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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  • erple2 - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Their "bias" is based off the performance characteristics in their review. At each price point, you look at the cards that you can get for that price, then the performance that each of those cards gets you. If it happens to be ATI that wins in the performance per pricepoint, well, that's what you have to report on.

    After a quick trip to newegg and using their price discriminator (really just pick video cards in a particular price bracket), it's pretty clear that in the brackets Anandtech chose, ATI really does have the better cards. If you look at the reviews that Anandtech has done with the GTS 250, you'll see that it competes relatively on par with the 4850 in performance. Since the 4850 is cheaper, and happens to come in at a cheaper price than the GTS 250 (aka 9800 GTX+), then what was the problem exactly?

    You can make the same arguments at each price point, too.

    Just because ATI makes the better cards at a particular price point doesn't mean that anandtech needs to pander to NVidia.

    Anandtech is basing their decisions on the cost of the cards first, then within a particular band, the performance of the cards within that band, based on anandtech's performance numbers.
    Based on previous reviews of the GTS 250
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    That's why he left out the 9600GT, 75, 77, 79, 69 dollars, in the sub $100 that beats the 4670 in everything ?
    Yeah whatever.
    It's red bias period, all the way. Prick for a few dollars even when it's beat, stretch a tie or a loss to a win only on 512 4850 models, whatever.
    Same convenient crap, and calling lack of cuda, PhySx, game profiles, forced aa af, ambient occlusion, forced sli for games, etc, and claiming that's a zero because it HIS OPINION --
    No, it's been all too clear for all too long, and if you're even remotely honest you already know it.
    Reply
  • joeysfb - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Its now known as GTS250 in case you have not heard.... no one in their sane unbias mind would be getting that.... Its 3 year old tech....

    GTX260 is the minimum i would go for... I would rather get a 4850 at $90 bucks over NVIDIA 9800GTX, 9800GT, 9600GT....etc..etc...

    You could do Nvidia a favour by buying those cards.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    PS GTX9800+ is still selling at the egg.
    So is 9800GT
    So is 8800GT at Tiger. (84 bucks)
    Look, the 4770 is not available - like almost anywhere is it ? Maybe just 1 brand somewhere ?
    I can see ati for penny pinching can't even buy a pizza people. Ok, so 10 bucks is the world to some. Sorry for your troubles.
    I guess taking advantage of ati's three billion dollar losses - that it seems my taxes will soon have to pay for - well that's ok - when someone can't pay enough for a card to keep the core producer SOLVENT.
    That's a SHAME.
    Reply
  • joeysfb - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    You are a party crusher at a red rooster victory party. I have a 8800GT which is upgraded to 4870 512Mb... I am happy with my upgrade why tell people otherwise.

    Besides if you are happy with you whatever Nvidia card, stick to that!! Every one that visit AnandTech has their own opinion of which graphic card is good!!

    Go market Nvidia to whoever that cares..... I am getting my money worth here, this round... Next round maybe Nvidia i don't know. And they better have full dx11 support and much faster or cheaper for me to switch.
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    I don;t care about your opinion or anyone else's opinion. Opinions are fine, it's the bias and the lies that are not.
    How THICK can you be to not understand that ?
    Grow up.
    Reply
  • joeysfb - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    You don't care and yet to spent countless hours arguing that Nvidia has a better G80 aka G92 aka GTS card. While most of us like myself have already cross over from green to red and never looked back!!! The market share of gpu landscape has shifted. Nvidia still whole the major discrete video card market but ATI is the better and cheaper choice NOW!! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Dude, GTX9800+ still beats the 4850, the 4830, the 4770, so your idea of "old tech" is just OLD CRUD in your brain.
    ---
    Yes, it's OBVIOUS you'd rather get a red rooster card, obvious by your reply.
    Reply
  • camylarde - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Lord Raiden likes this ///thumbs up/// Oops, this is not facebook. Reply
  • The0ne - Friday, June 19, 2009 - link

    I just purchased the xfx 4870 1gig for $140 shipped from the hot deals section. It was $10 cheaper but the first deal had expired. I had wanted to grab the 4890 but could not justify the extra $50 for the small performance gain. 4870 will hold me out until the next round of cards come out and stabilize a bit :) But $140 shipped is cheap imo :D Reply

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