This list of the 5 best PCI Express graphics cards is sure to get all you PC enthusiasts salivating. Because the graphics card market is constantly evolving, this list is only as good as time permits. Six months from now there may be an entire line of faster, more capable PCI Express graphics cards available, so keep that in mind when shopping for a new video card.
- ARES. This limited edition PCI Express graphics card from ASUS is not only the fastest card available on the market today, but it’s also the biggest. Its monstrous size is directly related to its impressive components, including dual 850 Mhz CPUs, four GBs of DDR5 memory and an incredibly large (yet stylish) heat sink. The ARES is built upon ATI’s Radeon HD 5870 graphics card–an incredibly fast card by itself–which ASUS has miraculously modified with two CPUs. All this power comes at a price, however, as the ARES shoots well above the $10,000 mark. If you do get your hands on one, know that you are one of only a few PC gamers to do so.
- Radeon HD 5970. ATI’s line of Radeon graphics cards has served them well over the years and with the introduction of the Radeon HD 5970, ATI has finally reclaimed their place at the top. The specs associated with this blazing fast card differ depending on what maker you buy from, but it is generally accepted that the four GB edition from Sapphire is the cream of the crop. Featuring lightning quick DDR five memory and a core clock speed of 725MHz, the Radeon HD 5970 is the fastest non-limited-edition PCI express graphics card on the market today. Depending on where you shop, this card could run you well over $1,000.
- GeForce GTX 480. Nvidia is not far behind in the graphics race, as demonstrated with their GeForce GTX 480 GPU. ZOTAC’s AMP series marries the 765MHz core CPU with 1536MBs of DDR5 memory and tops it off with one giant heat sink and two custom blowers. If that doesn’t sound fast enough for you, Nvidia’s SLI technology allows you to add up to two additional PCI express graphics cards (for a total of three), giving you enough graphics power to play every PC game for the next ten years.
- Radeon HD 5870. ATI’s Radeon GPU takes another slot on this list with their line of HD 5870 PCI express graphics cards. Cardmaker ASUS introduces the ROG, an impressive variation of the 5870 GPU that features a core clock speed of 900MHz and two GB’s of DDR5 memory. Though it has more memory and a higher CPU speed than the GeForce GTX 480, it falls slightly behind in real-world testing. Still, this PCI express graphics card will chew through any game you can through at it and being the same GPU that the ARES is built on, this card is a great choice for those who want extreme power at a reasonable price.
- GeForce GTX 470. Rounding out this list is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 470 GPU. EVGA, who has been in the graphics business for years, brings us the super-clocked Fermi edition of the GTX 470, which runs at a reasonable 625MHz and is equipped with 1280MBs of DDR5 memory. Though this card is slightly older than the others on this list, the GeForce GTX 470 is a very capable card and with a price tag that is significantly lower than the other four, it should not be laughed at. Consider this card if you are building a mid-range system.