The graphics cards we tested
Without further ado, here are details about the specific graphics cards we tested, from lowest-priced to highest. Click through each link for a full list of specs from AMD and Nvidia.
First up is the AMD Radeon R7 250X. While various models with 1GB of RAM can be found for around $80 online, we tested a slightly more expensive (now apparently discontinued) Asus R7250X-2GD5 with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM paired with a 128-bit memory bus, a custom dual-fan cooling solution over a large heatsink, and Asus' typically outstanding build quality. (I love how the company etches connection names into the metal next to each port!) The 95W card is clocked at 1.02GHz, packs 640 stream processors, and requires a 6-pin power connection. For ports, there's DVI, VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort.
Next is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Most models cost between $120 and $160, depending on the included features. Stock specs include a 1020MHz base/1085MHZ boost clock, 640 CUDA cores, and 2GB of GDDR5 memory paired with a 128-bit bus. We tested a $150 (after rebate) EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti Superclocked, which ships factory-overclocked at 1176MHz base/1255MHz boost. It includes single HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI-I connections, but here's the really nifty thing about the 750 Ti: This power-sipping graphics card requires no supplemental power connections whatsoever. It draws all its juice over the PCIe connection.
The AMD Radeon R9 270 has clock speeds up to 925MHz, up to 1,280 stream processing units, and up to 2GB of GDDR5 memory over a 256-bit bus in stock configurations. Online prices range from $130 to $150 after rebates and discounts. We tested a $150 HIS model with the company's custom IceQ X2 cooling solution, dual BIOSes, and other overclocking-friendly features, though it's rocking stock clock speeds. It needs a 6-pin power connection and packs HDMI, DVI, and a pair of Mini-DisplayPort connections.
The thirstier AMD Radeon R9 270X needs two 6-pin power connections, but it offers up to 4GB of RAM and 1050MHz clock speeds with the same 1280 stream processors. Prices typically range from $150 to $200 online. The $190 VisionTek model we tested packs 1030MHz base/1080MHz boost clock speeds, a custom dual-fan cooling solution over a beefy heat sink with supplemental heat pipes, and--notably--a killer limited lifetime warranty for both parts and labor. It packs HDMI, DisplayPort, and both DVI-I and DVI-D connections.
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 has been discontinued in favor of the newer GTX 960, but we're still including it in the roundup. Stock specs include 1,152 CUDA cores, 980MHz base/1033MHz boost clocks, and 2GB of RAM over a 256-bit bus. Power's delivered over a pair of 6-pin connectors. The Zotac AMP! Edition card we tested was overclocked to a hefty 1111MHz base/1176MHz boost clock, cooled by a custom dual-fan solution and a trio of big copper heat pipes snaking out of a full-width heat sink. It has HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI-I, and DVI-D connections.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.