We recommend the AMD A8-3850 to mainstream desktop PC users in search of capable gaming power and multithreaded application performance.
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX Water Cooling Edition ( PCI-E, 768MB)
This one is easy. Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GTX not only beats ATI to market with its next-gen 3D graphics hardware, it also eliminates ATI's image-quality advantage in current-generation titles. Throw in its sheer horsepower, and Nvidia gives the high-end enthusiast every reason to make this purchase.
PNY GeForce GTX 295 ( PCI-e 2.0, 1.7GB, GDDR3)
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 295 is the single fastest 3D card on the market, and for a relatively aggressive price. Added bonuses like power efficiency and PhysX support sweeten the deal, but even without those extra benefits, we'd still recommend this card for its processing power and comparative value.
ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT
If you're looking to build a home theater PC, we recommend ATI's Radeon HD 2600 XT as the midrange card to use, thanks to its nearly perfect HD video image and its no-fuss installation. But for 3D gaming, you'd be much better off looking for a good deal on a faster, older graphics card.
Hook the Apogee One to an iPhone or iPad, and you can make high quality recordings at just about any location.
BFG GeForce 8800 GTS ( PCI-E, 640MB)
No other 3D graphics card comes close to this bang for the buck, making the 320MB XFX GeForce 8800 GTS mostly an easy decision if you need a midrange upgrade. Nvidia still has to polish off its Vista software, and the sooner-or-later arrival of competing cards muddies the waters a bit, but if you need a midprice graphics card today, this should be your pick.
EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked
We don't think most gamers shopping for a midrange 3D card are looking for power efficiency, but for those conscientious few, the EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked is the card for you. Otherwise, you can get noticeably more performance and capability from an only slightly more expensive ATI card.
PNY Verto GeForce 7900 GTX Limited Edition ( PCI-E, 512MB)
PNY's highest-end 3D card is overclocked and comes with a few helpful accessories. We just wish that it included a game or two, as a $500 graphics card isn't very useful if you don't have anything to play with it.
ATI Radeon X1950 Pro
If you're looking for a gaming card to run Vista and play most games, ATI's Radeon X1950 Pro will get you there, but not perfectly, and its real-world pricing is higher than we'd like. We're more interested to see ATI's next-gen cards use the newly refined CrossFire dual-card technology, debuted here, but that will have to wait.
ATI Radeon X1650 Pro ( dual link)
We don't recommend paying even $125 for this new budget 3D card from ATI, but assuming you can find it for $100 or less, the Radeon X1650 Pro will meet your Windows Vista and basic gaming needs without overheating your PC or your wallet.