A powerful graphics card is probably the most expensive component in your PC if you're a gamer. However, with all current and past GPUs in the $ 100-500 range, it can be difficult to find the right solution for your needs.
To narrow things down, we're going to compare today's major game cards, which sell for $ 200 or more, and test them in a range of games to see how they break down when we search for the best graphics cards for gaming are looking for resolutions of 1920×1200 and 2560×1600.
Most GPU versions pass our test bench. However, when we review these graphics cards, the GPUs are relatively new or barely making it to market, the drivers are not fully optimized, and most importantly, actual market pricing has not been set to value in the long run.
|GeForce GTX 670||May 10, 12||GK104||28nm||192.2 GB / s||400 dollars||400 dollars|
|GeForce GTX 680||22-Mar-12||GK104||28nm||192.2 GB / s||$ 500||$ 500|
|Radeon HD 7870||19-Mar-12||Pitcairn XT||28nm||153.6 GB / s||$ 350||$ 310|
|Radeon HD 7850||19-Mar-12||Pitcairn Pro||28nm||153.6 GB / s||$ 250||$ 250|
|Radeon HD 7950||31-Jan-12||Tahiti Pro||28nm||240.0 GB / s||$ 450||$ 350|
|Radeon HD 7970||9-Jan-12||Tahiti XT||28nm||264.0 GB / s||$ 550||$ 450|
|GeForce GTX 560 Ti||25-Jan-11||GF114||40nm||128.2 GB / s||$ 250||$ 230|
|Radeon HD 6870||10/22/10||Barts XT||40nm||134.4 GB / s||$ 240||$ 180|
Relative performance often performs the same throughout the life of the GPUs, but our approach to best value changes completely once Nvidia or AMD decide to adjust their prices. To give you a clear example, the Radeon HD 7970 launched last January with a sticker price of $ 550. A few months later, the GeForce GTX 680 came out and offered better performance for less money. AMD was quick to respond and cut the price of the HD 7970 to $ 450. Likewise, the slightly slower HD 7950 has been cut from its original price of $ 450 to just $ 350.
The table above contains all of the cards we will be comparing, starting with the most recently published. Note that while we have the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition on hand, we didn't include it in this review as we don't know why anyone would buy the factory overclocked solution for a $ 50 premium.
We selected ten games for our review, six of which are DX11 titles and feature recent releases such as Max Payne 3 and Alan Wake. Games will run at 1920 x 1200 and 2560 x 1600, as we believe these are the resolutions that gamers are targeting with today's graphics cards over $ 200 with monitors between 24 and 30 inches. All games are tested with Fraps, which allows us to record 60 seconds of playing time.
Test system specifications