A couple days ago we had the opportunity to look at CPU and memory prices.  Fortunately, today we are going to take the opportunity to look at the prices of our personal favorite subject, video cards. 

As Anand likes to say, don’t buy a video card now for a game you want to play in 3 months.  Generally speaking, if you follow the volatility of the GPU prices, you know that’s a good ideatm.  This week we will start with ATI first, but to prevent any fanboy accusations, we will start with NVIDIA first next week.

ATI, unfortunately, has more product lines than you can shake a stick at.  And believe us, the naming convention is a bit out of hand.  Without further ado, let’s start with the ultra high end cards and work our way down.

As many of you know, there are three editions of the 9800 video cards floating around, the 9800 Pro, the 9800 XT and the 9800 SE.  The fourth Ultra high end Radeon card, the 9800 non Pro, is akin to the Radeon 9500 Pro; fast, cheap and near impossible to find.  It seems once ATI found out it was incredibly easy to turn your $250 9800 non-pro into a full blown 9800 Pro, they stopped their supply of the units.

In our opinion the Radeon 9800 SE (which only has 4 pipelines) really shouldn’t even be categorized with the other 3 cards.  Only rarely does it outpace a Radeon 9600 Pro but still comes with a $20 premium over the 9600 Pro.  There seems to be a few soft-mods around to upgrade your 4 piped 9800 SE to a 9800 Pro, but our best guess is the 9800 SE’s are cards based on chipsets that were unable to clock properly with all 8 pipes.  Banking on the assumption that your 9800 SE will easily unlock to 8 pipelines is probably not a safe bet.

Finally, we have our two champions, the 9800 Pro and the 9800 XT.  Of course the 9800 XT is just coming to market and in limited supply.  For us, it’s a little hard to justify the near $500 price tag.  Particularly since the 9800 Pro 128MB, which performs slightly worse than the XT, sells for $300 brand new.  Granted, this still is not a bargain, but $300 firmly establishes our cap for what to spend on a ‘high end’ video card.

Midrange ATI GPUs and Prices
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  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    "9600 XT will be shipping with the single player version of Half Life 2"

    I take it the 9600XT is not coming out for a loooong time then?
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, October 23, 2003 - link

    Newegg seems to have the 9800np in stock, and several buyers say they've flashed successfully to pro. Can anyone confirm doing this and point to a site with instructions? Thanks. :-)
  • scavio - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link



  • scavio - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    Seems others disagree and say it will be multiplayer...


  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    here are the requested links from tomshardware that the version of half-life 2 that comes bundled with the 9800xt/9600xt might be only the single player game >>http://www6.tomshardware.com/graphic/20030930/rade...

  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - link

    am i mad to buy a 9800 xt i am asking because i can still cancel order and buy a 9800pro instead
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    Is there a recommendation for a "TV" card too, like an A-I-W? Christmas is coming up, so recommendations would be helpful (jingle-bells, jingle-bells, here's my Amazon.com wish list ...)

    I thought it a reasonably even-handed review, with only the HL2 price to consider. Maybe you could add a column estimating value of included s/ware?

    Oh, and #5 is just a sour-puss.
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, October 21, 2003 - link

    #15, can you confirm that the version of HL2 bundled with the XT's will only be single player? If so, give us a link to that page...
  • Pete - Monday, October 20, 2003 - link

    Ah yes, and I see #13 already mentioned that. Cheers if you edit the article to include that quite salient fact. :)
  • Pete - Monday, October 20, 2003 - link

    Kris, you really should mention that the $50 premium a 9600XT commands over a 9600 Pro includes a copy of HL2, and that the XT's 25% faster core will likely translate into 25% faster performance, as HL2 in DX9 mode seems to be shader-bound.

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