So here we are once again to find out what you guys think about some aspect of graphics hardware. In response to our recent articles on multiGPU scaling, set to conclude with a 4-way shootout coming soon, we have gotten a lot of feedback about cost and value.

Our attempt to distill some of the decision making process will always be clunky, as there is no perfect way to present all possible data. There is also no way to present any subset of data in all ways that would be relevant to everyone. So we've got to stick to producing a reasonable subset of data presented in a reasonable subset of forms to best assist our readership. And there's no better way to do that than to just ask you what you think about the subject. Hooray for polling.

While we may ask more specific questions in the future on methods, we are currently listening to any and all feedback left in the comments of our articles. We would also love to see some general comments on benchmark presentation on this blog post. 

But the major purpose behind this particular poll isn't to determine the best way to display data. We starting at a more general point and will try to drill down in future polls. But for now, we would like to know how much both cost and value matter to our readers.

Obviously we spend a lot of time on the high end. It's an exciting market and even if we can't afford the parts it's neat to look at what will be affordable in about 18 months time. But we suspect that the majority of our readers, while interested in high end or even halo parts, will care much more about lower price points and bang for buck metrics.

We are interested in focusing more squarely on the market segments the majority of our readers are interested in, and we are also very interested in understanding just how value relates to the decision making process within those market segments.

We could make some extremely complex polls based on all this, but we've decided to try and keep it as simple as possible for now. The first question is straight forward. Rather than focusing on what vendor or what performance you want, we would like to know what your maximum budget for buying a new graphics card is when you upgrade.

The second question is a bit more complex. Basically, we want to know how much more /or/ less you are willing to spend if another part near your price offers significantly more value. 

For instance, if you are considering part A and part B costs 10% more but your investment gains you more than 10%, will you break the bank a little and spend outside of your price range for the part B?

On the flip side, if you are considering part A and part B costs 10% less but performance drops less than 10%, will you choose to save some money to go with the part that might not perform exactly as high but gives you more for the money?

So, look at the first question as the price you are fixed on spending to get a specific level of performance. The second question modifies the first by asking how flexible you would be in the performance segment if you could get a better value by spending slightly more or slightly less.

I know, I know ... it's a little convoluted. But the alternative is a much more complex poll that associates price points with specific differences in performance and cost ... and I don't think we're ready for 100+ question polls ... We're certainly open to your suggestions on how to ask the right questions to get to the heart of this sort of data though. But for now, here's the poll.

{poll 122:1200}

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  • ET - Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - link

    Though like a large part of the readers, I don't feel I can afford to buy high end cards, that doesn't mean I'm not interested in them.

    Personally, my favourite reading is about new technology. New generations of graphics cards make for interesting articles, IMO. Yet another card that's exactly the same as the others but different somewhat in performance (like 4830, or the various renames NVIDIA cards go through) I find quite a boring read.

    For getting a good idea about what to buy, my favourite place to go used to be the 3Digests at digit-life. They seem to have stopped, unfortunately, but they pretty much summed up the performance of the cards in order to make a purchase decision.

    I'm also interested in seeing where things can be stretched. Quad-SLI, though I'd never have it, does tell me things about technology. Cross-SLI (or cross-crossfire), such as 4870+4830, would also be of interest.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 3, 2009 - link

    I generally try to stay around the $150 mark, because that's normally where the cards with the best performance/dollar are. Right now the HD4850 and the 9800GTX+ are in that price range, and with rebates and newegg discounts I've seen both down to 125; which is a really good deal. But if I was putting together a whole new computer and the difference in performance was big enough, at least 30% as I've found 30% is the smallest performance improvement that's noticeable in real world situations, then I'd be willing to spend closer to $200 or maybe even slightly more if it really was just that good of a card.

    However, if I already had my computer built and all I was doing was upgrading the GPU I'd be significantly less likely to spend any amount of extra money on that GPU; since the system as a whole has less life in it. I think it'd be a good idea to mention that in an upcoming article and/or make a poll about it.
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 3, 2009 - link

    Oh, I also try to stay around the $150 dollar range because those cards tend to not be too loud when gaming and now-a-days are silent when idle; and considering I use my pc as my bedroom television that's important. I also don't want my GPU to raise my electric bill too much. That's one great thing about Nvidia's GT200 series cards, their idle power consumption is phenomenal. Honestly that's the reason I'm holding off on upgrading my GPU, I want a card that idles at about 50W, or less would be even better. That also pretty much defeats the need to be able to switch to integrated graphics when not using your dedicated GPU.

    So yea, you should definitely consider the issues of noise and power consumption; and when your talking about whole system noise you need to be concerned with heat as well. I'm one of those who believes you shouldn't be able to hear your computer AT ALL unless you get down and put your ear to it. Heavy gaming sessions excluded, as the GPU fan obviously needs to spin up; but it should spin down quickly when you're done... so I can get to bed easily:)
  • Rigan - Monday, March 2, 2009 - link

    One reason I read this site is the careful attention paid to price and performance. I'm in the 1% price doesn't matter to me camp, but nearly everyone I advise on pc parts cares about cost quite a bit. Here I can find a proper vendor agnostic test set. An important service indeed.
  • Joe Schmoe - Monday, March 2, 2009 - link

    I'm usually in the 150's when I purchase a Video card. I had an Saphire ATI x1950 Pro which Replaced a Guilmont 6600GT. Neither of those cards were "Top of the Line" but they were in the top 20%. I never ran them at max resolution (I just ran 1024 x 768) and I wasn't afraid to turn antialiasing off if I could keep detail high. I had a 19" Trinitron CRT.

    When I moved to a 22" LCD I upgraded my video card with an MSI 8800gt 512MB OC. I payed $120 for it before rebate. It's faster than my 1950 pro but about the same if I run games at 1600 X 1050 which I do. I looked into upgrading to a better card this year but none of them are that much faster at this resolution. This is a case where I bought a cheaper video card than usual since the performance difference wasn't that great. I took my video card budget for the year and replaced my E6400 with a Q6600 instead.
  • wheel - Monday, March 2, 2009 - link

    I hope AnandTech takes notice of the results of this survey. Most people are after midrange, "bang for your buck" parts and don't really care about the expensive top end. Sure, it is interesting to see the technology and what will filter down but is mostly irrelevant.

    Why bother with ongoing multi SLI scaling articles when if you look at the steam hardware survey you will see that 97.8% of gamers use single GPU systems. (as at Feb 2009)

    I find that the people who spend massive dollars on SLI systems are either excessively wealthy or new to the scene and haven't been through the several generational cycles that turn their new $450 card into a paperweight within 2 years.

    The SLI equation rarely adds up. Although it is good in theory to add a second card later down the track, by the time you need it a new next-gen card is released that is just as fast as your SLI system but at 1/3rd of the power and much less noise and heat.

    Mid range volume sellers like the 9800pro, 6800GT, 8800GT, 4850... now that is where it's at!

    Cheers :)
  • vol7ron - Monday, March 2, 2009 - link

    Even though parts are made upgradable, I tend to buy on the mid-to-highend and replace every 2-3 years going along with Moore's Law.

    Parts are made upgradable but I rarely do. And when it's time to buy a new CPU, you need a new Mobo, and you find out there is new RAM yada yada. The GPU and the HD are the parts that generally last longer then 2-3 years.
  • yacoub - Sunday, March 1, 2009 - link

    The biggest problem these days is after 2007/2008's more properly-priced bang-for-the-buck GPUs, we're back to 2006/2007 where things were overpriced.
    Especially in this economy, but even in a better economy like we saw in 2007/2008, one should be able to buy a very good, latest-generation GPU for $200-250. Something that can handle the usual assortment of the latest FPS games at 20-24" monitor resolutions with high quality settings without dipping into slowdown levels of frames-per-second, and without needing to also have some top-of-the-line $500 CPU either.
    2007/2008 was the generation of Core2Duo + 7900GT (and later 8800GT) (and several other good combos). We are only just now starting to see the GTX-260 Core-216 GPUs in the right price range and they are questionably the latest generation, what-with the 285/295 now being on-market.
  • anartik - Sunday, March 1, 2009 - link

    WOW… I’m not easily shocked and I’m shocked at the results. Granted times are tough but people (responding) are much cheaper than I would have ever guessed. I guess that partially explains why the market is so flooded with low end junk. Even with devaluation of the dollar and inflation prices are more restrained than ever. Just a few years ago a just released X1900XT cost me $500 and was a price performance deal compared to the in short supply $800 Geforce (7800?). Just about a year ago I picked up a bargain 8800 GTX at $350 (right when the 8800 GT and then 9000’s started appearing). In perspective a $334 GTX285 I’m thinking about buying is an outright price performance steal.
    To each his own but I think the results are skewed by a much wider audience outside of the gamer, enthusiast, system builder and fanatic overclocker crowd one would normally associate with a hardware site like this. I fall somewhere in the enthusiast/overclocker/gamer crowd and I look to build a good balance of price performance. Granted I have a fair amount of disposable income (I have 4 kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat and a wife that does not work) but I have more brains than I have money. I do look at reviews and look for something to give me the best price performance gaming (and other uses) on a 26” at 1920x1200. I see a whole lot of people trying to put cheap lipstick on a pig in the comments. Conversely I always get a good laugh out of people wanting to run high end cards and/or SLI on small low resolution monitors.
  • yacoub - Monday, March 2, 2009 - link

    "WOW… I’m not easily shocked and I’m shocked at the results. Granted times are tough but people (responding) are much cheaper than I would have ever guessed."

    No, we gamer/enthusiasts a number of things but we're not "cheap". We're price-conscious, we're bang-for-the-buck oriented, we're smart with how we spend our money, and we're (mostly) adults who have the patience and discipline to resist being suckered into dropping big bills for a GPU that's really not worth it.

    You just have a skewed perception that is now being corrected by reality, and it was skewed by spending time on forums populated primarily by the handfuls of people who actually spend their money on ultra high-end GPUs (and often do so every 6 months, and do so specifically for the sake of forum postings and signature stats).

    Most people (talking middle class normal gamer/enthusiat folks) do not drop $500 for a GPU for their computer. They understand the value of $500 better than some kid who doesn't pay for their housing, insurance, etc, and would not be so quick to drop that kind of money on a computer except in rare circumstances.

    And the reality is the GPU market has changed to go after the higher-end pricing schema because there have been an increasing number of suckers that make such a schema more lucrative where it never was quite so lucrative in the past.

    Realistically $200-300 is the range people expect for a near-top-of-the-line GPU for gaming on your average 20-24" widescreen monitor at High graphical game settings. There should only be one single-card offering of a given generation priced higher than that, at around $450-500, which is for the people who think they need it, or who run 30" displays, or who really want to run Ultra High settings at high resolutions at playable framerates.

    Everyone else, and where the big money has traditionally been made, is in the sub-$300 GPU market.

    And there's a lot more caveats and things I'd like to say but whatever this is long enough.

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