Help me choose a new video card on a budget

Greetings hivemind.

So the time has come for Guild Wars 2, Planetside 2, ReallyPrettyGameOfYourChoice 2, etc., and I find my current graphics card wanting.

I never spend more than $100 on a video card, mainly because the technology changes so often that I think it’s a little crazy to invest that much in tomorrows $60 budget card, but also because I’m married with kids so I have a max budget of $100 when it comes to upgrades, and closer to $75 would be ideal.

Normally I’d just peruse and choose the card closest to $75 that seemed to have the best price/performance/review ratios, but holy crap there are literally dozens of options these days. After doing a little research at Tom’s Hardware (they have an excellent Guild Wars Two Benchmarks article) I think I’ve narrowed down my options to a few choices. I’d love it if you guys could weigh in with your opinions, and feel free to suggest alternatives as well. Keep in mind my budget restrictions above and that I don’t neccessarily have to play all my games on the highest settings.

My other system specs are an Athlon II X4 640 processor, 8GB of Corsair XMS3 DDR3 RAM and a Thermaltake 430W PS (which I’m worried won’t be big enough if I add a video card with a beefy power draw). Currently I run a Sapphire Radeon 5570 1GB DDR3 card.

Option 1 - Sapphire Ultimate Radeon HD 6670
Sure it’s only a 1GB card, but it’s DDR5 and benchmarks say it can run Skyrim and other current games at full settings, so chances are GW2 and PS2 can run at at least balanced settings, right?

Option 2 - Gigabyte GeForce GT440 2GB
2GB of VRAM, but it’s only DDR3 not DDR5. Given that my current Radeon 5570 has 1GB of DDR3 VRAM, this feels like a lateral move more than a leap forward.

Option 3 - So if I want a 2GB card that feels like a leap forward, maybe this Gigabyte Radeon HD 6670 2GB card or something similar would do the trick? Problem is, it’s the same money as the 1GB DDR5 card in Option 1. Wouldn’t the 1GB DDR5 card be the better overall performer in a head-to-head between the two?

Moar $$$ Option - If I bust my budget by a few $ I can nab this EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti. According to the Tom’s Hardware benchmarks, this is the model to have if you want to play GW2 on high resolutions in Balanced settings. Is it worth the extra $30 to grab the 550 Ti? Is this a card that will allow me to play on decent settings for the next generation of games over the next 12 months?

Of course my final option is always to just suck it up and play on low settings for another few months until the current crop of GTX 5xx and Radeon 7xxx cards that are currently just over $100 fall down into my price range, probably around Christmas or shortly thereafter. What do you think Hivemind?

RPS had a article a few months ago with some interesting options. They didn’t have the exact models you mention, but did say good things about the next rung up of both the Radeon and GTX cards. So unless your current setup is just unplayable, it might be worth waiting for those cards to drop. Might get a good deal over the holidays.

Hmmm…The RPS article would seem to be suggesting the Radeon HD 6850 is the card for me, however the reviewer lists it at $100 and NewEgg has none cheaper than $130 after rebate, which leads me to belive that perhaps holding on for another 4 months may be an excellent idea.

You don’t mention resolution anywhere.

The Nvidia 630 is the same card as the 440, at Newegg the DDR5 version is about $10 cheaper than the 440, if you go that route. The 640 is faster but kind of pricey for the performance.

An AMD 7750 is $105 w/free shipping right now, not counting rebate. I personally would not spend nearly $100 on a DDR5 6670 when you could get the 7750 for a few dollars more. If you absolutely positively must stay below $100 then the DDR5 6670 is your best bet. I might consider buying a refurbished card though. $78 for a 6750 at Newegg, but it’s a gamble.

I would not buy a DDR3 version of anything at this point. And I’d rather have a faster 1gb card than a slower 2gb card. In fact, at your budget, you shouldn’t be planning on running any game at any resolution that calls for 2gb of memory.

gameoverman has it right, 7750 seems the best bet and price. The 7750 and 550 ti are literally the same speeds but the 7750 is cheaper. The 440 isn’t that fast, I’d hardly call that an upgrade. The 6670 is faster but you’d barely notice it. $105, $95 with rebate

How about this MSI version of the 7750? It’s $95 shipped after rebate, and seems to be slightly overclocked with an 830Mhz Core CLock vs. the 800Mhz on the other 7750 cards. Also it looks like it draws less watts than some of the other cards, which might be a positive considering my 430W PS situation. Reviews say it’s noisy though.

I will wait for the weekend and see if any 7750s go on sale at NewEgg or other retailers.

The thing I’d look at comparing the same cards(ie 7750s) is the monitor outputs. That MSI has HDMI, display port, and dvi. Just make sure those are the connections you need, sure you could get adapters but then you’re spending over your budget.

I wouldn’t worry about overclocked cards. Mainly because while the jump from 6670-7750 is big enough to be worth the extra expense and consideration, the jump from 7750 to 7750 overclocked probably won’t be noticeable with an AMD 640. If you look at the Tom’s Hardware benchmarks on GW2 you’ll notice the AMD processors aren’t fast enough to milk every last ounce of performance out of videocards. And that’s with the faster, newer AMD processors.

Normally I’m not a fan of refurbs, but since you’re on a tight budget, I’ll note that Newegg currently has a refurbed EVGA GTX 550 Ti for $100. Although it looks like it’s only a little bit faster than a HD 7750, which can be had new for about the same price.

I’m liking the look of the 7750 as a middle range gpu, low power and decent performance for that around 100 price tag. There are a number of models also, from fan-less (the saphire card) to the various different brand types (Asus, MSI etc).

If power consumption isn’t an issue the old GTX460 or 6850 give better performace for just a bit more cost, the 550ti is also in the ball park in terms of slightly higer cost and slightly higher performance. Also the OC on the 7750 is very weak (although i don’t OC myself).

I’d say you’d be better off with a GTX 460 or a 6870 which seem to be priced similarly.

Also make sure you’re not CPU bound with gw2 as well or you won’t really see much of an improvement, right now for me that is the limiting factor as pretty much no graphics settings effect my framerate and it gets pretty bad in WvW.

Not really looking forward to speccing out motherboards again,

I have Nvidia 280 you can have for free. If memory serves me right there is very marginal performance difference between 280 and 440. PM me if you want it.


What CPU are you running? My Phenom II X4 940 is feeling sorta long in the tooth purely from an age perspective, but I’ve not thrown anything at it that taxes it much as of yet.

Paying anything more than like $50 for an Nvidia “X40” or below doesn’t seem worth it to me. Try to get at least an X50, and X60 is ideal (like the 460 gmonkey recommends).

Amazon has a GTX560 for $130 right now.

And here’s a 550ti which is $100 after rebate, might be worth it if you want to stick with $100 and are willing to go through the hassle of a rebate offer.

EDIT: ah, I see you have that card (550ti) on Newegg as well.

EDIT2: I don’t know much about AMD cards, but I’ve heard good things about Sapphire’s line (Option 1).

I know you said $100, but if you’re going for a 7750, there’s a Sapphire fanless card here for $115 after rebate. Depends on how important noise is, ofc.

Or a fanless HD6670 for $93 here

Thanks for all the advice guys. I am thinking, especially after reading the articles Zak linked, that I am going to wait a couple months before making a purchase. I suspect that shortly before Christmas the prices on the Radeon 7770 Ghz Edition cards should come down into my budget range. Right now this MSI 7770 card and a couple of others are already at $110 after rebate, so I’m hoping they fall to the $80-$90 around Thanksgiving/Christmas. Both articles seem to indicate that the 7770 is the best performing card in the ~$100 price range, so I’ll wait to see if one goes on sale and nab it then. In the meantime my 5750 is suficient for my current gaming needs, except maybe for the Planetside 2 beta. I can wait.

Thanks again to everyone for the advice and the suggestions.

Since Slainte’s got his answer, I’ll piggy-back and ask the same question but bump the budget to $200. I currently have a bone stock Dell XPS 9100 desktop, which means an i7 930 CPU (quad core @ 2.8GHz), 9GB RAM, 525w power supply, and a ATI Radeon HD5670. It’s driving a Dell U2412M monitor, 1920x1200. The PC is mostly used for gaming, but also some photo editing.

The video card was nothing special when I bought the system, so of course it’s even worse now, although it actually does surprisingly well on most of the things I throw at it.

However, “fairly well” is no longer sufficient! NEED MOAR POWAR! I’d like to crank up the settings on everything without worrying much about performance, and I suspect I can get pretty close to what I want for $200 or less.

My preference would be nvidia since PhysX is so pretty (hello Borderlands 2!), but if AMD has them beat on value I’ll keep an open mind. Noise and heat are also a concern but not a dealbreaker. Finally, I assume whatever card I’m considering will fit in my case (the 9100 is pretty big) but if there are some weird Dell things I should be careful about in that department, let me know!

Is the 560ti the way to go? Thanks for any advice…

For that price you might be able to get a 560 Ti 448 Core, the spruced up version of the 560 Ti. So, in the Nvidia camp go with that.

You might also want to wait for the 660, non Ti version, which should be right around the corner, and should get you better performance, and power efficiency. There’s just the question of whether it will fall within your budget.

Yeah definately a good option as the only negative comments on those 7000 cards seem to be based on price compared to the power of other cards in their ball park. They are not top gaming cards so are likely to fall in price soon which would make them ideal for their specs.

Prolix - I’d recommend this (HIS IceQ 7850 2GB, $200);

I’ve got one (that exact model, in fact), and they’re pretty quiet.

Tom’s Hardware has a “hierarchy chart”…it’s a tier higher than 560 Ti 448