All About Price and Rebates

The past few months have been terrific for those in the market for a new video card, and it just keeps getting better. It all started with AMD's initial Radeon HD 4000 series launch. They set prices not just at reasonable levels, but at really aggressive levels compared to their competition. AMD could likely have charged a lot more for their hardware at launch and gotten away with it, but they made a much larger splash than they might have (because they didn't flat out beat NVIDIA) by going the route they did.

And every new part AMD has introduced since has been a terrific value. Their low end hardware really stirred things up by bringing cards you could actually play games on (even if limited to lower resolutions) to very low prices. Now we have an affordable part that will be really attractive to gamers looking to save money without compromising on performance and quality.

But, as we all know, AMD is only half the story. While NVIDIA did create the top of the line single GPU this time around, they haven't brought out GT200 parts positioned lower than the the GTX 260 since the launch. But the real story is what that has done to the prices of the rest of their lineup. The 9 series is still current for NVIDIA, even if many of the parts are just renamed 8 series cards. While we have taken issue with this in past articles, the fact is that NVIDIA is responding very aggressively with pricing on their hardware. We would love to see newer architectures make their way into lower end market segments from NVIDIA, but we are quite impressed with what we are seeing instead.

The prices on NVIDIA's G9x based hardware have fallen dramatically. The 9800 GTX+ can be had for $150-$160 and the 9800 GT is now priced at about $120. Mail in rebates can be found that push the price on the 9800 GT to as low as $100. And these prices aren't just for the stock version but for overlocked variants as well.

Honestly, it would be good if lower end GT200 parts were available. The rebalancing of texture and compute hardware and additional changes are nice, but the GT200 really is a tweaked and polished G9x. The basic features are there and the GPU will work well for current and near term games. For the prices NVIDIA is selling them for, the GeForce 9 series cards are viable options.

And like we mentioned, there are rebates. Rebates are everywhere. It's raining freaking rebates. Sure, they've always been around here and there, but rather than just a marketing tool, the past few months have shown rebates to be a quick fix price adjustment tool. When a new launch comes out, rebates will be offered all over the place, sometimes for a few weeks and sometimes for a few days. NVIDIA and AMD are both playing the rebate game, but NVIDIA has certainly been more aggressive about it from what we've seen. This time around is no different.

AMD has stated that there might be some rebates available for those who look around on launch day for the 4830. We don't know the details as of yet, as the parts aren't on sale as of this writing. But this should certainly benefit the consumer (even if it makes recommending a part more difficult for us).

We've complained about using rebates as tool in recommending hardware in the past. Rebates are not permanent, predictable, or offered by all vendors or manufacturers. In writing articles, we tend to recommend based on suggested pricing or prevailing street price, as these are more reliable. But the fact is that rebates do benefit consumers who take advantage of them. And that's a plus in our book. (Provided of course that you remember to send in the rebate and don't mind waiting a few weeks or even months.) With the competition heating up like it hasn't in quite a while, it seems rebates are the weapon of choice in the battle ground for graphics hardware superiority.

On a side note, we see a lot of gamers and graphics enthusiasts sell their old hardware when they upgrade. Generally, gamers that prefer high end hardware can sustain their upgrade habit a little easier this way. But from the launch of the 9800 GTX about 6 months ago, the price for a new card has been cut in half. With this sort of a price drop on new retail parts, the impact on used hardware will certainly be significant. While not as important to current purchasing decisions, the impact of these market fluctuations on consumers is definitely interesting to consider.

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  • 3DoubleD - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    How would the performance difference look if you overclocked the 4830 to 4850 speeds? It is only a 50 Mhz bump, I'm sure almost all of the 4830s should manage that. If you subtract ~10% performance from the 4850 there isn't a big difference, it seems the extra stream processors/texture units aren't in high demand. Of course when discussing overclocking, you could always overclock the 4850 and I'd imagine the performance gap would remain about equal. The prices are so close to, it is really hard to say. I see a 4850 for $145 after mail in rebate. Reply
  • jasonnovak - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Newegg has a lot of 4850's for $135-$140 after rebate, so I suspect the 4830 will be at least $100 or less to be competitive very soon, comparable to the 9800gt. Right now they're at $120, you'd be better off spending the extra $15 to get a 4850, and when you take into account the 4830's all have $8 shipping and some 4850's have free shipping it's a no brainer. Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Why does the author put so much importance on rebates in this article? I don't like them and don't usually base my buying decision on them. It's seems to me just a way to nullify a customer's warranty. Reply
  • erikstarcher - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    How does a rebate nullify a customer's warranty? Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    "How does a rebate nullify a customer's warranty?"

    Let'say your video card dies after a month or has massive compatibility issues. You contact the vendor asking to return the product and get your money back. They tell you that you cannot because you not only destroyed the box by cutting out the UPC but you got a rebate payment (not yet in pocket) so they cannot return your money. Maybe you also sent in the receipt because of rebate requirements. No receipt, no return.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    That doesn't nullify your *warranty*; it only prevents you from returning the product for a refund. Big difference. Other than that, you are correct: rebates are a way to make a customer stick with a purchase. They are also a marketing tool to gain sales, and it's amazing how many people forget to actually send in the rebate, thus paying the higher price and buying a product they might not have purchased in the first place. I find them pretty irritating, but that's about as far as I'd go. Reply
  • Davelo - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Yep. I was thinking of the RMA process. It says on Newegg's faq an item missing a upc cannot receive an RMA. So once you send in for a rebate your return privileges disappear. So what it the rebate requires you to send in within one month but the return policy is two months? Reply
  • aj28 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    Then you're either out of luck or you don't get your rebate check. But again, that's an RMA policy, not a warranty... Most manufacturers aren't going to care about the UPC or original box and base their operations off of your product number, serial number, and date of purchase. A receipt may or may not be required, which is why it's always good to print your order (they recommend it for a reason) and make a copy of the packing slip if a rebate requires it.

    I may not like mail-in rebates, but they're a good way to get great deals, assuming you go about redeeming them smartly...
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    I find them fantastic. They are a great way to piece meal build a system over the holiday season and save quite a bit of money.

    Rebates *only* work as a sales tactic because:

    1. People in general are marketing stupid and look at the $99.00* without realizing that's after an $X rebate. The company with the bigger rebate tends to win out due to #2.

    2. Many people fail to get the rebate. Causes include laziness, forgetfullness, failure to fill out a form properly, failure to send in the rebate timely, to the rebate companies' issues of "lost mail", improper submission (ie you are told a copy will suffice while they reject all but the real thing).
    Reply
  • bgm8800 - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    ...because I can still hear comments asking: why haven't you tested this card with an older (1 - 2 years) system to determine if it would be a worthy option for an upgrade? Reply

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