Price Guides August 2004: Video and Memoryby Kristopher Kubicki & Adam Rader on August 21, 2004 12:04 AM EST
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Welcome back for another edition of the Price Guides. Not much has changed in the memory arena as prices continue to slowly rise. On the opposite side we are seeing more competitive pricing from both ATI and NVIDIA when it comes to their second-to-last-generation video cards such as the Radeon 9800 series and the GeForceFX 5900's. Both seem to be pushing harder to get their new cores into the desktops of every gamer and enthusiast out there while bringing older yet full-capable products closer to the average user's budget.
Be certain to visit our RealTime Pricing Engine for stats on the prices for your next hardware purchase.
ATI spawned a winner when they launched the Radeon 9800 Pro 18 months ago and this fact is apparent in how well this card still manages to stand up to new game releases. While it's true that you won't be seeing massive frame rates at high detail and resolution on titles like Doom 3, it still packs enough of a punch if you can drop the resolution or detail settings a notch or two which isn't as bad as some may think. As shown in our recent Doom 3 Graphics Deathmatch the 9800 Pro manages to produce sufficient frame rates at less than 'Ultra' settings and resolution. In short, unless you absolutely require all the details and pixels your eyes can handle, and then some, the Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro is still a solid choice for mid-to-high range gaming. At prices less than half of what X800's are going for this card is a good choice if you cannot wait a few more months to allow the newer products to come down in price a bit.
If gaming isn't of paramount importance or you aren't overly concerned with cracnking all the settings up on Doom 3 of the upcoming Half Life 2, the PowerColor Radeon 9600 Pro 256 shows some promise. While lacking some of the powerhouse attributes of a 9800 or X800, this card is more than enough to satisfy many gamers who are interested in titles such as Unreal Tournament 2003/2004, Battlefield 1942, and classics such as Counter-Strike. Moreover, if gaming isn't a concern at all, the 9600 will be more than enough for typical desktop applications, watching DVD's and other non-3D intensive applications.