In Pictures: The Best Graphics Card Values In History

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in_the_loop

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Great article that brought back some memories!

One thing though about the Geforce 3 Ti 200 and Geforce 4 Ti 4200 in the list. Where they really sub $200 cards when they were launched.
I don't remember any of these early Ti-cards being that cheap when they launched, but I could be wrong. And the prices here in Sweden is with the high 25% VAT included and the market could have been different back then.

Anyway, a card that I was surprised didn't make the list was the Geforce 4MX that was launched in the spring of 2002 at the same time as the higher end 4XXX cards (The 4200 Ti wasn't launched in the beginning). It was a really important card I think since it was the first very affordable card that with DDR2 memory back in a time where memory bandwith was the limiting factor.
Yes it didn't have programmable pixel shaders, but no games released that year did support them anyway.
These cards were also extremely overclockable, I don't remember exacly how much but I got at least 40% from my Sparkle geforce 4MX.
The step up from my Geforce 2MX to the 4MX is the biggest one I have ever experienced in all the years when it came to increasing both resolutions and turning up the FX.
Didn't they sell extremely well too? I mean, in my mind it was the first affordable card that had some useable performance in it (which unfortunatelly the 2mx didn't have).

I probably think the same can be said for all who made the switch from an earlier card with SDR (like the original Geforce or the 2mx) to any of the newer cards that had DDR2.

Another card that is a special case is the softmodded ATI 9800SE AIO that I bought in 2003. It was basically a 4 pixel pipeline 9800 with 256 bit memory, where you could unlock 4 further pipelines making it essentially a 9800Pro but at a much lower price. A great value upgrade, if you did flash wit the modded bios for the card. Much better than the 9500 which only had 128 bit memory.
 

cleeve

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[citation][nom]in_the_loop[/nom]Great article that brought back some memories!One thing though about the Geforce 3 Ti 200 and Geforce 4 Ti 4200 in the list. Where they really sub $200 cards when they were launched.[/citation]

The sub-$200 price isn't necessarily launch, in fact many of these cards were over $200 on introduction.

The point is, this is where they settled for a significant portion of their life cycles, and where they delivered excellent value.

[citation][nom]in_the_loop[/nom]Anyway, a card that I was surprised didn't make the list was the Geforce 4MX that was launched in the spring of 2002[/citation]

Good point. I kind of consider that to fall under the GeForce MX blanket, but in retrospect i could have made a note of it. :)
 

rickzor

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Ah the geforce 3 ti200 :)

Mine was the 128mb version from chaintech that came out later on and i still remember the salesman awesome remark "128mb for games? youl'll never need that much for computer games!" Yeah right.

Believe it or not this was only retired 2 years ago not because it wasn't working anymore but because i didn't had an agp system suitable for it, and this card was always used in OC mode (above ti500 clocks).
Great card!
 

in_the_loop

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[citation][nom]Cleeve[/nom]The sub-$200 price isn't necessarily launch, in fact many of these cards were over $200 on introduction.The point is, this is where they settled for a significant portion of their life cycles, and where they delivered excellent value.

Good point. I kind of consider that to fall under the GeForce MX blanket, but in retrospect i could have made a note of it.[/citation]
Good point with the lifecycle price. It's just that in the case of the 4MX it probably took a year before any of the Ti cards creeped under the $200 mark (the 4200 was released later than the 4mx and it took some time to settle in price).
The point i'm making is that many of us probably used a variation of the SD-memory cards in around the time the 4MX was launched and that the performance benefits were to great and the price was extremely affordable compared to everything before it with DDR2 and that there were no card with programmable pixelshaders available (The Ti series) for a long time that was even near the price of the 4Mx. This combined with the fact that no games really made use of the programmable pixelshaders before Far Cry in early 2004. It made an incredible impact for a very low price for most due to making the switch from SDR to DDR.

But I still agree with you having the 4200Ti on the list. It was probably one of the cards that people held on to for the longest time. I had friends who didn't switch to a new card until around 2006/2007 and I think it is one of these cards that you were really suprised to see listed in system specs (in the avatars) for a long time after they were discontinued.
 

Tab54o

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I had the ti 4200 and absolutely loved it. It ran all my games maxed out for such a long time. Return to castle Wolfenstien specifically. When I was done with it I gave it to a friend and it got another lease on life for another 2 years or so.
 
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I have to disagree with #13.

As innovative as the 8800gt might have been, I still remember heavily researching a graphics card for my computer build and in part choosing the 8800GT due to the Tom's recommendation.

While the card performed great initially, it didn't hold up over time and both myself and three other friends who built computers at the same time (and chose the same video card) have all had serious performance issues due to problems with this card.

It's not statistically sound, but at least in our group a 4 out of 4 failure rate from 3 different manufacturers seems too high to be a "best value."
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]belardo[/nom]Before I read this article, here is what I consider Greatest cards, based on priceperformance... Some of them, I owned.(order of age)0 - Amiga (Because back then... PC was pretty much 16 colors, if that)1 - 3DFX Banshee $99 / 1999 (Not quite as fast or expandable as the Voodoo2, but cheaper with 2D support)2 - GF2-MX $125~150 / 2000 (128bit version), cheaper than the GF2 GTS & Ultra, get 24bit pallet for cheap.3 - GF2-Pro $150~175 / 2000 (OEM card originally - far cheaper than the Ultra while almost as fast)4 - GF3-Ti200 / 2001 (Half the price of the original GF3, DX8 is new)5 - GF4-Ti4200 $200 / 2003 (blows GF3 out of water)6 - ATI 9500/9600 / 2003 (First serious ATI cards)7 - GF-5700/5900 (Fixed the screw ups from the rest of the GF5"FX" line)8 - GF-7600 = At $185~200, it smoked any 6000 series card for the cheap.9 - GF-8800GT = Hitting the market at $250, not quite as fast as the $650 8800GTX - but far cheaper.(This GPU gets re-named, repackaged about 5-8 times from Nvidia, even ends up as a 200 series card)10 - ATI 3850/70 = $175~200, ATI returns to the market with a good-enough card without the heat. Starts price war with Nvidia.11 - ATI 4670 = $90~100. Equal to the 3870 but half the price. (Still what I use today)After that... my list pretty much ends. The ATI 5700 series is decent at -$100 pricing. At this point, we're past the classic pricingperformance.[/citation]

Exactly, the early Commodore Amiga computers had far better graphics and sound than anything else! At the time, Amiga games were vastly superlior to anything on the PC or Nintendo Entertainment System / Sega Master System. Even the Sega Genesis could not compete graphically, though it could handle larger sprites better. It wasn't until the Super Nintendo was released that Amiga gaming was surpassed, and not by much.
 

mikenygmail

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The 7900 GTO deserves a mention, since it was a great buy and you could simply overclock the memory to have the exact same performance as a 7900 GTX!
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]Pged[/nom]I have to disagree with #13.As innovative as the 8800gt might have been, I still remember heavily researching a graphics card for my computer build and in part choosing the 8800GT due to the Tom's recommendation.While the card performed great initially, it didn't hold up over time and both myself and three other friends who built computers at the same time (and chose the same video card) have all had serious performance issues due to problems with this card.It's not statistically sound, but at least in our group a 4 out of 4 failure rate from 3 different manufacturers seems too high to be a "best value."[/citation]

I had an 8800GT that worked just fine. Did everyone buy the same exact card with the same brand? Did the cards just completely fail or were there other issues specific to your motherboards or power supplies that caused problems? Did you even attempt to use 2 of those in SLI on each computer that had SLI? With 4 cards total, it would've been worth it to buy a cheap SLI motherboard at some point to try it. I bet I could get 2 of those cards working in SLI right now as long as none of them have been fried or neglected.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]Cleeve[/nom]The sub-$200 price isn't necessarily launch, in fact many of these cards were over $200 on introduction.The point is, this is where they settled for a significant portion of their life cycles, and where they delivered excellent value.Good point. I kind of consider that to fall under the GeForce MX blanket, but in retrospect i could have made a note of it.[/citation]

Cleeve knows his stuff.
 

mikenygmail

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[citation][nom]mikenygmail[/nom]The 7900 GTO deserves a mention, since it was a great buy and you could simply overclock the memory to have the exact same performance as a 7900 GTX![/citation]

I got mine for $199.99 after discounts and mail-in rebates.
 

ChromeTusk

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Happy to see my current HD5770 is on the list. I only wish I was able to get a second to crossfire. I do not know how a rebadged HD6770 will affect performance and stability.
 
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i think you are missing some cards that when release brought a lot of value to the gamer in a budget:

Vodoo Banshee AGP
S3 Virge
Intel 740

 
Never owned a Graphics card other than nVidia and ATI/AMD.
Nope, never had a 3DFX card... Didn't like them..
Although I remember thinking the Voodoo Banshee was a good card for the price.

I had:
nVidia Riva TNT
GeForce 256
GeForce 2 Ti
GeForce 4 Ti 4600
GeForce 6600 GT
Radeon X1950 XT
Radeon HD 4870
 

cleeve

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i think you are missing some cards that when release brought a lot of value to the gamer in a budget:

Vodoo Banshee AGP
S3 Virge
Intel 740

Copied from a reply I made previously:

"This list targets sub-$200 values, and we started with the GeForce MX because it pioneered sub-$200 value like no 3D card before it. IMHO.
You could make an argument for earlier models, but for me the MX was the card that started the modern 3D value era. "

Even so, not sure I'd agree on the S3 and Intel selections you made, there... but to each his own. :)
 

youssef 2010

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A great trip through the $200 price point history. I've owned only two of the cards listed here, the 9600Pro & the 4870. The 4870 is a great card. It's still in my older PC. I replaced it with the 6950 2GB. This card should make it an incredible value option, if only because of the ability to mod it into a full 6970
 

cleeve

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A lot of high end cards disappear from shelves without significant discounts (try to find a sub-$200 Radeon 6990 or GeForce GTX 590, both end-of-lifed).

Also, if a particular card goes on sale for a week to clear out stock that's obviously beyond the point of the article.

As stated earlier, we're looking at the stuff that delivered sub-$200 value for a significant percentage of its life cycle.
 

zloginet

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As good as the 8800gt was it still sucked balls at the beginning. It started as a single slot and horibble hot video card which yes showed excellent cost/performance benchmark scores. It wasn't untill they re-did the 8800gt with better cooling was it a valuable card. I remember, it is why I choose the 8800gts 512... which is by far the best 8000/9000 series card nvidia made during that time....
 
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