Not everyone has the money to spend on graphics cards that cost two hundred dollars or more. And, not everyone who has money to spend cares to have the latest and greatest in features and performance. But whatever the reason, when building a PC on a budget, we want the most bang for our buck.

Current gaming performance is of utmost importance in this segment of the market as these cards aren't designed to be future-proof. Most DirectX 9 games will have a hard time running with their bells and whistles (the parts that will be written for DX9) turned on under these cards, especially at resolutions above 800x600. The best way to pick a budget card is to determine which game(s) are most important to you and buy the card that works best for that game regardless of other factors.

Many of the tests that we ran would have benefited from running resolutions lower than 1024x768, but we feel 10x7 is a valid resolution to shoot for these days. Lower resolutions are sometimes necessary, but this way, we can see what games for which these cards can handle with the extra load.

We will be pitting the budget cards against the cards from the earlier parts of this roundup series to add some performance reference. These numbers are just for perspective, as our current article employs the ATI CATALYST 3.9 drivers along with NVIDIA's 53.03 ForceWare release, while the previous performance numbers were run with CAT 3.8 and FW 52.16 drivers.

The Budget Cards


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  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    Radeon 9700 Pro outperforming the 9800 XT :)


  • sauron - Monday, December 15, 2003 - link

    I question the validity of a budget video card shootout when the test platform is and AMD FX51 processor running on a Nforce3 platform and utilizing 1 gig of ram( a setup noone who is shopping for a budget video card has). I mean, how many people out there who play games will put together an Athlon FX system with 1 gig of top of the line RAM and then stick a radeon 9200 in it? Nobody.

    If you're trying to help people on a budget decide which card to buy I believe you should test the cards on a "budget" or mid-range system to show how the cards perform on the type of systems which prospective purchasers of these cards are likely to own. I would at least show one or two comparative benchmarks on a system with a mid-range althon, similar to your CPU scaling tests in past reviews. In it's current form, this article is misleading at best, and is going to convince someone who has a 1 gig athlon to go out and buy a radeon 9200 and try to play C&C Generals or Halo on it which is not going to be a very fun experience at 5-12fps.

    PS - I just want to say that I generally love the content of this site and consider it to be the top tech review site on the net. This article, however, really got under my skin because people who don't have alot of cash to spend are going to rely on it without noticing the fact that the cards were tested on an Athlon FX51.

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