Poll: The cost of your next graphics upgrade

Rumors suggest that AMD will soon refresh its Radeon HD 5000 series. Nvidia has also been hard at work extending its Fermi architecture down to lower price points, most recently with the $130 GeForce GTX 450. That, combined with discussions surrounding our latest system guide, have me thinking about how much folks spend on graphics card upgrades. It’s time to refresh our weekly poll, so you can probably take a guess at this week’s question.

How much will your next graphics upgrade cost? Will you be looking for the bang for your buck around the $200 mark, going upscale to enable smoother frame rates at ultra-high resolutions, or perhaps adding the cost of multiple cards for a little CrossFireX or SLI goodness? We want to know. You can cast your vote over on the right column on the front page or after clicking on the comment link below.

In last week’s poll, we tackled the importance of USB 3.0. Most folks see some benefit, with 43% thinking SuperSpeed connectivity is a nice perk but not vital, and another 41% firmly believing that it’s an essential feature. Only 2% of voters think USB 3.0 is destined for quick obsolescence, while 4% are content to stubbornly cling to their parallel ports—tongues firmly planted in-cheek, I hope.

Comments closed
    • ThorAxe
    • 9 years ago

    GTX 470 SLI is the most likely upgrade next for me for DX11 but the 4870×2 + 4870 still gets the job done.

    • packfan_dave
    • 9 years ago

    Unless buying a PS4 or Xbox 720 counts as a ‘graphics upgrade’, I’m not doing another one. Never really gamed on my PC much, and integrated graphics (or the cheap discrete graphics that used to come with business desktops and laptops, but probably won’t post-Sandy Bridge) is just fine for Visual Studio.

    • slugbug
    • 9 years ago

    I’ll be running two GTX 460’s in SLI thanks to a contest win and EVGA Bucks 🙂

    • Kaleid
    • 9 years ago

    Consoles make it unnecessary to have very fast graphic cards these days.
    I won’t go over the price range of a 5770…

      • PainIs4ThaWeak
      • 9 years ago

      uh… …wut?

      • Kaleid
      • 9 years ago

      Most PC games are ports these days and consoles are outdated.

    • travbrad
    • 9 years ago

    Probably $100-$150 since my last 2 cards were $130 and $95. $200 would be my absolute maximum nowadays, and I’d only spend that if there was a card with insane price/perf at the time.

    Of course a lot of this depends on game developers creating a need for a new card. At the rate we’re going, I won’t need a new card until the PS4/XBOX3 come out.

    • YeuEmMaiMai
    • 9 years ago

    prolly get the 6870 as my 4870 has lasted me 2+ years

    • ZGradt
    • 9 years ago

    I try to use the 2200 rule. Once a vid card is available that is twice as fast as my current one for $200 I upgrade. It keeps me from spending too much or upgrading too often.

    My last upgrade was from a 8800GTS to the 5850, which cost me $230. It was a little more than I wanted to pay, but I was itching for some extra power to fuel the 24″ monitor I got last fall.

    I considered the 5770, but I didn’t feel it was enough of an upgrade to bother. I also considered the just released 470, but the price and heat generation turned me off.

    • kvndoom
    • 9 years ago

    I doubt I will ever, EVER spend more than 200 on a video card again. While I love to game, I am so behind due to other things that I’ll probably get around to playing 2009’s games in 2013. So, I’ll never be up to date, and as such I’ll never need current video card tech.

    • sonofsanta
    • 9 years ago

    Gonna grab me another 5770 as Northern Islands comes out to hopefully get a bargain to Crossfire with. Mid-range SLI/Crossfire seems to be a pretty sweet spot these days, and I built my rig with the Crossfire potential in mind.

    • SoulSlave
    • 9 years ago

    I would like to ask the 56 people who will be spending 500+ U$$ on their next upgrade, if they could give me 1 dollar each so I could spend 200~225 instead of my usual 150~175 on my next upgrade…

    I’m sure it will be no burden for you…

    Thanks in advance…

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    $200-$250 since I just got the Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB for $230 2 weeks ago (+ $20 off another copy of SC2)… Of course it goes on sale today for $200 ($220 – $20 MIR)…

    The only reason I upgraded was to put my old card (GTS 250) in another system that needed an upgrade (from an 8600 GT that couldn’t max/ultra SC2 @ 1680×1050).

    Generally, for my main system, I buy/upgrade to upper-mid/lower-high range stuff and ride it out about 2-3 years for video cards and probably 3-5 years for cpus… (though sometimes I can’t resist a good deal).

    • ChangWang
    • 9 years ago

    I usually spend between $300-400. Sitting on 5870 Crossfire at the moment though. Will probably skip the 6000s. Just depends

    • ngom52
    • 9 years ago

    The poll result appears to follow a normal distribution

    • ajegwu
    • 9 years ago

    I tend to go big and hold on to it for a while. Had a $500 6800 Ultra for a while and replaced it with a $500 8800 GTX. It runs Starcraft 2 amazingly well considering its age, but I’ll probably have to upgrade it for The Old Republic.

    Now that my machine is primarily a Hackintosh that dual boots into Windows for games, my choices are more limited and trickier to time.

      • Hurstmeister
      • 9 years ago

      I do the same,.. but I wait until the high end cards are just about to be replaced with the next gen and then run 1 generation behind.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Really, I’m good to go. Might get something for the fam, if need be.

    A bigger or another monitor is my next step.

    • Thanato
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not so sure that going from a 5000 to a 6000 will be worth it. If the prices fall on the 5000’s then I would have to consider another 5870 as a upgrade.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    If I were doing a graphics upgrade I’d probably cheap out and get a sub-$150 part but prices start to compress pretty severely versus performance below the $170 (or less on a deal) GTX 460 768MB. There’s always a ‘minimum price’ for devices because of necessary costs like PCB, other components, shipping etc. If I was a ‘serious gamer’ on a budget I’d do whatever it takes to at least get that card. As it is I’m a very non-serious gamer and am rocking an i3-540 IGP sooo…yeah, been thinking about buying a graphics card just for kicks but there’s really no need it’s an upgrade itch.

    I guess I’d really vote for $125-175 if that was an option.

    • elmopuddy
    • 9 years ago

    Just replaced my 4870 with an MSI 460 1gb, my next upgrade is adding another for SLI…

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    Still on an 8800GT. Palit maybe? I don’t know the last time Iw ent this long without an upgrade. My monitor is a 22″ 1680×1050, so when games start to struggle at medium settings and an upgrade is less than 200 I’ll go for it. I’ve never had a GPU last this long.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 9 years ago

    My good ol’ G92 performs all the gaming tasks I require of it, so until I get a whole new computer (unlikely in the near future since the one I got in the fall of ’07 still never slows down for me and plays recent games with most of the eye candy on) I probably won’t be doing a standalone graphics upgrade.

    • Disco
    • 9 years ago

    I bought a 5850 earlier this summer which should last me for quite some time to come. When I do upgrade next it will probably be in the $200-250 range if I go for a single new card. But I will also look very closely at getting another 5850 for crossfire. In 12-18 months those cards should be well under $200 and probably a good performance option.

    • Shinare
    • 9 years ago

    Would a laptop with a nice “discrete” video card and on-board video be considered “integrated”. That’s what I put for the poll. No more desktops for me.

    • clhensle
    • 9 years ago

    I build a bunch of computers for friends, so I tend to upgrade / sell my card whenever I can, while spending as little money as I can. My current computer (45nm C2Q) I have used:
    “B-stock” Evga 9600gso (had a $50 coupon) got for ~$13 shipped, sold for $40
    9800 GX2 bought for 100, sold for 100
    GTX260 bought for 218, sold for 180
    GTX460 1gb bought for 230

    Before that I had a 7800gt, 6600gt, 9600xt, fx5200, gf4 mx400, gf2mx, rage128, voodoo2 8mb, Diamond steath2 g460 i740, so my 7800gt was my only $300+ card.

    My server has a hd3450, and my g/f’s computer has a hd5770.

    • thanatos355
    • 9 years ago

    My old company bought me an 8800gts 640 when they first came out and cost around $350 (if my memory serves). I “upgraded” to a pair of Radeon 3870’s (for the hdmi output capability) when they started selling for ~$150/card. I’ve switched back and forth between the two setups since then. I JUST (last week) upgraded to a 480gtx and purchased it for the “low low price” of $449.99. I tend to buy higher end cards and use them longer.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    I just don’t know.

    Bought my current card- a GTS 250 -two years ago for $129 fully expecting to have replaced it by now. But I’m finding that I just don’t play games like I used to, and I still have fun with old games, and /[<$129 today doesn't buy any more performance than it did two years ago.<]/ To get a worthwhile upgrade, I have to spend close to $200, and I just can't justify it. At this point, I'm guessing I will upgrade the graphics when I replace the entire computer, no less than three years from now.

      • Meadows
      • 9 years ago

      I’m curious how you did that, considering the GTS 250 was released last year.

        • Prestige Worldwide
        • 9 years ago

        Well, considering how many times g92 cards have been rebranded, there is still some truth to his statement 😉

        • FuturePastNow
        • 9 years ago

        You’re right- it was one year ago. I really mixed up dates there.

        Either that, or you can pretend I said 9800GTX if that makes you feel better.

    • StuG
    • 9 years ago

    Wow I’m only 3 percent of the population. I tend to find that If I buy below the $300 price point I am always disappointed and left wanting more.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    My 4850 will last awhile yet as I only run 1680×1050 although at 120hz.
    I think I paid about 215 for it when I got it, not long after it came out. It is more than enough for what I need. If I had some cash maybe a 5770 for lower idle power?

    If I did need extra graphics power, I guess the cheapest option would be to xfire another 4850.

    • sigher
    • 9 years ago

    I used my HD4850 as guideline, if a new card is twice as fast then it should not cost more than 3 times as much in my eyes, because if it does I know I’m being taken for a ride.
    And I think I’ll use the same guideline for the next gen.
    And I like to have the latest technology and to be able to have a speed and capability to run things smoothly, but I also know that there’s a limit and that the next gen is always around the corner making previous stuff a bit obsolete so there’s a limit to what you should spend.

    And honestly I know all the pain AMD/ATI and nvidia drivers caused me and will cause me, and that actually makes me lower the amount I’m willing to spend, you are paying and get tortured as a result.. so you have that in mind when shopping.

    • designerfx
    • 9 years ago

    running a 4890 2GB, traded in the 2 4870’s given from the contest (they actually nuke the hell out of the power supply due to the proximity of the ventilation), but going to get a 6x series – probably 2nd from the top of the line or top of the line if possible.

    • Pegasus
    • 9 years ago

    I usually end up spending $180-250 on a card but I don’t see myself upgrading any time soon.

    The most likely thing to get me to upgrade my GPU would be if I upgraded to a large widescreen monitor. I don’t see me picking up a game that is a lot more demanding than one of the few I already play.

    I am being more picking about heat, noise and power so I often wait for the chips made on the smaller process. My desktop (non-gaming machine) is a 25w idle Core i3.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t think I’ll ever be buying a graphics card for myself again.

    What I would really like is the option to pay slightly more for better integrated graphics, like 512MB of GDDR5 sideport or something like that. I have a feeling that they’re always going to keep integrated graphics system bandwidth constrained on purpose, though.

    • ColdMist
    • 9 years ago

    I spend about $300 on the card, and an extra $100 for the full-coverage waterblock. I only upgrade every 3rd generation.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    I usually spend right around $150. My current Radeon 4850 was an exception, because I caught them when they were being cleared out for a bit under $100.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Bought a 5770 when they were more-or-less brand new and it’s not faltering at all right now. Then again I’m playing Starcraft II and MLB 2k10 so I’m not throwing anything difficult at it in the first place.

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    My next system build is going for the smallest form factor with the most power. MiniITX boards and Llano will hopefully do the trick. Therefore, I’m going with integrated.

    • Tibba
    • 9 years ago

    Heh, this one was easy, since I clicked through and purchased the Gigabyte GTX 460 + $20 off SC II bundle featured right here on TR several days ago.
    My old G80 flavored 8800 GTS has served well, but it’s time for a bit more oomph.

    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    I think its better to go for the highest price possible ( within my spending limit, around $300 ) when upgrading a gpu and I’d only upgrade every 2 or 3 generations… It’d make more sense than frequently upgrading with just a few performance increase..

      • bcronce
      • 9 years ago

      Well, every generation of GPUs usually brings about a doubling in performance, but I get what you mean.. :p

      It’s probably easier to appreciate a larger jump and you can save money for stuff like a SSD or something.

    • Buzzard44
    • 9 years ago

    On the front page, the poll results table shows another option after >$500.
    It says :

    Undefined (Undefined Votes)
    Undefined %

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    I have a 4850 (passively cooled) right now on a 24″ monitor (1200×1920) and haven’t had an issue yet. I’m thinking I might jump to a 6850, I seem to upgrade every couple of years.

    But my budget is between $200 – 250 CDN. Always has been for graphic cards

      • rhema83
      • 9 years ago

      I bought the HD4850-512MB for $185 soon after launch in summer 2008. It still runs my games at 1680×1050 at high detail settings fine as long as I don’t go too crazy with the AA.

      Not going to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. I will wait until when the current card doesn’t run a game that I really want to play smoothly. And that is not going to happen soon because I still have a few last-gen games on my list such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age Origins.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        ‘…as long as I don’t go crazy with the AA.’ And there’s the key. It’s been funny watching over the last 1-2 years of performance stagnation aside from high-end cards as sites test at higher and higher resolutions and higher levels of AA. Being pretty old school I don’t mind 0x AA heh but 2x is fine. It does really make it hard to get useful absolute performance data when all sites insist upon testing all cards with the same settings although I certainly understand why they do that for the sake of making comparisons. But do I really care whether a $125 card can do well with 8x AA at 2560×1600? No, not really.

        Too bad [H]ardocp is the only site that does ‘runs well’ settings in comparisons because not only is thw writing and editing hideous but they test with very few games. xbitlabs sort of does it because they test with different settings based on high/mid/low range sets of cards.

      • Hurstmeister
      • 9 years ago

      I built this Core 2 E8400 system 2 years ago and started out with an 8800 GTS 512 card. I was extremely happy with it at the time. I could play (Almost) everything out at 1920×1080 with all eye candy on. I didnt think any game could ever need more than 512mb of ram. Then GTA4 came out and it would studder at certain points with everything turned up as high as they would go, I had to tweak it to make it play at high settings because it said I didnt have enough video ram. I dealt with it at the time. Then last Christmas I found an online vendor selling 1gb Radeons 4890 for $185. I had paid $269 for the GTS 512 card so I felt it was a reasonable excuse to upgrade.

      Its noticeably faster than the 8800 GTS 512 card, but I do miss Phys-X and the Nvidia drivers seem to be a little more stable than the ATI. I experience more game crashes with this card than I did with the Nvidia card.

      I’m waiting for the 5870 to come down into the $250 – $300 range and that should be a decent upgrade.

    • ew
    • 9 years ago

    4850s go for about $65 shipped on eBay right now. I have a 3850 right now and it is good enough so a 4850 would be an excellent upgrade. If I were to upgrade I’d definitely spend less then $100.

    • Vaughn
    • 9 years ago

    i’m on a 4890 myself, totally skipped the 5xxx series. Because i’m only gaming on a 1680×1050 resolution I don’t always have to buy the highest end models. So far the current card runs most games fine, i’m interested in seeing what the 6xxx series has to offer on a reduced power and heat level.

    So maybe in January once the prices have settle alittle i might look at upgrading it.

    On a side note running the 4890 on a overclocked i7 sure does help!

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Skipping. Waiting. Just don’t game as much anymoreg{<.<}g

    • ImSpartacus
    • 9 years ago

    $150-250 is always the bang-for-buck zone. What you get depends on where your budget lfalls on the spectrum.

    I bought my 4890 for $220 last summer and it’s been running like a champ.

    I don’t think I will bother upgrading the graphics on my machine. I’ll just build another one. My current machine only has an E8400, so there’s quite a bit to upgrade.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    I’m going to continue to wait. The 4850 continues to deliver all the performance I need in the games that I’m playing at 1600×1200. I can live without AA and a with a lowered setting here and there. I had an absolute blast playing Borderlands – I played it with dynamic shadows off but it still looked terrific and I cannot imagine that the game was any less fun to play because of it.

    I’m going to continue to wait until I can get 5850 level performance for $200 or less, and when that day comes I’d consider shopping anywhere in the $150-$250 range rather than the $50 increments that the poll uses. If there’s a card above $200 that offers a commensurate level of performance increase for the additional money then I would give some hard thought to paying for it. While less than a 5850 (or equal) does not feel like enough of an upgrade, if the 460’s price keeps dropping the way it has, then I might not be able to resist. I don’t see how it is possible for Nvidia to drop it any further, but one never knows. If that thing gets down to $125 it would be almost stupid not to buy it.

    Obviously, all bets are off if I lose my job, LOL.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    I usually aim for the £200 mark (currently at 5850 costs around that), but i think im going to hold off getting an upgrade from my 4850 for at least a year due to having sod all money most of the time, and my general reduction in gaming recently. When i do upgrade i want at least double the performance, for less noise and power, my budget will change depending on what is around that fits into that ideal.

    • Grape Flavor
    • 9 years ago

    Right now I’m looking at an pre-overclocked GTX 460 1GB SLI setup for my new build this fall. It murders GTX 480 and rivals 5970 for somewhere around the $480-$500 mark. Expensive, but still a great deal.

    But if 6870 delivers some serious oomph like the rumors say, I could be persuaded to trade a small amount of performance for a lower-power-draw, 1 GPU solution.

    So yeah, I’m willing to spend, but I have my limits and I’m always looking for that great high-end bargain.

    • UltimateImperative
    • 9 years ago

    I voted around $300, but I’ll probably go for whatever enables me to play modern games at 2560×1440 with AA, and will fit in my Sonata.

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    I usually upgrade with every new generation, but this time around, I skipped 5xxx series, and I’ll probably skip 6xxx series. They don’t make games like they used to.

    • Buzzard44
    • 9 years ago

    I’m hanging on to 9800 GTX for probably the next 3 years or so. Whenever new games that I actually want to play don’t run at max, I’ll just turn down the detail, until things start to get really low on more than one game. Then I’ll upgrade. I can’t really justify blowing a couple hundred bucks on a new graphics card just for slightly higher detail on a few games. Sure, it’d be good for e-peen, but not really practical.

      • kravo
      • 9 years ago

      I was thinking about replacing my good ol factory OCd 8800GT with a 9800GTX…so how much do you need to turn down the settings?

      Dx11 isn’t really there yet, I think I could get along without any next gen graphics card.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 9 years ago

        I don’t think a 9800GTX/GTX+ or GTS 250 is worth the money if you have an 8800GT already. I would look at no less than a 460 768MB to get a worthwhile bump in performance.

        • Grape Flavor
        • 9 years ago

        I wouldn’t do it. The 9800GTX is just a higher-clocked 8800GTS 512, which is a marginal upgrade from a GT. It’ll be faster, but not really worth upgrading unless you can get it for almost free.

        • flip-mode
        • 9 years ago

        +3 going to 9800 GTX from an 8800 GT OC does not seem like a good move to me at all – you’d need at least a GTX 460 to make a decent upgrade – not for the DX11, but for the performance.

          • Shining Arcanine
          • 9 years ago

          It might depend on graphics memory. If his card has 256MB or 512MB of graphics memory, a 1GB model might be a good upgrade.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 9 years ago

            512MB? No way. Hardly any games use more than that even at 2560×1600, and that’s not exactly what an 8800GT is for.

            • kravo
            • 9 years ago

            it’s got 1GB.
            Ok, I got it, thanks for the help guys, I appreciate it!

            Sometimes my enthusiasm for PC components -[

            • Buzzard44
            • 9 years ago

            Yeah, I don’t think it would be worth it.

            I don’t really have to turn down the graphics settings at all on anything I play. Then again, the majority of games I play aren’t especially demanding. The newest and most demanding game I have is SC2, which I play with everything on “Ultra” (the highest setting) with VSync off, and get ~50 fps.

      • willmore
      • 9 years ago

      I have to agree with you. Up until about two and a half years ago, I was still playing on a Radeon 8500. Sims and Sims2 looked fine. The only FPS I played were Tremulous and Quake3Arena–which ran fine at 1600×1024.

      Now, I have a GF9800GTX+ and a 2048×1152 monitor. I play L4D and L4D2 at full res and highest quality at 60 fps. The only games that seem to challenge that setup (reading from reviews) hold no interest for me. I’ll upgrade when I pretty much have to.

      And, it very well may not be gameplay that drives the decision. I might buy something for F@H, instead.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t really consider it e-peen to want to play your games at the native resolution of your display with max detail. Also for most games there is a huge difference between medium settings and either high or max detail settings.To each their own

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        The “I demand max details” proclamation is about as e-peen as it gets.

        I’ve argued with people who say that plenty of times how games that are “demanding” of high end hardware are only that way because they tend to have a handful of just about completely pointless settings that slow the game down to a crawl. Find them, turn them off, and now your game suddenly works fine on midrange hardware without making it look worse.

        But every time, the “counterpoint” I get is that people just want to be able to blindly pick the biggest number on every drop down menu and check off every single box, without even looking at what exactly it’s doing.

        I think a lot of so called “higher detail” settings actually make games look worse and even if the game runs fine, I’ll still check and see what everything is doing.

    • KarateBob
    • 9 years ago

    I just went from a 4850 (paid $220) to a GTX460 (paid $220) and 200-250 usually has the best bang-for-the-buck cards, so I voted for $200-249

    • Pettytheft
    • 9 years ago

    I generally spend around $300 on a new card each round. It has served me well since the 9800Pro. The cards tend to last a lot longer than they used to and if you upgrade at the right time they still have some resell value to put towards your next upgrade.

    • Waco
    • 9 years ago

    I’m sticking with my 4870X2 till it really can’t handle new games…that’s yet to happen so it’s unlikely I’ll be changing it out in the near future. That said – I tend to spend more up front to get a longer lifespan out of my gear. “Just enough” rarely lasts long enough before I get the upgrade itch.

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