Mid-range graphics cards: SA price comparison

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In this article we compare prices of mid-range graphics cards that typically balance good gaming performance with affordability. Previously we compared entry-level graphics cards on price, if that’s more to your budget requirements.

Below is the listed pricing for the various graphics cards from local online retailers. The lowest prices are highlighted in Bold. If a product is listed as “Sold out”, “Contact for availability” or “Limited stock”, that price does not make it into this table.

Graphics cards  Rebel Tech Wootware Ikonix Titan-Ice Prophecy
 Nvidia Geforce GTX650 Ti 1GB  1691  1893  1754  1829  2300.73
 AMD Radeon HD7790 1GB  2174  1599  2188  2299  2336.79
 AMD Radeon HD7850 2GB  2280  2599  2457  2899  2718.10
 PowerColor HD7870 LE 2GB  2899  3891  2999
 AMD Radeon HD7950 3GB  3982  3499  4256  4449  4263.94
 MSI GTX660 Ti Power Edition  3277  3810  3756  3512.92

Raising the bar a little higher: Geforce GTX650 Ti and Radeon HD7790

  • Nvidia Geforce GTX650 Ti ± R1893
  • AMD Radeon HD7790 ± R2119
Nvidia GTX650 Ti and AMD Radeon HD7790

Nvidia GTX650 Ti and AMD Radeon HD7790

The change from the low-end GPU segment to the mid-range starts here with these two contenders, the GTX650 Ti and the HD7790. They’re equally matched in terms of performance and both have their own pros and cons. The HD7790 is better value if you are looking to get some free games on the side, while the GeForce is capable of driving many games along happily at high settings and 1080p resolutions with PhysX enabled.

However, while they’re equal in price overseas, our local market messes up the advantage AMD carries in other countries and prices the HD7790, on average, out of the competition. In most cases its the Sapphire brand you’ll find available at retailers, although Wootware somewhat matches international pricing with its PowerColor brand. Both of the HD7790 models it sells (one with the stock cooler, the other with a better aftermarket design) are attractively priced to compete with the GTX650 Ti.

The Sweet Spot: PowerColor HD7850

  • AMD Radeon HD7850 ± R2590
AMD Radeon HD7850 with reference cooler

AMD Radeon HD7850 with reference cooler

The sweet spot is the price point where your money buys you good value paired with generally good performance. The HD7850 ticks all those boxes and is mostly quiet too, because it only needs a single 6-pin power connector and generates low amounts of heat. Its the modern replacement for the HD6950 and in most benchmarks beats it by a small margin. However, the headroom left for overclocking and the low power draw means it’s the better deal all-round.

A shout out needs to go to Nvidia’s GTX650 Ti Boost, however. While it’s not so widely available across all brands yet, there are Gigabyte versions floating around. Its a little bit faster than the HD7850 and uses the same amount of power and retails at the same price point. However, while it is a great deal, it doesn’t come with any game bundles and won’t perform as well as the HD7850 when you move to resolutions higher than 1080p.

Shaking things up a little bit: Radeon HD7870 LE

  • AMD Radeon HD7870 LE ± R3263
PowerColor HD7870 LE

PowerColor HD7870 LE

AMD’s HD7870LE was never supposed to exist. In fact, AMD had little reason to create another card to fill in the gap between the HD7870 and the HD7950 because they were already competitive. However, the Geforce GTX660 and the GTX660 Ti were putting pressure on the red team with better game performance thanks to driver optimisations. So AMD picked out faulty HD7950 chips and sold them to third parties who have all made their own custom cards around it.

The HD7870LE is faster than the competing GTX660 and comes with four free games – Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. There’s also enough overclocking headroom to embarrass a HD7950 and its generally just as fast as the Geforce GTX660 Ti, which costs quite a bit more. Nvidia has no plans to address the HD7870LE, but presumably the upcoming GTX760 will attempt to take care of it.

The edge of reason: Geforce GTX660 Ti or Radeon HD7950

  • AMD Radeon HD7950 ± R4100
  • Nvidia Geforce GTX660 Ti ± R3589
Nvidia Geforce GTX660 Ti and AMD Radeon HD7950

Nvidia Geforce GTX660 Ti and AMD Radeon HD7950

The edge of reason is where I’d consider stopping if you’re still playing on a single 1080p monitor. Both these cards are behemoths. They’ll run nearly any game at the highest settings with 60 FPS for their target resolution and there’s very little to complain about from either camp. Drivers aside, performance is nearly identical  and they’re reasonably priced.

The Geforce counters AMD’s Never Settle bundle offering with a copy of Metro: Last Light. Whether or not that tickles your fancy may play a part in your decision to choose one or the other. Recent price drops have affected the card’s positions and the Geforce is now the cheaper option, in addition to being more efficient and offering up PhysX acceleration. When it comes to single-card gaming, however, the Radeon is the better performer.

More Hardware news:

Intel removes “free” overclocking features from Haswell CPUs

Battlefield 4 gets AMD love, Nvidia left out

NZXT updates the Phantom lineup with more sexy curves

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  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Anyone have an opinion on Powercolor?

  • YePsy

    They know what they are doing, wouldn’t mind owning a Powercolor card

  • Jev_LFC

    What a rip off for the Nvidia Geforce GTX650 Ti 1GB!! I can get the 2gb version for less than all but one of those resellers.

  • Capt O

    Do you think its worth waiting for the newer ranges ? or should I just buy a new card bow 😛

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    I always vote to wait JUST as the new ones release… One of two things will happen.

    1.) The new cards are super awesome and outperform the others and are worth the prices…
    2.) New ones suck, but they cause the other ones to be cheaper.

    Win win right there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    They are good cards, same PCB quality as Sapphire. PowerColor tends to turn the fan profiles to a slightly more aggressive mode to keep things cooler than competing cooler designs, but overall they’re good value.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Are the AMD cards dependent on their vendors to make OC software? I remember my Sapphire card had Radeon software that worked a lot nicer than my current EVGA Nvidia software… It is a rather big reason I want to go back to Radeon…

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    Nvidia won’t have anything new for the rest of the year after the GTX760, AMD’s HD8000 family will probably be a refresh of GCN with slightly higher performance and the same power tweaks as the HD7790. So yeah, buying now won’t be a bad idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    Some brands ship with their own tweaking software, some don’t. I think PowerColor has their own tweaking UI but I find that a lot of people prefer MSI Afterburner anyway.

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    Are you able to use MSI Afterburner on Powercolor cards? I just want that damn game bundle thing and it seems Powercolor is decent priced and you get the games with it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    Yep, Afterburner works for almost any GPU out there. It won’t expose all of the options you’d get on a MSI card, but it often lets people tweak and overclock far higher than any other software. The Sapphire software you mentioned was called Trixx, btw.

    And FYI, the Never Settle codes are still a limited-time offer, so the bundles could change soon.

  • Capt O

    after reading some reviews and trolling some forums I found out its not really worth it compared to what I have currently … on a side note I built my wifey a trinity setup with an A10 she plays guild wars awesomely on it …

  • Mac Anamourlis

    What video card (or cards) would you recommend to get a 6 screen setup running MS Flight Simulator X ??

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    A Radeon HD7970 would be your best bet if you want a single card doing it. The ASUS Matrix and Direct CU versions as well as the MSI Lightning have six video ports (two DVI, four Displayport) which means it’ll drive all six screens on its own. Failing that, two HD7870 or two GTX660 Ti cards would work just as well, although performance would be limited by the memory bus.

  • Mac Anamourlis

    Thanks. Which solution is better (performance, not price) ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    The Radeons are the better option. One HD7970 is the baseline, two HD7870s would be a little bit faster (around 10-20%) while two HD7970s would be an optimum setup. AMD’s Crossfire stuttering should be fixed next month as well, so things are looking up for them.

  • Mac Anamourlis

    Thanks again, but these cards are super powerful right? So just the 1 HD7970 should provide smooth high quality gaming across all 6 screens right? Either as a single large stretched desktop or as 6 individually controlled and displaying screens?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wesley-Fick/184346154999538 Wesley Fick

    It should, yes. One HD7970 should drive games at playable frame rates on high settings in an Eyefinity setup. For some more taxing titles you may need to drop to medium details, but I’m sure a flight simulator won’t require you to do that.

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