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


View All Comments

  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    What hasn't changed is a lot of BSOD's and game crashes.
    That's ok, hassles and cursing makes a rooster feel like a big chicken man tech.
    I even gots my free ati teachin tool, es' called a BSOD, now don't you sob on my behaf'.

  • Hacp - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    What about Cuda and Physix? Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Don't say that - the red rooster strutters don't want to know what it is - don't mention Cuda, or Folding, or Warmonger, totally destructive enviroments, using your older 8 or 9 series NVidia as a physx card so never losing out buying up - just shush up the rd roosters are strutting about plucking eachothers chest hairs and waiting for the big green tractor to run them over for the last billion dollar ati loss time. Don't mention the crap ati driver issues or the CCC or the broken fixes every ding dang month when you finally get in a groove the bleeding quid idiots scrap it all again and remake a mistake.
    Just pat the little roosters on the head and tell them when they flap their wings they look real pretty and the chickenfeed is a plenty fer them. They don't have Ntune eiterh do they ? They have their hothead cards pusging electromigration - so even the red return door is revolving all the time - another chickseed hit.
    You want a piece of crap, it's always the cheap bargain basement - and there's always a shuckster pushing it between lies.
  • Jorgisven - Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - link

    I'm not really a fanboy of either. I get what works for my budget, but if I were an nVidia fanboy, I certainly wouldn't be pushing Cuda, or PhysX (see other Anand article) as they're totally overrated. There aren't enough games that make interesting use of PhysX (except maybe one), Cuda is still too proprietary as opposed to OpenGL. Yes nVidia's business model makes everyone gaga over their latest monolithic card, but when the performance numbers can't beat a cheaper card, it's tough to compete. On the other hand, ATI drivers have been the bane of many GPU purchases. Also, FYI, nTune is available on any nVidia product, GPU or not. I have the 780i and the HD4850 and I can use nTune just fine.

    Also, only somebody that knows nothing about value knocks the "bargain" cards. Who cares if you have a $3,000,000 Bugatti if it can be almost beat by the $100,000 tuner car with the right driver? Sure it looks cool and has some nifty buttons, but when push comes to shove, the only person who gets the Veyron is the guy with too much money to care. Good for him. Not everybody has the money to spend on it. And if something works nearly as good for a fraction of the cost, that is going to be the breadwinner in business, while maybe not the envy of coolness.
  • bigboxes - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    There clearly was a nVidia recommendation. On the first page they recommended the 9600GT. However, they didn't feel it was any better or worse than the 4670. For the $180 price point they recommended the GTX 260 core 216 or 4870 1GB depending on which games you play. Lastly, they recommended the GTX 295 if you wanted the best. Unfortunately for nVidia fanboys the ATI equivalent does just about everything you would ever need at a much cheaper price point. In fact, the overall theme of this guide is that ATI provides the best performance/price. That's too bad that it upsets you. You shouldn't place too much importance in brand names and put more on the actual product. You'll be much happier. Reply
  • PopcornMachine - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    Apparently there will be something new at $100, or something will be pushed down to that level, and I can't wait to hear about it.

    But, while the 4670 is a real nice low power card, the 4830 is already under $100 and a lot more powerful. There are 3 such models at NewEgg right now, including a Sapphire for $75 (with rebate).

    So I really don't understand the recommendation of the 4670. If something so much better than the 4830 is going to be available for $100, then I would hold off on that purchase as well.
  • Zoomer - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    More than likely the rumored 4750. :) Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    I have an off the shelf system with only a 300w power supply. This makes the HD4870 attractive to me because it doesnt require an external power connecter. I only game at 1440 x 900 and lower.

    That said, I really liked the guide. However, to me it would be useful to include what kind of CPU is reqiured at the various levels of GPU performance. I know this would vary a lot from game to game, but it would not be useful to get a video card that the CPU cannot keep up with.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    That is one of the very few hardware articles I read on They (for the bigger titles) typically do a cpu/memory/gpu testbed that shows exactly what matters in a particular game. It is extremely enlightening to find out that for instance going from 1-2-4gigs of ram has, say, very little improvement, while going from 2.6-2.8-3.0GHz (cpu) has a much bigger impact. I would personally never build a system around a game (I'm sure some of you WOW players would), but what is really nice is to know what to temporarily overclock for better performance. Reply
  • josh6079 - Monday, March 30, 2009 - link

    The HD4870 has two power connectors and you would probably need something more than a 300W power supply if you were to include it in your rig. Reply

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