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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  • moltentofu - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Qty Product Description Price
    . 1 LIAN LI PC-61 COMBO Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 550W (Seasonic SS-550HT) Power Supply - Retail
    Item #: N82E16811112200
    Standard Return Policy $159.99
    . 1 AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103674
    $245.00
    . 1 GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    $79.99
    . 1 Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
    Item #: N82E16835100007
    $6.99
    1 Sony Optiarc 20X DVD±R Burner Black IDE Model AD-7200A-0B - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827118011
    $26.99
    . 4 Crucial 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1066 (PC3 8500) Desktop Memory Model CT25664BA1067 - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820148149
    $115.96
    ($28.99 ea)
    . 1 SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    Item #: N82E16814102801
    $179.99
    . 1 Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
    Item #: N82E16822136320
    $59.99
    Subtotal $874.90
    Tax $0.00
    UPS 3 DAYS $30.84
    Rush Processing $2.99
    Order Total $908.73

    POSTed first boot, runs cool, stock hardware settings = 16k on 3dmark06 default/free-ware settings. Cha ching.
    Reply
  • moltentofu - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Interestingly, I just checked 3dmark06 scores for i7 920/gtx 275 builds and discovered that they perform about 25% better than my system. Then if I go over to newegg and build a 920 system with 6 gigs ram a 275 gtx and a sub 200 dollars MB I get a price point of about 1100 dollars. 25% more than what my system cost. These people have it down to the wire, huh. Reply
  • grimpr - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Its been a quite sometime since we saw such a little true believer, congratulations kid, you made it!, posting your diarrhea against ATI in Anandtech, for the first time in your life. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    You're the true bbeliever, filled the hate message and the LIES.
    90% of buys are not in 100-150 mark, you're a liar fanboy red rooster.
    " Kudos to AMD for bringing back really fast cards and value at the 100$ to 150$ graphics card segment where the meat of some 95% of sales is, the ATI HD4850 made a big bang for the back and is already a classic card. "

    A CLASSIC. LOL cocka doodle doo !

    "As much as i respect Nvidia, ( YOU DON'T) they completely forgot their old times with the glorious 6600GT ( OH NOTHING GOOD SINCE THE 6600GT! HAHAHAHAHA) and got too greedy,
    PLUS THEY'RE TOO GREEDY ! ROFLMAO The chip on your shoulder is gigantic red fan boy, aka true believer.

    " the big comeback of ATI should teach them a lesson and we're glad for that. "
    Ahh, yer so deranged nvidia "needs to be taught a lesson" and you talk not just for yourself but for "we're" (wee) your whole crew there, huh, ya loon !
    Yeah, a true liar, again, caught, and disappointed by that fact, can only squeal fanboy when yer wearing the absolute mirror image of that.
    AMAZING.
    Another nvidia hater who wants 'em taught a lesson, has declared an ati card a "classic", and doesn't like anything nvidia going way back to 6600gt ! roflmao
    RED RED RED RED ROOSTER. "Truly scarlet!" I must say. haha
    Reply
  • joeysfb - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    You are a Nv bot!!! Tireless in spreading your Nv marketing mumbo jumbo... that noone even bother to read!! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    lol- you're still reading, according to you, that makes you, "noone" !
    BWAHAHAHAAAAAA
    See, you just should not mess, bring a gun, not a peashooter, then have a good reason for using it, I'll take a shot when deserved.
    The other guy laid his soul bare, bleated out that nvidia hatred shoulder chip, we were having a momment, then you came along, again.
    hahah
    ( If you're jealous you shouldn't be, you spilled your guts on the other page and I'm giving you the "win!" for the bigger nvidia hatred on your shoulder chip. He only had profit, and screwed up badly by crowning in glory the 4850 when the 9800 matches it, you however had the "cheeldren" you were fake protecting and had real a manufacturing issue you whined about.)
    hint: Pretend you didn't read this one.
    Reply
  • grimpr - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Kudos to AMD for bringing back really fast cards and value at the 100$ to 150$ graphics card segment where the meat of some 95% of sales is, the ATI HD4850 made a big bang for the back and is already a classic card. As much as i respect Nvidia, they completely forgot their old times with the glorious 6600GT and got too greedy, the big comeback of ATI should teach them a lesson and we're glad for that. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Ok, about three things or so. First of all, 95% of sales are not in your $5 range. DUH.
    Second - ati didn't bring back really fast cards in that range, really fast cards anywhere near that range are a recent phenomena.
    Used to be we spent a lot more than $100 to have decent speed, and not long ago.
    What ati has done, is produce faster cards at lower prices just like nvidia has, and since ati has been around a LOOOONNNG time, we can all REALLY THANK ATI FOR FALLING OFF THE EDGE OF COMPETITION FOR TOO, TOO LONG ! Yes, I've got a 32k isa ati card sitting here, not to mention a pci mach 32, and a mach 64 - etc - or the diamond pci 2/4 meg.
    SO, ATI REALLY BLEW IT FOR A LONG TI9ME AND NVIDIA GOT WAY AHEAD AND EVERYONE PAID BECAUSE THE OTHER BIG VIDEOCARD MAKER COULDN'T DO IT ! ! COULDN'T DO IT !
    ---
    So let's be HONEST instead of repeating the mantra the fanboys spread - if Nvidia made profits or had high prices it was because the other big boy just couldn't HANDLE IT - couldn't handle keeping up.
    When they finally got their act together, they shouldn't be getting praise for all the HATRED of nvidia they promoted because they had nothing in comparison for way too long.
    I say to ati, thanks a lot for not continuing to completely screw up for extended years.
    Good thing they're losing a billion a year, too, ati that is - selling their cards so cheap, unable to get more for them, or trying not very successfully to eat up some nvidia channel sales, by pricing BELOW THEIR COSTS! they are LOSING A BILLION PLUS A YEAR.
    I calculated it once based upon how many chips/cards/ ati sells - I don't quite remember but it was something like 50 bucks loss for every card they sell. So there's the TRUTH - they CANNOT produce at nvidia even to this day, are losing a billion a year, even with their smaller core, and NVidia has made a profit every quarter - EVERY QUARTER. Admittedly the last quarter nvidia's profit didn't grow in the economic worldwide downturn, oh boo hoo.
    ---
    THANKS A LOT ATI FOR BLOWING IT FOR SO MANY YEARS AND LOSING BILIONS STILL !!! THANKS SO MUCH !
    Reply
  • Stas - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    World in Conflict and ETQW... you fail, once again. WiC is optimized for nVidia. so is etqw based on q4 engine, which was wased on d3 engine. and I don't need to remind you about performance difference between R x800 series compared to GF6800 in D3 and then EVERYTHING ELSE. just like now, WiC+ETQW and EVERYTHING ELSE.
    OMG CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS CAPS MAKE MY POINT SO MUCH MORE VALID ZOMGZOMGZOMG
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    Age of Conan is ati optimized, and it's Derek's favorite game, and is at the very first spot on all his reviews, always now, with the ati card first, and alphabetical absolute certainty, no doubt. Hmm.. what a coincidence.
    lol
    If I repeat in caps does it make it more valid, too ?
    Usually yelling in person makes more of an impression, wouldn't you say ? hahhaa
    --
    hintS: a point is, no matter the style, as long as the point gets across that's great, especially when one has one.
    Reply

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