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Top Budget Video Cards: Holiday 2009 Edition

written by: M.S. Smith•edited by: M.S. Smith•updated: 11/27/2009

Video card prices seem to have leveled off for now as production switches over to more advanced 40nm products. There are however still some great low-cost video cards available, and they make excellent holiday gifts for PC gamers.

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    Best Budget Video Cards for the Holidays

    A new video card is always a good upgrade option for a PC which is starting to feel a little slow when playing video or running games. Although some still believe video cards to be expensive, the truth is that modern video cards are a great value.

    The three video cards listed here are all budget minded cards aimed at providing good power at an affordable price. They are far slower then the top-rated cards, but don't let that turn you off as these cards are more then adequate for most games on monitors of about 22 inches or smaller.

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    Radeon 4670

    The Radeon 4670 is a great budget video card The Radeon 4670 is an unsung hero of video cards. Its debut was largely overshadowed by the Radeon 4850 and Radeon 4870, which were given most of the press. But the Radeon 4670 is a remarkable card in its own right.

    What is great about the Radeon 4670 is that despite being a small, affordable video card, it is still more than adequate for most of the games available. While those who are into graphically intense games like shooters might find the 4670 to be enough, gamers who are into MMOs like World of Warcraft or RPGs like Torchlight will find the Radeon 4670 to be an amazing card.

    And then there is the price. At a typical price of $65 bucks the Radeon 4670 is a steal, providing enough performance for 90% of games, at 50% of the price.

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    Radeon 4870

    The Radeon 4870 offers the best bang for your buck The Radeon 4870 has been a hero of the video card market since it was launched. It was the card that once again put ATI in the minds of gamers, and did so because even at a price of about $250 dollars it was a better value than anything else at the market.

    Now, over a year later, the price of the Radeon 4870 has dropped considerably, but the performance has not. The Radeon 4870 is a truly formidable card and is more than capable of running any game at high resolutions. Even system-killers like Crysis are both beautiful and playable on the typical 22 inch monitor.

    The price of about $150 dollars is quite a bit more than the Radeon 4670, but for gamers who are into more hardcore action titles the extra performance is worthwhile.

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    Radeon 5770

    The Radeon 5770 is inexpensive and offers DirectX 11 support The Radeon 5770 is one of ATI's newest video cards. Its performance is roughly on a par with the Radeon 4870, which is to say it is quite fast and is more than capable of meeting the needs of most gamers.

    However, the Radeon 5770 has new features which the Radeon 4870 does not. It supports DirectX 11, while the Radeon 4870 only supports DirectX 10. The Radeon 5770 also supports Eyefinity, a multi-monitor gaming and productivity feature. The Radeon 5770 also tends to run a bit cooler and quieter than the Radeon 4870.

    Of course, those extra features don't come free, so the Radeon 5770 retails around $165 dollars, fifteen more then the Radeon 4870. It is arguable if the features are worth the extra money, but it is nice to have the choice.