Introduction

Welcome back and thanks for joining us for another edition of our video card price guides. If this is your first time here reading any of our price guides, you'll see that we not only pick out hardware we feel you should consider for your next purchase, but we also like to follow the market trends, to give you an outlook as to what we see happening. We like to rotate the four topics we discuss in every edition, covering CPUs, motherboards, video cards and storage media.

Although we only discuss these four topics in our price guides, our RTPE includes all aspects of computer hardware, all the way from LCD monitors to desktop and notebook RAM to sound cards. First, if you missed our last price guide, we took a look at the latest happenings in the motherboard marketplace. Secondly, you'll also notice that the RTPE's speed has picked up significantly and is much more enjoyable to use due to the overhaul we had a few months back. We're still working on getting even better performance in the future and we also do our best to keep it up to date with the latest hardware out in the market.

As always, we like to begin our video card price guides with the ultra high-end solutions and go all the way through the high-end, mid-range and end with the low-end products. Note that when we talk about market segments, we are primarily concerned with price and positioning rather than performance. This is why we generally don't recommend the high-end market right now for video cards, as in many instances you get better price/performance from either a slightly more expensive card or cheaper card. As always, if you can find a better deal than any of the ones mentioned we have listed here, so much the better for you. These articles are only a snapshot in time and we don't track every vendor on the internet.

There are many cards to cover, and we'll do our best to get to them all, but please do feel free to leave us any comments or suggestions in the comment section below or send us an e-mail at the e-mail address above. The feedback we receive is always invaluable and helps improve our guides for the best. Let's get started with the ultra high-end video cards...

Ultra High-End Graphics
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    7600GT is over twice as fast as X1600 XT, and even more than that compared to X1600 Pro. X700 Pro would be about the level of X1300 Pro, minus features. Performance of X1600 XT compared to 6600GT showed the 6600 GT to be faster http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2552&p...">in almost all games, so yes, the X1600 really aren't that attractive. You may not "see a bit of difference", but are you just going by impressions or are you actually running benchmarks? Honestly, most games you won't see a difference unless you drop below 60 FPS, which might require higher resolutions or other games for testing. Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    Right now the X1900 AIW is at $275 at most places (NewEgg, ZZF, etc.). Over the past weekend NewEgg even had it at $225. It's the cheapest way to get into the X1900 with a full 16/48 pipeline config. About as cheap as the X1900GT with only 12 pipelines. Plus of course the AIW also has the VIVO and TV tuner capabilities and comes with a software bundle of Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements (worth $100). For me, it's a no-brainer. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    Sorry for the omission. I've gone back and added the AIW card to page 3. It's definitely a reasonable choice, as it has performance roughly equaling the X1900 GT plus you get VIVO support. If you're after faster graphics performance, however, there are better solutions. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    I was wondering if more might have been said about this card, the X1600 Pro for the AGP slot. It strikes me that this card is at the top of its particular class, budget AGP game cards.

    These cards often sell for just a little over $100, and this seems to give them a good bang for your buck value compared to their competition, which I take to be the AGP versions of the 6600 GT and X800GTO.

    I've not seen a good head to head comparison of these cards, but looking at their specifications, I would think that they should perform fairly similarly.

    Anyone else have any thoughts on what is a good buy in the $100-$150 range for the AGP slot? I know that there are some good prices on things like refurbished models that are no longer available new, as well as your close out bargains; however, I'm focusing on those cards that are readily available.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    The 6600 GT easily outperforms X1600 Pro AGP. The only reason to get X1600 over 6600 is if you want support for AVIVO. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    That's interesting to know. You wouldn't necessarily have guessed that looking at their specifications.

    X1600Pro:
    500 core, 800 memory, 128-bit, 256MB GDDR2, 12 pipelines

    6600GT:
    500 core, 1000 memory, 128-bit 128MB GDDR3, 8 pipelines

    Any guesses as to what is holding the X1600Pro back? Is it the slightly slower clocked GDDR2 memory, compared to the faster clocked GDDR3 memory that you find on the 6600GT?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    Possibly. I figured it would win, because on the high end X1800/X1900 the ATI cards seem less dependent on memory bandwidth. However, http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2552&p...">in testing, the X1600 just doesn't perform as expected - even the X1600 XT can't outperform the 6600GT in most cases! Possibly some features were cut that ATI isn't telling. Reply
  • Exodus220 - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    I absolutely love reading your overview of the video cards and other computer hardware. However, I always run into the same frustration of trying to locate the cheapest product in your list. Sure you guys will give your recommendation but it would be so much easier if you could just sort them by lowest price to the highest price. I don't know if it has been a consideration but it sure would help my reading experience and process in searching for what you have listed as the best option. Reply
  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    I had the same thought when reading this guide. It is especially confusing since you often have different models mixed in with each other, such as 7600GS and 7600GT lumped together. Sorting by price should indirectly sort the models, as well, and those models by a particular manufacturer that seem to not be with their group (after sorting by price) will stand out as either being a good deal or being over priced. Reply
  • rrcn - Wednesday, July 12, 2006 - link

    I have gone ahead and sorted all the cards I can. Unfortunately, I cannot sort the 7900GT and GTX cards due to the way we must enter the search code that displays the charts. Entering in the code to display the GTX cards is fine and dandy, but when I search for the GT cards, it also displays the GTX cards. Reply

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