There’s nothing quite like a good ol’ summer vacation, but sadly, all good things must come to an end. We still have about a month before schools and colleges re-open and if you’re back from your summer trip, then here’s how you can occupy yourself till then - gaming! With big titles hitting the PC this summer, you need to be well-equipped to tackle these games, if you want enjoy the experience with all the eye-candy dialed to max. Thankfully, this is easier said and done, thanks to most games being developed for consoles, which makes them running on even modest gaming PCs a sinch. While this has stifled the progress of graphics and effects on the PC a bit, the silver lining here is that even older hardware can easily handle the newer games without having you upgrade every six months. Today, we look at Tech2’s top 5 picks of graphics cards under Rs.15,000 across different price segments.
Sapphire HD 6670 1GB DDR3 - Rs.4,700
We start off with the best card under 5K and this was a bit of head scratcher, since you have two good cards from AMD here - the HD 6670 with GDDR3 memory and the older HD 5670 with GDDR5 memory. The HD 6670 has more shader units, but the GDDR5 memory on HD 5670 has more bandwidth for textures. Now since you won’t be gaming above 1600 x 900 resolution (and we recommend you don’t), we decided to go with the HD 6670, due to the newer architecture and more number of shaders. The higher bandwidth memory comes in handy at higher resolutions, but since this card won't handle games smoothly at such resolutions, it didn’t make sense going for it.
Your best bet under 5K
The Sapphire HD 6670 comes with 1GB of GDDR3 memory, their custom cooler, supports DX11 and doesn’t need a 6-pin PCIE power connector.
MSI R6790-PM2D1GD5/OC - Rs.8,400
We now move to the 5K - 10K price bracket, where we have two options for you to choose from, depending on how tight your budget is. Our first pick is MSI’s R6790, which is based on AMD’s HD 6790 chipset. Between this and NVidia’s GTX 550 Ti, which also retails in the same price range, we recommend the AMD card, as it’s faster. MSI has tweaked the card quite a bit and you get a nice overclock right out-of-the-box. The custom cooler should also help keep temperatures in check. With this card, you should be able to game at Full HD resolutions, but just make sure you tone down the eye-candy, especially with newer games. Also make sure you have a good 450W PSU from a reputed brand to start with.
A strong performer
We would also like to give a special mention to the HIS HD 6790, which also retails for the same price as the MSI, but due to the to slower clock speeds, it only needs one PCIE power connector. If you don’t feel like upgrading your PSU, then you might want to get this card instead as it also consumes a bit less power in games.
PowerColor HD 6850 1GB - Rs.9,200
Coming to our second pick in this bracket, we recommend the HD 6850 over the newer HD 7770. AMD’s new HD 7770 is based on the new Cape Verde core, which is derived from the HD 7970 and so, it has slightly better thermal and power numbers. But when it comes to real world performance, it’s either on par or sometimes slower than the older HD 6850, which makes it a bit of a disappointment. Plus, the HD 6850 is also more easily available in the market, since it’s been around for a while.
Still holding its own against the competition
We’ve gone with PowerColor’s version of the card, since it’s the cheapest in the market and has the same specifications as the slightly more expensive offerings from Sapphire and HIS. The HD 6850 will also run comfortable on a good 450W PSU (like Corsair VX450), but we recommend you get a good 500W PSU at least for some good buffer. This is very capable card and Full HD gaming should be breeze with it.
ZOTAC GTX 560 - Rs.11,000
Coming to the 10K - 15K price bracket, the competition just gets fiercer. We once again have two picks here and the first one is the Nvidia GTX 560. It was either this or the AMD HD 6870, which is also a very good performer but between the two, we picked the Nvidia card for its slight edge in performance. We’ve gone with ZOTAC’s offering here, since it’s one of the cheapest in the market and plus, you get 5 years extended warranty.
MSI N560GTX-Ti M2D1GD5/OC or Sapphire HD 6950 1GB - Rs.14,000
For our final card, we leave the choice up to you. For a little under 15K, we have two very capable cards - the Nvidia GTX 560 Ti and AMD’s HD 6950 1GB. Both are almost identical in performance, with the AMD card being slightly faster in some games. However, the GTX 560 Ti is a very good overclocker, so it easily pushes past the HD 6950 1GB with a little tweaking. It will also run a bit cooler than AMD’s offering.
Take your pick
Both these cards will easily let you play the current games at high settings, but just make sure you also have a speedy CPU to complement the graphics card, else you’ll be bottlenecking the card. Nvidia cards usually play well with Intel CPUs while AMD cards work well with their own CPUs (obviously), so choose accordingly. Also, make sure you have a good 550W PSU and above to comfortably run these cards.
We hope this has been helpful to you in making your buying decision. Remember that these are Mumbai prices, so it will vary based on where you're located. If you find or know of some good summer deals or any cards or have any other suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments section below. Over and out.
Published Date: May 19, 2012 12:43 pm | Updated Date: May 19, 2012 12:43 pm