Question from the Hardware 2.0 mailbox:
"I'm planning to upgrade my existing gaming PC. I've got the motherboard and processor figured out -- I'm going for the Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge processor paired with an ASUS Sabertooth Z77 motherboard -- but I'm stuck when it comes to the graphics card. Any suggestions?"
As far as the CPU and motherboard goes, you've made some very good choices. Those components will make for a solid foundation to a gaming PC.
When it comes to which graphics cards to choose, what you should go for depends a lot on your budget. Since you're buying a $320 processor and $230 motherboard, I'm assuming that your budget isn't that limited. However, what I'll do is list a number of graphics cards at various price points that feature both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs and let you choose what fits in best with your budget.
|Image Gallery: Best gaming graphic cards|
$99 budget-endDepending on when you last bought a graphics card, you might be quite surprised to learn that you can pick up a very decent graphics card for under $100. Sure, they're not going to let you crank up all the in-game graphics settings to maximum on any of the modern titles, but these cards are still going to give you an excellent gaming experience.
Here are two cards worth taking a look at.
NVIDIA: ASUS ENGT440/DI/1GD5 GeForce GT 440 (Fermi) 1GB
- Core Clock: 822 MHz
- Shader Clock: 1644 MHz
- CUDA Cores: 96
AMD: XFX HD-675X-ZDFC Radeon HD 6750 1GB
- Core Clock: 700 MHz
- Stream Processors: 720 Stream Processors
- Effective Memory Clock: 1000 MHz (4.0 Gbps)
$250 performanceBy bumping up the budget to $250 we can start to look at some serious GPU power. This is the sort of hardware that will have no problems handling modern games cranked pretty much to the max.
Here are two cards I think are worth considering.
AMD: XFX Double D HD-695X-CDFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB
- Core Clock: 800 MHz
- Stream Processors: 1408 Stream Processors
- Effective Memory Clock: 1250 MHz (5.0 Gbps)
NVIDIA: EVGA 01G-P3-1561-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti FPB (Fermi) 1GB
- Core Clock: 850 MHz (overclocked compared to 822 MHz for reference hardware)
- Shader Clock: 1700 MHz (overclocked compared to 1645 MHz for reference hardware)
- CUDA Cores: 384
NVIDIA: Galaxy 67NPH6DV5ZJX GeForce GTX 670 2GB
- Core Clock: 915 MHz
- Boost Clock: 980 MHz
- CUDA Cores: 1344
AMD: SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7970 OC 3GB
- Core Clock: 950/1000 MHz
- Stream Processors: 2048 Stream Processors
- Effective Memory Clock: 5700/5800 MHz
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