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Top Performing Graphics Card Ranking List (As of Feb. 2012)

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Yoon User avatar
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I put together a general performance ranking list for a majority of the graphics cards that have been released thus far. I used benchmark results from several graphic card reviews to create this list and categorize them into five categories, based on their performance in modern 3D games: high-end, mid-range, low-end, basic, ancient.

This is by no means a definitive list, as graphic card performance really depends on what game is being played, the set resolution, processor, motherboard, and RAM that is used in conjunction with the graphics card. The list below is set as if there were no CPU/RAM/system bottlenecks in place.

As there are so many different other graphics cards out in the market, I only listed the most common graphic cards that support DirectX 9 and above. Anyone still using a DirectX 6/7/8 card (i.e. GeForce 1/2/3/4, Radeon 7000/8000 series, Riva TNT/2, RAGE series, Voodoo series) or below really should think about upgrading their video card (and most likely, their computer, given the age of those video cards). Newer operating systems like Windows Vista and 7 only support DirectX 9 and above video cards and will not support these older DirectX video cards. If you are considering about getting a new video card, make sure you get a video card that is DirectX 10 or higher, as the bare minimum requirement for most games coming out (as of 2012) is DirectX 10.

This list will be updated as major graphic card releases are released from time to time.

Graphic Cards General Performance Ranking (As of February 2012)
(Ranked in Terms of General Performance, Best to Worst)

ULTRA HIGH-END: Can play graphic intensive DirectX 9/10/11 games of 2011-2012 at max settings at extreme resolutions (1920x1200 and above) with extreme anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled. All games released prior to 2011 will run easily at the maximum settings and highest resolutions on these cards.
(Playable: Battlefield 3, Crysis, Crysis Wars/Warhead, Metro 2033)

HIGH-END: Can play graphic intensive games DirectX 9/10/11 (as of 2012) at max / very high settings at high resolutions (1680x1050 and above) with high anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled. All games released prior to 2008 will run easily at the maximum settings and highest resolutions on these cards.
(Playable: Battlefield 2: Bad Company, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Mass Effect 2, Resident Evil 5, StarCraft II, TES V: Skyrim)

MID-RANGE: Can play graphic intensive games (as of 2012) at mid / high settings at standard or high resolutions with some or none anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF) enabled. Games released prior to 2008 will run games at maximum / high settings with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled, and high resolutions.
(Playable: Call of Duty 4, Fallout 3, TES IV: Oblivion, Half-Life: Episode I/II, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, Command & Conquer 3, Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, World of WarCraft: Wrath of the Lich King)

LOW-END: Can play graphic intensive games (as of 2012) at low settings at low or standard resolutions with no anti-aliasing (AA) and anisotropic filtering (AF). Games released prior to 2006 will run games at maximum / high settings with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled and high resolutions.
(Playable: Call of Duty 2, Doom 3, Quake 4, Far Cry, Half-Life 2, Counter-Strike: Source, Guild Wars, The Sims 2, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory)

ULTRA LOW-END: May or may not be able to run graphic intensive games (as of 2012), depending on if they support DirectX 10. Even if they do support DirectX 10, graphic cards in this category are likely to be unplayable. Games released prior to 2004 will run games at maximum / high settings with anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled and high resolutions.
(Playable: Call of Duty, Call of Duty: United Offense, Final Fantasy XI, Max Payne 2, Unreal Tournament 2003, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow)

BASIC: Graphic intensive games (as of 2012) are highly unlikely to run on any of these cards, due to lack of supported 3D features (such as SM 3.0 support), or just really extremely slow performance. Games released prior to 2002 will run games at high - low settings at standard resolutions, depending on the graphic card used.
(Playable: Quake III Tournament, Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, WarCraft III, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress Classic, Half-Life, The Sims, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Splinter Cell, Ragnarok Online)


ATI / AMD
Intel
nVIDIA

ULTRA HIGH-END-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GeForce GTX 590 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 6990 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 7970 (DX 11.1)
Radeon HD 5970 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 7950 (DX 11.1)
GeForce GTX 580 (DX 11)

HIGH-END--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GeForce GTX 570 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 480 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 6970 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 560 Ti (DX 11)
Radeon HD 6950 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 295 (DX 10)
Radeon HD 4870 X2 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 5870 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 470 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 4850 X2 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 6870 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 5850 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 465 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 460 1 GB (DX 11)
Radeon HD 6850 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 460 768 MB (DX 11)

MID-RANGE------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GeForce GTX 285 (DX 10)
Radeon HD 7770 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 280 (DX 10)
GeForce GTX 275 (DX 10)
Radeon HD 4890 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 5830 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 6790 (DX 11)
GeForce GTX 550 Ti (DX 11)
GeForce 9800 GX2 (DX 10)
GeForce GTX 260 216 SP (DX 10)
Radeon HD 4870 (DX 10.1)
GeForce GTX 260 (DX 10)
Radeon HD 5770 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 7750 (DX 11)
GeForce GTS 450 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 3870 X2 (DX 10.1)
GeForce GTS 250 (DX 10)
GeForce 9800 GTX+ (DX 10)
Radeon HD 5750 (DX 11)
Radeon HD 4860 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 4850 (DX 10.1)
GeForce 8800 Ultra (DX 10)
GeForce 8800 GTX (DX 10)
GeForce 9800 GTX (DX 10)
GeForce 8800 GTS 512 MB (DX 10)
Radeon HD 4770 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 4830 (DX 10.1)
GeForce 9800 GT (DX 10)
GeForce 8800 GT (DX 10)

LOW-END--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Radeon HD 5670 (DX 11)
GeForce 9600 GT (DX 10)
GeForce 8800 GTS 640/320 (DX 10)
GeForce GT 240 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 3870 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 4670 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 2900 XT (DX 10)
Radeon HD 3850 (DX 10.1)
GeForce 7950 GX2 (DX 9c)
GeForce 7900 GX2 (DX 9c)
Radeon X1950 XTX (DX 9c)
Radeon X1900 XTX (DX 9c)
GeForce 7900 GTX (DX 9c)
Radeon X1900 XT (DX 9c)
GeForce 7900 GTO (DX 9c)
Radeon X1800 XT (DX 9c)
Radeon HD 2900 GT (DX 10)
GeForce 7950 GT (DX 9c)
GeForce 7800 GTX 512 (DX 9c)
HD Graphics 3000 [Core i5/i7 Sandy Bridge] (DX 10)
GeForce 7900 GT (DX 9c)
Radeon X1900 GT (DX 9c)
GeForce 7800 GTX (DX 9c)
Radeon HD 5450 (DX 11)
GeForce 7900 GS (DX 9c)
GeForce 7800 GT (DX 9c)
GeForce 8600 GTS (DX 10)
GeForce 8600 GT (DX 10)

ULTRA LOW-END------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GeForce 7800 GS (DX 9c)
Radeon X1650 XT (DX 9c)
Radeon X850 XT (DX 9)
GeForce 7600 GT (DX 9c)
Radeon X800 XT (DX 9)
GeForce 6800 Ultra (DX 9c)
GeForce 6800 GT (DX 9c)
GeForce 6800 GS (DX 9c)
Radeon X800 Pro (DX 9)
Radeon X800 GT (DX 9)
Radeon X1600 XT (DX 9c)
GeForce 6800 (DX 9c)
GeForce 7300 GT (DX 9c)
Radeon X700 XT (DX 9)
GeForce 6600 GT (DX 9c)
Radeon X700 Pro (DX 9)
Radeon 9800 XT (DX 9)
Radeon X1300 Pro (DX 9c)
Radeon 9800 Pro (DX 9)
GeForce 6600 (DX 9c)
GeForce FX 5950 Ultra (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5900 Ultra (DX 9)
Radeon 9800 (DX 9)
Radeon 9700 Pro (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5900 XT (DX 9)
Radeon 9700 (DX 9)
GeForce 9400 (DX 10)
GeForce 8400 GS (DX 10)
GeForce 9300 (DX 10)
Radeon HD 4290 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 4200 (DX 10.1)
Radeon HD 3300 (DX 10)
HD Graphics 2000 [Core i3 Sandy Bridge] (DX 10)
HD Graphics [Core i3/i5/i7 Clarkdale/Arrandale] (DX 10)
Radeon HD 3200 (DX 10)
GeForce 8300 (DX 10)
GeForce 8200 (DX 10)

BASIC-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
GeForce FX 5800 Ultra (DX 9)
Radeon 9500 Pro (DX 9)
Radeon 9500 (DX 9)
GMA X4500 (DX 10)
GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (DX 9)
Radeon 9600 XT (DX 9)
Radeon 9600 Pro (DX 9)

GeForce FX 5700 Ultra (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5700 (DX 9)
Radeon 9600 (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5600 (DX 9)
GeForce 6200 (DX 9c)
GMA X3100 (DX 10)
Radeon Xpress X1200 (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5200 Ultra (DX 9)
GeForce 6150 (DX 9c)
GeForce 6100 (DX 9c)
GeForce FX 5500 (DX 9)
GeForce FX 5200 (DX 9)
GMA 950 (DX 9c)
GMA 900 (DX 9)
GMA 500 (DX 10.1)

Sources:
TechPowerUp - AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB
AnandTech - NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 480 and GTX 470: 6 Months Late, Was It Worth the Wait?
XBit Labs - Clarkdale’s Second Half: Intel HD Graphics Review
AnandTech - AMD’s Radeon HD 5770 & 5750: DirectX 11 for the Mainstream Crowd
AnandTech - AMD's Radeon HD 5870: Bringing About the Next Generation Of GPUs
TechPowerUp - AMD Radeon HD 4890 CrossFire
Guru3D - GeForce GTX 275 review | test
DriverHeaven.net - Sapphire Radeon 4850 X2
Guru3D - ATI Radeon HD 4670 review
AnandTech - The IGP Chronicles Part 3: NVIDIA's GeForce 9300
AnandTech - ATI Radeon HD 3870 & 3850: A Return to Competition
Notebook Check - Comparison of Graphic Cards
Tom's Hardware - All Gaming Graphics Charts Q1/2008
TechReport - Nvidia's GeForce 7900 GS graphics card
Tom's Hardware - All Desktop VGA Charts 2006
XBit Labs - Brother Against Brother: Gigabyte GV-RX19X512VB Vs. GV-NX79X512DB
Tom's Hardware - All Desktop VGA Charts 2005
FiringSquad - NVIDIA GeForce 7600 GT Performance Preview
Wikipedia - GeForce FX Series
HardOCP - GeForce FX 5800 Ultra Preview

Tarquin User avatar
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Location: Madras, India
Wow, must have taken quite a bit of time! Really nice list, I will definitely look into this in the near future (soon to get my own computer!).

Slayer User avatar
Level 61 (Dragon Tail)
Level 61 (Dragon Tail)

Posts: 906
its cool to see how grapics has gone a long way from the 8 bit error to the more realistic 3D era infact if you play a golf game you can get a camara and it can look exsactly like you *or as close to you as you can* it even takes pictures of things like moles and stuff and puts them on your character
PSN:ChaoticCrusader
MSN:darkcronical@live.co.uk

Yoon User avatar
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

I've updated the graphic card list with some more video cards and re-organized the categories to reflect performance in 3D intensive games of 2008-2009. I have also added a brief explanation of each category, along with a summary of general performance in modern games exhibited by graphic cards in that particular category.

Tarquin wrote:
Wow, must have taken quite a bit of time! Really nice list, I will definitely look into this in the near future (soon to get my own computer!).


Part of the list is from memory, as I've been following the GPU industry for some time. Can't believe how aged some of those cards have become; cards like the Radeon 9800 Pro were top dog and was $300 when it was released 6 years ago!

Slayer User avatar
Level 61 (Dragon Tail)
Level 61 (Dragon Tail)

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lol i got a radeon 9800 :D but i got a question: where does guild wars come under this section lol
PSN:ChaoticCrusader
MSN:darkcronical@live.co.uk

Yoon User avatar
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I have removed all DirectX 7 video cards from the list, as these cards are significantly outdated and basically are unusable in modern PC games. In other words, if you have a DirectX 7 or lower card, you will need to upgrade your graphics card (and probably your entire PC) to play newer games.

Slayer wrote:
lol i got a radeon 9800 :D but i got a question: where does guild wars come under this section lol


Guild Wars doesn't have steep requirements, so your Radeon 9800 should run it fine at lower resolutions, with some of the graphic candy options enabled. It would probably run a bit better on a low end video card, but the Radeon 9800 should suffice.

Yoon User avatar
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

With the recent release of AMD/ATI's Radeon HD 5870 & Radeon HD 5850, I have updated the list to reflect their positions in the general GPU performance list. The list will be updated frequently this month, as AMD/ATI will be releasing the rest of the HD 5xxx family, such as the ultra high-end 5870 X2 & 5850 X2 and mid-end cards like the HD 5770 and the HD 5750.

Also, I have removed all DX 8 and DX 8.1 graphic cards from the list, as those cards are old and are now considered well obsolete. Since nearly all games these days require DX 9 as a minimum requirement, anyone with a DX 8 or lower card should get a newer DX 9 or 10 graphics card.

Yahoo User avatar
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Seems that my graphic card is at mid-range :p (Radeon HD 4670)
Gotta get DX10.1 to comp then :D
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Daedr - Arch Bishop

Yoon User avatar
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Added ATI's new mainstream cards (Radeon HD 5770 & Radeon HD 5750) to the list. :D Also, I've adjusted the GPU ranking list to better reflect their standing in current PC games. Former high-end GPUs on the lower part of the high-end spectrum have been moved into the mid-end range, while mid-end GPUs on the lower part of the mid-end spectrum have been moved into the low-end range.

Also, a new category called "Ultra High-End" has been added. Only GPUs capable of running highly graphic intensive games at very high resolutions (1920 x 1200 and above). Also, the former "Basic" category has been re-named to "Ultra Low-End", while "Ancient" will now be called "Basic".

Yahoo wrote:
Seems that my graphic card is at mid-range :p (Radeon HD 4670)
Gotta get DX10.1 to comp then :D

The HD 4670's a decent performing graphics card. :) It should handle current games at mid to high graphic settings, depending on what resolution you're playing the game(s) at.

As for DX 10.1, you'll need either Vista or the new Windows 7 to utilize DX 10.1 effects. ;)

Yahoo User avatar
Level 64 (Golden Thief Bug)
Level 64 (Golden Thief Bug)

Posts: 1797
Location: Finland
Ah. Oki.
Been putting highest graphics :þ
Ordered new screen now so I should be able to put 1900x1000 resolution or whatever it was :þ
Ordered LG 22" Full HD screen. Should be nice :D
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RO IGNs:
Daefas - Warlock
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Yoon User avatar
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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Added nVIDIA's new flagship GeForce cards (GeForce GTX 480 & GTX 470) to the list. They are fast, but not fast enough to take down AMD's Radeon HD 5970, which remains the top performing card for now.

Yoon User avatar
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Administrator

Posts: 2301
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Updated the list with new video cards released over the summer.

Yoon User avatar
Administrator
Administrator

Posts: 2301
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Updated the list and rankings to reflect graphics releases over 2011, as well as performance in games released in 2011-2012.


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