radeon HD 6950 2 GB cards.

This solution is also being demoted to honourable mention status based on Micro-Stuttering And GPU Scaling In CrossFire And SLI.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6870 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Display all 4 comments.
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  • 1 Hide
    doive1231 , 19 October 2011 15:50
    Lot of Radeon love at Tom's these days.
  • -1 Hide
    dizzy_davidh , 20 October 2011 11:05
    So both the £600+ just get an honourable mention?!

    Why because a cheaper SLI\Crossfire combo can be created that exceeds the performance of the Radeon HD 6990\GeForce GTX 590?

    Sure, 2 cheaper cards can beat 1 more expensive but the point is that it is one card doing the work and so no matter how you talk about fans and exhausts there will still be less heat produced, less power used and of course one less PCI-E slot in use.

    If the name of the article is 'Best Graphics card for the money..' then explain just that don't tell half the story and seemingly try to convince people to buy a device that doesn't perform as well as they would like.

    For some spending a lot of money on £600+ market items is worth while when they use them exclusively for maxed-out gaming etc. and so those types of devices should be properly included and and shouldn't be excluded or given some lame courtesy mention.

    There are a lot of people who are enthusiasts who are willing to spend a lot on top-end kit, myself among them, and having recently bought a GTX 590 I can tell you it way outperforms anything I've ever owned before, SLI or single card set-up and to only mention it in passing isn't doing the credibility of the article any favours.

    If you want the best then generally you have to pay more for it, that is how things have long been and also how they will stay for many, many years to come!
  • 0 Hide
    red1776 , 20 October 2011 20:45
    Your Hierarchy chart is way out of whack. A 4870 x 2 is not anywhere near on par with a 6950 much less a 6970 for example.
  • 0 Hide
    fusk , 31 October 2011 04:36
    Seems like crossfire 5770 still is a viable solution.
    Bought one when they were new, added a second one 6 months ago.