Great and affordable graphics

July 18th, 2011 in .PC Components .Products
Suds McSoapdish
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With summer here, I figured it’s a good time for gaming, and many of you are likely pondering the merits of a new PC build. Sure, it’s tempting to get some of the best out there, like a Radeon HD 6970 or a GeForce GTX 580, but realistically you may want to control your spending.

The really good thing is that with modern graphics cards you get tonnes of performance for really good prices, and there’s no imperative need to spend a lot if you’re on a tighter budget. Certainly buy the most you can afford, it’s always more fun having a top-end graphics card in your PC, but honestly something more modest will still run everything in reasonable or even high detail. You’ll get a genuine gaming experience, and you can always upgrade later anyway. A big advantage of all four cards listed is their humble power draw, which means they don’t require a monster power supply to work. They will also not bottleneck your CPU, even if it’s a slightly older processor.

ASUS has both AMD and NVIDIA-based offerings in store that are very capable while affordable, so let’s check them out.


ASUS HD 6770 Direct CU

ASUS HD 6770 Direct CU

Radeon HD 6770

The ASUS version of this DX11 card includes DirectCU cooling, which uses all-copper pipes in immediate contact with the GPU core for around 20% cooler-than-reference performance. Additionally, the card features ASUS exclusive Super Alloy Power architecture. This fancy moniker is more than marketing, it’s an actual alloy mix applied in capacitors, chokes and MOSFETs to increase heat tolerance and stress resistance, so the card lasts 2.5 times longer, runs 15% faster and up to 35 degrees cooler compared to reference. The HD 6770 ships with 1GB of GDDR5 memory, has a dust-proof fan, and offers HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs. It has 800 stream processors and 40 texture units, with the video memory clocked at 4000MHz and the core at 850MHz. This card supports AMD Eyefinity multi-screen displays, and can easily run contemporary games in 1366 x 768 or 1680 x 1050 in mid to high settings. It’s an excellent value for your money.

ASUS Radeon HD 6670

ASUS Radeon HD 6670

Radeon HD 6670

Slightly lower end than the HD 6770, but still based on the same DX11-native Northern Islands chip design, the 6670 offers respectable gaming performance on smaller screens (1280 x 720, 1366 x 768 and 1680 x 1050 are all OK) with most settings set to the mid-range. In other words, this is an entry-level gaming card, but it gets the job done with flying colors. ASUS includes the Super Alloy Power design here, as well, so it’s a sturdy and reliable part that can be easily overclocked using your utility of choice (ASUS provides the Smart Doctor interface and Gamer OSD software to this end). Alongside the HD 6770 and all other HD 6000-series cards from AMD, the HD 6670 supports HD3D technology for 3D gaming, and is also Eyefinity certified. The output logic includes HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI. The card has 1GB of GDDR5 memory, 480 stream processors and 24 texture units. The core is a speedy 800MHz, while the video memory is set to 4000MHz. Sure, it’s a modest graphics card and don’t expect to run the newest games with it in full spec, but it compares very favorably to all non-PC gaming platforms in terms of graphics performance.


ASUS GeForce GTX 460 Direct CU
ASUS GeForce GTX 460 DirectCU

GeForce GTX 460

ASUS was one of the first on the market with Nvidia ‘Fermi’ cards when they arrived a year ago to take advantage of DX11 technology, and the GeForce GTX 460 has proven itself a solid workhorse. It’s now quite affordable, and gives you access to a slew of advanced features. This version includes DirectCU cooling and ASUS Voltage Tweak overvolting, so it’s quite possible to push it beyond reference spec with ease. For your money you get NVIDIA CUDA and 3D Vision technologies (GPU co-processing and 3D gaming, respectively), 1GB of GDDR5 memory, and 336 CUDA cores. The core runs at 675MHz, while the video memory is 3600MHz actual. You can expect this card to run most games in mid detail in 1920 x 1080, or even high detail for lower resolutions (1366 x 768 and 1280 x 720). If you don’t want to spend too much, this is an excellent option.

ASUS GeForce GTS 550 Ti DirectCU

ASUS GeForce GTS 550 Ti DirectCU

GeForce GTX 550 Ti

Much newer than the GTX 460, this ASUS card takes the GF116 GeForce core and overclocks it for better, more efficient performance in DX11. Like most of the cards above, it’s a DirectCU offering from ASUS to keep the heat at bay. This is useful because the core is pushed to 910MHz, which is slightly over the reference design. Super Alloy Power is also included to enhance the overclocking potential, which you can access via the supplied Voltage Tweak interface. NVIDIA CUDA and 3D Vision technologies are both supported fully, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory certainly helps. Unlike the two AMD cards above, which use a 128-bit interface, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti has a 192-bit memory interface, supervising 4100MHz GDDR5. Among all the more affordable GeForce cards, this is likely the most appealing option. Not only do you get ASUS quality, but you also enjoy smooth gaming in mid-high settings in 1280 x 720 to 1680 x 1050.

ASUS GeForce GTS 550 Ti DirectCU

ASUS GeForce GTS 550 Ti DirectCU

Game on my friends, and let us know which card you decide to go with in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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  • Vishal

    Value for money GPU.
    AMD 6770,nVidia GTX 460 are better.