Things have been quiet on the GPU front for a while now, but there has definitely been activity on the pricing front. With the economy in the toilet, spending on hardware and games has declined; AMD and NVIDIA are fighting for your purchase. Prices are fairly compressed between $100 and $200, and spending just a little more can get you a whole lot of bang. We'll start on the low end and move up as we go. 

We use price and availability at as an indicator of the broader market in order to simplify our data and give more clear recommendations.

Sub $100 Cards

At the lower end of the spectrum, the Radeon HD 4670 can be had for less than $70 USD (down to $50 if you don't mind the rebate hassle). This is a solid card and a good way to go for people who want a well rounded card. It's not the best performer out there, but it offers a good performance boost over built in graphics hardware and leads cheaper add-in cards as well.

ATI Radeon HD 4670
Apollo 256MB $65
ASUS 512MB $68
HIS 512MB $70
Sapphire 512MB $70
Gigabyte 512MB $70

The Radeon HD 4830 has been pushed down in price slightly due to the appearance of the Radeon HD 4770. This puts it in competition with the GeForce 9600 GT, which can't quite match the former's performance. This gives the edge to the 4830 which is quite a step up from the Radeon 4670 if you can afford the extra $20 or so dollars.

ATI Radeon HD 4830
Apollo $83
MSI $90
HIS $93
XFX $105

Sub $125 Cards

It seems like every time we look at the Radeon HD 4850, AMD has raised the bar once again. Performance of this part exceeds that of the Radeon HD 4770 which is still stuck, at best, at the same price it was at launch. Which happens to be the price to which the 4850 has finally fallen. Most 4770 hardware on is actually more expensive than the 4850. And after rebate, the 4850 can even be had for as low as $90. That's simply amazing for the price.

ATI Radeon HD 4850
Sapphire $100
XFX $110
MSI $110
PowerColor $110
HIS $115

The GeForce GTS 250 512MB (aka the 9800 GTX+) typically costs more (though the Galaxy card can be had for the price of a 4770), and is definitely not as good a deal. The 1GB card does have its advantages, but it's price is also much higher.

Sub $145 Cards

While it seems to be declining in availability, the Radeon 4870 512MB drops in at between $125 and $150. At the low end, this is a great deal that competes incredibly well with the previous segment, but the availability of of these parts make it a deal not long for this earth. Certainly, at the low end, it is a much better deal than the GeForce GTS 250 1GB that falls in this range as well (though solidly at $140 with one card hitting $125 only after MIR). Even at the same price, the 4870 512MB is absolutely the way to go. As we've typically recommended, though, if you can spend the extra money, the 1GB option provides more well-rounded performance.

ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
PowerColor $125
Sapphire $150

Sub $180 Cards

The Radeon HD 4870 1GB and the GeForce GTX 260 core 216 are the first set of cards we come to that were and have been direct competitors in terms of price and performance throughout their life cycles. Since the introduction of the core 216, driver development differences and aggressive pricing, this battle has been a matter of preference for quite a while now. It seems both AMD and NVIDIA are content to keep it that way. The Radeon HD 4870 1GB can have a bit of a price edge, but some of those NVIDIA cards might also have a bit of an overclock that balances it.

ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
XFX $150
PowerColor $155
HIS $160
MSI $165
Sapphire $170

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 core 216
MSI $165
Sparkle $170
Zotac $175
PNY $180
BFG $180

Sub $250 Cards

The Radeon HD 4890 and the GeForce GTX 275 are both relatively new parts. The 4890 seems to have fallen in price across the board more rapidly than the GTX 275 and can generally be had for a better price (though there is one GTX 275 model that can be had for the same price as the 4890). If we look at mail in rebate, then the 4890 can have up to a $20 advantage and at $180 is a great deal and definitely worth it if you can afford that extra bit of cash beyond the previous segment (sounds like a trend doesn't it). At these prices, the 4890 is the way to go, especially if you don't have a 2560x1600 monitor. 

ATI Radeon HD 4890
PowerColor $200
XFX $200
HIS $200
MSI $200
Sapphire $200

We should add that for those who like single card dual GPU cards, the Sapphire 4850 X2 2GB is definitely interesting. We tend to prefer single GPU cards as they have more predictable performance characteristics, but this is not a bad price for entry into the multiGPU market. Sapphire has been and still is the only manufacturer to offer a 4850 X2 part. 

ATI Radeon HD 4850 X2
Sapphire $220

$300+ Cards

In this arena, AMD has run out of single GPU parts. NVIDIA has one left with the GTX 285, but with the >$100 price premium over the Radeon HD 4890, there are certainly diminishing returns here. While the Radeon HD 4870 X2 also offers an advantage over the GTX 285, there's another rather large price jump, but if you're going to spend the money then you get more for the jump from the GTX 285 to the 4870 X2 than from the 4890 to the GTX 285 as well.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
Sparkle $315
PNY $315
Gigabyte $330
MSI $330
XFX $330

ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2
XFX $380
Sapphire $380
PowerColor $430
VisionTek $480

Way out in the stratosphere is the GeForce GTX 295. Solidly at $530, this one is definitively not a great deal. You pay a high premium for having these two GPUs in a single card, and picking up two GTX 275 cards will be both cheaper and faster. And if you really want to do that, two Radeon HD 4890 cards would be our recommendation there for less money.

Final Words

That's the update from field. It's only been a short time since some of these parts debuted and the market is already compressed like it hasn't been in quite a while. For those who can afford it, buying a video card today will get you a lot for your money.

In any case, there are two standouts today: the Radeon HD 4850 and the Radeon HD 4890. These two are really terrific values.



View All Comments

  • joeysfb - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    As i don't own share in either ATI or Nvidia, I would therefore support strong competition between them. That will give me! maximum return.

    What is don't understand is many choose brand loyalty over their long term interest...

    Is GTX260/4870 the last GPU card you will be getting??
  • killerb255 - Wednesday, June 24, 2009 - link

    Troll: SiliconDoc
    Subject: Alleged Brand Bias
    Method: Concept criticism with pseudo-stealth hypocrisy.

    Rating: 8.5/10 - people are responding to the trolling (including myself, of course, for rating it in the first place), but there are quite a few people that are ignoring it (good job!), preventing a 10/10 rating.
  • postwarscars - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    It's fairly easy to ignore. Though, frankly I'm shocked that our culture has taken such drastic downturns as to wallow in hate mongering over videocard companies.

    I've been around the internet for a long time, and I've seen a lot of arguments between the two main companies and their supporters(and even with VooDoo/Matrox in the picture), but this borders on fanatical extremism. In fact, it's been bothering me that the gaming communities, in general, are tooth-and-claw split by brand loyalty. Since when did playing games or rendering digital imagery result in insult and slander? People have lost their ability to simply enjoy these kinds of things, I think. Videogames are about having fun, so why not have fun?

    Truthfully, if all I ever have to worry about is mild bias towards a computer component company, I think I can sleep happy at night.

    Don't feed the trolls.

    But in all seriousness, who has enough time to actually post all this drab criticism?
  • haplo602 - Monday, June 29, 2009 - link

    the first good comment in 11 pages ... Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 29, 2009 - link

    You have plenty of time to post and whine about it, claiming to be above the fray, so you're just like the those you put down. You're holier than thou trick wound up in the "facing yourself" category.
    If you had integrity, you'd judge by whom tells the truth, but the complainers have as little integrity as the liars.
  • postwarscars - Wednesday, July 08, 2009 - link

    I know you're a troll, that much is obvious. So, I'm replying(more out of curiosity, sadly(they say it killed the cat after all)) because I felt like going along with your antics, and less because I had "the time" or the energy to "whine" about it. Nor did I ever say I was above the fray, but thank you for letting me know what I said, it's greatly appreciated.

    As for "putting you down," or "judging the truth," I would certainly say neither is correct. For one, I was making simple observations. They are opinions, and aren't fact, much less are they insults. I shouldn't have to remind you of "red rooster," and the other things you've said. Also, your opinions are not fact either, so you have no reason to tout them as such.

    Integrity is something I never claimed to have in the first place, by the way. Though I fail to see how you can hypocritically state "complainers have as little integrity as the liars," considering you've complained next to non-stop across this entire article. Are you telling me your integrity is as frail as those you accuse? Surely you can't be saying that, now could you?

    I wonder, what's it like when you're "facing yourself," and all of that?

    Well, that is my one response on these boards for maybe the next 8 or 9 days. If not longer. Have fun with it as you will.
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, July 15, 2009 - link

    It seems to me absolutely obvious that you're the worst there is. You claim you can't believe what is going on, but make sure you publicly whine about it, then the very next post you make you're calling names and lying about what you said - your claim that it's so bad you just can't believe it - yet your flapping text claimed you know I'm a troll and tried to give a 2 year old lesson we've all heard a thousand times that opinio aren't facts and vise versa, but like all the rest you haven't a single counterpoint to any substance I posted, and there are plenty of links and factual statements you simply cannot refute.
    So you go the lowest common denominator, claiming you don't have anything but "shock, shock I tell you" at what you see, as if you're a white sepulchered priest, but then down in the dive pit you go, slamming away, as if it's any different when you're just a crud without a card you back or a lie you refute or a correction you make, which of course, you did NONE of the above but whine and call names.
    The truth likely is my points really got under your skin, and you have no response, and you're probably another with a chip on your shoulder, and it will come out.
    Now, you've been nothing but a troll on this page, nothing but a troll and a whiner.
    I have a miniscule shred of respect for you, if you brought up a single counterpoint, but you just focused on what you wante to pretend you're not capable of, then dove under the gutter and into the sewer, adding absolutely NOTHING.
    Unfortunately, for people like you, I have an ABUNDANCE of counterpoints that are never cited here by ANYONE ELSE, they come from me first. That's a problem for people who don't have the brains to comprehend what is really going on.
    You have a nice long time away, or if not, do something other than whining and name calling.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    Well, I think they have cracked me - almost - lowest eggs">
    $140 FREE SHIPPING- and it's a one gig model. No rebate - but for the 1G - it's fan is hard two wired on 100% of the time internal discharge... but boy...
    That's getting close to the - ahh... well... maybe not... No free game...">
    $150 w/rebate and a free $50 full game.
    Gee the 4870/512 is only $125 buy no free ship forget it.">
    Well they got close, if the $140 4870 1G free ship had a free game... man that was close....
  • Wellsoul2 - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    I've been waiting for the 1GB 4870 to be $150.

    I just picked up one from Newegg with free shipping.

    It's time to finally retire my Radeon 1900XT 512.
  • McRhea - Tuesday, June 23, 2009 - link

    Best bang for your buck:

    MSI 4890 at for $125 AR and CB:">;thre...

    I got one of these cards back in April for $180 AR and CB, and it really rocks. For that price it can't be beaten... I'm tempted to get another and do crossfire... Must resist!

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