AMD's Radeon HD 3000-series graphics cards have had a tough time keeping up with Nvidia's GeForce 8s and GeForce 9s, especially amidst the brutal price war that has raged this year. Today, that price war has pushed the Radeon HD 3850 to a new low.
Diamond's Viper Radeon HD 3850 512MB has tumbled from around $160 to just $119.99 at Newegg. There's even a $20 mail-in rebate, although we think it's still a bargain without it. This card is "factory overclocked" to a core speed of 725MHz and a memory speed of 900MHz (up from the default 670/830MHz), and it has a nice, quiet cooler to boot.
The 3850 may not be quite as fast as Nvidia's GeForce 9600 GT overall, but this one is cheaper, and fast enough to run all of today's games with the detail turned up at a decent resolution. Crysis is a possible exception, but that game pretty much requires users to travel forward in time and buy a GeForce 12 to obtain good frame rates with the detail maxed out and AA/AF on.
Also, those who own Intel motherboards with multiple PCIe x16 slots will enjoy the ability to run two 3850s in tandem for meaty performance returns, and movie buffs should enjoy the 3850's VC-1 hardware video acceleration—a feature the 9600 GT lacks. That's not bad at all for $119.99.