For the past year or so, gamers have been in a tough spot. There have been options for those who want decent DirectX 9 performance, but newer games are more demanding and some of the affordable cards in the sub-$300 price range aren't delivering great experiences anymore. Then there's DirectX 10. DX10 games are finally starting to show up in force, and the newest ones like Crysis and Hellgate: London show marked improvements over the DX9 mode.
The performance hit for DX10 is usually pretty strong, and the only cards that can run these games in DX10 mode at a decent clip cost $300-$500. Most gamers want a Radeon 2900XT or GeForce 8800 GTS, GTX, or Ultra, but they can't afford it. Those cards are very large and suck down a lot of power, as well. The sweet spot is $200-250, where cards aren't over 10" long and don't devour so many watts that you need a new case and power supply just to operate them. For a year, there has been no viable option in this price range for the latest and greatest DX10 graphics cards.
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