Video Card Buyer's Guide - Spring 2009by Derek Wilson on March 30, 2009 6:00 PM EST
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At the $180 - $280 range, we are going to ask our readers to wait until the end of this week to make a decision. If you want a little more power than the 4870 1GB / GTX 260, but you don't want to spend the money required to push up to the next price point, we might have something (or two somethings) for you.
$180 - $280 Recommendation: Almost There ... Stay on Target (Wait a few more days)
I wish we could talk about this a little more now, but all will be clear by the end of the week.
The only real options between $280 and $400 are the 4850 X2 2GB and GTX 285 (we could only find the GTX 280 for a couple bucks less negating the value). Making this choice isn't for the feint of heart though. Yes, the GTX 285 does offer the highest performance of a single GPU solution in many cases. But the fact that the 4870 costs just a little more than half as much, and in some cases performs higher, leaves a sour taste in our mouths.
The fact that the 4850 X2 2GB comes in at the low end of this price range and the GTX 285 requires an investment of at least $50 more dollars tilts our recommendation heavily in favor of the 4850 X2 2GB in terms of value. But at the same time, Sapphire is still the only vendor out there building the 4850 X2. And while current drivers are doing pretty well, we are still reeling from the AMD driver issues we had from the end of last year up through the beginning of this year.
So there are caveats for both options. But our recommendation is the 4850 X2 2GB.
$280 - $400 Recommendation: ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB
|ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB|
At the highest end, there are only two options left. The 4870 X2 and the GTX 295. The GTX 295 is much more expensive, but does outperform th 4870 X2 in most cases. There are some games where the 4870 X2 does top the GTX 295, just like the 4870 1GB sometimes leads the GTX 285. But really it's diminishing returns.
If you want the top of the line, the choice is clear: the option is the GTX 295. If you want top of the line performance without breaking the bank as hard, the 4870 X2 would be the option to go with.
Our recommendation is that there are something like two games where this level of hardware make any difference at all. But if you have the money to spend we're going to go ahead and recommend the part that delivers better price/performance: the Radeon 4870 X2.
$400+ Recommendation: ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
|ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2|