ThinkComputer writes: "For the past month or so, the video card news has been dominated by the release of the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2, HD 4870, HD 4850, and to a lesser extent, the geForce 9800GT. In my opinion, the latter two cards have permanently changed the future of the video card market. The HD 4850 gives what has been seen as upper-end video card performance for under $200. The 9800GT, with somewhat lesser performance, should have entered the market at around $200, but instead entered it at sub-$150 prices. Both of these cards will play DX10 games running AA, which has always been the main reason to purchase an upper-end video card. This has definitely raised the bar for all future upper-end video cards, from now on, a $350-$600 video card will be expected to give impressive FPS when running 4x or 8x AA. Future midrange cards will now be expected to run 2 x AA with ease.
Though the spotlight has always been on the upper-end and midrange cards, we have to face the facts, 2/3 of all video cards purchased each year cost under $100. The industry actually calls these "mainstream" cards. Both nVidia and ATI have built these cards for years, though they receive little attention from gaming and hardware websites. To be honest, I have paid little to no attention to the "mainstream" cards from either company, having owned only midrange gaming cards until earlier this year."