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Best PCIe Card: Budget

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2012
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Best PCIe Card For ~£80: None

The Radeon HD 5770 (also available re-badged as the Radeon HD 6770) used to be an easy recommendation, but the price recently jumped a smidgen in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6790 dropped to £110, making AMD's more powerful card the obvious choice. We don't expect this situation to last long though, as the Barts GPUs are being phased out. But that's where we sit for the moment.

Honourable Mention:
Radeon HD 7750

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

Radeon HD 7750
Codename: Cape Verde
Process: 28 nm
Universal Shaders: 512
Texture Units: 32
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 128-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 1125 (4500 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11.1/SM 5.0
Max TDP:55 W

At the same price, AMD's Radeon HD 6770 outperforms the company's newer Radeon HD 7750. The only problem is that the old card uses twice as much power in the process. The Radeon HD 7750 is the fastest graphics card you can get right now that doesn't require a auxiliary power input; it draws all that it needs from a 16-lane PCIe slot.

If you're upgrading an older machine with a power supply limitation in mind, this point warrants an honorable mention.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 7750 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For ~£90:

Radeon HD 6790

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games, some with lowered detail

Radeon HD 6790
Codename: Barts LE
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 800
Texture Units: 40
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 840
Memory Speed MHz: 1050 (4200 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5.0
Max TDP:150 W

AMD's Radeon HD 6790 delivers DirectX 11 support, multi-display connectivity via Eyefinity, and high-def (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio) bitstreaming capabilities in a modestly-priced gaming card. It runs circles around the similarly-priced GeForce GTX 550 Ti.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 6790 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For £115:

Radeon HD 6850

Good 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 6850
Codename: RV970 "Barts"
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 960
Texture Units: 48
ROPs: 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:127 W

AMD's Radeon HD 6850 proved to be a worthy adversary against the 256-bit flavor of the GeForce GTX 460. And as a result, PC gamers win with exceptional performance at the £115 mark.

Both cards offer DirectX 11 support and HD audio bitstreaming capabilities. The main differentiators are Eyefinity multi-monitor support favoring the Radeon card, while the GeForce board has access to Nvidia's 3D Vision infrastructure that includes 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D support. At the moment, 256-bit GeForce GTX 460 cards are being phased out, so AMD's offering gets our recommendation.

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

Display all 4 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , 10 May 2012 22:43
    In the high end section, when you have two GTX 560 in SLI, shouldn't the max TPD be 320W?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , 11 May 2012 22:00
    No GTX 670 in the hierarchy?
  • 0 Hide
    asal1980 , 16 May 2012 15:29
    Finally, the GeForce GT 640 GDDR5 runs at a 950 MHz core frequency and 1250 MHz GDDR5 memory clock.
  • 0 Hide
    dave85uk , 25 May 2012 19:54
    "With the Radeon HD 6950 missing in action"

    Eh? You can still buy these... Shouldn't the Best PCIe Card For ~£170 still be the 6950?

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