10 best graphics cards under £100

There's a golden rule for building a cheap PC: never spend more than £100 on a single component. Of course, the graphics card is the most essential piece of equipment if you're building a gaming rig, but you needn't break the bank to get something capable of running the latest games.

In fact, the PC games market has plateaued as we wait for the low-powered console boys to catch up. This means that you don't have to spend a small fortune to get a graphics card capable of outpowering consoles by an order of magnitude.

We've rounded up 10 of the best sub-£100 cards ordered by price. And even if you've decided which side of the AMD/Nvidia battle you want to take, there's a lot of choice.

1. AMD Radeon HD 5450 - £32

AMD radeon hd 5450

It's never going to be able to power the likes of Crysis or Just Cause 2, but AMD's cheapest entry in the 5000 series is still a fully fledged DirectX 11 card. What's more is that the AMD Radeon HD 5450 silent passive cooling and DVI-out make it ideal for a media centre PC set up, and you'll be able to get a few sessions of World of WarCraft out of it. Best of all is the price: this Sapphire flavour costs a wallet-pleasing £32.

2. AMD Radeon HD 4670 - £53

It may be almost two years since we reviewed AMD's HD 4670, but it still packs a graphical punch. It's not DirectX 11 compatible, but it will provide the necessary DirectX 10.1 fireworks. It's also powered directly from the PCI-Express interface, which makes it ideal for media centre PC setups. Admittedly, it's not going to be able to provide top-notch performance at high resolutions, but if you're only running a wee monitor it's perfect.

Read our AMD Radeon HD 4670 review

3. AMD Radeon HD 5570 - £61

Despite its diminutive size, the Radeon HD 5570 impressed us with its all-round decent gaming performance, which is largely down to its whopping 1GB of RAM. Again, this will be right at home in a media centre, with its half-height form not taking up too much room. It's also got all the right outputs in all the right places - VGA, HDMI and DVI. Our chief complaint on its release was the asking price, but now that's reduced it's well worth looking into.

Read our AMD Radeon HD 5570 review

4. Nvidia GeForce 9600GT - £70

If you're firmly pitched in the Nvidia camp, this is the cheapo card for you. While it's true that the processor is lagging behind similarly priced AMD and Nvidia cards, it still pumps out impressive gaming performance, and is capable of high frame rates on a 24-inch monitor. Perfect for a second PC for the kids, or stick it in a secondary slot in your machine and take advantage of Nvidia's CUDA extra processing power.

Read our Nvidia GeForce 9600GT review

5. AMD Radeon HD 4850 - £77

It may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but the HD 4850 is half the price it was when it came out, and it's still a killer graphics card. If you can forgo the DirectX 11 support, you'll find a card that's capable of many wonderous things - including 41 frames per second on notorious GPU-hogger Crysis. If you don't mind stepping back in time a couple of years to save a few quid, it's a winner.

Read our AMD Radeon HD 4850 review