Price Guide, May 2006: Video Cards

by Haider Farhan on 5/27/2006 9:00 AM EST


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  • PMPopic - Saturday, June 03, 2006 - link

    Hello all,
    Do any of these cards support either of the two new high definition standards(i.e. blue ray)? My understanding is that there are no cards or LCD monitors out now that support this do to the HDCP copy protection. When will we see cards and monitors that support this?
  • Trisped - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - link

    The guide was concise and well worded (as price guides usually are)
    Keep up the good work.
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    I didn't take the time to re-read the last few video guides, but I seem to remember them not being as good as this one. I agree with most of your picks, and I do appreciate you including every possible card. I only have two changes I would make.

    First of all, it's time to move the X800/X850s and the 6800s to mid-range, where they compete in terms of performance. Then move the 7900GTs and X1800XT/XL and X1900GTO to high-end, if you still want to have four sections. None of us reading this guide really considers the 6800GT high-end anymore, not the X1800XL Ultra-high-end. I know Anandtech readers are more hard-core than the general Best Buy shopper, but that's who is reading the article anyways.

    Second, when you inevitably move the previous generation cards out of the high-end section, you need to directly compare them to the cards that cost the same amount of money. We all know that buying a $500 6800-Ultra is a terrible deal, heck even buying a 7800GTX is a terrible deal. Those cards were replaced by faster cards but didn't drop in price, so it's an easy call. The $160 X850XT is NOT an easy call. I am under the impression that while giving up SM3 support, it is probably faster overall than the current generation cards at the $160 price point, but I don't know for sure since it isn't normally included in reviews of modern games anymore, and the new cards don't normally get reviewed under the older games I can look up X850XT scores for. I think a direct comparison between last-gen and present-gen cards is warranted when the older cards have actually dropped considerably in price to match the prices of their current-gen performance equivalents.
  • AGAC - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    My system was upgraded about one and half year ago and it´s going to remain as it is since the video subsystem is not just about framerates. Thanks to DRM schemes of tomorrow, no video card of today can legaly playback HD content. So, it´s a waiting game for me.

    BTW, does anyone knows about those phony claims made by ATI regarding HDCP compliant video cards?

    And I am not talking about HDMI on video cards. As far as I know, DVI can be HDCP compliant, so that is not much of a chalenge in terms of R&D.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    You need an HDCP chip on the card, and while it is possible, no one has done it yet with ATI chips (AFAIK). They are "HDCP compatible" but not "HDCP enabled". :| Reply
  • lafchiev - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    "Previous tests showed that NVIDIA's budget cards were slightly faster than ATI's budget cards, but mostly it's a non-issue. "
    I thought that X1300 was ever more powrfull than the 7300 or 6200 ones.
    Let see in the Anand review from 20 february:
    Battlefield2 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:24.2 fps
    NV7300GS: 18.2 fps

    Half Life 2 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:27.2 fps
    NV7300GS: 23.8 fps

    Quake 4 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:30 fps
    NV7300GS: 25.6 fps

    Overall NV7300GS is MUCH less performant than X1300
    and this changes everything in the budget cards comparison.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    I was thinking X300 vs. 6200 - I'll clarify that. X1300 is still pitifully slow for gaming (as is the 7300). Reply
  • tential2 - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    I am not sure but I cant seem to find any decent review on this website on the 7600GT and 6600GT. They are closely priced but as you said in the article the 6600T was a very popular card. As a result I am not sure whether to buy another 6600GT and try and go SLI or buy a 7600GT. Which gives more performance? I found a few benches but many of them showed SLI giving no performance benefits. I was wondering what the benefits of SLI 6600GT are over the 7600GT. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    7600 GT is generally a bit faster than 6800 GS/GT, so if you have benches of 6600GT SLI vs. 6800 GT you can draw some conclusions. If it were me, I'd take 7600 GT over 6600 GT SLI in a heartbeat. Two cards is a high-end option only, IMO. Don't bother with SLI until you're at least looking at 7900 GT. Reply
  • tential2 - Monday, June 05, 2006 - link

    It still would be nice to have a review on it. Also on Crossfire since I have seen nothing on upgrading with crossfire. It would be nice to buy a x1600XT knowing I could buy a later ATI card at anytime and run crossfire. It seems that has been largely neglected by reviewers and just people in genreal. I'm not even sure if Crossfire supports different cards anymore actually. Reply
  • Egglick - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    I'm kinda confused as to why there are so many old cards in this guide. The entire range of last-gen PCIe cards is pretty much obsolete because of the performance of the 7600GT for only $150. Aside from the X850XT for $159, it's a joke to even list most of those cards up there.

    I also think that the X1600Pro should have been touted quite a bit more. For $100, you get the entire AVIVO feature set, in either PCIe or AGP flavor. This makes them extremely useful for HTPCs, and negates just about the entire low end range.

    Also, no discussion whatsoever on the $239 X1800XT 256MB?? That's a pretty big descrepency.
  • tayhimself - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    The old cards (barring a few AGP models maybe) should be removed from the guide. I would put them all in a not reccomended list page. But it may be more important for you to get advertising $ by providing a direct buy link which would explain the old shitty cards still in the guide. Oh well... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Every time we put out a price guide, we get complaints if we don't list just about every conceivable option. Catch-22. I don't know where the cheap X1800XT is, but it doesn't show up in our pricing engine right now, which is why it doesn't get mentioned. Anyway, if you can find some better deals than we have listed here, that's great; these articles are a snapshot in time, and we don't track every vendor on the planet for a variety of reasons. Reply
  • Egglick - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Scratch can get the X1600Pro for">$85 after $15MIR (PCIe model). Reply
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Your price engine is rather nice, make it the ultimate price guide is to factor in fps. Even though you don't have fps for most games and cards, it would help to show the ones you do have.

    You made some arguments about 6600 GT, x1600 XT, 7600 GT...well if you look at the price vs fps...I believe all three are on a similar line.

    Meaning they're equal in value...and you're getting the appropriate performance for the price you pay.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    X1600 XT is about as fast as 6600 GT (not even quite that!), so not worth it in my opinion since it costs a bit more. 7600 GT runs about 75% faster (provided you're not CPU limited), and it only costs may 40% more. Best bang-for-the-buck out right now, I think. Reply
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Using anand's oblivion benchmarks">

    And the top graph because it stresses the cards the most:

    256 mb cards - taking lowest price from the chart
    6600 GT - $120
    x1600 xt - $140
    7600 gt - $153

    oblivion gate - bloom
    6600 GT - 18.05 - 0.15 fps/$
    x1600 xt - 26 - 0.186
    7600 gt - 30.3 - 0.198

    oblivion gate - hdr
    6600 GT - 14.3 - 0.119 fps/$
    x1600 xt - 19.1 - 0.136 fps/$
    7600 gt - 25.7 - 0.168

    The higher the fps/$ the better the bang for the buck

    for reference
    7900 GT - gate hdr - 33.5 $280 has a fps/$ of 0.119
    1800 xt - gate hdr - 42.4 $290 has a fps/$ of 0.147

    Conclusion: the 7600 GT has the best bang for the buck, followed by the x1600 xt then the 6600 GT. (for this game of course)

    See how fps/$ or $/fps is a better indicator?
  • bloc - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    btw the 7600 GT price is $153 ($35 MIR)..which is a lot lower than the average of $170. With the adjusted price, the x1600 XT and 7600 GT fps/$ ratio is about even. But my point was to highlight how price charts is an alright solution...while a fps/$ is better. Reply
  • the Chase - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    The MSI X1800XT(512MB) is only $269.99 after $30 MIR at Newegg. Reply
  • the Chase - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    Price engine missed the $50 MIR on the ATI X1800XT at Newegg that brings the price down to $289.99. Not a bad deal for the 512MB 1800XT. Reply
  • koomo - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    First, glad to see the price guides back. What a tremendous improvement in price/performance from what we thought was the cat's meow earlier this year!

    Would you please consider comparing systems in your future High-Range Price Guides to those systems previously recommended? By the time they are ready (I assume you will be waiting for Conroe) I know there will have been an enourmous leap in the past year, but I would very much like to see it graphically with your testing.

    Also, what's the safe bet on DX10 card arrivals? I imagine they would be ready for release once the system is ready for sales, but will they require some time for optimization? Will it be awhile before games are capable of utilizing DX10 well? (Such as the somewhat languid adaptation of dual-processor advantages.)

    In other words, it seems to me that a very good card purchased today could still be quite competitive a year from now, and not made "obsolete" when DX10 arrives.

    Thanks again.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    AFAIK, DX10 won't come until *after* Windows Vista, so that means we're at least 6-8 months away from DX10 hardware. I also expect games to lag behind by quite a bit, just like with SM3.0 support. DX9.0L (WGF1.0) will be available for Vista launch, but I'm not sure what it adds.

    I'll see what I can do with the high-end buyers guide. Generally speaking, we let the CPU/chipset/etc. articles cover performance; otherwise, the guides end up taking a long time to write.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    Do your sources suggest DX10 hardware will be delayed until Vista is released, even if the hardware is ready and Vista suffers yet more delays? Let's face it, Vista is likely to be delayed more than the next-gen DX10 compliant cards intended to be released near the end of this year. I mean in Jan 2007. Or Feb 2007. Or sometime early next year which seems to be the current Vista release data. Along with "when it's ready" which is a very good thing for quality, but not so good for release dates. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Derek probably has more info than I do. All I know is that NVIDIA and ATI are both working on DX10 hardware, but they aren't discussing any of the features that will be present - at least not with me. Reply
  • Sahrin - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    "The X1900 AIW has lower clocks than the X1900 XT (500/960), but you also get VIVO support, and the price is lower. "

    The vanilla X1900XT supports VIVO as well. Doesn't it?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    I believe the X1900XT only has TV out, though I suppose some manufacturers might add non-AIW video in hardware. Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    but when the 6800gs was announced they said it would be a short-lived product. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    One reason for purchasing a low-end graphics-card you didn't mention is if your mobo does not have integrated graphics, which includes every nForce3 and nForce4 mobo sold-- in other words the vast majority of people with an Athlon 64 processor. If they're not a gamer then a cheap card is pretty much a necessity in order to use the computer.

    Another reason would be if you've got a good graphics card already but want an emergency replacement than can be immediately swapped in should it fail (not all of us are hardware reviewers who have hundreds of graphics-cards in the closet). If you've made the jump from AGP to PCIe like I did last year, you probably don't have any other PCIe cards you can use if something should go wrong, so unless you have an old PCI card available you're stuffed unless you have a cheap PCIe card as a spare. Which is the situation I'm in as the fan on my 6800GT has almost died judging from the racket it is making which means my main box may be out of commission for at least a week while it is RMA'd as I have nothing to replace it with.

    Obviously for people with integrated video available, the only reason for a low-end card would be for DVI output or higher-quality analogue output like you said.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    There are various reasons for budget cards. Our point was that you shouldn't buy one hoping for moderate gaming performance. Buy at the bottom of the price bracket, because the extras are mostly worse than getting just about any mid-range offering. If you buy one as a temporary replacement, though, you're basically buying hardware that's not going to be used much.

    If you are purchasing a new PC and just need any GPU (i.e. because you don't have IGP), then go ahead and buy one as well. I purcahsed four 6200TC cards for my brother's dental office for exactly that reason, but they were all the $50 versions rather than spending even $20 more for faster clocks.
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    I agree 100% on the purchasing a cheap low-end card for boxes that don't have a mobo with integrated graphics. Not spending even slightly more on cards that would be quite a bit faster for 3D stuff is also wise. The arrival of Vista sometime next year will make 3D performance important for workplaces that might migrate to it over the computer's lifetime, though most workplaces won't even consider migrating until it has been out for a year and then when all their applications have been thoroughly tested (probably another year) so by then the ROI has already been covered.

    The temporary replacement scenario I pushed isn't as daft as it might sound. Obviously it's not going to be used much, that's the whole point of the emergency stand-in solution to keep the box working. But for a single-user scenario, if you've got important recently updated files on a system with a PCIe graphics-card and that card suddenly fails, then you're stuck unless you have an old PCI graphics-card (I have a friend with a Trio64 gathering dust) or a cheapo PCIe that could be instantly swapped in to get me back up and running. I've got three AGP cards but none of them will be any use in my current system when I have to return the PCIe card, and I now regret not also spending a tiny bit extra on an X300 or 6200 last year when I bought this 6800GT.

    Like I said we aren't all PC hardware reviewers with hundreds of graphics-cards lying around the house we could choose from if one fails. My PCIe 6800GT is on it's last legs and I don't have another PCIe or PCI card to replace it with while it is RMA'd (though it can run passively in 2D or if downclocked in 3D so I can choose when to RMA). I imagine you have a closet stacked to the ceiling with everything from X1900XTXs and 7900GTXs from several manufacturers, through everything back all the way to the Trio32 and earlier. The rest of us don't have that luxury unfortunately. And yeah, I know you don't really have hundreds of graphics-cards in your closet as most have to be returned, but it's nice to imagine that :)
  • hkBst - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    If all you need is a cheap graphics card because your mobo doesn't have one, then it is probably better to consider a mobo which does have integrated (DVI) graphics.

    Another reason for considering a low-end card though is for dual dvi outputs to drive two monitors, if you don't play games. I haven't seen any integrated graphics which support dual monitors.
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    Actually, Derek has most of the GPUs I think. I've got lots of other stuff around, and enough spare GPUs (most of them I purchased), but parts get scattered. I don't even have any X18/1900 series cards right now, just a couple X1600 Pros. Reply
  • drewintheav - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    "...but if you don't mind dealing with the hassle of filling out forms, photocopying UPCs and mailing them out, and perhaps waiting eight weeks for your check to arrive..."

    Since when did they accept a photocopy of the UPC?

  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    You can tell how often we fill out mail-in rebates. ;-)

    Seriously, I've purchased about five products in the past year that had a mail-in rebate, and I haven't filled out a single one before the expiration date. One of them arrived two days before the expiration date, and in the end I just look at it, shrug, and figure $10-20 isn't worth the hassle. I figure mail-in rebates are usually a precursor to price cuts anyway, so if you're really worried about saving money just wait another month or two.
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    " the end I just look at it, shrug, and figure $10-20 isn't worth the hassle."

    I think we see where all the anandtech flashing banner add revenue is going, and to think I didn't block them to try to help the site ;)

    Seriousely Jarred, you more than earn whatever they pay you, but there are a lot of us on budgets that have the $$$ in the bank to put forth up front, but then need the rebate ammount to make the purchasea affordable. For me spending 10 minutes on forms is worth $20, since I'm not quite pulling in the $120/hour that is basically equivilent to.

    PS - I noticed you signed your post to the first poster above. Assuming you actually read this, is "Hardware Editor" a promotion, or were you just assuming a non-regular wouldn't know you were staff?
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 30, 2006 - link

    Techincally, I now post (most of) the articles into the engine. I also am doing more work than just SFFs and occasional other articles. Basically, Gary Key and I are now full-time with AnandTech (whereas we were both part-time a few months ago). I used to call myself "SFF and Guide Editor" since that's what I did. Now, "Hardware" is generic enough that I stuck that on, though I should probably drop everything other than "Editor" at this point.

    It's not the 10-20 minutes that I care about, it's the fact that it usually ends up taking two+ months to get the rebate. You also send in the UPC usually, preventing a return in case you change your mind. There are also some shady MIRs out there, where you never do get that rebate back - I don't think anyone we track does that, but I know places like Officemax have had issues in the past. Cheers!

  • Josh7289 - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    I haven't been paying attention to the computer hardware, especially the video card, market for about six months now, and this is exactly what I needed to bring me back to what's going on. I see there are a few cards that are new to me that you didn't mention in your guide. Can anyone explain to me what the X1900GT, X1800GTO, and if you want, 7300GS are? Also, didn't there used to be an X1300 vanilla?

    This quote caught my eye, too:

    "The best/only price we are able to find on a 7800 GT is the BFG GeForce 7800 GT OC 256MB [RTPE: BFGR78256GTOC] going for $305 shipped. With only 20 pipelines compared to 24 on the 7900 GT, there's absolutely no reason to recommend a 7800 GT anymore."

    Speaking about pipes, could anyone refresh me on the amount of pipelines each of the ultra-high end cards has, if you don't mind?

    Finally, to me, reading this feels very weird:

    "The GeForce 7800 GT/GTX used to be very popular."

    ^^ Anyway, if anyone could help, I'd greatly appreciate it. Thank you very much!
  • ImJacksAmygdala - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link


    The video card market can be very hard to keep track of. The best places I use to track the market is Anandtech's price guide articles, and Adrian's Rojak Pot comparison charts.



    Hope this helps...

  • JarredWalton - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    There are a few cards that we didn't try breaking down further, so the X1300 and X1300 Pro are grouped together. 7300 GS is a competitor to those cards, but really they're all very slow in comparison to the midrange products.

    X1900 GT is like the X1900 XT, only with lower clock speeds and 12/36 pixel pipelines instead of 16/48. (Basically, the X1900 chips can do three shader operations per pipeline per cycle, or something similar to that.) X1800 GTO is basically the same thing (12 pixel pipelines, 12 ROPs), only using the older R520 court instead of the newer R580 core. X1800 really isn't that bad, but X1900 is just better.

    Clock for clock, the ATI X1900 pipelines are now a bit more powerful than NVIDIA's, but NVIDIA has 33% more pipelines with slightly slower clock speeds, so it more or less equals out. Drivers still play a critical role, so there are games that continue to perform better on NVIDIA even though the X1900 hardware is generally faster. I would also have to give the advantage to SLI over CrossFire -- CrossFire is still a far less elegant solution in my opinion.

    On the other ultra high-end cards, 7800 GTX and 7900 GT/GTX are all 24 pixel pipelines, 16 ROPs, and 8 vertex pipelines. 7800 GT has 20 pixel pipelines, so even at the same clock speeds it ends up being slower than the others. X1800 XT/XTX are all 16 pixel pipelines and 8 vertex pipelines, also with 16 ROPs.

    Hopefully, that clears things up for you. :-)

    Take care, and happy Memorial Day weekend!
    Jarred Walton
    Hardware Editor

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