The struggle gets even hotter in the sector of inexpensive, yet still rather fast, gaming graphics cards. There are two leaders in the upper segment: the old but sturdy Radeon HD 4850 and the venerable GeForce GTS 250 which traces its origin back to Nvidia’s early cards with unified architecture. These two go neck and neck at 1280x1024 but the red team runner goes ahead at 1680x1050, enjoying an 8% lead. At the resolution of 1920x1200 the Radeon HD 4850 remains the only card capable of delivering a playable frame rate. The Radeon HD 5750 betrays the developer’s desire to cut the manufacturing cost by any means. Having a 128-bit memory bus, it is inferior to its architecturally less advanced predecessor which has a 256-bit bus.
LCD monitors with a native resolution of 1920x1200 or 1920x1080 have already become quite affordable, but if you’ve got one such monitor and don’t have much money for a graphics card, you can only choose the Radeon HD 4850 because the Radeon HD 5750 is definitely slower while the other inexpensive cards are even more sluggish. And if you’ve got a modern 20- or 22-inch monitor with a native resolution of 1680x1050 pixels, the Radeon HD 5750 is going to be the optimal choice as a more progressive, cheaper and quieter alternative to the GeForce GTS 250.
As for the Radeon HD 4770 and GeForce GT 240, they only make the game playable at resolutions not higher than 1280x1024 if you use 4x FSAA. Nvidia’s card looks preferable as it consumes less power. The cheapest products such as the GeForce GT 220 and the Radeon HD 4670 are no good even at 1280x1024, their bottom speeds being below playable. Of course, you can try to achieve a comfortable frame rate by turning FSAA off and lowering the level of detail, but some of the game’s beauty will be lost.