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

  • pawyon - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    I'm sticking with BFG 9600GT ($74.99 at newegg) ... (10270 points - 3dmark06)
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Finally a smart person.
    I just added to another rig the en9600gso 384 with the glaciator fan from newegg for $35.00 after rebate with THE $49.99 value FULL GAME free COD WAW.
    lol - $35.00 for the card and the game.
    It's the 192 bit 92 shaders G92 core with the Galciator heatsink, one pci-e 6pin and it overclocks like MADDDDDD in XP, W7 32 bit and W7 64 bit, no crashes, no problems, no complaints, just pure performance.">
    550-1375-1600 became
    703-1705-1900 without even trying - stable as a rock - and I used the included Asus overclocker panel - LOL
    People who buy ATI are mesmerized, hypnotized, biased review gobbling fools.
    Anyone wonder where the 4770 is in the review ? LOL YOU CAN'T GET BUT ONE PERHAPS AT NEWEGG, TO THIS VERY DAY, and the reviews are in the 6 total area, so ATI has their NEAR PAPER LAUNCH - and Derek here just pretended for this long IT NEVER HAPPENED!
    lol - it's so PATHETIC !!!!!!
    Thanks for cheering me up a bit by not being a bleating red rooster, like the reviewer, and most the people left looking at reviews here.
    What a SHAME the videocard reviews have become here. I wonder what Nvidia rep beat up Derek and stole his significant other. roflmao
    No GTS250 - no series 9's - WHAT A HOAX OF A PRICE REVIEW !
    Don't believe a woird of the ATI hype people, there IS A REASON = many reasons why ATI is losing over a billion a year and HAS BEEN for YEARS-
  • papapapapapapapababy - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    damm that is a steal. and nice solid construction there, ati nerfed the hell out of my 4770 (ucheap fukers!) missing lots of stuff there but the performance is intact, and with a s1 + heatsinks = silent freezer on 2d and mad ocer if i want to play! UNMATCHED BY ANY SOLUTION111111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    se? i could have bought a better version, it was simply not there.
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Yeah you did good getting the 4770, don't let anyone kid ya, the DDR5 is nice at that price, and the xfire reviews are all showing really good scaling. The 9.4 driver thing, well nothing's perfect, you got yer rivatuner and tray tools .
    Yeah, I see one at 119.99 but no rebate or free shipping or anything, but I swear I saw em at 109.99 at first.
    They post some good scores and good overclocks, apparently cutting the "shaders" allows some kind of weird advantage in some situations, or that 40nm drop did well in the minimal rearranging.
    Check this review it's head to head almost with 4850 most of the time at stock.">
    the GTS250 is right there too,and the 4830 is beaten of course.
    It's a good card because it has the top ati core (cut a bit but the ddr5 kept makes it good.) Like it.
  • yacoub - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    This article is very helpful! Great pricing roundup. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Yeah, great how they included the 9800's /250's/ 9600's.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    ah, this article =/= helpful this clowns forget the internet =/= usa

    the revates! go to newegg and buy this! shit great advice sherlock, btw good job ati, is the first time in able to find a decent videocard@ price in my countr, that crap 4850 ? 250 here total rip off. the 4770? 150 also a ripoff but bearable.

    oh, this is a great article, full of win.">
  • swaaye - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    The Radeon 3850/3870 are about the same price as the 4670 but are faster in most games cuz they have around a 70% advantage in memory bandwidth. Their power usage isn't that much different either.

    It is amazing though how cheap things are really. You really aren't shopping so much for performance, but more with regards to power usage and heat output IMO. If you're after performance and price before all else, don't think twice about going after a 4850 or 4870 with the prices they're at.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    get your facts straight.
    4770 > 4850

    any day.

    "Performance of this part exceeds that of the Radeon HD 4770"

    bullshit. crazy oc? 4770 wins. perf per wat? 4770 wins. perf per dolar? 4770 wins. temps? 4770 wins. size? 4770 wins. noise? 4770 wins. crossfire? 4770 wins. THE ONLY EXCESS OF THE 4850 = HEAT! XD

    IMO anand - employee of the month- IS just trying to pimp old tech, it seems to me he is not pro consumer. ( ONLY PRO AMD)


  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    " Hey ATI low yields my arse, this 4770 is hurting isn't it? Not enough profit? "
    ATI has lost over a billion a year for the last couple of years.
    Yes years.
    NVIDIA has made a profit all along, except for the last quarter checked in the downturn.
    So much for all the insane squawking about ATI small core profits - they have nothing but a huge freaking multibillion dollar loss!

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