We would like to welcome you to our latest rendition of our video card price guide, where we try to track down the best bargains available while also making a few suggestions of which cards to avoid and which to keep in mind. First, if you missed our last price guide when we took a look at the latest motherboard happenings, we mentioned that the RTPE was recently overhauled and is now faster than ever. So, for those whose excuse was the RTPE is unbearable to use due to its speed, no more excuses! Thanks to our RTPE administrator and other behind-the-scenes coders, the RTPE is just that much more enjoyable to use.

Before we get to the actual cards, we should also note that there are a couple of upcoming contenders that you might want to wait for. We can't say much about them right now, but anyone that follows the industry should know NVIDIA is launching some new cards very soon. What will the price and availability be like on the new cards? We can't say until after the launch, so if you're about ready to plunk down $700+ for a couple 7800 cards, you might want to wait a bit longer and see what happens.

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. There are many cards to cover, so bear with us, and please do feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the comment forum below or send us an e-mail at the e-mail address above. So here we go, starting off with the ultra high-end video cards...

Ultra High-End Graphics

At the time of our last video card price guide, we were only picking up on a single 7800 GS. As you can see below, there are a number of them in the market today and are averaging about $300. The 7800 GS is here to compete with the X850 XTPE and does a very good job at that. Although the X850 XTPE performs generally better, the advantage of the 7800 GS is that it's at a much lower price ($300 rather than $400 with the X850 XTPE), better features and has lower power requirements. Our very own Derek Wilson has written up a short, but sweet performance review of this card. Read more here.

The 7800 GT seems like a hot item these days, offering great performance at a decent value. The best price that we can see this week is for the eVGA GeForce 7800GT 256MB [RTPE: 256-P2-N518] going for an even $275 shipped. There are plenty of others in the $300 to about the $350 range. For something a bit different, there's also the 512MB 7800 GT from Asus [RTPE: EN7800GT DUAL/2DHTV/512]. It's a fairly large card and is not at a very friendly price tag either, going for about $820...yikes! Why so much? Because it has two 7800 GT chips on a single card. Given the $200 price premium, we'd rather have two individual 7800 GTs instead of an SLI-on-a-board solution.

With the 7800 GTX cards, there are many in about the $450 range. Leading the pack this week is the MSI GeForce 7800GTX 256MB [RTPE: NX7800GTX-VT2D256E] on sale for $385 after a $50 mail-in rebate. If you have the extra $100 to spare, rather than going with the 7800 GT, this MSI 7800 GTX looks like a great deal. There are also many different package options with these cards these days, and by looking at what extras they come with, it can help you make the final decision on which card would be best suitable for yourself.

Over here in the ATI section, the newly released X1900 cards are doing extremely well, price and performance-wise. The most reasonably priced X1900 XT this week is from Sapphire [RTPE: 100149]. Down about $74, it is currently on sale for about $454 shipped. While this is the cheapest that we can find, you can see that there are many others priced significantly higher, anywhere in the $500 to $600 range.

There are also a number of X1900 XTX cards available, and following in close behind the Sapphire X1900 XT, we have the Sapphire Radeon X1900XTX 512MB [RTPE: 100150] currently priced at $504 shipped. That is about an $85 drop...quite a bit for such cards that have been out on the market for only about one month.

If you are looking to go with a CrossFire setup, once again, the best deal that we can score this week is also from Sapphire. The Radeon X1900 CrossFire 512MB [RTPE: 100159] is going for about $564 shipped.

Here, we are at ATI's slightly older line-up, the X1800 graphics cards. With the way that some of these cards are priced, you would be much better off going with an X1900 XT or even an XTX; a real no-brainer. And because of that, we find it quite difficult for us to recommend anything here. Perhaps one of the X1800 XL, like the ATI Radeon X1800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100-435703] going for just over $300, seems reasonable.

There are also a few 512MB X1800 XT cards that are appearing along with a 512MB X1800 CrossFire. Again, we would suggest that you shy away from these only because of the way that they are priced. You can get better performance for about the same price by going with an X1900 variant.

With the options available today, we suggest that you don't purchase a 6800 Ultra. These cards, especially the 512MB flavors, are extremely overpriced. Definitely, look into the 7800 or X1900 lineup if you're willing to spend such a large amount of moola.

High-End Graphics
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  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Thank you for writing the guide Haider, I know it must be a lot of work. I feel there are a few changes that could make it better however. As the above poster said, it would help to mention future cards, especially if they are launching within the week. In addition the best part of these guides is the author's commentary and advice, which at time was spotty. You were right on when you said that the x1800 series should be ignored in favor of the x1900s. Ditto with the x800xl and 6800gt no longer being the cards to buy. But what was with your 7800GS to x850XTPE comparison? You and I both know that no buyer needs to buy a $300 dollar AGP card anyways, since for $300 you could get an equal performing x800GTO^2 and a PCIe motherboard. In addition, why no mention of the x800GTO or GTO^2 at all, only the plain GT? What about something to the effect that the x1900XT is priced so close to the 7800GTX 256 that the nVidia card wouldn't be a smart purchase right now? Nothing about SLI or Crossfire upgrade considerations, even a warning that they are not a good idea? I think the guide could be a little better if you added a bit more advice.
  • mongoosesRawesome - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    No mention of the 7900 or the 7600 series GPU's which should be out soon. This guide should at the very least mention that these cards will be out soon, although I think it would have been better to have waited a few more days before publishing this.

    These priceguides feel more like a sampling from your RTPE than a real "guide". I'd really like to see more commentary and opionion in these guides and less of a simple listing of products. If I wanted to see how much each individual card costs, I can just do a search using the RTPE.
  • yacoub - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    The ONLY thing worth saying about videocards right now is WAIT. 7900GT, 7900GTX due out within a week. X1900XL should be near month's end.
  • AGAC - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    I will wait even more if the green and red players don´t support HDCP in their next updates. With WinVista and next gen video content being possible only with HDCP hardware I would be crazy to shell out money in hardware soon to be obsolete. My old 6800 will just have to hang on untill the dust setles on the media batlefield.

    Not to forget monitors. My recently bought NEC 1970GX LCD does not support HDCP and will be relocated to office duties (which is going to make a helluva improvement in my office desk) as soon as I decide on a new combination of video card and wide screen monitor.
  • Sunrise089 - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Don't worry friend, this sounds like a bigger problem than it is. Jarred for AT has said before that is MS thinks it can release an OS that 90% of the market's video cards AND displays (which for many is the most expensive part of their PC) cannot run they would face adaption numbers that make WindowsME look like a resounding success. It's possible some sort of requirement for HDCP will be introduced much later in Vista's life cycle, but you will not need it to run the OS.
  • DigitalFreak - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    I agree. I would have liked to have seen this guide published on Friday, so the 7900 series cards could have been included.
  • Powermoloch - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Hmm will you add the x850xt cards on there? Newegg are selling them fairly well on the PCI-e x850xt sapphire cards. I read that they are selling them at 169.00-170+. Which is a pretty good deal by today's standards.

    If it is no problem ;)
  • kalrith - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    I agree. I just picked up an X850XT PCI-e from Newegg this morning for">$154 AR. That's the same price as the 6800GS, yet the X850XT outperforms it by quite a bit in pretty much every game except Doom 3.
  • kmmatney - Wednesday, March 8, 2006 - link

    Wow, that is a great price for an X850XT! That has to be the best value for mid-range cards, unless you absolutely must have SM 3 (and I don't know why it is a "must-have").

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