Things have been quiet on the GPU front for a while now, but there has definitely been activity on the pricing front. With the economy in the toilet, spending on hardware and games has declined; AMD and NVIDIA are fighting for your purchase. Prices are fairly compressed between $100 and $200, and spending just a little more can get you a whole lot of bang. We'll start on the low end and move up as we go. 

We use price and availability at newegg.com as an indicator of the broader market in order to simplify our data and give more clear recommendations.


Sub $100 Cards

At the lower end of the spectrum, the Radeon HD 4670 can be had for less than $70 USD (down to $50 if you don't mind the rebate hassle). This is a solid card and a good way to go for people who want a well rounded card. It's not the best performer out there, but it offers a good performance boost over built in graphics hardware and leads cheaper add-in cards as well.

ATI Radeon HD 4670
Apollo 256MB $65
ASUS 512MB $68
HIS 512MB $70
Sapphire 512MB $70
Gigabyte 512MB $70


The Radeon HD 4830 has been pushed down in price slightly due to the appearance of the Radeon HD 4770. This puts it in competition with the GeForce 9600 GT, which can't quite match the former's performance. This gives the edge to the 4830 which is quite a step up from the Radeon 4670 if you can afford the extra $20 or so dollars.


ATI Radeon HD 4830
Apollo $83
Sapphire
$90
MSI $90
HIS $93
XFX $105



Sub $125 Cards

It seems like every time we look at the Radeon HD 4850, AMD has raised the bar once again. Performance of this part exceeds that of the Radeon HD 4770 which is still stuck, at best, at the same price it was at launch. Which happens to be the price to which the 4850 has finally fallen. Most 4770 hardware on newegg.com is actually more expensive than the 4850. And after rebate, the 4850 can even be had for as low as $90. That's simply amazing for the price.


ATI Radeon HD 4850
Sapphire $100
XFX $110
MSI $110
PowerColor $110
HIS $115


The GeForce GTS 250 512MB (aka the 9800 GTX+) typically costs more (though the Galaxy card can be had for the price of a 4770), and is definitely not as good a deal. The 1GB card does have its advantages, but it's price is also much higher.


Sub $145 Cards

While it seems to be declining in availability, the Radeon 4870 512MB drops in at between $125 and $150. At the low end, this is a great deal that competes incredibly well with the previous segment, but the availability of of these parts make it a deal not long for this earth. Certainly, at the low end, it is a much better deal than the GeForce GTS 250 1GB that falls in this range as well (though solidly at $140 with one card hitting $125 only after MIR). Even at the same price, the 4870 512MB is absolutely the way to go. As we've typically recommended, though, if you can spend the extra money, the 1GB option provides more well-rounded performance.


ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
PowerColor $125
HIS
$140
Sapphire $150



Sub $180 Cards

The Radeon HD 4870 1GB and the GeForce GTX 260 core 216 are the first set of cards we come to that were and have been direct competitors in terms of price and performance throughout their life cycles. Since the introduction of the core 216, driver development differences and aggressive pricing, this battle has been a matter of preference for quite a while now. It seems both AMD and NVIDIA are content to keep it that way. The Radeon HD 4870 1GB can have a bit of a price edge, but some of those NVIDIA cards might also have a bit of an overclock that balances it.


ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
XFX $150
PowerColor $155
HIS $160
MSI $165
Sapphire $170



NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 core 216
MSI $165
Sparkle $170
Zotac $175
PNY $180
BFG $180



Sub $250 Cards

The Radeon HD 4890 and the GeForce GTX 275 are both relatively new parts. The 4890 seems to have fallen in price across the board more rapidly than the GTX 275 and can generally be had for a better price (though there is one GTX 275 model that can be had for the same price as the 4890). If we look at mail in rebate, then the 4890 can have up to a $20 advantage and at $180 is a great deal and definitely worth it if you can afford that extra bit of cash beyond the previous segment (sounds like a trend doesn't it). At these prices, the 4890 is the way to go, especially if you don't have a 2560x1600 monitor. 


ATI Radeon HD 4890
PowerColor $200
XFX $200
HIS $200
MSI $200
Sapphire $200


We should add that for those who like single card dual GPU cards, the Sapphire 4850 X2 2GB is definitely interesting. We tend to prefer single GPU cards as they have more predictable performance characteristics, but this is not a bad price for entry into the multiGPU market. Sapphire has been and still is the only manufacturer to offer a 4850 X2 part. 


ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2
Sapphire $220



$300+ Cards

In this arena, AMD has run out of single GPU parts. NVIDIA has one left with the GTX 285, but with the >$100 price premium over the Radeon HD 4890, there are certainly diminishing returns here. While the Radeon HD 4870 X2 also offers an advantage over the GTX 285, there's another rather large price jump, but if you're going to spend the money then you get more for the jump from the GTX 285 to the 4870 X2 than from the 4890 to the GTX 285 as well.


NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
Sparkle $315
PNY $315
Gigabyte $330
MSI $330
XFX $330



ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
XFX $380
Sapphire $380
PowerColor $430
VisionTek $480


Way out in the stratosphere is the GeForce GTX 295. Solidly at $530, this one is definitively not a great deal. You pay a high premium for having these two GPUs in a single card, and picking up two GTX 275 cards will be both cheaper and faster. And if you really want to do that, two Radeon HD 4890 cards would be our recommendation there for less money.


Final Words

That's the update from field. It's only been a short time since some of these parts debuted and the market is already compressed like it hasn't been in quite a while. For those who can afford it, buying a video card today will get you a lot for your money.

In any case, there are two standouts today: the Radeon HD 4850 and the Radeon HD 4890. These two are really terrific values.

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  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, July 14, 2009 - link

    No the powercolor 4890 1gig at hardocp did NOT beat the GTX275 in every game, NOT EVEN CLOSE.
    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTY2MSw1LC...">http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTY2MSw1LC...
    --
    In the very first test @ highest 2560 rezz - the GTX295 won with the highest lowend franerate, beating the 4890.
    When far cry hit at 1920X - the GTX275 pulled far ahead.
    If you're running @ 2560X1600 and enjoy 12fps minimums, go for it.
    I rather doubt yer running @ 2560x1600.
    --
    See that's the thing, there's so much hype, I check what you said, and see it's all emotional drama, and doesn't match the FACTS - those facts presented at the site you claimed you saw.
    If your brain is already hyped for ati, your conclusion doesn't bear fruit.
    Reply
  • gossmann1 - Friday, July 03, 2009 - link

    Um...where the hell did you get that info. Sorry buddy but I don't care what article you read I have a computer I just built for a friend that has 2 ATI 4890's running cross-fire and compared it to my system with 2 GTX285's in SLI and it kicked there ass. Same processor, Core i7 920 etc. Real world vs. fantasy land. Get REAL!! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    It's red fanboy central here buddy.
    Even a $480 ati 4870x2 is listed with 2 gtx275's NOT listed.
    There's a hundred points of bias in his little chart.
    One could write a book on it - it's always like that here for some time.
    The story goes like this ( and I DO mean STORY): " we the red rooster rooters hate Nvidia because they had the best card for like eva'.. and we had to pay for it and nvidia made a profit instead of billions in losses like ati, because crappy ati fell off the fps card wagon facedown drunk and stupid for so long Nvidia just 'scapled us' to death, and we're still big fat crybabies over it ! Three cheers for the loser ati who sobered up, now kick nvidia in the crotch they deserve it! "
    Seriously they ALL have a huge sheeple spam generated little raging hatred inside - for nvidia. First they accuse me, then their fanboy lips start flapping like mad, and they dump it off their pent up chests.
    That's what happens over and over again. After I point it out they come back later pretending they're fair, like joeyredfps.
    Really, it's so pathetic.
    Just tell the truth I say, for pete sakes.
    It was amazing when the GTX275 came out with the new high res driver that beat ati's top dog in 2650 then the roosters here switched 180 degrees and suddenly the high res no longer mattered - and they redeclared ati the winner for taking some lower res spots. Six months or more before that only 2560 ruled for declaring the winner.
    Stuff like that is CONSTANT here. The red deranged base is huge - it's been a long mkultra mind trip for them.
    Not ONE, not a one of them will explain the missing 9600GT, that spanks that 4670 and I already quoted the prices at the egg.
    You didn't the GTX270 because it ain't a red rooster card, dude. That's the bottom line.
    Reply
  • GeorgeH - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Reading between the lines, it looks like you had to struggle and equivocate to really recommend any NVIDIA products at all.

    This mirrors my own experiences of late, and makes me wonder what NVIDIA is planning? Any thoughts or rumors? Beyond the GTS250 rebrand they don't appear to have done much of anything in the <=$200 region for way too long.
    Reply
  • loomis2 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Anandtech, GET OUT OF MY HEAD! I was literally seconds away from hitting Purchase on a video card on Newegg when I decided to check your site one last time, and found THIS! Actually, you can stay in my head as long as you like. These guides are a lifesaver! Reply
  • gigahertz20 - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    The 4890 seems like the best card for your money, if I went high end I would get two 4890's and put them in crossfire, which would be about the same price as a 4870 X2 but faster.


    I would really like to hear more from Nvidia and AMD when their new GPU's are coming out, I think anybody looking for a new video card that doesn't need one right away should just wait until the end of Q3, I would think by then we should see benchmarks of the next generation. Very curious to see just how much faster they are going to be, a big bump or just a few percentage points faster.
    Reply
  • alkalinetaupehat - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    Definitely have to agree, since in the past two weeks I've bought three XFX 4850 1GB for $120 every time. Trying to stay with XFX as they have great support and warranty, and I've owned cards from them in the past as well. Since I've enjoyed my GTX285 so much I try to find a competitive price from an Nvidia part, but just can't. When a 1GB 4870 from XFX was $135 w/o MIR a couple days ago, man that was cool to see. Here's to a wonderful buyer's market! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    So they include the red rooster ATI cards, 4670, the 4830, and the 4850, and leave out ALL NVIDIA 9800 series, and the 9600 series.
    LOL - THE BIAS HERE IS AMAZING.
    ---
    I'm certain the fools writing the review told themselves " we won't include the problematic 4770 from ATI with all it's issues, and then we can claim to have played fair, and leave out the NVIDIA 9800GTX, 9800GT, 9600GT - etc.
    --
    Anandtech is SICKENING with it blatant, ireepressable bias.
    Reply
  • Denithor - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Oh, did the fanboi get his panties in a wad? Take a midol and come back when you're in a less cranky mood. Or don't, we won't miss your bleating.

    ATi certainly rules the perf/$ charts for gaming right now.

    Unfortunately, for my needs - F@H crunching - nVidia still has a lock on the ppd crown. By nearly a 2:1 ratio. So even with cards that are overpriced 10-20% I still get better performance/$ from nV GPUs.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    Did you address the bias I pointed out, or did you just whine ?
    Oh, you just whined, then played your you're not biased crap show.
    Good, glad to hear you're not a red rooster, not but out, unless you have a counter to the blazing, glaring bias this site can't shake - Derek specifically.
    Reply

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