It's been since the holidays that we've done a GPU buyers guide. It never seems like the right time to do a new GPU buyers guide, as NVIDIA and AMD have been pushing aggressively back and forth for leadership in the market place. When new parts or tweaked cards haven't been coming out, prices have been adjusted quickly to maintain tight competition.

Now is no exception. There are a couple spots in our line up where we will have to make recommendations based on what we know about what's happening in the market place. In competitive reviews, we try very hard to look only at that exact time slice to make our recommendations. In our buyers guides we like to be a little more flexible and take a more retail and market place view rather than the heavily technology and performance based focus of our GPU reviews.

Starting out, we're looking at the roughly $75 market where we split our recommendation between the 4670 and the 9600 GT. Prices have compressed more over the past few months, and the 4670 comes in low enough to cover many needs at very little cost. You can always spend less on graphics and get less, but if you want more than 2D, the 4670 and 9600 GT are where you should start looking.

$75 Recommendation: ATI Radeon HD 4670

 

  ATI Radeon HD 4670
Apollo $64.99
Gigabyte $79.99
Sapphire $69.99

 

And we've got the GeForce 9600 GT. Just a little more performance in some games, maybe a little less in others, with roughly the same cost. But if you want any more than that, you'll want to wait about a month.

$75 Recommendation: NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT

  NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
Apollo $74.99
Gigabyte $67.99
Sparkle $89.99
PNY $97.99

 

For our ~$100 price point (plus or minus a bit) we are going to strongly recommend that people wait for about a month. This price point will be shaken up a bit in about that time and we really aren't comfortable recommending anyone purchase something in this market until sometime in early May. This may or may not further compress the sub $100 market, but there really isn't much more room down there, so we don't expect much change except at right around $100.

$100 - $200 Recommendations
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  • frozentundra123456 - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Thanks for all the suggestions. Actually, I would try the power supply with a 4830 or 4850 but I don't think it even has 2 x 4 pin leads to put into a six pin adapter. I can only find one free 4 pin lead.

    As far as replacing the power supply, getting it out should be no problem. I am just concerned about getting all the cables reconnected and rerouted properly. It might not be that difficult, but when you look at all the wires and connectors, it looks very difficult to reconnect and re-route everything properly. (The case is rather small by the way.)
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Get a digital camera, or better yet a video camera and record (with GOOD lighting) exactly how you remove the wires. It really is pretty simple (replacing mobo's is worlds more difficult), but it's fool-proof if you record what you do and then just watch it while you are installing the new one. Just be very careful if you have any SATA hardware as those connectors are designed horribly and can break off if you aren't gentle.

    Goodluck!
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Oh and get some zip-ties. Any hardware store will sell a large multipack with different sizes. A handful of them can make a huge difference in appearance and airflow, not to mention avoiding the horrifying discovery that when you place the tower upright a cable hangs down into a fan....not saying that ever happened to me. :) Reply
  • The0ne - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    That's taking some of the fun out of figuring out the best way to route cables inside your PC :) Well, I enjoy doing it hahaha Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Of course, but I can easily see how any computer work can be daunting for the first time, especially when dealing with cabling with PSU's and mobo's. I can still remember the first time I built a system; I think I spent 2 hours with all the mobo cables sweating and shaking the entire time just hoping I didn't cross any wires. Then a couple years later on a build I had a bum stick of ram (1gig kit, 2X512meg) which had me tearing my hair out for a couple hours....since then the mantra of K.I.S.S. has allowed me to avoid most of the common pitfalls during builds/upgrades. Reply
  • MagicPants - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    How can you recommend the 4870 X2 when two 4870s are cheaper? Reply
  • RyuDeshi - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Maybe because that would require an SLI board. For me that would be another $100-150 for a decent SLI motherboard.

    Although if you already have an SLI board, then it makes sense.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Also don't forget the power savings (~15w) which while not massive is still significant. Reply
  • PopcornMachine - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    If this is the big secret, then I call it a BIG disappointment...

    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/599/10515...">http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/new...ia-hoodw...

    What's the point of a model between the 260 and 280, even if it were something new?
    Reply
  • CookieKrusher - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I love articles like this because every couple of years I end up brushing up on my tech savvy. With that in mind, could I ask what the conventional wisdom is for playing games at 1920x1080? That is, what is the typical single and/or dual card solution for playing at medium-high quality?

    I'm asking because this question is being prompted by the recent death and replacement of my old 17" lcd with a new 24" one.

    In any case, helpful write up. thx.
    Reply

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