About two and a half weeks have passed since AMD unveiled its Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 graphics cards. The new GPUs are formidable performers, and their aggressive introductory pricing led Nvidia to enact some price cuts of its own, making cards of that caliber more affordable all around. Good news, right? Yes, at least in theory. We've conducted one of our famous availability checks to see how widely available the new Radeons are, and whether they're as cheap as they should be.
We searched for cards at Newegg, TigerDirect, and Amazon in the United States; those are all large retailers with sizable stocks, and other, smaller vendors seem to be slipping behind. 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.
Let's start with the Radeon HD 6850, which launched at $179:
|Price (U.S.)||Price (CA)|
|Asus EAH6850 DirectCU/2DIS/1GD5||$184.99||$209.99||$209.99||$199.04|
|PowerColor AX6850 1GBD5-DH||$179.99||$201.60||$189.99|
|PowerColor AX6850 1GBD5-PEDH||$199.99|
Yikes! Radeon HD 6850 availability looks somewhat spotty, and we only found a single card in stock at the official launch price. Among all of the models we tracked down in the U.S., the median asking price is $199.99. Amazon charges as much as $224 for one model, although that one's out of stock.
Next up, the Radeon HD 6870, which has a $239 suggested e-tail price:
|Price (U.S.)||Price (CA)|
|PowerColor AX6870 1GBD5-M2DH||$239.99||$268.80||$259.99|
The availability picture looks much better here, but again, median prices are a solid 20 bucks over AMD's suggested pricing. One of the 6870s listed at Newegg costs an eye-popping $299.99. That card does have higher-than-normal clock speeds and double-lifetime warranty coverage, but I don't know if those perks are really worth a $60 premium.
How do things look on the Nvidia side? It's harder to rank GeForce GTX 460 cards, simply because so many different versions clocked at different speeds exist. However, Newegg has a healthy number of GTX 460 768MB cards in stock and selling for $159.99 and $169.99. The one-gig variants start as low as $189.99, with the first page of Newegg results only reaching up to $229.99. By the way, that EVGA FTW card we recommended in our latest system guide is now $10 cheaper—and it comes with a free game and a $10 mail-in rebate in addition to the price cut.
Clearly, AMD is having a harder time meeting demand than Nvidia. We've asked AMD for an official comment and are awaiting a response. Stay tuned.