Despite having a slightly wobbly mid-decade, AMD has really found its feet again recently, and its 4800 series of cards currently rules the roost on the Steam hardware survey.
It's taken the crown from Nvidia through cleverly pricing its cards in the not-too-expensive range, and beating Nvidia to the tesselated loveliness of DirectX 11.
That said, it's a tight battle at the moment, and Nvidia has followed suite by releasing a selection of cheap but powerful cards. We've rounded up six of the best AMD cards and given them a run from their money.
1. Sapphire HD 5670 Ultimate - £93
The ideal card for a media centre PC that's capable of more than just spreadsheets and videos, Sapphire's fanless HD 5670 doesn't even require a PCI-e power input. It breezed through demanding games like Dirt 2 and Far Cry 2, and it's capable of Eyefinity multi-monitor heaven. Admittedly, it's not quite up there with HD 5770 - which is only around £10 more - but for a cheap and quiet home theatre set up you could do far, far, worse.
2. XFX HD 5770 - £110
XFX's version of the 5770 slims the whole thing down to a single slot, making a nice change for the rather oversized cards we've seen of late. This comes at a price: we reckon the lower benchmarks are down to the skinny cooling system, but it's still great for a media PC that packs more of a punch than Sapphire's HD 5670 Ultimate, above. Where it's really capable, though, is as part of a CrossFire setup - and one which won't make your PC weigh a ton.
3. HIS HD 5770 - £112
The sub-£150 area is where AMD really pulls its punches, and the HD 5770 is no exception. Offering full DirectX 11 support, as well as up to three monitors' worth of EyeFinity goodness, it's a great package for such a low price. It did struggle slightly at maximum resolutions, but in real-world gaming terms it's something of a winner. As the cheapest 5770 card we looked at in our recent 5770 round-up, it's definitely worth considering.
4. Gigabyte HD 5770 Super Overclock - £135
Gigabyte's variant of the ol' faithful 5770 is "Super Overclocked", so you can rest assured that you're getting a beast of a graphics card. It's reassuringly big and chunky, and what's more is that it delivers: it's the fastest 5770 in our round-up. The extra 50MHz overclock gives it lots of headroom in DiRT 2 and Far Cry 2, and in real-world terms it'll plough through just about anything you can throw at it. Our only slight gripe is that it doesn't support four-monitor EyeFinity.
5. AMD Radeon HD 6850 - £167
AMD's latest card was a bit of a disappointment with its middling benchmarks, but it's still an interesting move from the GPU giant. It boasts low power consumption and EyeFinity support, and with its bizarre price point fluctuations it might offer good value for money, once AMD works out how much to charge for it. It is the newest card in this round-up, though, and all-in-all it's better than the 6870, its big brother.
6. Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Toxic - £405
Sapphire's Radeon HD 5870 Toxic comes with some brain-fryingly high numbers: 2.15 billion transistors, a stream shader count of 1,600 and 2GB of memory. It's also brain-fryingly-priced at around £400. But it is the best AMD card out there at the moment, and that extra gigabyte of memory provided a smooth experience in Crysis: Warhead, the most graphically-demanding game we've ever seen. If you can afford it, and want something that's truly future-proof, this AMD card's for you.
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