It used to be that if one wanted a reasonably priced video card, be it for an upgrade or for use in a lower priced system, one would have to buy a video card based on a previous generation chip. For example, rather than shell out the $250 or more for a GeForce 256 last year, a good number of system builders and upgraders simply decided to go with a video card based off of NVIDIA's previous product: the TNT2. The same has been true with other company's offerings: many skipped the ATI Rage Furry MAXX to go with a Rage128 Pro or held out from buying a 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 only to go for a lower cost Voodoo2.

This has been the way that the video card industry has worked for some time. Rather than designing a new product targeted at the cost conscious market, many manufacturers have pushed older, usually cheaper and less desirable products on the budget consumer. The consumer on a budget has historically been pushed around, swept aside, and somewhat abused by the lack of cutting edge technology available at a reasonable price. Companies have been focused on producing bigger, better, and faster cards, a philosophy which has resulted in the $400 and plus cards we see today.

The truth of the matter is that for every one performance freak out there who has no monetary limit when it comes to getting the best, there are about 23 people looking to spend less than $300. These numbers do not come out of thin air: a recently conducted AnandTech poll showed that while 511 people were willing to pay $400 and up for a video card, 12,532 people were looking to spend up to $400. The same poll shows that 91% of people polled believe that video card prices are getting excessively high.

Well, thankfully, graphics chip manufacturers have finally realized that a large part of the market is untapped. With hype over old products dying with the release of new and more expensive ones, manufacturers realized that the production of a high performance "budget" chip could result in some massive sales. Thus, the idea of the crippled video card was born.

The Contenders

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now