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


View All Comments

  • The0ne - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    I think the article would be substantially more useful if there were links for the review(s) of the video card selections made and a link to your "overall" performance charts of the various video cards if there is one. Thanks in advance. Reply
  • The0ne - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    This is where I’m interested in for my next video card. My PC’s are all running on 30” LCDs now so high resolution is a must. My main is setup as dual-view to my big TV as well and performance takes a hit from that. Having said that however, I’m hoping for some good reviews for whatever cards you guys announce. Although my 9800gx2 is doing well, I have a dual-core sitting on the ground with no video card.

    Only one week so no big deal. Thanks for the heads up!
  • poohbear - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    sweet, most recomendations are for ati products. I hope this wakes nvidia from their stupor and they release another 8800gt type of card that shakes up the market! Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - link

    But ATI is losing a billion a year- so be careful what you wish for.
    Nvidia stock aint great but its been there before - and has legs with TESLA sales.
    So just cool it - or the red roosters might be jumpin the coop chickless after a bit more castration.
    Do some real good and dial 1-800- O and beg a couple billion stimulus for the reds - right, everyone should pay for failure.
  • Finally - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    ...those suckers already did that. Those are called 9800 and 250... Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Yes that was a typo in my earlier comment. I did mean the 4670 for a 300w power supply.
    I agree that the 4830 or 4850 is a better value if your system can handle it. However, I don't want to upgrade my power supply too, because this is quite a bit more difficult than just plugging in a new video card. I don't think the power supply even has the proper connectors for an 6 pin connector.
    However, this is really irritating in a way. It would cost so little to put a 400 or 500 watt power supply in even an off the shelf model, and it would make the computer much more versatile.
  • caliche - Tuesday, March 31, 2009 - link

    Check on your power supply specs. Say you have a 300W PS with 70% efficiency rating, that gives you around 210W to work with. A P4 based chip may by iffy (power hogs) but a Core 2 Duo or newer AMD chip probably has the headroom. I have an "off the shelf" C2D with 300W PS and added a 512MB Radeon 3850 to it and it games well. Look up the power usage for the newer cards under load and see what will work, I know the lower/middle end cards are getting pretty thrifty on the power usage. Maybe borrow a Kill a Watt or similar to see what your current power usage is under load.

    So maybe a 4830 or a 9800 GTX+ with a power adapter may work out. Some vendors include the "2x4 pin Hard Drive to 6 pin" adapter or you can get them separately, if you have two 4 pin adapters it's worth a shot.
  • Exar3342 - Wednesday, April 1, 2009 - link

    That is incorrect; the PSU still supplies 300W, but it is pulling 390W from the wall. The efficiency just describes how much actual wattage is needed to supply the rated wattage amount. Reply
  • caliche - Thursday, April 2, 2009 - link

    Thanks for clearing that up, so I was being way too cautious and probably could have went with a bigger card. Good to know. I just heard so much about underpowering it causing artifacts, lockups, etc so going a little lower made more sense than messing around with returns and issues. I just want it to work.

    So "300W power supply" should be providing 300W of power if it's not total junk, but you still have to look at what cable is getting what power. A single six pin adapter or two 4 pin drive adapters converted into a single six pin is all you need for most of the midrange cards, so a 4650 or whatever they announce next month (4750?) in a smaller off the shelf system should be just fine from what you are saying. And a 4830 may be fine as well if you figure out the power use in detail.

    And a dual slot cooler if possible in case the off the shelf parts on the case are not quite ready to deal with all that heat the bigger cards throw out. Now I want to upgrade again.
  • 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

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