Recent insight into the NV40 (GeForce 6800) and R420 (Radeon X800) offerings from NVIDIA and ATI show promise, but only if you have the money to burn.  These cores promise to bring top performance to the marketplace with equally high prices, and our recent review of the new GeForce 6800 Ultra certainly attests with its $500 price tag.  If you have been saving up and must own the latest and greatest you are best off to await ATI's early May answer to the 6800.  While these cards are highly anticipated, they are not expected to impact current hardware prices for at least a month or two.

With the imminent release of R420 and NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra, it makes sense to wait for new cards to hit shelves before deciding where to send your hard-earned cash.  Until then, however, there are alternatives that will suit your budget and needs.  Our sources say that even though NV40's NDA has lifted, retail products from ATI and NVIDIA will hit stores are the same time.

ATI's Radeon 9800 Pro is currently the top pick for video cards in general.  With ample performance and prices hovering right around $200, the price-point where 9600XT's stood only six months ago, you can't go wrong if you intend to build a beefy gaming PC.  The 9800 Pro should also be able to handle any game currently on the market, and new releases for the foreseeable future, making it a sound investment.  As well, the 9800XT still does not offer enough performance over the Pro version to warrant its $400 cost.

If a tighter budget is an issue, the Sapphire 9600 Pro and XT provide good price-performance ratios.  Ranging from around $130 to $160 you can save some money without losing your investment immediately.  A Radeon 9550 is also on the horizon and should suffice for most any non-gaming application and even some current DX9 games.

With prices continuing the stability trend which ATI cards commonly follow, it is unlikely that these prices will noticeably drop lower in the upcoming 4-6 weeks.  For the early technology adopters it is also important to note the introduction of PCI Express motherboards and graphics cards which will undoubtedly have some bearing on new purchases, albeit distant.  Unless you plan on waiting until the fall to upgrade, do not balk at good deals on ATI cards today.

NVIDIA Video Cards
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  • Jason Clark - Monday, April 19, 2004 - link

    test Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, April 18, 2004 - link

    On the memory page it might be worth making it clear that the recommendation to go for 1GB means 2x512MB, not a single 1GB module.

    Do you really think prices can rise much higher? I was reckoning they'd probably drop again in a few months after this temporary spike.
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