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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  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Is the power supply riveted into the case or something? Removing 4 screws and some connectors doesn't seem that hard. Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Maybe he's got one of them Antec P180 cases and the PS is shoved and jammed in their. I had to do it so it "could" happen :) Reply
  • ev0styLe - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Veroxious add my Xfire ev0style or MSN ecstacy_@hotmail.co.uk I may be able to help u out Reply
  • faxon - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I was going to get an HD4870 1GB Vapor-X from Sapphire @ newegg for $220 by the end of the week. looks like maybe there is going to be a price drop or the release of the HD4890 in the very near future? if so sweet, it's probably going to be to fast for my needs anyway! Even then, price drops are FTMFW, and i dont mind paying $20 less for something! Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I built my gaming rig back in January with the 512-meg version of the card you are talking about. While I wish they had designed the cooler to completely exhaust the air out of the case (I'd wager only 30-40% actually goes out the back), it keeps the chip incredibly cool even at a moderate overclock. It will raise your case temps quite a bit since it is dumping most of the heat inside the case, but as long as your PSU and rear case fans are operating properly it shouldn't be a problem. I highly recommend the card(s)! Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    It seems that they use something very similiar now on their stock 4870s to. I have one of those and it looks alot like the vapochill cooling (silver heat pipe mind you) Thing is ... it runs really cool. I get 50C idle and no more then 65 under max load. Sapphire did a nice job on those... which has upped my thoughts of them (considering some of their "stock" cooling options in the past)
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    I see about the same temps, but mind you the Sapphire Vapochill cards are slightly overclocked (780 core, 1000 memory), but it is a really well designed heatsink that with some small changes could really be fantastic. I was very pleased not to have to potentially void my warranty by buying a new card and immediately ripping off the stock heatsink to use an aftermarket one. Reply
  • Veroxious - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    It REALLY grates my nads that we get ripped off SO badly here in South Africa. On average we are paying 2 to 2.5 times more for our graphics cards. A frggin 4830 is on average $210 while a 9800GTX+ is $300!!!!! YET our memory, mobo and LCD prices are mostly on par with the US. What's up with that? Maybe I should start my own import company and offer gamers better prices. The cherry on the cake is the DISTRIBUTORS here are selling it at these high prices. Gigabyte has a futher 25-50% premium because there is a sole distributor. I'm disgusted to say the least.

    Back on topic. While I agree that ATI offers considerable savings for performance the drivers really are spoiling it. I have a friend who had endless problems with his Asus 4830. Yes I know the 4800 series run hot BUT I would have expected a company like Asus to fare better in the quality stakes. Also the card works a lot better WITHOUT installing the Catalyst Control Centre. NVIDIA is miles ahead in that department although when the 4800 series is hooked up it does offer amazing eye candy for the money. It just runs too hot though...........

    Any of you enthusiasts willing to help a brother out by shipping a card to South Africa that I will purchase online and send to your house? Pretty please????????
    Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    You've got to cue in the marrket size, the advertising dollars and effects, the safety of resources (theft or damage) - perhaps shipping to the horn is a factor, then heat concerns maybe give higher rma rates - a whole host of things - in the USA big ticket stores have large cheap distribution networks and outsized sales number in large quantity discount - etc. Then perhaps also an exchange rate and bit of a push from the capital marketeers backing things.
    So all sorts of factors.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, April 01, 2009 - link

    We have similiar problems in Canada. The 4830 Typically goes for $150, 4850/250 199 and up. The 4870 300-330 and the 260 (oddly enough) about 275.

    I've been noticing with the 260/216 that it's generally selling below 4870 prices in canada and the uk .. might be the same for the states to. If that's the case it would seem that it is the better buy overall.. It does really get cloudy at the top tho (260/4870/285 ect)
    Reply

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