The People's Performers: $100 - $130 Graphics Cards

Just over the magic $100 mark is a playground for the senses. At low to moderate resolutions (1024x768 to 1680x1050) gamers using this class of hardware are all but guaranteed to be able to play with all the effects and high image quality options enabled. Antialiasing will still be hit or miss, but generally this segment provides the option to either play at the higher resolutions the hardware is capable of without AA or play at lower resolutions with some AA enabled. As antialiasing is a subjective feature in many ways (the level at which the performance tradeoff becomes useful and the degree to which antialiasing improves image quality at specific pixel sizes are really tough to generalize). The flexibility available at this price point is definitely desirable to those who like to tinker.

It is possible to get up to HDTV resolutions, but sometimes this requires a quality reduction and it isn't likely that antialiasing will be an option on modern games at resolutions over 1680x1050. Half resolutions on HDTVs or 30" monitors (for those who need high res 2D and still want a little gaming performance) scale well on digital panels and this price point should get you up to 1280x800 with some level of AA in a good many games and high quality settings.

This price point may get overlooked sometimes, as three digit numbers can be a deal breaker for some and those willing to spend a little more could be more attracted to the better performance of slightly more expensive cards. This space also gets a little blurry because of the availability of so many different NVIDIA products that have been renamed and/or overclocked. The 8800 GT/9800 GT and 9600 GT can run into each other with factory overclocks. Thus this market is a bit more blurry than some of the others. The only AMD competition at this price point is the Radeon HD 4830.

Our Recommendation? The Radeon HD 4830 (Image From

And the Radeon HD 4830 happens to be our general recommendation here. We do have to qualify that though. the Radeon HD 4830 can usually be had for about $110, but so can the 9800 GT, and it may be possible to snag an overclocked version for the same price. While the Radeon HD 4830 does well against the competition at stock speeds, this is the first place where you really have to balance overclocking and price. It is also worth it to try and find specific games you like benchmarked online and choose based on that information as well. The reason we've gone with the Radeon HD 4830 here is because you know what you are getting and it tends to do better than the competition at stock speeds and comparable price.

That and the fact that newegg has a major deal right now with mail in rebate allowing a card with performance greater than a stock 9800 GT to compete in terms of price with a 9600 GT/GSO: 85 freaking USD. Shipped for under $95 is a terrific deal.

Recommendation: ATI Radeon HD 4830

Newegg ZipZoomFly TigerDirect
PowerColor Radeon HD 4830
HIS Radeon HD 4830
Sapphire Radeon HD 4830 ASUS Radeon HD 4830
$115 $110 $109
Index Let's Get Ridiculous: $130 - $180 Graphics Cards
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  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    The 9800GTX+ is 149.99 by itself.

    I'm not sure why, with CUDA, and with PhysX, and with overclocking capability, and with using an 8 series for a dedicated PhysX processor, WHY I should buy the 4850 at the same price or worse.

    I guess in this case, the very few games that the 4850 enjoy a advantage in, makes all the difference all of a sudden - in this case NOTHING matters exacpt some " very close gaming scores" and after thinking about that ONLY - choose the 4850.... or so the review goes... because golly... the price COULD be advantageous...

    Yeah, I've HAD IT.
  • fofelix - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    I think the HD 4850 X2 is getting interesting because of the recent price cuts.
    In Germany the cheapest HD 4870 512MB costs 187€ ,while the HD 4850 X2 (2x512MB) costs 261€. Nice performance/euro ratio in my opinion.
    Well i don't know the price of the HD4850X2 in the U.S. ,but I assume the relative price difference is similar.

    By the way... You can be a bit jealous living in Europe .
    I knew that hardware is more pricy in Europe compared to the U.S. , but 187€ for the HD 4870 vs Newegg's 180$ deal. Crazy difference ,isn't it ?

    Greetings from Europe
  • USRFobiwan - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    Well I disagree with the dollar to euro conversion the New egg version is still cheaper..
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    That's what he's saying: those living in Europe can be jealous of Newegg prices.
  • Clauzii - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    ... that AMD/ATI are very strong in the GPU market at the moment. And a 4830 for under $100,-. Simply brilliant.
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    Here's what's "brilliant" - I've heard from AYTI fans for 6 months that the sucky NVidia is ready to collapse because their "huge die" for the 280/260 is raping their bottom line... and by golly ATI is sooooo smart with their smaller 4870 die that saves them so much money....


    Gee, Nvidia keeps it's giant core in the $200+ to $500 privce segments - the 260/192/ 216 on up to the 280 - making sure they GET A LOT OF MONEY FOR THAT TOP CORE OF THEIRS...

    But what does ATI do ? WHAT do they do ? Oh, they've got their TOP CORE in all their 4000 series cards, and although it's half the size of the so expensive NVidia top core - ATI puts their top biggest most expensive core in OODLES OF CHEAP LOW RENT VIDEOCARDS!

    lol - all the 4850 series that barely brag 150 bucks now... and that's the BEST case scenario...

    4350 - $25
    4550 - $58
    4650 $65
    4670 $76
    4830 $110

    Am I totally wrong or aren't ALL THOSE 4000 series GPU cores JUST AS LARGE AS THE 4870'S ? (even with reduced features... disabled shaders... or whatever)


    The review sites have SPEWED that same rhetorical BS, a big fat line of lies... and most have repeated it ad infinitum - how NVidia just can't take it....

    And it takes ME - to point out Nvidia keeps their top core in the $200 dollar to $500 pricepoint while ATI has their MOST EXPENSIVE CORE

    priced at $25 - perhaps a GIGANTIC LOSS for ATI in the 4350...

    Oh, but I've been told Nvidia is losing so much they can't do a price war with ATI.... because of the Nvidia gigantic die...


    I know, I'm not the best writer, so wail away reds.... but you WON'T be responding to the points, nor will the reviewers - it will be ALL SILENT on the red front...

    ( except to perhaps spew about the 400 cores - yes well let me know if the 4350 core die is SMALLER than the 4870 - I'm going to look again RIGHT NOW ).

    Good luck reds, I sure hope this isn't another gigantic lie exposed that you will "deny" by virtue of silence on it, or just scream it makes no sense (your other favorite tactic).
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    Ok, I'll correct myself... my apologies for getting upset.">

    I see the lower end series have smaller dies than the 4870 - BUT the 4850 FITS MY COMPLAINT.

    So ATI is calling "4000 series" chips 4000's but they aren't really at all... they are small knockdowns - THEY'VE BEEN LYING TO US ALL.

    We've heard endless complaints about NVidia RENAMING the SAME SIZED DIES and calling them by a new designation...

    So what ATI does is make a WHOLE 4000 series .... and then only the top 2 are actually the new full die -
    And a whole host of the 4000 series are NOT.

    Deception anyone ?
  • Schmide - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

  • DerekWilson - Thursday, December 18, 2008 - link

    it works fine for me ... what exactly is the issue?
  • SiliconDoc - Tuesday, December 30, 2008 - link

    " Pushing up closer to $100 the lines get blurry and the 9600 GT becomes more of an option though there's a deal in the next section that sort of negates that advantage. If your target is $100, you'd be better served by spending $10 more dollars to get a better card, "

    Yes, so blurry, huh - like $65 bucks is BLURRY.">

    Let's really SEE, you said you'd include discounts and rebates:


    Only in the 1024 ram area does it change, but WE KNOW that doesn't matter - since the 4870 512 IS RECOMMENDED OVER THE 896 RAM GTX260 -
    So 512 is just fine and makes the 9600GT the big winner.

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