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Best PCIe Card: $160 To $240

Best Graphics Cards For The Money: October 2010
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Best PCIe Card For ~$175: Tie

GeForce GTX 460 768 MB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

GeForce GTX 460 768 MB
Codename: GF104
Process:   40 nm
Universal Shaders: 336
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 24
Memory Bus: 192-bit
Core/Shader Speed MHz: 675 / 1350
Memory Speed MHz: 900 (3600 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

The GeForce GTX 460 768 MB delivers impressive performance and a reasonable price tag, remarkably low power usage (especially after having tested the GF100-based boards), and low noise output.

This is the first card that has really blown us away at $200 since AMD's Radeon HD 4890 was phased out, and competition with the Radeon HD 5830 has driven prices even lower.

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

Radeon HD 5830 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

Radeon HD 5830 1 GB
Codename: RV870
Process: 40 nm
Universal Shaders: 1120
Texture Units: 56
ROPs: 16
Memory Bus: 256-bit
Core Speed MHz: 800
Memory Speed MHz: 1000 (4000 effective)
DirectX/Shader Model: DX 11/SM 5

The Radeon HD 5830 remains competitive with the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB. Both of these cards deliver exceptional performance for under $200, the Radeon differentiating itself with Eyefinity triple-monitor support. On the flip side, Nvidia's GeForce scales more aggressively when matched up to a second card, it's smaller, and quieter.

Read our full review of AMD's Radeon HD 5830 for more information on the card and its accompanying architecture.

Best PCIe Card For $220: 

GeForce GTX 460 1 GB (Check Prices)

Great 1920x1200 performance in most games

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

Priced $45 higher than the 768 MB version, Nvidia's 1 GB GeForce GTX 460 enjoys the benefits of a larger frame buffer, a wider memory path, and a corresponding increased ROP count. With the price of the higher- and lower-end cards like the GeForce GTX 460 768 MB and Radeon HD 5850 dropping, the GeForce GTX 460 1GB should probably follow suit to stay competitive.

Nevertheless, this board was an award-winner back when we first reviewed it.

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

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  • 0 Hide
    aje21 , 4 October 2010 19:26
    So nice to see a good mix of Radeon and GeForce in the lists these days, of course November could see the return of the one-sided listings...
    But will there ever be a day when integrated graphics are enough to take the entry-level crown?
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , 4 October 2010 21:45
    I'll still never understand why the 4830 is ranked two tiers below the 4850. Sure, it's noticably slower, but slower than the 4770?

    Swings and roundabouts.
  • 1 Hide
    aje21 , 4 October 2010 23:49
    What would be handy would be if the category winners and honourable mentions were somehow shown as such in the chart. At a glance it's hard to see just where a card falls in the rankings.
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , 5 October 2010 00:17
    silverblueI'll still never understand why the 4830 is ranked two tiers below the 4850. Sure, it's noticably slower, but slower than the 4770?Swings and roundabouts.


    That strikes me as odd too, but I'm not too concerned about it - after all the 4830 hasn't been around for a long time and never kicked up a lot of dirt during its short lifespan...
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , 5 October 2010 02:31
    That may be true, however with a good cooler, you can overclock the core quite nicely and get 4850 performance easily enough. It's also got the same memory bus as the 4850, which is helpful.
  • 0 Hide
    Avro Arrow , 6 October 2010 00:45
    Right now, the ATi Radeon HD 4870 is the best deal because newegg.ca is selling the XFX 1GB and ASUS 1GB models for $134 and $135 respectively. Each of them has a $30 mail-in rebate making them $105+tax and $7.49 shipping. The US site is selling them for about $10 less. To me, there's no better deal than that, especially when one considers that XFX gives their double-lifetime warranty as long as you register your card on their site within 30 days of purchase. That's a bit of a no-brainer.
  • 0 Hide
    Avro Arrow , 6 October 2010 00:51
    aje21So nice to see a good mix of Radeon and GeForce in the lists these days, of course November could see the return of the one-sided listings...But will there ever be a day when integrated graphics are enough to take the entry-level crown?

    Impossible. You have to consider physics. A single chip on a mobo, even if integrated with fusion technology will never be able to outdo a modern entry-level discrete card because the card has its own RAM instead of using the slower RAM on the mobo. Size matters and no matter how small things get, the card will always have more on it than a small section on the mobo. It's like how a laptop will never outdo a desktop at the same price point because there's more room in a desktop and therefore the manufacture process is less expensive. That's the same with a video card.
  • 0 Hide
    aje21 , 8 October 2010 23:03
    Avro ArrowImpossible. You have to consider physics. A single chip on a mobo, even if integrated with fusion technology will never be able to outdo a modern entry-level discrete card because the card has its own RAM instead of using the slower RAM on the mobo.

    I agree with you totally.
    My question was poorly worded: I was wondering if we'll ever see the point where integrated graphics are "good enough" that paying extra for an add-in card only makes sense when gaming at more than entry level. Currently the criteria is biased towards the add-in card (i.e. it assumes you have mobo+CPU and want to spend extra on the graphics), but if you have a fixed amount for mobo+CPU and graphics and only want basic/casual gaming (see later), would we get to the point that integrated graphics and a better CPU are enough to beat entry level add-in card and a much cheaper (=weaker) CPU.
    My motivation for this line of thought is planning ahead to replacing my HTPC and where better to spend the money if it's only used for light gaming at 720p resolution...
    Though by then I might have a 1080p TV :-)
  • 0 Hide
    Phoenixlight , 19 October 2010 03:43
    Why do tomshardware keep reviewing graphics cards for 1920x1200 resolutions? the industry went with 1920x1080 quite a while ago and it makes no sense to keep going testing things at that resolution.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , 20 October 2010 04:22
    Could you number the rows please? It would make comparing two cards easier (since I loose my place on the page when I do a find!). Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    rutoojinn , 3 November 2010 12:37
    ATi's new 6850 and 6870 are my 2 picks. Since they are pretty new I will not blame Tom's hardware for not putting them on the list yet. With better performance and $20 dollars less than a 5850, the 6870 should wipe the 5850 off the list next month. The 6850 should wipe out the 5830 and 1GB GTX460. Just my 2 cents Tom already reviewed these cards too so check it out.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 31 October 2011 19:25
    I have had a ATi HD69702MB in my system for a while now and just love it don't know how fast it is but it has 2MB of DDR5 and smokes the HD4850's I uesd to have.