10 best graphics cards under £200
25th Aug 2010 | 11:30
The best AMD and Nvidia graphics cards you can buy for less than £200
10 best graphics cards under £200: 1-5
We've already rounded up the best sub-£100 graphics cards, and now it's onto the sub-£200 pixel workhorses. It's a different kettle of microchips entirely, and it's in this price bracket that you start to see the kind of GPUs that offer serious gaming performance.
Both Nvidia and AMD have cards in this price bracket, and they both put up quite a fight.
It's harder to find different chipsets in this price range than it is under £100, so we've taken the ones we've reviewed recently and looked at the various flavours manufacturers sell them in. The cards are all presented in price order.
There's a great amount of variety in there, and if you're looking to build a cheap computer capable of running Crysis in the highest settings, you've come to the right place.
1. XFX Radeon HD 4890 - £110
It may lack DirectX 11 support, but the HD 4890 is still a killer card, and it performed better than both the 5770 and 5830 graphics cards. Our chief complaint when we reviewed it was the price, but it's now available for just £110. Add to this AMD's proven, bullet-proof architecture - it'll run Crysis in maximum settings - and you've got a hell of a gaming card for very little money. If you don't mind being a bit behind the times.
2. MSI R5770 Hawk - £134
The jury's still out on whether or not it's worth buying a DirectX 11 graphics card, but this MSI effort is pretty spiffing, especially given the low price point. Although it's only got a 128-bit memory bus, the faster GDDR5 memory means it's able to deliver incredible results in all but the uber-demanding Crysis: Warhead. The price isn't too bad, either, and MSI has pre-overclocked the card for maximum performance. We just can't help but wonder what it would be like with a 256-bit bus, though.
3. BFG GeForce GTX 260 OC - £151
Sitting squarely between AMD's 4870 and 4890, Nvidia's card can give them both a run for their money. It may be getting on a bit, but it's still a cracking card, and it gave good results in our tests. In performance and price, it may err a bit too closely to AMD's 4870, but that's a good thing - the only thing you've got to choose is which manufacturer you want to give your love to.
4. Zotac GeForce GTX 275 AMP! - £172
Simply the best graphics card available at the time our review was written last year, it's still a wonderful bit of kit. It packs a 448-bit memory bus to let all that graphical goodness flow nicely, and what's more is that this pre-overclocked version bumps up the already-decent shader, GPU and memory clocks. The result is a card that performs just as well as Nvidia's pricier GTX 285, plus you get all Nvidia's CUDA and PhysX goodness.
5. Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 4890 Toxic - £174
The Toxic's main selling point isn't that it's poisonous, but that it includes Sapphire's proprietary Vapor-X technology. This relies on thermodynamics to cool the GPU, and it works very, very well. If you're a novice in the world of graphics card overclocking, this is the card for you: the Vapor-X is much more forgiving than stock coolers. Add to this excellent gaming performance out of the box, and the Toxic is a great card made even better.
10 best graphics cards under £200: 6-10
6. Zotac GTX 260 Amp2! - £176
So good it deserves an exclamation mark, Zotac's GTX 260 includes 216 stream processors, rather than the GTX 260's standard 192. What on earth does that mean? Basically, it's a bit faster than your standard chip, although not hugely so - our benchmarks were much the same as the original card's. But when we reviewed it the price was a tad too high at £235, but now that's tumbled it's worth looking into.
7. Asus EAH5830 DirectCU - £183
Asus' version of AMD's ultra-brilliant 5830 is the cheapest DirectX 11 graphics card in our round-up. Essentially a pruned version of the 5870, it still includes a whopping 1,120 stream processors, and a 256-bit memory bus. Asus has included its own overclocking software, which makes getting more performance out of the card a doddle. Admittedly, there are better-performing AMD cards out there for just a little bit more, but if you've got exactly £183, it's the card for you.
8. EVGA Superclocked GTX 460 768MB - £188
It may only include a humble 768MB of memory, but EVGA has overclocked this GTX 460 to the point of no return, and into the realms of incredibly high benchmarks. It scored a whopping 38 frames per second in the verdant tropics of Just Cause 2, although it did lose out to Zotac's non-overclocked card in some tests. But the best bit is EVGA's 10-year warranty - it's truly a card for life. If we're still playing games in 10 years' time.
9. Zotac GeForce GTX 460 1GB - £200
Most cheaper graphics cards are merely chopped-back versions of high end cards, but Nvidia went back to the drawing board with the GTX 460, perhaps understanding the importance of the price point. It's a moved that paid off, with the re-jigged GPU pumping out smooth frames per second in all our tests, and even providing a bit of all-important overclocking headroom. It's also DirectX 11 friendly, so you can enjoy those beautifully tesselated flags and puddles..
10. ATI Radeon 5850 - £200
We're truly in the lofty heights of graphics cards now, with both Nvidia and AMD's top chips floating around. The latter's 5850 is a stripped-back version of the far pricier 5870, but that also means cooling and efficiency are improved, so there's less noise and heat emanating from your PC. It puts on a hell of a performance, too, able to run the likes of Crysis and Just Cause 2 without even flinching. It's not the fastest card you can buy, but it definitely gives you the most bang for your buck.
Liked this? Then check out DDR2 vs DDR3: which RAM should you buy?
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