Best of Graphics Cards: Gaming at 1920x1200 and 2560x1600

By on July 11, 2012, 2:00 AM

A powerful graphics card is likely the most expensive component in your PC if you're a gamer, but with all current and past-gen GPUs available in the range of $100 to $500, it can be tough to pick the right solution for your needs.

In an effort to narrow things down, we're about to compare today's most relevant gaming cards that sell for $200 or more, testing them in a slew of games to see how it breaks down as we look for the best graphics cards for gaming at resolutions of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 42

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Guest said:

Hehe, I'll just wait for a 50% drop in price for these 'new' cards. Until then I'll keep enjoying the summer, sunshine & girls everywhere :D I'll buy another card when it's worth, no shiny games to play anyway. cheers

daweimon said:

Great rundown, thanks TS.

andy06shake said:

My GTX 570 Superclocked still rips the gisum out of any game I have played yet! I wont upgrade atleast till 2013.

captainawesome captainawesome said:

@TS, love your work! Brilliant article!

Guest said:

Is there such a thing like a budget gamer's video card, say for a 20" or smaller monitor @1600x900 resolution?

(Long live my Nvidia 9500gt 1gb!)

Guest said:

Any chance of updating this?

[link]

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Awesome story! I got a Gigabyte Windforce GTX 670 back when it was released, and I couldn't be happier with it. It's worth noting that a slightly overclocked GTX 670 performs as well as a stock GTX 680 for a slight price premium ($10 for mine).

Guest said:

The Radeon 7770 or GeForce 560 wouldn't be a bad choice, especially if you're satisfied with a 9500gt. By comparison either would make you cry with happiness. They're cheap too.

EEatGDL said:

Just one mistake detected before proceeding: in the Deux Ex @1920x1200 performance notes you wrote "while the best performance-oriented card is the HD 7950 at 74fps." While it was 87 FPS. Anyway, it's a great detail you offered a downloadable Excel file right out of a benchmark, pretty much appreciated.

Editor: Thank you, fixed.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Another great review - thanks TS. And timely for me...I'm video card shopping right now and use a 1920x1200 monitor.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Thanks EEatGDL, fixed.

Also we will look into updating our budget GPUs reference article by next month.

Guest said:

Wow, looking forward to finally buy 1GB ATI Radeon 6850 DDR5 256bit @ 6,495pesos.

Already bought and assembled the following:

Intel pentium g630 (2.7ghz, 3mb cache), Asus p8h61-m lx mobo, 2x2gb ddr3-1333 gskill ram, running on Windows 7 home premium x64.

In the meantime, Angry Birds!

Blue Falcon said:

Great review, although your results for Alan Wake are very odd. Not a single review I have read had NV cards beating AMD in that game. Did you use 4xMSAA or FXAA?

I agree that GTX670 is the best gaming card for $400 but now Newegg has HD7950 MSI TwinFrozr for $320 and it's a mad overclocker too (and quiet).

[link]

Also, for $450, you can get an 1100mhz PowerColor HD7970 Vortex II that will beat every card in this review easily:

[link]

1100mhz vs. 925mhz stock is a 19% GPU overclock for $450.

Overall good review but the prices for HD7900 series are even lower than what you posted/or you can get much faster cards for $450 than a stock reference 7970.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I just got a used GTX 570 for $225 to replace the GTS 450 I got from techspot. Getting a fresh 670 was really tempting.

Blue Falcon said:

$225 for a GTX570? Wow, that's crazy expensive for a used one. HD6950 2GB unlocked into a 6970 can be found for $170-190 and at 6970 speeds, it beats a 570 + retains 2GB of VRAM that's going to be all but a must very soon. 1.28GB of VRAM on the 570 at 1080P is going to be a huge liability in probably 8-12 months as next generation games arrive (Watch Dogs, Crysis 3, Metro Last Light, GTA V). For used, I think 6900 series is the only way to go from last generation. At $225, the 7850 2GB can be had and it beats 570 easily, once overclocked.

Tanstar said:

Thanks EEatGDL, fixed.

Also we will look into updating our budget GPUs reference article by next month.

Awesome!

Guest said:

"Note that although we have the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition on hand, we didn't include it in this review because we don't see why anyone would buy the factory overclocked solution at a $50 premium."

Why not? Or why not include some of the vendor overclocked versions? A large number of consumers DO pay extra for factory overclocked (and < $50) - just because you dont "see why", is a narrow viewpoint. Additionally, this very well would change some of the results.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

"Note that although we have the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition on hand, we didn't include it in this review because we don't see why anyone would buy the factory overclocked solution at a $50 premium."

Why not? Or why not include some of the vendor overclocked versions? A large number of consumers DO pay extra for factory overclocked (and < $50) - just because you dont "see why", is a narrow viewpoint. Additionally, this very well would change some of the results.

Why not? I just wrote an entire review on the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition explaining why, that's why. Factory overclocked graphics cards developed by AMD and Nvidia's board partners are very different from the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. For one they don't usually come at such a price premium and often provide even greater performance gains and most importantly they offer vastly improved cooling solutions.

Adding the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition would have been a waste of time because all we would have been doing is once again telling readers to stay away from it as the performance vs. price ratio is poor.

Great review, although your results for Alan Wake are very odd. Not a single review I have read had NV cards beating AMD in that game. Did you use 4xMSAA or FXAA?

Overall good review but the prices for HD7900 series are even lower than what you posted/or you can get much faster cards for $450 than a stock reference 7970.

As the graphs state we used 4xMSAA. We posted the typical price you can expect to get a 7970 for from places such as newegg.com, its the best and fairest way to do it.

Lionvibez said:

Nice review thanks!

Guest said:

why in Metro 2033 not used MSAA 4X ?

in Alan wake - use FSAA. no logic test...

Zen Zen, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Very nicely put together article! But to bad I no longer have a desktop computer to put a kick butt card in, seeing my old Dell went to go meet it's maker! For now, as some have said, I haven't meet a video game or program that my video solution couldn't handle! My Toshiba x205 runs two Nvidia 8600M GT's, DDR3 and almost a total of 1 gig of memory, got to love SLi

Staff
Steve Steve said:

why in Metro 2033 not used MSAA 4X ?

in Alan wake - use FSAA. no logic test...

How are they related? No need to explain but I will anyway. When Metro 2033 came out it was too demanding for most cards so we didn't enable AA, this was not the case with Alan Wake. That's the logic behind the test setup, now I just need to understand the logic in directly comparing two radically different games.

Guest said:

logical - use all max. graphics settings in game. without force settings in driver. IMHO

Guest said:

I'm having difficulties with posting with facebook, does anyone have it?!

In topic, I own a HD 7950 and I'm pleased, bought it cheap as soon as the gtx 670 released. Still I think it's price is not according to the gtx 670. This card is like Anderson Silva of graphic cards.

My question is crossfire vs sli of these two, what would be a better solution? Price inclued.

Nima304 said:

The only issue is obtaining a monitor that supports these resolutions. 1920x1200 monitors on NewEgg start at $260.00.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I just got my GIGABYTE GTX 670 Windforce 3X in, scored a P9138 3DMark11. (http://3dmark.com/3dm11/3863270)

Thing is a beast.

(Just hit P9419 with a small OC)

My systems specs are

- Asus P6TD Deluxe

- i7 930 @ 4.0Ghz (24/7)

- 6GB OCZ 8-8-8-20

- 180GB Agility 2 + 1TB 7.2K Barracuda

- XClio Windtunnel

- Dell Ultrasharp U3011

LOVE this GPU.

Very good brute force power, solid minimum frames.

I play at 1600p and this GPU pulls strong.

McNasty said:

My GTX 570 Superclocked still rips the gisum out of any game I have played yet! I wont upgrade atleast till 2013.

I'm running eVGA 580 Classified's in SLI I with you friend ;-)

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

Glad to see those of us that game at 2560 x 1600 ultra get some love in a review. I always have bought the top end never settled for second tier cards. So few of us out there that game at this res. Thanks for the review good info.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Also, for $450, you can get an 1100mhz PowerColor HD7970 Vortex II that will beat every card in this review easily

I think you'll find that the article is an overview of reference cards- a buyers guide if you will. As is the case with all AIB non-reference cards, the PC card isn't available in all markets- nor are the Asus GTX670 DC2T ($430 incidentally), or PoV TGT cards.

$225 for a GTX570? Wow, that's crazy expensive for a used one. HD6950 2GB unlocked into a 6970 can be found for $170-190 and at 6970 speeds.
HD 5800 and 6800/6900 series cards are usually found at a heavy discount in relation to their Nvidia card counterparts - sometimes with good reason. People generally don't want to take a chance on buying a card that has spent it's entire life -24/7-at 100% GPU usage in a Bitcoin mining rig. If the seller can guarantee that isn't the case, or there is a sizeable portion of the warranty remaining (and can be easily utilized by a second owner), the sale price is generally higher than the average.

"Note that although we have the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition on hand, we didn't include it in this review because we don't see why anyone would buy the factory overclocked solution at a $50 premium." Why not?
One reason could be that the card hasn't actually been released. Since the decision to market the card is an AIB matter only ( reference samples were for PR/review only), and AIB's are already marketing similar-or higher clocked models, for many vendors it's a case of competing against themselves so I sincerely doubt the card will be much more than a flag waving exercise. A better candidate might be the upcoming HD 7950 GHz Edition.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

The only issue is obtaining a monitor that supports these resolutions. 1920x1200 monitors on NewEgg start at $260.00.

[link]

Nima304 said:

[link]

I said 1920x1200, not 1920x1080.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

You do realize they are virtually the same resolution. We test at 1920x1200 because it is slightly more demanding being a 16:10 ratio but the data is valid for 1920x1080 screens as well, at least we assume the reader will work it out that way.

Nima304 said:

You do realize they are virtually the same resolution. We test at 1920x1200 because it is slightly more demanding being a 16:10 ratio but the data is valid for 1920x1080 screens as well, at least we assume the reader will work it out that way.

I realize that, going from a height of 1080 to 1200 would barely make a difference in game quality, especially for less graphically-intensive games. The issue is not gaming at a high resolution, but gaming at a resolution higher than 1080p, which grants bragging rights unto itself. The only problem is that buying a monitor that supports resolutions higher than 1080p is 2-3+ times the cost of a 1080p monitor, even though - as you said - the difference is barely visible.

I currently game at 1080p, with two AMD Radeon 6790s. I could get a decent FPS at 1920x1200, but can't because the a monitor that supports that resolution costs the same as two 1080p monitors, not to mention that gaming at 2560x1600 is improbable for the normal gamer, seeing as the cheapest 2560x1600 monitor on NewEgg is $1,180.00.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

I think you will find its more a case of 1920x1080 resolution monitors replacing 1920x1200 and now with few of the latter resolutions models available you will pay a price premium. There are no bragging rights in owning a 1920x1200 monitor over a 1920x1080 monitor as most view it as the same thing, although I do prefer the 16:10 aspect ratio myself.

Blue Falcon said:

"HD 5800 and 6800/6900 series cards are usually found at a heavy discount in relation to their Nvidia card counterparts - sometimes with good reason. People generally don't want to take a chance on buying a card that has spent it's entire life -24/7-at 100% GPU usage in a Bitcoin mining rig. If the seller can guarantee that isn't the case, or there is a sizeable portion of the warranty remaining (and can be easily utilized by a second owner), the sale price is generally higher than the average."

^^ That doesn't even make sense for 3 reasons:

1) HD5800/6900 cards can make $ mining, which means their value should be at least as high if not higher since they can make $30-40 every month mining, which pays off for a used card rather quickly, especially if electricity cost is cheap where you are at.

2) Videocards don't wear out, only the moving parts like the fans do. Unless we are dealing with Bumpgate scandal where the solder degraded over time on GeForce 8 series, then you can use a GPU 1 hour a day or 24 hours a day for 5 years straight. It makes no difference whatsoever, especially once you consider the rate at which GPUs become obsolete (no one who games with a 6900 series will keep it for 10+ years). A GPU is not like a car's engine. It's designed to last 10 years working 100% non-stop, easily.

3) Cards with 2GB of VRAM such as the 6950/6970 are far more preferable to the 570 simply because it already runs out of vram in games such as max payne 3, GTAiv, civilization v, shogun 2, etc.

4) Your argument doesn't hold water since cards such as 5970 and 6990 have higher resale value than dual-GPU cards from NV specifically because of bitcoin mining.

The most logical explanation is that there are just more 6900 series of cards available for sale in the used market. Most of us 7900 series owners dumped 6900 series and will continue to mine and make even more $. Gamers who own 570/580 cards have no upgrade path without dropping $400-500 on 670/680 cards, which start depreciating from day 1 and making no $. As a result, it's only logical that most 5800/6900 owners will want to dump (or have already dumped) their old gen AMD cards and upgraded for nearly free to 7900 series while GTX500 series owners are more likely to wait until GTX670 comes down in price. It's really a matter of supply and demand.

Also, another possible explanation is people with 5800/6900 made a ton of $ bitcoin mining which means they just want to dump those cards and move on. They don't care about $25-30 as much as GTX570/580 owners who'll be stuck with a $400-500 670/680 depreciating asset that makes no $.

Your explanation that 5800/6900 series cost less because they've been "used" more is odd given that almost every tech enthusiast knows that chip transistors don't wear out the more you use them. What wears the out is overvoltage/electron-migration. The transistor is just a switch. You don't wear it out by using it.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

That doesn't even make sense for 3 reasons:

1) HD5800/6900 cards can make $ mining, which means their value should be at least as high if not higher since they can make $30-40 every month mining, which pays off for a used card rather quickly, especially if electricity cost is cheap where you are at

Nope. Bitcoin rig owners usually aim for the highest hash rate they can get. I know more than a few Bitcoiners that update their rig with every new architecture. If you aware of the process you would realize that power usage is a critical factor in realized profit - hence the constant upgrades, as well as...

Videocards don't wear out, only the moving parts like the fans do.

Absolute garbage. For example, bad design caused HD 5970 failures (VRM placement + lack of heatsinks), add a bad fan profile crappy airflow and you can add the HD 4870 and 4890 cards to the equation

[link]

And while you're at it, maybe check out some thermographs

(HD 4870's)

(HD 5970)

(GTX 590)

3) Cards with 2GB of VRAM such as the 6950/6970 are far more preferable to the 570 simply because it already runs out of vram in games such as max payne 3, GTAiv, civilization v, shogun 2, etc.

Nvidia cards hold their value in the resell market for precisely the same reason that Nvidia cards generally hold a price premium in the retail market. Have you never noticed that Nvidia cards are generally more expensive than AMD/ATi cards at the same performance point...of course you have -you just made the same observation! (post #16). The argument you're making is immaterial to why AMD cards are cheaper second hand than Nvidia cards- now you're just trying to justify that they shouldn't be.

Your argument doesn't hold water since cards such as 5970 and 6990 have higher resale value than dual-GPU cards from NV specifically because of bitcoin mining

More rubbish. HD 5970.......HD6990....GTX 590....and maybe we should include the GTX 690 since a few seem to be popping up in the resell market

The most logical explanation is that there are just more 6900 series of cards available for sale in the used market

Might be a possible contributing factor, but GTX 560Ti/570/580 sales are in the same ballpark (see verified owner Newegg reviews and the Steam HW survey for example-The month-to-month usage is probably more an indicator than overall %), and of course, the biggest roadblock in your argument is that the absolute numbers don't tally with what you're saying. Here's Mercury Research's discrete desktop (as opposed to IGP, APU and workstation/HPC) graphics share breakdown for Q2 2011. Note the units sold in both $200-300 and $300+

The story is much the same going into 2012 (Investor Village amongst others carry the info).

What wears the out is overvoltage/electron-migration. The transistor is just a switch. You don't wear it out by using it.

I thought you just said:

Videocards don't wear out, only the moving parts like the fans do.

And overvoltage - or more typically, fluctuating voltage/current for a failing circuit- is a product of failing voltage regulation, and/or a corroded/broken choke, and/or a failing solder joint. None of these are "moving parts", (nor are failing VRAM IC's -another prevalent cause for card failure-for that matter). And while some fail due to fan failure, a greater percentage seem to fail from design flaws, aging of components, and most importantly, the vendor pushing the extreme upper limits of the specification -hence failure rates tend to be higher as the specification/performance price point increases. You seem to be contradicting yourself.

Guest said:

How convenient this test was released immediately after the Radeon price drops. HD 7970 wasn't $450 a couple weeks ago.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

How convenient this test was released immediately after the Radeon price drops. HD 7970 wasn't $450 a couple weeks ago.

haha yet we recommended the GTX 670, I think you are on to something!

Also your Internet must be slow, price cuts came in a lot longer than a week ago.

packeteers packeteers said:

Excel users: on the 7970 and 7950 make sure to add *1.05 to each Average fps formula in order to reflect the performance gained by AMDs recent Boost bios update.

Guest said:

Well I should considere myself lucky, I got a Club3d HD6950 2gb (unlocked to 6970) plus a Acer P243W (16/10 24" lcd non led monitor) for 160$ in total price

I have also a Led LCD 24" Asus but 16/9 for my second rigs ahaha lol @ 1920x180 on a Hercules 3D Prophet Radeon 9700... well my 2nd rigs isnt particulary a "current gaming rigs" with ony 512mb DDR and a PIV Northwood @2.66ghz,

still I dont understand why we do not see 6950 (1 or 2gb) in that chart ... since there is a 6870 in it ... ;)

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

For example, bad design caused HD 5970 failures (VRM placement + lack of heatsinks), add a bad fan profile crappy airflow and you can add the HD 4870 and 4890 cards to the equation

^Keywords: Bad Design

Bitcoin minors are the minority (like GTX 690, Zune and Mac OSX users), and I'm positive wear from mining is the last thing on the mind of 99% of someone looking for a used video card to play games and watch videos with.

AMD cards have always had a lower resale value because of its place in its competition with nVIDIA, and their constant drops in price over its lifetime on shelves. nVIDIA is globally considered the iPhone of graphics cards.

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