Seasons greetings are accompanied by information about the new GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core, a list of products that are suffering availability, seasonal price increases, and some rumors regarding the next-gen Radeon HD 7000 and GeForce 600 families.
Detailed graphics card specifications and reviews are great—that is, if you have the time to do the research. But at the end of the day, what a gamer needs is the best graphics card within a certain budget.
So, if you don’t have the time to research the benchmarks, or if you don’t feel confident enough in your ability to pick the right card, then fear not. We at Tom’s Hardware have come to your aid with a simple list of the best gaming cards offered for the money.
We only have one new product to talk about this month, and that's the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core. With a $289 MSRP, this limited edition product won't last long, and Nvidia only expects supply to hold out for a couple of months. The name is somewhat misleading in that this isn't a derivative of the GeForce GTX 560 at all. Rather, it's based on the flagship GF110 used to create the GeForce GTX 570/580. Put simply, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core is a GeForce GTX 570 with one streaming multiprocessor disabled, yielding 448 shader cores, 56 texture units, 40 color ROPs, and 732/950 MHz core/memory clocks. The resulting performance falls somewhere between the GeForce GTX 560 Ti and the GeForce GTX 570, but closer to the faster card. AMD's Radeon HD 6950 1 GB is a better deal for less money, but ambitious tweakers will find themselves drawn to this new board because it has the potential to overtake a GeForce GTX 570 with modest overclocking. Read more about this new card in Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Core Review: GF110 On A Diet.
Though that was the only introduction last month, we know for a fact that AMD's Radeon HD 6990 was discontinued a while back, and it's getting really hard to find. The GeForce GTX 590 is supposedly still in production, but it's tough to track down, too. Nvidia's GeForce GT 240 is all but gone, but now stock of the Radeon HD 5570 is thinning out, too. Even the Radeon HD 5670 takes some effort to find.
With cards quickly disappearing, we have to wonder about the next generation of introductions. We've seen a number of Radeon HD 7000 launch rumors that suggest AMD's upcoming 28 nm mobile parts will launch in early December. From the Nvidia camp, the GeForce 610M, GT 630M, and GT 635M product names have been spotted in beta drivers. There is talk that 28 nm mobile parts are expected from that company in the same month, too, though they might be based on the same Fermi derivatives found in Nvidia's GeForce 400/500 series, and not necessarily the forthcoming Kepler architecture. Rumor has it that new desktop products won't make it to market until next year, so do with that what you will.
There's not much else to report aside from a handful of price increases, and you can probably thank the holiday season for that. Small moves don't have much much of an impact on our recommendations, although we did remove the GeForce GTX 460 1 GB because its price encroached on the GeForce GTX 560 and Radeon HD 6870.
One final note: we thought we'd mention that there's a Radeon HD 6750 on Newegg for $85. That's a really impressive deal, and folks looking for a sub-$90 graphics card will want to try and pick that up while it lasts. With that, we'll leave you to the recommendations. Seasons greetings, folks!
Some Notes About Our Recommendations
A few simple guidelines to keep in mind when reading this list:
- This list is for gamers who want to get the most for their money. If you don’t play games, then the cards on this list are more expensive than what you really need. We've added a reference page at the end of the column covering integrated graphics processors, which is likely more apropos.
- The criteria to get on this list are strictly price/performance. We acknowledge that recommendations for multiple video cards, such as two Radeon cards in CrossFire mode or two GeForce cards in SLI, typically require a motherboard that supports CrossFire or SLI and a chassis with more space to install multiple graphics cards. They also require a beefier power supply compared to what a single card needs, and will almost certainly produce more heat than a single card. Keep these factors in mind when making your purchasing decision. In most cases, if we have recommended a multiple-card solution, we try to recommend a single-card honorable mention at a comparable price point for those who find multi-card setups undesirable.
- Prices and availability change on a daily basis. We can’t base our decisions on always-changing pricing information, but we can list some good cards that you probably won’t regret buying at the price ranges we suggest, along with real-time prices from our PriceGrabber engine, for your reference.
- The list is based on some of the best U.S. prices from online retailers. In other countries or at retail stores, your mileage will most certainly vary.
- These are new card prices. No used or open-box cards are in the list; they might represent a good deal, but it’s outside the scope of what we’re trying to do.