Thanks for joining us for another edition of our video card price guide. We've got quite a few updates on recent new generation and last generation's graphic cards, but first, we would like to remind our readers to try out our RTPE if they haven't already done so. It's definitely a valuable source for most of your computer hardware buying needs!

We've picked up quite a few mail-in-rebates (MIR's) this time around. Many of the prices of the new generation, ultra high-end cards are very close to the high-end card pricing. If you are currently looking for a new video card, an ultra high-end or mid-range card is the best gaming option. Bang for the buck, the high-end cards aren't there.

The 6800 GS cards have been quite a hit, bringing many of the prices up fairly high. If you are looking to go with this card, be sure to pick one up as soon as possible as there will not be many surplus cards floating around too much longer. We can see that the 6800 Ultra cards have nearly reached their EOL, and we expect them to be out of stock soon.

Now on to the meat of our guide, starting off with the ultra high-end cards....

Ultra High-End Graphics

Most of these ultra high-end cards have gone up in price since our last video card price guide, but a few have gone down significantly. Leading the group this week is the eVGA GeForce 7800GT 256MB with VIVO [RTPE: 256-P2-N515] going for $300 after a $20 instant rebate along with a $20 MIR.

If you're like some of us AnandTech editors who dislike dealing with MIRs, coming in very close behind the eVGA card is the Leadtek GeForce 7800GT 256MB [RTPE: PX7800GT] which dropped $56, bringing it to a final price of about $310; the lowest recorded price for this card, which you can see from the graph below:

Leadtek GeForce 7800GT 256MB

If you're looking for the best gaming performance possible, you will want to consider the 7800GTX line of cards. Of these, the best bargain (no, we don't consider a $450 card to be a bargain) we found is the MSI GeForce 7800GTX 256MB [RTPE: NX7800GTX-VT2D256E] on sale for $450 after a $33.00 price drop. At the moment, our RTPE is only showing one version of the 512MB 7800GTX from BFG [RTPE: BFGR78512GTXOC] which is selling for about $750 after approximately a $42 price increase.

These high-end video cards are not something we unequivocally recommend you purchase, but if you're they type who has to have the best card available, then the 7800 series is what you will want to consider, namely the GT or GTX versions. For most of us average Joe's, we recommend you take a gander at our mid-range cards, which we'll get to in a moment.

Competing with the 7800 series, we have ATI's X1800 series. The 7800 GT generally outperforms the X1800 XL, but it's not a huge difference. The problem is that the XL cards go for around $360 while the GT runs closer to $310. The ASUS Radeon X1800XL 256MB [RTPE: EAX1800XL/2DHTV/256] is $359, or if you're one of those people that likes mail-in rebates, you can go with the ATI Radeon X1800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100-435703] for $340. Honestly, and unless you're a diehard ATI fan, we'd pick the 7800 GT over the X1800 XL.

This is our first price guide where the XT models are actually available, and while the price is rather high, it's generally better than the 256 MB 7800 GTX cards. These cards have only been on the market for about two weeks (or less), and anyone anxious enough to buy them in that first week probably paid close to $700! Since then, prices have plummeted to slightly under MSRP, and you can now buy an X1800 XT for "only" $500. Sapphire leads the pack with the Sapphire Radeon X1800XT 512MB [RTPE: 100134], so that would definitely be our pick for ATI people looking to spend over $500. You can see how the price has changed in the past two weeks in the following graph:

Sapphire Radeon X1800XT 512MB

Unless you crave the best performance at any cost, as with the NVIDIA cards, we would once again recommend that you look to the midrange cards rather than the X1800 series. And of course, for those willing to spend over $700 for multiple cards, SLI is available for the 7800 series while we're still waiting for CrossFire X1800 cards. Here's the complete list of X1800 cards.

Like we took the time to mention last time around, we would like to reiterate that it is better, performance and price-wise, to go with a single GeForce 7800 GTX card rather than two 6800 Ultra's in SLI. The 6800 Ultra's are being discontinued and are becoming more and more difficult to find. Dropping roughly $310 is the BFG GeForce 6800 Ultra OC 256MB [RTPE: BFGR68256UOCX] going for $275.00. Please do take notice that vendors are extremely low on supply and expect them to run out fairly soon. The discontinued BFG card actually qualifies as a high-end price range, but the remainder of the 6800 Ultra cards are basically high-performance cards at an ultra high cost. Quite a few of them cost as much or more than a 7800 GTX!

By the way, have we mentioned that purchasing a single high-end card now and planning on upgrading with the second high-end card in the future might be a bad idea? There's probably a decent number of people out there that by the 6800 Ultra for a lot of money, with the intent of purchasing a second one when the price dropped below $300. Now they're stuck with a single card and the option to upgrade to SLI at a premium that just isn't worth it. Until ATI and NVIDIA get their multi-card solutions to work across generations, we would suggest you either go the whole hog and buy two cards initially, or just buy a single card and stick with it. There will be occasions -- like the 6800 GT -- were the prices do drop to reasonable levels, but we certainly wouldn't plan on that.

High End Video
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  • bbomb - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    God ATI's X800 line of cards is a mess. You have the X800, X800Pro, X800XT, X800XL, X800GTO, and the X800GTO2. I would have recommended an ATI card to my brother-in-law but with ATI having so many version of one core I just told him to get a 7800GT. I myself will switch from my X800 to Nvidia on my next purchase because ATI has made buying one of their cards a great big confusing mess. Pretty soon Anand will need a price guide just for ATI cards to help us sort out all of their crap.

    At least with Nvidia they dont have 6 version of one chip.
  • RandomFool - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    ATI and Nvidia both have too many card with similar names.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    I don't mind the similar names... it's the stuff like 7800 GTX 256MB vs. 7800 GTX 512MB. No other card (that I'm aware of) has such a huge discrepancy in clock speed between cards that apparently only differ in the amount of RAM. Imagine:

    AMD Athlon 64 GTX 512K = 2.0 GHz with DDR400 support
    AMD Athlon 64 GTX 1024K = 2.8 GHz with DDR600 support

    That's about what we have right now with the two GTX cards.
  • Tanclearas - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    6800, 6800GS, 6800XT, 6800GT, 6800 Ultra

    Granted, that is only five (versus six), but I'd hardly say that's much better.
  • Live - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    Add the 6800LE to that list and you got the magic number. ;)
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    You can add the X800GT to ATI's X800 range making seven in total.
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    Actually, ATI is far worse. We missed several. In approximate order of power:

    X800 SE
    X800 GT

    And don't forget:
  • Tanclearas - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    If you're going to include the Phantom Edition, then do not forget the 6800 Ultra Extreme. Once again, ATI is still worse, but not what I would call "far worse".

    Recommending an X850 wouldn't be as bad as recommending either an X800 or 6800. I believe that is why it was not included in this thread. Imagine telling someone to get an X800GT (not that you would, but just imagine). They go to the store without having X800GT written down. Was is GT? GTO? XT? Now imagine the same situation with the 6800GT. Was is GT? GS? XT?

    It boggles my mind that ATI and Nvidia believe that such a huge range of cards is necessary. They already have three model levels (X300, X600, X800 and 6200, 6600, 6800 looking at the last generation), so why do they need to have 3+ levels in each of those categories? They could really simplify things with three model levels, and limiting each to two (or at MOST three) levels.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 12, 2005 - link

    You do have to cut NVIDIA a bit of slack with the 6800 GS. They get to stop production of the more expensive 6800 GT and Ultra, since they drop to 12 physical pipelines and 110 nm. The X850 didn't really change anything from the X800; it was just a tweaked process and manufacturing release.

    Ideally, it would be nice to see no more than two or three low-end, midrange, and high-end cards from each company, with model names that make it clear what you're getting. It's sad when you can point to Intel and AMD names as being better. :p
  • RandomFool - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    I'd really like to see a summary page on these things with a final recommendation for high, mid and low end systems. Something like: I"n the mid range area, the ATI-Nvidia Geforce X7800 GTO is nice."

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