Gamers will often find there is a wide variety of graphics cards to choose from, especially when purchasing a mid-range product that is under $ 200. The problem, however, is determining how much they will have to spend to play the games they love and then reserve a little legroom for the titles to come.
The market for graphics cards under $ 200 is particularly strong right now. Products like the Radeon HD 4850 and the GeForce 9800 GTX + are well represented in this price range. There are also Radeon HD 4830 and GeForce 9800 GT graphics cards priced at $ 120 and $ 130, respectively. Those who want to spend even less can get the Radeon HD 4670 for just $ 80 and the GeForce 9600 GT for a little more for $ 100.
Below we have the Radeon HD 4650, which is only $ 70, while the GeForce 9500 GT is a bit cheaper at around $ 65. It is still possible to purchase the older Radeon HD 2600XT and GeForce 8600 GT / GTS graphics cards at roughly the same prices, not that we would recommend doing so anyway.
So, if you're looking to spend less than $ 200 on a current generation graphics card, what is the best option today?
It should be noted that the mid-range GeForce 9 graphics cards are still considered the "current generation", as Nvidia has not yet released any product from the GTX series in this segment. With that, the GeForce 9800 GTX +, 9800 GT, 9600 GT and 9500 GT remain the most important Nvidia mid-range / budget pieces, all of which are included in this roundup.
The current generation ATI Radeon 4000 series contains a number of mid-range and budget parts. Here we have the Radeon HD 4850, 4830, 4670, and 4650, all of which are well below $ 200. In fact, AMD only recently started selling the Radeon 4870 (512MB) graphics card for $ 200. This is an amazing offer at the price. Still, today we're focusing on graphics cards priced below $ 200, and since this Radeon was only recently discounted, we didn't include it in this comparison report.
|price||Nvidia||AMD / ATI|
|$ 150-200||GeForce 9800 GTX +||Radeon HD 4850|
|$ 100-150||GeForce 9800 GT||Radeon HD 4830|
|~ $ 100||GeForce 9600 GT||Radeon HD 4670|
|Under $ 80||GeForce 9500 GT
GeForce 8600 GT / GTS
|Radeon HD 4650
Radeon HD 2600XT
We will test a total of eleven graphics cards in twelve different games, each with three different resolutions. From top to bottom, the first battle between the Radeon HD 4850 and the GeForce 9800 GTX + takes place, a battle that has been going on for about six months. Those of you with a photographic memory will remember that it was originally the GeForce 9800 GTX that was intended to be used against the Radeon HD 4850. The “plus” version came in a month later to fill the gap. You can also recall that the original GeForce 9800 GTX launched less than a year ago last March and sold for over $ 300. As mentioned earlier, it's a good time to buy a medium-range graphics card.
The GeForce 9800 GT and Radeon HD 4830 will be another interesting battle, as both graphics cards are great value for money at just over $ 100.
The Radeon HD 4830 is actually a newcomer to the party that was officially released late last month. Although the test examples have been around for much longer, actual retail availability is only now increasing. Hence, we'll be curious to see if the Radeon HD 4830 is worth your time and money, or should those looking to spend a little more than $ 100 stick with the GeForce 9800 GT? Let's go ahead and find out.