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

  • The0ne - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    Clap, simply amazing. You're such a hot stud! You have no need for "online reviews." The best answer is, DON'T BOTHER TO COMMENT? It's obvious from your controlled and fair comparison(s) that your test results are the ONLY REAL results to go by. Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    don't bother to comment?... >< Are you dumb or what? The answer is in the numbers. Is not my fault if you are too slow to understand them! at least try to make an effort! blah

  • The0ne - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    How old are you? Did you not understand any of my sarcasm at all? If you like your numbers so much without any other details and/or fair comparisons to say the 4850 in subject, then please don't even bother commenting. Here's why...

    1. Your numbers are meaningless, absolutely MEANINGLESS to anyone else but your pride

    2. You lack details as to how you obtained your numbers

    3. You dispute online reviews because you think your numbers are the final truth. Do you even understand how they went about getting the numbers they do?

    4. You are posting in a section that does have knowledgeable members, one of which is me. At least think before you post something meaningless and thought provoking.

    I can list more but why. Here's an easier answer that you'll like for sure. YOU WIN, I am wrong. Nothing I said is right at all. Leave us in peace.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    how old? mmm you sound like a super pedo, so no . and yes i like my numbers, especially 100usd. you provided your tame 4850 numbers@ nonsense, rant, i submitted facts. (actually they are not my pics, im to lazy to post them, go to xtremesystems 4 more info) the meaning? is up to you understand the implications knowledge guy, put that knowledge to use and make your own conclusions, im not going to explain myself to you mr lair @ ignorant ( saying that the 4850 is better is plain ignorance@ bs unless u are really cold @ work 4 the electricity company) and yes you are wrong, but i dont care. enjoy your payment from ati. Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link

    stock 4850 > 11964 3DMark06

    stock 4770 > 12308 3DMark06

    915/1000 4770 > 14122 3DMark06

    im not discussing with you, im laughing AT YOU.
    learn, then you can talk.noobs.. XD
  • The0ne - Sunday, June 21, 2009 - link">">
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the two good links that show a lot of data this review left out, like the 9800 /250 beating the 4670, the 4770, the 4830(by default>), and the 4850 in many cases.
    But the bias here is more important.
    Gee, the 9800 beats the 4850 nearly every single time and beats even the 4890 ! LOL">
    yes so much for "fair" here.
    Thank you tho - thank you very much.
    Yes I did view the average price charts as well.
  • papapapapapapapababy - Saturday, June 20, 2009 - link

    This is THE card. Amazing. 900/1000 >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 4850 @ 4870
    oc temps? 32C idle 44C load, with S1 mod. cheap. fast. cool.perfect.

    cons? ati software, ati keypooler, ati smart, ati ccc, ati Framework,ati cat Instal Manager, Visual C++, driver cleaners,
    (stupid bloatware)

    solution? Tray Tools, riva,gpuz, and JUST the display driver.
  • SiliconDoc - Monday, June 22, 2009 - link

    Great, at least you're good enough to know, but imagine all the "they were happy" kids when they opened their ati present and bloated and gummed their systems...with all that ati crapware drivers mess.
    Fine for experienced people who can spend hours hacking away at the drivers and downloading special software... but for the average person THEY ROYALLY SUCK !!!!, and you were lucky to FIND a 4770 you could buy - still they are MISSING even from new egg.
    Nvidia on the other hand is a painless driver install even for the green nooo0oob, and their control panel is great and acts like it's not even there.
    I liked the 4830 deal when it hit before they raised the price, and the 4770 is great for pricing(ha! if one could buy it !), it's just not available.
    ati is lucky Nvidia hasn't used DDR5 yet, that's the truth times 10.
    the old NVIDIA grandpa g92 core kicks and smokes anything ati with ddr3 - that includes the 4760 4830 4850 -
  • joeysfb - Thursday, June 25, 2009 - link

    From your posting i only registry one fact that you HATE ATI! period. Have you ever bought any of their product to warrant such hatred.

    Geeezz! you really think people will stop buying what they prefer because you told them otherwise. My 8800GT is in another system used by my mom. I am happy with it for what its worth. 8800GT is the best bang for buck in 2007 but no longer the case for 2009 otherwise why would Nvidia get off their lazy butt to product anything new.

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