In the past few months, AMD and Nvidia have released what is likely the last additions to their current generation graphics cards: the Radeon HD 6990 and the GeForce GTX 590. While both products offer incredible performance for single-card solutions, they are reserved for the most demanding users at a price point of around $ 700.
For all the fame that comes with owning a dual GPU graphics card, the reality is that most hardware fans don't have the coin to fund their wants. Instead, the typical system manufacturer goes for a graphics solution in the $ 100-250 range that generally has enough performance to play any modern game with reasonable settings.
Fortunately, the intense competition between AMD and Nvidia ensures that the under $ 200 market is well filled. In addition to wallet-friendly HD 6000 and GTX 500 products, many older mainstream cards have been downgraded to the budget category. We will compare the most relevant in this review.
People looking to spend around $ 150 have several options to choose from no matter which camp they choose. Nvidia's current GeForce GTX 550 Ti is priced at $ 145, while the GeForce GTX 460 (768MB) is now only $ 150, compared to $ 200 last summer. On the other side of the fence, AMD recently released the Radeon HD 6790 for $ 155.
AMD recently launched its Radeon HD 6770 for $ 120 and the HD 6750 for $ 110. It should be noted that both cards are versions of the original HD 5770 and HD 5750, with the exception of a firmware update that includes support for HDMI 1.4a as well as hardware-accelerated Blu-ray 3D video playback.
AMD's Radeon HD 6670 also takes in $ 100, though it's not a newly bathed 5670. The HD 6670 is based on a new core with the code name "Turks", which has a higher clocked GPU with a more complex configuration. Meanwhile, the $ 80 Radeon HD 6570 and $ 55 HD 6450 are also updated versions of their predecessors.
Nvidia relies on its eight-month-old GeForce GTX 450 to compete with the Radeon HD 6770 ($ 120), HD 6750 ($ 110), and HD 6670 ($ 100). Priced at $ 110, the GTX 450 is Nvidia's only offering in this category, and the company sees no urgency to change that as AMD's HD 6770 and 6750 are again being renamed the 5000 series cards.
At the end of the stack, Nvidia's GeForce GT 430 will rival the Radeon HD 6570 in the $ 70 range, while the GT 520 will compete against the HD 6450 for $ 60.
Before you place your bets, be aware that AMD won our previous showdown under $ 200. In fact, Nvidia is notoriously focused on the performance market and hasn't been very present in this price range lately. So it will be interesting to see if the green team can cause a stir this time around.