Shopping for PC components can be nerve racking with fears of getting the wrong part, not being able to install it and not being able to return it. We are here to help you make your buying decision easier. Today we are going to look at the best high-end gaming cards for PC gamers. There is a lot to consider when buying a video card starting with is the computer you are buying the video card for upgradeable.
If the computer you are upgrading came from Dell, HP or some other PC manufacturer, and is not one of their dedicated gaming machines, there is a good chance that you will not be able to upgrade the system. All of the new high-end gaming graphics cards require PCI Express slots to operate. If you are upgrading an older computer that was custom built, you will need to be sure that your computer uses PCI Express rather than AGP for graphics. PCI Express graphics cards will not work in an AGP or a normal PCI slot. You will also want to be sure your computer’s power supply has enough output to operate the video card you are interested in buying.
Once you are sure your computer can be upgraded and your mainboard has the required PCI Express slot you are ready to choose your graphics card. In this article, we are going to look at high-end graphics cards that typically run around $500 to $600 in price per card. Some systems are capable of running dual graphics cards and both NVIDIA and ATI support dual graphics card solutions. If your mainboard supports dual graphics cards, any of these high-end video cards from NVIDIA or ATI will work, you simply need to buy two of the same cards. You can’t run CrossFire from ATI or SLI from NVIDIA unless both of your video cards use the same graphics processing unit (GPU). The video cards below are in no particular order so choose the one that sounds best for your needs and has a price within your budget.
NVIDIA 8800 Ultra
When it first launched the NVIDIA 8800 Ultra in its stock clocked form didn’t fare too well in reviews. This isn’t because the card didn’t perform well it performs very well. The source of the problem with this card was the fact that several of the overclocked NVIDIA 8800 GTX graphics cards out performed it for less money. This still holds true for the stock clocked 8800 Ultra. However, the second wave of 8800 Ultra video cards from NVIDIA card partners like XFX, BFG, and EVGA were available from the factory overclocked with much better performance.
These cards are still the fastest video cards to be had. The downside is that the overclocked 8800 Ultra video cards from XFX, BFG, and EVGA are the most expensive cards you can buy. The BFG 8800 Ultra OC will cost you around $700 per card, the XFX 8800 Ultra XXX will cost you about the same price and the EVGA 8800 Ultra Superclocked carries a MSRP of nearly $800. I recommend the XFX card followed closely by the BFG card over the EVGA 8800 Ultra Superclocked.
XFX 8800 Ultra
BFG 8800 Ultra
PNY 8800 Ultra
EVGA 8800 Ultra
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
ATI’s flagship product is currently the Radeon HD 2900 XT. Unlike the video cards from NVIDIA, it is not common to find overclocked ATI branded video cards from ATI card partners like PowerColor or Sapphire. Normally all ATI cards perform virtually the same. If you are a fan of ATI products, the HD 2900 XT is currently as good as it gets for ATI. The HD 2900 XT is down on performance to many of the high-end NVIDIA 8800 Ultra overclocked video cards, but performs decently against stock clocked 8800 Ultra video cards. The HD 2900 XT was also outperformed in testing by some of the overclocked 8800 GTX graphics cards. The good news is that with a selling price of around $400 you can almost but two ATI HD 2900 XT graphics cards for the price of one NVIDIA 8800 Ultra.
ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT
NVIDIA 8800 GTX
The NVIDIA 8800 GTX is a very good performing graphics card. The overclocked versions of the 8800 GTX outperform most of the stock clocked 8800 Ultra video cards. The best performing 8800 GTX cards I have seen to date have been the XFX 8800 GTX XXX and the PNY 8800 GTX OC, both of which are overclocked from the factory. The 8800 GTX is a fantastic card for PC gaming and still one of the most popular high-end video cards to be had. The XFX 8800 GTX video cards still sell in the $500 to $600 range, the BFG 8800 GTX video cars are also in the $500 to $600 range, the PNY 8800 GTX and the EVGA 8800 GTX is in the same range as well.
XFX 8800 GTX
PNY 8800 GTX
BFG 8800 GTX
EVGA 8800 GTX
We have lots more shopping guides coming in the weeks before the holiday season gets into full swing. Check back for more shopping guides soon. If you have ideas for shopping guides you would like to see email me here.
Find more Shopping Guides in our Shopping Tips section.