ATI Radeon X1300 series

Low-end 3D cards rarely impress with their benchmark scores, so we'll forgive the ATI Radeon X1300 for being outclassed by Nvidia's similarly priced GeForce 6600 GT. That said, if you need a graphics card that will enhance your PC's video, any one of these will help, thanks to ATI's Avivo technology.

The series ranges from the $150 Radeon X1300 Pro, with 256MB of RAM, to the slower Radeon X1300, which is available with 256MB of memory for $130 and with 128MB for $100. More memory and higher processing speeds generally mean better performance.

Although we haven't tested the HyperMemory version of the Radeon X1300, we recommend that you approach it warily. Despite what the name implies, the HyperMemory card (like Nvidia's TurboCache), actually borrows from your PC's memory to bolster its own. It's affordable at a mere $79 (although it won't be in stores until the middle of October or so), but you risk degrading your system's overall performance because of the memory leaching. We recommend it only if your PC has 1GB or more of system memory.

Finally, like the other cards in ATI's new X1000 series announced on October 5, you can link two X1300 cards together in one PC, using ATI's CrossFire mode for added performance. But unlike the other X1000-series cards, there's no CrossFire Edition of the X1300 chip. Instead, once ATI releases the appropriate driver software, you can link two plain X1300 cards together, as long as your PC has two 16x PCI Express slots.