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Extreme GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 690
You probably think that it's a cop-out listing two cards, and maybe it is, but that's what I'm going to do, so allow me to explain why I've done this.
First up, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 690.
When it comes to raw power, there's no doubt that the GeForce GTX 690 is the king. It is essentially two GeForce GTX 680 cards packed onto a single board, with a slightly lower core clock and a 300 Watt TDP. It is, without a doubt, the best graphics card that money can buy.
The only problem with the GeForce GTX 690 is the price tag: $999.
If that price doesn’t bring a tear to your eye then this is card for you, but if you're not ready to put down that much cash for a graphics card, then read on.
Price: From $999.
Image source: Nvidia.
Extreme GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7970
If the GeForce GTX 690 is too rich for your blood, and you're happy with what is essentially the second-fasted graphics card, then the AMD Radeon HD 7970 is the card for you.
For about $50-$80 less than the GeForce GTX 680 you get pretty much the same performance, and a card that will take anything you can throw at it.
There are overclocked GHz versions of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 available for an extra cost, but to be honest, most regular AMD Radeon HD 7970 cards are already well overclocked and paying extra gains you little in the way of performance.
You can pick up a Radeon HD 7970 for under $400, making it a far more sensible buy than the GeForce GTX 690.
Price: From $400.
Image source: XFX.
Mainstream GPU: AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
While buying the most powerful graphics card gives you bragging rights -- for a while -- you can get excellent performance from a more mainstream cards, and at a more mainstream price.
The AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB gives you a powerful card that can handle modern games without breaking a sweat at a price that's far easier to swallow than going for an extreme card.
Make sure that you pick a Radeon HD 7850 that has 2GB RAM, and not the models with only 1GB. The extra video memory will allow you to crank the texture quality up higher, and help keep the in-game framerate more stable.
Price: From $185.
Image source: Gigabyte.