Greetings and thanks for joining us for another one of our monthly video card price guides. Our astute readers may have noticed a bit of a dry spell with our price guides, but not to worry, we're back in full swing and expect them to be up once a week like before. If this is your first time here reading our weekly price guides, you'll see that we not only pick out hardware we feel you should consider for your next purchase, but we also like to follow the market trends, giving you an outlook as to what we see happening. We rotate the topics every week, four different topics a month, covering CPUs, motherboards, video cards and storage media.

Although we only discuss these four topics in our price guides, our Real Time Price Engine, more commonly known as the RTPE, includes all aspects of computer hardware; all the way from LCD monitors, to desktop and notebook RAM to sound cards. The RTPE also experienced quite an overhaul a couple months ago, and in case you missed our announcement then, you'll notice that the RTPE's speed has picked up significantly and is much more enjoyable to use thanks to our RTPE administrator and other behind-the-scenes coders. We're still working on getting even better performance in the future, of course, and as more people use our pricing engine we will do our best to keep up.

We're noticing this week that there are many cards with mail-in rebates, especially from MSI. Not all of us on the AnandTech crew like dealing with mail-in rebates, but if you don't mind dealing with the hassle of filling out forms, photocopying UPCs and mailing them out, and perhaps waiting eight weeks for your check to arrive, mail-in rebates can really make a good deal that much sweeter. We would also like to mention that the high-end graphics cards don't appear too appealing as they have been priced unreasonably for quite some time now. Rather than going with a card from that section, we suggest going with something from the ultra high-end or mid-range line-up.

As always, we like to begin our video card price guides with the ultra high-end graphics solutions all the way through the high-end, mid-range and ending with the low-end graphics cards. Note that when we talk about market segments, we are primarily concerned with performance and positioning rather than price. This is why we generally don't recommend the high-end market right now for video cards, as in many instances you get better price/performance from either a slightly more expensive card or a cheaper card.

There are many cards to cover, and we'll do our best to cover them all, but please do feel free to leave us any comments, suggestions or death threats in the comment forum below or send us an e-mail at the e-mail address above. The feedback we receive is always invaluable and helps improve our guides for the best. So here we go, starting off with the ultra high-end video cards...

Ultra High-End Graphics
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  • PMPopic - Saturday, June 3, 2006 - link

    Hello all,
    Do any of these cards support either of the two new high definition standards(i.e. blue ray)? My understanding is that there are no cards or LCD monitors out now that support this do to the HDCP copy protection. When will we see cards and monitors that support this?
  • Trisped - Wednesday, May 31, 2006 - link

    The guide was concise and well worded (as price guides usually are)
    Keep up the good work.
  • Sunrise089 - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    I didn't take the time to re-read the last few video guides, but I seem to remember them not being as good as this one. I agree with most of your picks, and I do appreciate you including every possible card. I only have two changes I would make.

    First of all, it's time to move the X800/X850s and the 6800s to mid-range, where they compete in terms of performance. Then move the 7900GTs and X1800XT/XL and X1900GTO to high-end, if you still want to have four sections. None of us reading this guide really considers the 6800GT high-end anymore, not the X1800XL Ultra-high-end. I know Anandtech readers are more hard-core than the general Best Buy shopper, but that's who is reading the article anyways.

    Second, when you inevitably move the previous generation cards out of the high-end section, you need to directly compare them to the cards that cost the same amount of money. We all know that buying a $500 6800-Ultra is a terrible deal, heck even buying a 7800GTX is a terrible deal. Those cards were replaced by faster cards but didn't drop in price, so it's an easy call. The $160 X850XT is NOT an easy call. I am under the impression that while giving up SM3 support, it is probably faster overall than the current generation cards at the $160 price point, but I don't know for sure since it isn't normally included in reviews of modern games anymore, and the new cards don't normally get reviewed under the older games I can look up X850XT scores for. I think a direct comparison between last-gen and present-gen cards is warranted when the older cards have actually dropped considerably in price to match the prices of their current-gen performance equivalents.
  • AGAC - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    My system was upgraded about one and half year ago and it´s going to remain as it is since the video subsystem is not just about framerates. Thanks to DRM schemes of tomorrow, no video card of today can legaly playback HD content. So, it´s a waiting game for me.

    BTW, does anyone knows about those phony claims made by ATI regarding HDCP compliant video cards?

    And I am not talking about HDMI on video cards. As far as I know, DVI can be HDCP compliant, so that is not much of a chalenge in terms of R&D.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    You need an HDCP chip on the card, and while it is possible, no one has done it yet with ATI chips (AFAIK). They are "HDCP compatible" but not "HDCP enabled". :|
  • lafchiev - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    "Previous tests showed that NVIDIA's budget cards were slightly faster than ATI's budget cards, but mostly it's a non-issue. "
    I thought that X1300 was ever more powrfull than the 7300 or 6200 ones.
    Let see in the Anand review from 20 february:
    Battlefield2 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:24.2 fps
    NV7300GS: 18.2 fps

    Half Life 2 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:27.2 fps
    NV7300GS: 23.8 fps

    Quake 4 performance 1024x768:
    X1300:30 fps
    NV7300GS: 25.6 fps

    Overall NV7300GS is MUCH less performant than X1300
    and this changes everything in the budget cards comparison.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    I was thinking X300 vs. 6200 - I'll clarify that. X1300 is still pitifully slow for gaming (as is the 7300).
  • tential2 - Sunday, May 28, 2006 - link

    I am not sure but I cant seem to find any decent review on this website on the 7600GT and 6600GT. They are closely priced but as you said in the article the 6600T was a very popular card. As a result I am not sure whether to buy another 6600GT and try and go SLI or buy a 7600GT. Which gives more performance? I found a few benches but many of them showed SLI giving no performance benefits. I was wondering what the benefits of SLI 6600GT are over the 7600GT.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, May 29, 2006 - link

    7600 GT is generally a bit faster than 6800 GS/GT, so if you have benches of 6600GT SLI vs. 6800 GT you can draw some conclusions. If it were me, I'd take 7600 GT over 6600 GT SLI in a heartbeat. Two cards is a high-end option only, IMO. Don't bother with SLI until you're at least looking at 7900 GT.
  • tential2 - Monday, June 5, 2006 - link

    It still would be nice to have a review on it. Also on Crossfire since I have seen nothing on upgrading with crossfire. It would be nice to buy a x1600XT knowing I could buy a later ATI card at anytime and run crossfire. It seems that has been largely neglected by reviewers and just people in genreal. I'm not even sure if Crossfire supports different cards anymore actually.

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