Availability check: Radeon HD 5850, 5870 drought ends

Due in large part to manufacturing problems at TSMC, AMD's Radeon HD 5800-series graphics cards have suffered from dismal shortages since the very beginning. These cards became so hard to find that, in our Christmas system guide, we were forced to recommend older, DirectX 10 GPUs in our primary configs and relegate the DX11 Radeons to the alternatives. After checking availability at major North American online retailers this week, however, we can say the drought is now over—or at least in its last throes.

To probe availability and pricing, we searched for cards at Newegg, TigerDirect, and ZipZoomFly in the United States, because those are the three computer hardware e-tailers with the most reviews on both our price search engine and ResellerRatings.com. North of the border, we looked at NCIX. The cards we found are listed below with available models highlighted in green. All prices are in U.S. dollars except for NCIX's, which are in Canadian dollars. We didn't factor mail-in rebates into our prices.

Incidentally, we should point out two rather major changes to our availability check methodology. First, we've taken Buy.com out of the equation, since that e-tailer rarely stocks many graphics cards in general, and limiting our scope makes it easier to conduct these comparisons. Also, the tables below now show median prices instead of averages at the bottom. Median numbers should do a better job of representing general trends, filtering out outliers on both ends of the spectrum.

Here's what we found for the Radeon HD 5850:

  Price Price (CA)
Model Newegg TigerDirect ZipZoomFly NCIX.com
Asus EAH5850/G/2DIS/1GD5 $309.99 $319.99   $309.99
Diamond 5850PE51G $314.99   $304.99 $329.99
Gigabyte GV-R585D5-1GD-B $314.99   $349.99 $339.99
HIS H585F1GDG $314.99   $339.99  
MSI R5850-PM2D1G     $319.99 $329.99
MSI R5850-PM2D1G OC $329.99   $334.99  
PowerColor AX5850 1GBD5-MDHG       $324.99
Sapphire 100282SR $309.00 $319.99 $323.99 $319.99
Sapphire 21162-00-50R       $319.99
VisionTek 900297 $309.99     $329.99
XFX HD-585A-ZNBC $354.99   $379.99 $409.99
XFX HD-585A-ZNFC $309.99   $389.99 $344.99
Median $314.99 $319.99 $337.49 $329.99
Overall median $319.99  

...and for the Radeon HD 5870:

  Price Price (CA)
Model Newegg TigerDirect ZipZoomFly NCIX.com
Asus EAH5870/G/2DIS/1GD5/A $399.99     $449.99
Diamond 5870PE51G $429.99 $429.99 $409.99 $459.99
Gigabyte GV-R587D5-1GD-B     $409.99 $439.99
HIS H587F1GDG $429.99   $439.99  
MSI R5870-PM2D1G     $429.99 $449.99
PowerColor AX5870 1GBD5-MDH       $429.99
PowerColor AX5870 1GBD5-MDHG       $459.99
PowerColor LCS AX5870 1GBD5-WMDH       $569.99
Sapphire 100281SR $409.99 $419.99 $439.99 $455.99
Sapphire 100281VXSR $429.99   $499.99  
Sapphire 21161-00-50R       $459.99
Sapphire 21161-03-50R       $519.99
VisionTek 900298       $449.99
XFX HD-587A-ZND9 $434.99 $439.99   $499.99
XFX HD-587A-ZNF9 $404.99   $439.99 $429.99
Median $429.99 $429.99 $439.99 $455.99
Overall median $429.99  

We're still not looking at a flood of cards, but the situation has improved quite dramatically since our last availability check in late October. Nevertheless, none of these cards are selling anywhere close to their suggested retail prices. AMD launched the Radeon HD 5850 at $259 and the Radeon HD 5870 at $379, but today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a 5850 below $300 or a 5870 below $400. Supply and demand at work, folks.

What about other 5000-series Radeons? The dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 looks to be largely absent from the scene. The only available 5970 we found among our four North American e-tailers was a lone Diamond card at ZipZoomFly, which charges a whopping $849.99. Newegg, meanwhile, doesn't have a single 5970 in stock.

At the bottom of AMD's new product line, Radeon HD 5770 and 5750 graphics cards look to be plentiful, as usual. Prices haven't budged in a while, though, and the 5750 1GB still starts at a relatively expensive $139.99. For more details on these cards, be sure to check out our reviews of the Radeon HD 5770 and 5750, Radeon HD 5850, Radeon HD 5870, and Radeon HD 5970.

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