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

  • FireSnake - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    I don't know under what rock have you been sleeping lately, but ATI is actually making money. And your calculations don't hold water.

    It is true, that they don't make enough, to pay what have been paid for them by AMD ... but, they are making money!

    So, wake up m8 ;)
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    I just posted links, they are not making money and have lost 30% in value, so MATE NOT, you're wrong. Look at my links in this thread or put up proof not your fantasy. Reply
  • Stas - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    geez, who let the little nVidia fans out of the hospital.
    papapapappapaa, you think 4770 is an amazing card and AMD pwnz with that card. ok, great. i don't see how you proved anything other than that you're not worth speaking to or listening to. you bring numbers out of the sky and compare them to what? completely different systems/environments used in lab tests? have more luck with apples vs oranges. I mean, sure, there are ppl that will believe your screaming just because it's so loud, but most ppl here are informed. might try, umm... cnet maybe?

    and whoever complained about 9800 not noted. well, this is for best value, 9800 is not (well, mine was, only because it's $47 AR). plus being the same as 8800gt, if it were to be in a review like this, it should've been... 2 years ago? lol

    oh, yeah, my online penis is BIGGER!!111!!1!
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    the 9800 beats the 4670, 4830(omitted), 4850, and even the 4870.">
    gee that two year old NVIDIA core is STILL kicking ati right square in the nuts and doubling them over.
    ADD DRR5 only to the ati card, or FORGET IT.
  • joeysfb - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Yup! your '9800' is the best card in this planet period.. Beat!! 4890CF overclock till you see stream coming out from the pair of gpus!

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, there no where to can 'ever' own such a special card....

  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    4670,4830,4850 in this review
    4850 = 9800

    " and whoever complained about 9800 not noted. well, this is for best value, 9800 is not (well, mine was, only because it's $47 AR). plus being the same as 8800gt, if it were to be in a review like this, it should've been... 2 years ago? lol "

    YES, YOU ADMIT YOUR 9800 WAS $47.00
    Now it's time to laugh that the two year old Nvidia cards BEATS 3 ATI CARDS LISTED HERE ! ONE OF THEM WITH THE NEWEST ATI CORE, THE 4850 -
    two years of beating ATI with DDR3 !

  • erple2 - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    To be fair, the 9800 competing well (and in many cases beating) in performance with the ATI 4850 and 4770 is, in fact, the 9800 GTX+, which unfortunately costs a bit more than the 4850.

    I think that's the problem. The 9800 GT is not the same card as the 9800GTX+ (aka GTS 250). I'm not sure where people are getting their numbers from, if not from thin air?

    All I can think of is that these comments need to be moderated.
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    The 9800GT is 112 shaders not 128 like the 9800GTX and 9800GTX+ and the 8800GTS, not to mention the higher stock clocked GTS250, also 128 shaders.
    Here's the link I just gave the guy who got a 4770, if you want to see some numbers.">
    Have at it mr censorship. You don't like the truth, too bad !
    Here's another:">
    have another how about sli vs 4850x2:">
    more? sure :">
    How about the OVERALL">
    Ok ?
    Satisfied ?
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    also this article is much better...">
  • Drazick - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    Using the GPU for running filters in Photoshop, Using it for Matrix Operations (Matlab, Actually Matlab should be part of your benchmarks suite), Running Open CL code etc...

    It's time we'll exam them beyond their FPS performance.

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