Best Gaming Graphics Card or GPU for 2013
Brandon's 2013 Pick Under $300
What the best gaming graphics card is for one person might not be the same for the other. This is because graphic card performance can vary greatly upon drivers and individual game performance.
If you're building a gaming rig towards the end of the year, then I highly recommend you dedicate as much of your budget as possible to the GPU. A well-built machine without a good GPU is like a car without a good engine, it's not going to run how you want it to run.
Because different types of games require different specifications it's important to first determine what type of video card you need in order to run your favorite games at full resolution. MMORPG gamers may not need as up-to-date of a graphics card as say someone who likes to play the new release first person shooter, RTS, or Turn strategy games. If you want to run your games on full resolution we recommend that you upgrade your GPU every 12-18 months. Some casual gamers may find that upgrading their Graphics card is a biannual event.
Either way it's important to recognize that if you purchase a graphics card that will run the best new games at full resolution, then it's not necessary to take a step up and purchase a more expensive graphics card. Usually the sweet spot for avid gamers is around the $300 price range. In 2013 I'd recommend the GTX 760 right around $250 which outperforms the GTX 660 TI and HD 7950 in most benchmarks. Casual gamers or gamers who play MMORPG may find the sweet spot more in the $100-200 price range. If this is your price range go with the HD 7770 for lower end or the GTX 650 TI Boost for higher end.
Another important consideration is whether you plan on SLI(Nvidia) or Crossfire (Radeon). Many gamers believe that they can get the most performance for their money by purchasing two GPU and linking them together (SLI now supports up to 3). For example, you could consider a Crossfire of the HD5770 for around $270 vs. purchasing a HD6950. Some gamers love to Crossfire and some prefer the stability and simplicity of a single card.
NVIDIA vs. Radeon
Brand loyalty is something that most gamers have towards NVIDIA or Radeon, but we recommend you pick the graphics card that gives you the best performance, period. If you do a google search comparing two processors you can generally come up with an authoritative review between the two.
My Favorite Graphics Card for Gaming Under $200 in 2013
The Radeon HD 7770 - Solid Performance for Under $100
A look back at 2011 and 2012
One of our top GPU picks for this year is the GTX 470. The GTX 470 boasts onboard memory of 1280 MB DDR5, A core clock of 625 MHz and a memory clock of 3402 MHz effective. Another key feature of the GTX 470 is its support of Direct X 11 with share model 5.0 for super fast performance with *GPU-accelerated Tesselation.
*Gpu-accelerated Tessellation is a new technology which allows more scalable geometry in games. You can read more on the GTX 400 series of architecture here.
3-Way SLI - That's right you heard us. The GTX 400 series also supports 3-way SLI for gamers that are serious about performance.
Warranty - Your GTX 470 starts with a year warranty and its upgraded to a lifetime warranty if you register within 30 days if registered at EVGA.com.
ASUS ATI Radeon HD6950 GPU - Unlock it!
Another card to not look past this year is the HD6950 (see how to unlock it to a HD 6970 below!). This card uses AMD's Cayman core with the VLIW4 Shader for extra rich detail.
Here are the manufacturer's technical details:
- Chipset: Radeon HD6950 Engine Clock: 810 MHz Video Memory: 2GB DDR5 Memory Clock: 5000 MHz
- Memory Interface: 256-bit Bus: PCI-Express 2.1 x16 RAMDAC: 400 MHz
- Max. Resolution: 2560 x 1600 Connectors: Dual DVI; HDMI; 2x Mini DisplayPort Thermal: Fansink
- Support Microsoft Windows 7 Support AMD CrossFireX Technology Support AMD Eyefinity Technology
- Support AMD HD3D Technology Support HDCP - High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection Support Microsoft DirectX 11
Even though a HD6970 would be a great addition to your computer you can get the same shader technology on your HD6950 as the HD6970 if you follow a few steps to flash the bios. I recommend going to techpowerup.com to see exactly how to do this.
Customers on Amazon seem like they've been able to do this.
"In about 15 minutes, an advanced user can flash the bios and increase the amount of shaders, increase the clock speed, and increase the memory speed to the same levels as a HD6970. In my case, I was able to increase the clock and memory speed slightly beyond that of a default HD6970!"
We hope you've enjoyed our review of the my favorite graphics cards as well as a look back at my favorites of 2011 and 2012. If you have, then consider visiting our reviews on motherboards and CPU as well.
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