Introduction

We would like to welcome you to our latest rendition of our video card price guide, where we try to track down the best bargains available while also making a few suggestions of which cards to avoid and which to keep in mind. First, if you missed our last price guide when we took a look at the latest motherboard happenings, we mentioned that the RTPE was recently overhauled and is now faster than ever. So, for those whose excuse was the RTPE is unbearable to use due to its speed, no more excuses! Thanks to our RTPE administrator and other behind-the-scenes coders, the RTPE is just that much more enjoyable to use.

Before we get to the actual cards, we should also note that there are a couple of upcoming contenders that you might want to wait for. We can't say much about them right now, but anyone that follows the industry should know NVIDIA is launching some new cards very soon. What will the price and availability be like on the new cards? We can't say until after the launch, so if you're about ready to plunk down $700+ for a couple 7800 cards, you might want to wait a bit longer and see what happens.

As always, we like to begin our video card price guides with the ultra high-end graphics solutions all the way through the high-end, mid-range and ending with the low-end graphics cards. There are many cards to cover, so bear with us, and please do feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the comment forum below or send us an e-mail at the e-mail address above. So here we go, starting off with the ultra high-end video cards...


Ultra High-End Graphics

At the time of our last video card price guide, we were only picking up on a single 7800 GS. As you can see below, there are a number of them in the market today and are averaging about $300. The 7800 GS is here to compete with the X850 XTPE and does a very good job at that. Although the X850 XTPE performs generally better, the advantage of the 7800 GS is that it's at a much lower price ($300 rather than $400 with the X850 XTPE), better features and has lower power requirements. Our very own Derek Wilson has written up a short, but sweet performance review of this card. Read more here.

The 7800 GT seems like a hot item these days, offering great performance at a decent value. The best price that we can see this week is for the eVGA GeForce 7800GT 256MB [RTPE: 256-P2-N518] going for an even $275 shipped. There are plenty of others in the $300 to about the $350 range. For something a bit different, there's also the 512MB 7800 GT from Asus [RTPE: EN7800GT DUAL/2DHTV/512]. It's a fairly large card and is not at a very friendly price tag either, going for about $820...yikes! Why so much? Because it has two 7800 GT chips on a single card. Given the $200 price premium, we'd rather have two individual 7800 GTs instead of an SLI-on-a-board solution.

With the 7800 GTX cards, there are many in about the $450 range. Leading the pack this week is the MSI GeForce 7800GTX 256MB [RTPE: NX7800GTX-VT2D256E] on sale for $385 after a $50 mail-in rebate. If you have the extra $100 to spare, rather than going with the 7800 GT, this MSI 7800 GTX looks like a great deal. There are also many different package options with these cards these days, and by looking at what extras they come with, it can help you make the final decision on which card would be best suitable for yourself.



Over here in the ATI section, the newly released X1900 cards are doing extremely well, price and performance-wise. The most reasonably priced X1900 XT this week is from Sapphire [RTPE: 100149]. Down about $74, it is currently on sale for about $454 shipped. While this is the cheapest that we can find, you can see that there are many others priced significantly higher, anywhere in the $500 to $600 range.

There are also a number of X1900 XTX cards available, and following in close behind the Sapphire X1900 XT, we have the Sapphire Radeon X1900XTX 512MB [RTPE: 100150] currently priced at $504 shipped. That is about an $85 drop...quite a bit for such cards that have been out on the market for only about one month.

If you are looking to go with a CrossFire setup, once again, the best deal that we can score this week is also from Sapphire. The Radeon X1900 CrossFire 512MB [RTPE: 100159] is going for about $564 shipped.



Here, we are at ATI's slightly older line-up, the X1800 graphics cards. With the way that some of these cards are priced, you would be much better off going with an X1900 XT or even an XTX; a real no-brainer. And because of that, we find it quite difficult for us to recommend anything here. Perhaps one of the X1800 XL, like the ATI Radeon X1800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100-435703] going for just over $300, seems reasonable.

There are also a few 512MB X1800 XT cards that are appearing along with a 512MB X1800 CrossFire. Again, we would suggest that you shy away from these only because of the way that they are priced. You can get better performance for about the same price by going with an X1900 variant.



With the options available today, we suggest that you don't purchase a 6800 Ultra. These cards, especially the 512MB flavors, are extremely overpriced. Definitely, look into the 7800 or X1900 lineup if you're willing to spend such a large amount of moola.



High-End Graphics
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  • dstigue - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    The 7800 GT that was listed with 512mb as quoted "It's a fairly large card and is not at a very friendly price tag either, going for about $820...yikes!" is actually 2x7800 gts on one board with 256 mbs for each. Why would it be so big? Why so expensive? Did none of this ring a bell? Even the name dual as in EN7800GT DUAL/2DHTV/512? I don't mean to rib ya but come on your supposed to be a techie. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, March 09, 2006 - link

    Fixed. :) Reply
  • rrcn - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Although Jarred already did, I'd also like to personally thank you all for your comments and suggestions, and am sorry for the late response.

    If time allows, I will add the X850 cards to the guide this time around, if not, then expect to see them in our April video card price guide. =)

    Since I see that readers here actually do want to see more advice rather than just good bargains, I will be sure to have more of that in there next time.

    The reason the X800 XL is still considered high-end is due to its price point. We mainly use the prices to determine what categories the cards would fall into.

    I will also contact our RTPE administrator, if no one else has already done so, and have him add the BFG 6800 GS to the RTPE.

    Again, thanks for all the comments and keep them coming! =) It really helps us know what you guys are thinking and what you want to see.


    Haider Farhan
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. There's a fine line between respecting NDA and leading our readers astray. I've added a bit and commented a bit just to clarify things. Cheers! Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    I can respect that, but the 7900 launch is one of the worst kept secrets in the history of launches... :-) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Well, I would have mentioned it, but then Haider could have written this article last week and it just got posted. Since he updates these Price Guides once a month for each segment, two weeks before the launch and two weeks after isn't so bad. Reply
  • TheCanuck - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Just bought the 6800GS at Chiefvalue.com for $197.99 with free shipping. Best deal I've seen so far: http://www.chiefvalue.com/app/productdetails.asp?s...">Link

    All the retailers are trying to screw over AGP users with these higher prices. There's no reason AGP should be $30 to $40 more than PCI-e.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Great pirce on the AGP 6800GS, as well. I guess AGP cards can be more expesnive do to the PCI0AGP bridge chip that it requires. More likely its supply and demand, though. I'm sure they sell a lot more PCIe cards than AGP. Reply
  • yacoub - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    It's definitely funny seeing the X800XL called "high end" considering it can barely run modern games at 1024x with everything turned up. I would recommend revising the section titles or pushing everything down a level (X1800 series could be 'high end', X800 series is 'mid-range' or whatever is the next level down.)

    I have an X800XL and I can't wait to get a better card so I can actually run games like NFS:MW and FEAR at 1280x1024 with everything high, which I can't currently do with the X800XL.
    Reply
  • etriky - Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - link

    Just an FYI. The Asus 7800GT 512MB card is their dual processer card. Still freakin expensive though. Reply

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