It's been since the holidays that we've done a GPU buyers guide. It never seems like the right time to do a new GPU buyers guide, as NVIDIA and AMD have been pushing aggressively back and forth for leadership in the market place. When new parts or tweaked cards haven't been coming out, prices have been adjusted quickly to maintain tight competition.

Now is no exception. There are a couple spots in our line up where we will have to make recommendations based on what we know about what's happening in the market place. In competitive reviews, we try very hard to look only at that exact time slice to make our recommendations. In our buyers guides we like to be a little more flexible and take a more retail and market place view rather than the heavily technology and performance based focus of our GPU reviews.

Starting out, we're looking at the roughly $75 market where we split our recommendation between the 4670 and the 9600 GT. Prices have compressed more over the past few months, and the 4670 comes in low enough to cover many needs at very little cost. You can always spend less on graphics and get less, but if you want more than 2D, the 4670 and 9600 GT are where you should start looking.

$75 Recommendation: ATI Radeon HD 4670

 

  ATI Radeon HD 4670
Apollo $64.99
Gigabyte $79.99
Sapphire $69.99

 

And we've got the GeForce 9600 GT. Just a little more performance in some games, maybe a little less in others, with roughly the same cost. But if you want any more than that, you'll want to wait about a month.

$75 Recommendation: NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT

  NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT
Apollo $74.99
Gigabyte $67.99
Sparkle $89.99
PNY $97.99

 

For our ~$100 price point (plus or minus a bit) we are going to strongly recommend that people wait for about a month. This price point will be shaken up a bit in about that time and we really aren't comfortable recommending anyone purchase something in this market until sometime in early May. This may or may not further compress the sub $100 market, but there really isn't much more room down there, so we don't expect much change except at right around $100.

$100 - $200 Recommendations
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  • CookieKrusher - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I love articles like this because every couple of years I end up brushing up on my tech savvy. With that in mind, could I ask what the conventional wisdom is for playing games at 1920x1080? That is, what is the typical single and/or dual card solution for playing at medium-high quality?

    I'm asking because this question is being prompted by the recent death and replacement of my old 17" lcd with a new 24" one.

    In any case, helpful write up. thx.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    260/216 and the 4870 are sweet spots currently for that resolution. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    For me personally, I'd shoot for something at the level of the GTX 260 Core 216 or HD 4870 1GB... those will handle almost all current games at 1080P without difficulties. If you're willing to drop details, you can get by with a 4830/4850 512MB card, or the GTS 250/9800 GTX+ cards, but I'd try for more rather than less. Reply
  • bwanaaa - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I think I am dreaming. Did I see that for 170 bucks x 2 ( that's 2 copies of the 4870 1 gb) you get a crossfire solution that is the second fastest thing going?! (just below an sli setup of 2 copies of the 295!) Reply
  • barn25 - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Its articles like this i dont like if you gonna post something like dont say wait a month. Just post about what there then amend it when the time comes! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    I disagree. There are probably several people reading this article that were going to build there system this week. If Anandtech had posted the article without mentioning to wait a week/month those people could have gone out and built a system and then immediately felt like they made a mistake. I personally thank them even though I'm not currently building a system because back in January when I did build a gaming rig it was these types of articles that helped my buying decision. If I had been in that situation now, seen this article (without mentioning to wait a week/month, instead having the "choice" for a particular price point) and purchased a card that was a worse choice a week later, I would be very VERY peeved. Reply
  • RamarC - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    even with the impending shakeup, that's a great card for $90. Reply
  • alfredska - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Why would you publish this article now, instead of at the end of the week? As it stands there are two categories that say, "wait". At least at the end of the week you could reduce this to one, and perhaps even be able to provide more insight into why we should wait for the ~$100 price range. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    Clucking for red cards and dissing the green ones couldn't be resisted. Come on man, don't you know who you're reading ? Reply
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I don't understand how a NDA bars AT from even mentioning the name of the cards. Might as well not include those two categories if all we're getting in either one is a big wait sign.

    Sigh.
    Reply

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