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Best Performance 3D Video Cards

Graphics Cards for High Resolution PC Gaming

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Nov 12 2013 - Graphics cards are the most competitive component in the PC market now. All of these cards now support Direct X 11 and can provide some spectacular levels of performance at high resolutions. Frankly, these cards are best for those looking to use them with very high resolution displays or multiple monitor setups. Here are some of my selections for the best performance graphics cards currently available.

Best $750 - eVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB

eVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked
©eVGA

NVIDIA needed to respond to AMD's latest batch of graphics cards and they did so with a supersized version of the GK110 core found in the original TITAN. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti ends up being the fastest single card on the market thanks to this new design that adds even more processing units but keeps the power and thermals the same as their past cards. Now the performance is sufficient that it is even playable for games at 4K display resolutions which was unheard of before. The best part is that it uses the cooler first designed for the TITAN that offers very reasonable noise levels while keeping temps reasonable. The card requires one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors for a power supply rated at least 600 watts. Video connectors include two DVI, one DisplayPort and one HDMI. Priced around $730.

Best Alternate $750 - Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 4GB

Sapphire Radeon R9 290X
©Sapphire Technology Ltd.

AMD had a few weeks of being on the top when they released their Radeon R9 290X graphics card but it slipped with NVIDIA's latest card but there are a couple of other issues that make it a less suitable card. To get the performance levels up to just enough to play games at up to 4K resolution levels, AMD pushed this card hard on the power but relied on an older style of cooler design. The result is very fast speeds but high temps and loud fan noise with some variable results. It still work best for those that don't mind the card being as loud but it is certainly more affordable than NVIDIA's top end card. The card requires one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors and a 700 watt power supply. Video connectors include two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayLink. Priced around $580.

Best $500 - Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB

Sapphire Radeon R9 290
©Sapphire Technology Ltd.

The AMD Radeon R9 290 is essentially a scaled back version of the R9 290X. The card is significantly more affordable but it actually only drops a very small level of performance such that it actually outperforms the NVIDIA cards available around $500 but at a price tag of just $400. This makes it an excellent value but it does have some cooling issues just like the larger card. This means that card has just enough performance to run games at 4K resolutions but it does so with a good amount of fan noise. Setting it to a lower fan noise unfortunately drops performance below 4K levels but still good for 2560x1440 at very high detail levels. The card requires one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-Express power connector and a 750 watt rate power supply. Video connectors include two DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.

Best Alternative $500 - eVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB

eVGA GeForce GTX 780
©eVGA

With the release of the AMD R9 series graphics cards, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780 based cards have dropped significantly in price such that you can now get one for under $500. The cards may not have the same level of performance as the R9 290, but it does still provide excellent frame rates at 2560x1440 with very high detail levels all while producing much less heat and noise. The card also uses less power as it only requires a 600 watt power supply with one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI-Express power connector. Video connectors include two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort.

Best $350 - eVGA GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked 2GB

eVGA GeForce GTX 770 Superclocked
©eVGA
Most people probably don't need a super expensive card because they are using a display that is either 2560x1600 or less. More affordable options such as the GeForce GTX 770 provides an extremely smooth frame rate at these resolutions with very high detail levels. This superclocked version also features improved clock speeds and cooling which is also an advantage against those more expensive cards when you are looking at lower resolutions. The card still requires an 8-pin and 6-pin power connector with a recommended 600 watt power supply. Video connectors include two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort. Priced around $350.

Best Alternative $350 - Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon R9 280X 3GB

Sapphire Vapor-X R9 280X
©Sapphire Technology Ltd.
In essence, the Radeon R9 280X isn't a new card but really a slightly reworked Radeon 7970 GHz Edition. The best part is that the prices for the cards have dropped the price down to around $300 for the majority of cards. This Vapor-X version of the card is slightly more expensive because it is running at higher clock speeds and has improved cooling to avoid much of the noise issues that plague the R9 290's. The performance is great for those looking to game at 2560x1440 at high detail levels in all but the most demanding games which require the detail levels be turned down slightly. The card features two 8-pin PCI-Express power connectors and claims a 750 watt rated power supply but it likely runs on much lower power supplies. Video connectors include two DVI, one HDMI and one DisplayPort. Priced around $320.
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