Top Mainstream and High-end Graphics CardsBy
We take pride in bringing you the latest coverage in graphics cards when new products are announced as well providing an extra outlook with game-specific GPU performance reviews. However, with an ever-changing scenario, it can be hard to keep up with the pace of things.
For that reason, we published a digested version of our recommended budget and mid-range graphics cards last February. In addition to listing our top picks (which all happened to be ATI-based boards at the time), we created a second column of the closest Nvidia offering, providing a quick and simple reference for anyone looking to upgrade their video card.
While there are many fantastic solutions for gamers on a budget, anyone who's serious about fortifying their machine for the pending release of Crysis 2 is probably looking for something a bit more robust. For that reason, we've decided to expand on the previous article, focusing on today's enthusiast-oriented GPUs, scaling from $200 upward.
|Our Preferred Graphics Card||Price||Approx. Equivalent||Price|
|GeForce GTX 460||$200||Radeon HD 5830||$200|
|Radeon HD 5850||$290||GeForce GTX 465 / GTX 470||$250 / $330|
|Radeon HD 5870||$410||GeForce GTX 480||$440|
|GeForce GTX 470 SLI||$660||Radeon HD 5970||$650|
|GeForce GTX 480 SLI||$880||Radeon HD 5870 Crossfire||$820|
With the first-generation of DirectX 11 parts maturing and holiday sales approaching, the GPU industry will undoubtedly persuade many of you to purchase a new a graphics card in the near future – and that's not such a bad thing. The way things are shaping up, the second half of 2010 has the potential to offer consumers an incredible bargain.
Despite Fermi's somewhat disappointing launch, team green has brought a worthy competitor to market with its GeForce GTX 460. Nvidia's latest entrant scraps the GF100 chip used by its GTX 465, 470 and 480 cards, opting instead for a leaner iteration code-named GF104, which nullifies earlier complaints about power consumption and heat generation.
Along with being more efficient, the GTX 460 delivers on the performance front. At stock, we found it to rival the Radeon HD 5830, but the card's true value lies in the fact that you can easily overclock it to meet or exceed the Radeon HD 5850 or GTX 470 – all while costing $80 to $130 less. Even a factory-overclocked model often bested its costlier sibling.
The newly released GeForce GTX 460 presents an interesting value proposition if you don't mind overclocking or paying extra for a factory overclocked board. See the table below.
|Best Value||Price||Approx. Equivalent||Price|
|Overclocked GTX 460||$245||Radeon HD 5850 / GeForce GTX 470||$290 / $330|
|Overclocked GTX 460 SLI||$490||GTX 470 SLI / Radeon HD 5970||$660 / $650|
You're probably already familiar with ATI's current high-end lineup since it hasn't changed in nearly a year. Although Nvidia had an extra six months to polish its first-generation DirectX 11 products, the aging Radeon HD 5000 series simply offers a better dollar value (barring the GTX 460), and so ATI's cards once again dominate our list of recommendations.
Whether that will change over the coming months is anyone's guess. AMD CEO Dirk Meyer has stated that the company intends to launch its second-generation DirectX 11 parts before the end of 2010, and if the GTX 460 is any indication, Nvidia is finally getting its act together, so its future endeavors ought to be impressive.
What are your upgrade plans? Have you already purchased a current-gen DX11 GPU? Holding off until Christmas? Let's hear it in the comments.
** See our complete desktop buying guide for advice on other components and entire system configurations.