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Budget & Mid-Range Graphics Card round-up

By Julio Franco · 15 replies
Dec 19, 2008
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  1. Gamers will often find that there is a wide range of graphics cards to choose from, especially when buying a mid-range product that sits below the $200 price mark. However the trouble comes in determining just how much they need to spend in order to play the games they love and then reserve a bit of legroom for the titles to come.

    The sub-$200 graphics card market is particularly strong at the moment, with products such as the Radeon HD 4850 and GeForce 9800 GTX+ existing well within this price bracket. There is also the Radeon HD 4830 and GeForce 9800 GT graphics cards priced at around $120. Those wishing to spend even less have the Radeon HD 4670 at just $80 or the GeForce 9500 GT at around $65.

    So if you plan to spend less than $200 on a current generation graphics card, which is the best value option today?

    Read the full article at:

    Please leave your feedback here. Thanks!
  2. Whiffen

    Whiffen TS Rookie Posts: 229

    This is perfect :D

    Thanks for the info, I am buying a new computer ATM and this should really help lay the cards out so I can choose the right one for me :D

    AMD Athlon X2 6000+
    ASUS M3A32-MVP Deluxe
    OCZ GOLD 4GB DDR2 1066Mhz
    SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 4850

    >: D
  3. Nirkon

    Nirkon TS Enthusiast Posts: 202

    Omg thanks!

    This is just what I needed, im building a budget gaming comp for a friend and im looking for
    the best cheap gfx card...

    Ill think I'll go with the 9600GT, its about $15-20 dollars more, but there is a huge FPS improvement...

    I wish though you would have included the HD3850 256MB DDR3 which is way cheaper than the hd4670 but offers very close performance to it.

    Like here:
  4. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +39

    The HD 4670 sucks far less power (to the point of not needing a PCI-E power connector) and also runs way cooler. I think those make it a better buy over the HD 3850. The price difference is minimal.

    Great article BTW, finally something for the budget-conscious crowd. :)
  5. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,278   +1,278

    I'm glad to hear the article has proven useful. We also believe it will be of great reference for the months to come until newer budget cards make it to market.
  6. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,380   +53

    Julio thx a bunch, i Just recently moved into my new loft apartment, which was in great need of a surround setup media center. As soon as this article appeared I purchased a 4850, previously in my eyes...well I was oblivious to how good the card was for the price. Thx again, keep up the good work.
  7. Nirkon

    Nirkon TS Enthusiast Posts: 202

    I just checked prices on newegg, turns out the HD3850 512MB is actually $10 cheaper than the hd 4670, personally I really don't care about the power consumption here, what offers better performance for the best price is more important in my opinion, especially when building a budget computer.

    The hd4670 takes a few benchmarks and the 3850 takes others so it's really a tossup.. i guess in this case it really depends how much on a budget you are :)
    Here the hd3850 256 is about $30 cheaper.

    By the way Julio, 25 frames per second is still very much playable, I see that in the articles you consider anything below 30 frames to be choppy and unplayable, not true at all, at 20 fps which is still somewhat playable (from experience) you'll notice choppiness, the friend im building a computer for has an old P4 3.0GHZ, 1GB ram, hd2600 pro agp and he plays Jericho at around 18-25 frames per second, I've played with him and it is still very much playable albeit not as smooth as 30+ fps.

    Quote from article "The GeForce 9600 GT performance was borderline playable with an average of 34fps" - not borderline at all.
  8. jonnyfenix

    jonnyfenix TS Rookie

    on my backup PC, its only a P4 2.4ghz, 1gb ddr and xfx 6200 512mb, I play games like bf2142, arma, and some older games and I still gets 20+frames and its no prob for me
  9. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,998   +2,470

    Actually I wrote the article and that is my opinion about frame rates. Really 20fps? You find that acceptable. Of course this is all a matter of personal opinion but if I had to play a first person shooter at 20fps I think I would just stop playing and go do some work.

    Again this is your opinion and you are entitled to it but I think you will find most gamers have much higher standards, at least I do anyway ;)

    The Radeon HD 3850 is similar to the Radeon HD 4670 as you have said in terms of performance. Here in Australia it is really hard to purchase them anymore so I figured within a few months it may not be possible to purchase them anyway.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,074   +4,081

    Odd Card , the GT9500

    The GT9500 ships with GDDR2 and GDDR3 versions. On paper, the GDDR3 version's spec are much, much, better for memory bandwidth and texture fill rate.

    While I'm sure that GDDR3 wouldn't turn the 9500GT into a gaming powerhouse, I would be very interested to know which memory was in the Gigabyte GT9500 used for the review.

    Gigabyte does offer both versions, plus a 1GB GDDR2 model. Julio.......!

    What I found interesting in the review was the fact that the GT9500 outperformed (for the most part the GT8600. OK, so I'm using stupid logic here, by comparing cards via model number, but I thought that Nvidia also used the same method to reference their cards. To wit, a GT8600 should offer the same or better performance than a GT7600, and a GT9600 should outperform a GT8600, it being a newer series.

    Again it's stupid logic, but the GT9500 card jumps up a whole number series in performance, (over a GT8600). Unless of course, the 8600s were real dogs, which is obviously entirely possible. Anybody...?
  11. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,998   +2,470

    Actually the DDR3 version of the GeForce 9500 GT was used for testing. When looking at the Nvidia model naming system logic and stupid logic won’t help you. In fact comparing the GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce 9500 GT like that is pointless since essentially they are the same product. The GeForce 8000 series cards are from a previous generation so it would make sense anyway that a card with a lower model number from the new 9000 series was faster.

    GeForce 8600 GT
    Core Clock = 540MHz
    Mem Clock = 1180MHz (DDR3)
    Core Config = 32:16:8
    Bus Width = 128-bit

    GeForce 9500 GT
    Core Clock = 550MHz
    Mem Clock = 1600MHz (DDR3)
    Core Config = 32:16:8
    Bus Width = 128-bit
  12. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +39

    FYI, the 9600GT is a completely new product, and has performance closer to the 8800GT. So, contrary to NVIDIA's stupid naming scheme, it is nowhere near the performance level of an 8600GT.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,074   +4,081

    Thanks for the Replies Guys.....

    From Steves spec list on the GT9500, it appears that for the most part, A GT9500 is basically just an overclocked GT8600.

    Well now, that explains the heat doesn't it?

    Rage; from your comparison of the GT9600 to the GT8800, my interpretation of Nvidia's numbering system is on point, each card 's second digit drops as the first digit number goes up. It's actually not quite stupid as much as being a clever way of addressing our conditioning with respect to buying habits and expectations.
    To wit, "wow, the new GT9500 outperforms the old GT8600, I have to have one"! It also works in reverse, as with your observation, that the GT9600 is almost as good as a GT8800.

    I'd (almost) be willing to bet on the fact that this influenced the release of entirely different numbering sequence for the new cards. With the old numbering system, this years cards would be a 10xxx number, but it would place them back at "square one", so to speak, and with a cumbersome 5 digit number no less. If you rang that bell, the game player probably wouldn't salivate, as it were.
  14. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +39

    Of course. The 9600GT is the only brand-new product overall architecture-wise in the entire GeForce 9 series. Everything else is just a rehash of a previous product.
  15. vpcoded

    vpcoded TS Rookie

    9600 GSO 768MB pci express

    I purchased this graphics card at best but for aprox 100 dollars i would like to know if any one has any info where it would stand in the group of midrage priced cards . the specs on this card are 768MB GDDR3 PCIe x 16, 550MHz core clock, 1375 shader clock, 1600 MHz Memory Data rate, 192-bit memory interface, 38.4 GB/sec Memory bandwidth, 26.4 Billion/sec Texture Fill Rate.
  16. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 5,402   +39

    It is very close to the 9600GT in performance. The 9600GSO is a rebadged 8800GS FYI.

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