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.

Index The Card and The Test
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  • crimson117 - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    It's all relative... both are Powercolor brand...

    Best price AGP 3850: $118.24 shipped after $10 MIR.
    Best price PCIe 3850: $68.24 shipped after $10 MIR.

    So no it's not $200, but in this low-price example AGP is still a $50 price premium over PCIe.

    If current performance is acceptable, and preserving your current system is worth the price premium, then stick with AGP and delay your move to PCIe. But if you'd like to put that cash towards performance instead of legacy preservation, and don't mind spending extra time reinstalling everything, then take the plunge and upgrade your mobo and all your legacy components.

    I built a ~$800 computer for a friend in July 2006 right when the C2D came out. Because we went with the newest technology at the time (PCIe, DDR2, socket 775), he's been able to use it for 2.5 years now. He also just easily upgraded the GPU from a 7300LE to a 9800 GT for about $100 (unlike in 2006, he now likes to play PC games), and is considering moving to faster and more DDR2 ram to take advantage of the current low prices. He could also grab a new C2D if he wanted to. He's left with tons of easy upgrade options, none of which require a reinstall, even 2.5 years after it was first built, and chances are it'll last him another year or two if he wants.

    For your situation, however, considering that the Core i7 uses a new socket and a new ram type (DDR3), and there'll be no PCIe 3.0 graphics cards until at least 2010, it's a great time to bite the bullet and upgrade all your components at once, even if it means an OS reinstall today. IMHO it's okay to skip one major product cycle, but you're tying your hands too much if you try to preserve legacy components when they're two, three generations old.

    (of course, this depends on your other parts - perhaps you have all the latest stuff like DDR2 and socket 775, but just kept AGP for some reason - in that case upgrading everything is slightly less compelling).
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    i haven't heard anything about AGP availability ... i sort of doubt it, but anything is possible. it would definitely be up to a vendor to add a bridge to the board, as this isn't likely to be something AMD will push themselves. Reply
  • chrone - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    nice review Derek :) Reply
  • leexgx - Thursday, October 23, 2008 - link

    the card you got may be an card with only 540 sp (5 out of the 8 working) please run GPU-z on it and check that thay are all working or all of the results will not be correct as the powercore one that 2 other web sites have tested have come into this problem from cards from ATI test cards but not from OEM makers

    http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/10/23/amd-introd...">http://www.bit-tech.net/news/2008/10/23...roduces-...
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/other/155">http://www.techpowerup.com/articles/other/155 is linked in there with a better explanation.

    Apparently there's a bios fix.

    Any word on what version AT used?
    Reply
  • leexgx - Friday, October 24, 2008 - link

    note has been added

    as there is likey to be an 4810 or something like that can you just add the results to the charts (like all the other sites have) of the fixed bios or an retail card that does not have this problem

    not sure what about the comments tho on each page as the card is going to operate an bit faster and is going to move the card up the chart an bit
    Reply

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