Introduction

Greetings and thanks for joining us for another one of our monthly video card price guides. Our astute readers may have noticed a bit of a dry spell with our price guides, but not to worry, we're back in full swing and expect them to be up once a week like before. If this is your first time here reading our weekly price guides, you'll see that we not only pick out hardware we feel you should consider for your next purchase, but we also like to follow the market trends, giving you an outlook as to what we see happening. We rotate the topics every week, four different topics a month, covering CPUs, motherboards, video cards and storage media.

Although we only discuss these four topics in our price guides, our Real Time Price Engine, more commonly known as the RTPE, includes all aspects of computer hardware; all the way from LCD monitors, to desktop and notebook RAM to sound cards. The RTPE also experienced quite an overhaul a couple months ago, and in case you missed our announcement then, you'll notice that the RTPE's speed has picked up significantly and is much more enjoyable to use thanks to our RTPE administrator and other behind-the-scenes coders. We're still working on getting even better performance in the future, of course, and as more people use our pricing engine we will do our best to keep up.

We're noticing this week that there are many cards with mail-in rebates, especially from MSI. Not all of us on the AnandTech crew like dealing with mail-in rebates, but if you don't mind dealing with the hassle of filling out forms, photocopying UPCs and mailing them out, and perhaps waiting eight weeks for your check to arrive, mail-in rebates can really make a good deal that much sweeter. We would also like to mention that the high-end graphics cards don't appear too appealing as they have been priced unreasonably for quite some time now. Rather than going with a card from that section, we suggest going with something from the ultra high-end or mid-range line-up.

As always, we like to begin our video card price guides with the ultra high-end graphics solutions all the way through the high-end, mid-range and ending with the low-end graphics cards. Note that when we talk about market segments, we are primarily concerned with performance and positioning rather than price. This is why we generally don't recommend the high-end market right now for video cards, as in many instances you get better price/performance from either a slightly more expensive card or a cheaper card.

There are many cards to cover, and we'll do our best to cover them all, but please do feel free to leave us any comments, suggestions or death threats in the comment forum below or send us an e-mail at the e-mail address above. The feedback we receive is always invaluable and helps improve our guides for the best. So here we go, starting off with the ultra high-end video cards...

Ultra High-End Graphics
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  • hkBst - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    If all you need is a cheap graphics card because your mobo doesn't have one, then it is probably better to consider a mobo which does have integrated (DVI) graphics.

    Another reason for considering a low-end card though is for dual dvi outputs to drive two monitors, if you don't play games. I haven't seen any integrated graphics which support dual monitors.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Actually, Derek has most of the GPUs I think. I've got lots of other stuff around, and enough spare GPUs (most of them I purchased), but parts get scattered. I don't even have any X18/1900 series cards right now, just a couple X1600 Pros. Reply
  • drewintheav - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    "...but if you don't mind dealing with the hassle of filling out forms, photocopying UPCs and mailing them out, and perhaps waiting eight weeks for your check to arrive..."

    Since when did they accept a photocopy of the UPC?

    :)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    You can tell how often we fill out mail-in rebates. ;-)

    Seriously, I've purchased about five products in the past year that had a mail-in rebate, and I haven't filled out a single one before the expiration date. One of them arrived two days before the expiration date, and in the end I just look at it, shrug, and figure $10-20 isn't worth the hassle. I figure mail-in rebates are usually a precursor to price cuts anyway, so if you're really worried about saving money just wait another month or two.
    Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    "...in the end I just look at it, shrug, and figure $10-20 isn't worth the hassle."

    I think we see where all the anandtech flashing banner add revenue is going, and to think I didn't block them to try to help the site ;)

    Seriousely Jarred, you more than earn whatever they pay you, but there are a lot of us on budgets that have the $$$ in the bank to put forth up front, but then need the rebate ammount to make the purchasea affordable. For me spending 10 minutes on forms is worth $20, since I'm not quite pulling in the $120/hour that is basically equivilent to.

    PS - I noticed you signed your post to the first poster above. Assuming you actually read this, is "Hardware Editor" a promotion, or were you just assuming a non-regular wouldn't know you were staff?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - link

    Techincally, I now post (most of) the articles into the engine. I also am doing more work than just SFFs and occasional other articles. Basically, Gary Key and I are now full-time with AnandTech (whereas we were both part-time a few months ago). I used to call myself "SFF and Guide Editor" since that's what I did. Now, "Hardware" is generic enough that I stuck that on, though I should probably drop everything other than "Editor" at this point.

    It's not the 10-20 minutes that I care about, it's the fact that it usually ends up taking two+ months to get the rebate. You also send in the UPC usually, preventing a return in case you change your mind. There are also some shady MIRs out there, where you never do get that rebate back - I don't think anyone we track does that, but I know places like Officemax have had issues in the past. Cheers!

    Jarred
    Reply
  • Josh7289 - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    I haven't been paying attention to the computer hardware, especially the video card, market for about six months now, and this is exactly what I needed to bring me back to what's going on. I see there are a few cards that are new to me that you didn't mention in your guide. Can anyone explain to me what the X1900GT, X1800GTO, and if you want, 7300GS are? Also, didn't there used to be an X1300 vanilla?

    This quote caught my eye, too:

    "The best/only price we are able to find on a 7800 GT is the BFG GeForce 7800 GT OC 256MB [RTPE: BFGR78256GTOC] going for $305 shipped. With only 20 pipelines compared to 24 on the 7900 GT, there's absolutely no reason to recommend a 7800 GT anymore."

    Speaking about pipes, could anyone refresh me on the amount of pipelines each of the ultra-high end cards has, if you don't mind?

    Finally, to me, reading this feels very weird:

    "The GeForce 7800 GT/GTX used to be very popular."

    ^^ Anyway, if anyone could help, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much!
    Reply
  • ImJacksAmygdala - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    Josh7289,

    The video card market can be very hard to keep track of. The best places I use to track the market is Anandtech's price guide articles, and Adrian's Rojak Pot comparison charts.

    ATI
    http://www.rojakpot.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=88&...">http://www.rojakpot.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=88&...

    Nvidia
    http://www.rojakpot.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=88&...">http://www.rojakpot.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=88&...

    Hope this helps...

    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    There are a few cards that we didn't try breaking down further, so the X1300 and X1300 Pro are grouped together. 7300 GS is a competitor to those cards, but really they're all very slow in comparison to the midrange products.

    X1900 GT is like the X1900 XT, only with lower clock speeds and 12/36 pixel pipelines instead of 16/48. (Basically, the X1900 chips can do three shader operations per pipeline per cycle, or something similar to that.) X1800 GTO is basically the same thing (12 pixel pipelines, 12 ROPs), only using the older R520 court instead of the newer R580 core. X1800 really isn't that bad, but X1900 is just better.

    Clock for clock, the ATI X1900 pipelines are now a bit more powerful than NVIDIA's, but NVIDIA has 33% more pipelines with slightly slower clock speeds, so it more or less equals out. Drivers still play a critical role, so there are games that continue to perform better on NVIDIA even though the X1900 hardware is generally faster. I would also have to give the advantage to SLI over CrossFire -- CrossFire is still a far less elegant solution in my opinion.

    On the other ultra high-end cards, 7800 GTX and 7900 GT/GTX are all 24 pixel pipelines, 16 ROPs, and 8 vertex pipelines. 7800 GT has 20 pixel pipelines, so even at the same clock speeds it ends up being slower than the others. X1800 XT/XTX are all 16 pixel pipelines and 8 vertex pipelines, also with 16 ROPs.

    Hopefully, that clears things up for you. :-)

    Take care, and happy Memorial Day weekend!
    Jarred Walton
    Hardware Editor
    AnandTech.com
    Reply

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