Watch Dogs, GTA V, Assassin’s Creed IV and Battlefield 4 are all making their way to PCs around the world before the end of the year, and will signal the start of the long-awaited next generation of games consoles as well. Given the PC-like architecture that the PS4 and Xbox One boast, the performance of these console titles on PC is certain to be second to none.
But while PC gamers have enjoyed the ability to enjoy optimum performance of console ports for a bottom-dollar budget, the new systems from Sony and Microsoft have set a new benchmark. Systems will need tweaking, upgrading, and treating to new components, with the graphics card the first thing than many PC gamers will look to. We’ve run down four ‘next-gen friendly’ options to suit a variety of budgets; from the cost-cutting builders to the limitless budgets of the super-high end gamers.
The Cost Effective Option – Radeon HD 7850 (2GB Model)
The sub $200 option that strikes the optimum balance between value for money and performance is AMD’s HD 7850. Spending a bit extra can still keep you in the financial sweet-spot but with the benefit of 2GB of GDDR5 RAM, a 1GHz GPU and plenty of cooling capabilities on a card that offers surprisingly good performance for its price – hitting well over 60FPS on high on most of the big titles from the last two years
The Mid-Range Option – GeForce GTX 770
There are plenty of variations from different manufacturers to choose from here, but most models come in around the $400 mark. With the reference models coming with 2GB of GDDR5 RAM as standard, spending a little bit extra up to $550 you can get you an overclocked card from Palit that boasts a whopping 4GB of GDDR5 RAM.
As well as the extra memory, both the 2 and 4GB Palit Jetstream models are thoroughly overclocked and boosted giving you amazing performance on Ultra settings for a lot of modern games. Bioshock Infinite, Crysis 3, CoD: Black Ops II all achieved silky smooth performances of 86.8, 50.8, 107.1 FPS respectively in a series of benchmark tests on Hexus.net. There’s even scope for overclocking on top of this for even better performance! Just make sure you couple it with an equally powerful CPU, like one of the new Haswell i5 4670K processors.
The Top Tier Option – GTX 780
A truly top tier choice, again from Nvidia, with a high-end price point of around $650. It’s worth every penny, though, and gives you a powerful rig that can easily handle consistently smooth performance whatever’s thrown at it. 3GB of GDDR5 RAM, a 1GHz GPU and a speedy memory clock speed are all encased in a necessarily-large graphics card. Well over 100fps in Battlefield 3 on Ultra, smashing almost 120fps in DiRT 3, and maintaining a damn smooth 65fps on Ultra in Far Cry 3 is incredibly impressive. It’ll represent about 60% of the cost of your rig, but it’s a card that’ll stand you in good stead for a long while yet.
The God Tier Option – GTX 690/Radeon HD 7990
What if budget was no object? Or the budget that you do have is so ridiculously sky-high that you can afford to stick the absolute best of the best inside your new gaming rig? You have a couple of options, one each from Nvidia and AMD – so wherever your wallet’s allegiance lies, you’ll be able to pick up an unrivalled powerhouse of a graphics card to run anything you can throw at it with perfection.
Both the GTX 690 and the HD7990 perform fairly similarly in benchmark tests, and both retailing around the $700 – $900 price point, but the main difference being that the 690 deals with multi-card SLI profiles better than the AMD offering – this is only really relevant if you want to spend more on your rig than you would on remodeling your kitchen.
It’s worth noting that these cards are ‘well established’ – they’re still great graphics cards, but have been around for a year or so which means they’ll likely be replaced by something more powerful at a similar price point in the future. The GTX Titan offers insane performance at an equally insane price point, and further offerings from AMD and Nvidia are not far away.
The astronomical price point will put it out of reach for the majority of PC gamers, but these cards are well and truly the Holy Grail. Both cards will happily deal with games like Skyrim and Battlefield 3 at well over 100fps on Ultra without so much as batting an eyelid – just imagine triple-SLI!
About the Author
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – professional blogger, gaming enthusiast and PC gaming convert. Tom recently readied his gaming PC for the onslaught of the next gaming generation using gaming PC components from Fierce PC.