Nov 11 2013 - Graphics card performance has been amazing the past few years with many extremely affordable graphics cards available for those looking to PC game on the cheap. It is now even possible to get a graphics card for under $250 that can reach acceptable frame rates at resolutions as high as 2560x1600 but are still best suited for 1920x1080. Here are my selections for various graphics cards costing between $100 and $250.
Technically, the GeForce GTX 760 is really just a rework of the existing GK104 processor that was used in past 600 series cards, but the pricing has dropped and performance adjusted. The eVGA GeForce GTX 760 is the lowest of the current 700 series cards and offers some amazing performance that is capable of 2560x1440 is many games but offers 1920x1080 users with extreme levels of filtering while keeping the frame rates up. The card requires a single 6-pin PCI-Express power connector with a recommended 450 watt power supply as it draws 170 watts of power. It is a double wide card for the cooler and features one HDMI, one DisplayPort and two DVI connectors. Priced around $250.
While the R9 270X may seem like a new card, anyone familiar with AMD's processors over the past few years would recognized this as a slightly tweaked 7870 GHz Edition. It doesn't quite have the same level of performance as the NVIDIA card but The Sapphire Radoen R9 270X is a bit more affordable at roughly $220. It doesn't quite have as much performance for the higher 2560x1080 resolutions but it provides enough for very high quality levels with filtering at the 1920x1080 resolution of most monitors. The card requires two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors and roughly a 450 Watt power supply. Connectors include VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.
So the Radeon R9 270X may not be as powerful as the GTX 760 but it does top the older GTX 660 graphics cards in this price range. The card may not look that much different from the Vapor-X model but it actually has a slightly lower base and boost clock speed but still slightly higher than the reference design. Performance is still more than enough for those looking to play at 1920x1080 at very high detail levels. It requires two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors and a 450W rated power supply. Connectors include VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. Priced around $200.
While the new GeForce 700 series cards have been on the market for a while, the budget and lower end processors have not been released yet leaving the mid-range to the older 600 series processors. The GeForce GTX 660 anchors their mid range product lineup. The card provides solid 3D performance for modern games at the 1920x1080 resolution of most monitors with high detail levels with filtering enabled. The card is a bit longer but still fits in most cases and is a double wide card. It is rather efficient needing only a single 6-pin PCI-Express power graphics connector and a recommended 500 watt power supply. It features one HDMI, one DisplayPort and two DVI ports. Priced around $200.
The new Radeon R7 260X from AMD is essentially just a rebadged version of the previous 7790 graphics card. It offers the same level of features just at slightly higher clock speeds. The real reasons for the move up the charts is the reduction in the price that makes it a better value compared to the GTX 650 Ti graphics cards at roughly the same price point. The card does a great job handling most games at the 1920x1080 resolution with high detail levels. It requires just a single 6-pin PCI-Express power connector and a 450W power supply. Connectors include VGA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort. Priced around $140.
NVIDIA's latest low cost video chip is the GeForce GTX 650 Ti. It wass specifically released to help fend off AMD's previous cards and it does a surprisingly excellent job running many games at 1920x1080 resolutions most with high detail levels even with its 1GB of memory. The card is surprisingly efficient too only requiring a single 6-pin PCI-Express power connector and a suggested 450 watt power supply. The card is double wide in size and features two DVI, one DisplayPort and one HDMI power. Priced at $150.
Even though there is the new R7 series cards from AMD, they are all just rebadges of the older Radeon HD 7000 cards. Prices are dropping on the existing cards and the Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition actually offers a comparable performance but often with discounts that can push it as low as $80. The card offers enough performance to play games at 1920x1080 but not at the same high detail levels in the more demanding modern ones as more expensive cards. The card requires a single 6-pin PCI-Express power connector from a 400W rated power supply. Connectors include DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.
At the $100 price point, NVIDIA's options are a bit limited. The GeForce GT 640 is the highest of the 600 series cards you will find and the eVGA GeForce GT 640 2GB is a solid choice especially because of the company's Step-Up program to allow buyers to trade in the card for an upgrade within 90-days. In terms of3D performance, don't expect a lot as it will be restricted to lower resolutions such as 1366x768 or 1280x800 for smooth frame rates. The card is a single slot design but the cooler on it would block a card in the next slot effectively making it a dual-slot card size. Connectors include two DVI and one mini-HDMI. Priced around $90.