ONE OF THE rumors floating around Taipei was about an imminent price drop for ATI 48xx series cards. Less than a week later, the prices dropped by $10.
Official list prices are one thing, but card makers tend to differentiate, sell cheaper than list, and make more upmarket parts. Because of this, prices vary a lot, and MSRPs are almost a mythical number. OC cards, passive coolers, and added shiny bits are all brought to bear in order to appeal to a niche and drive up prices.
Because of that, the listed MSRPs are only a rough guideline, but when the underlying chips get cheaper, everything shifts down. The roughly $10 drop will be seen on almost all card variants in very short order.
Official MSRPs now are “as low as” $159 for the 4870/1G, $109 for the 4850/512M, and $119 for the 4850/1G. We also heard that the 4890 was going to take a $10 drop, but that has yet to materialize. It may or may not happen at this point.
In any case, the reason for the blowout is simple, the 5-series parts are due in a few months, and at that point, anything with a leading 4 devalues by much more than $10. If you really want to move a warehouse full of chips, come up with a low end part based on the same R770 chip, like the 4830.
That will up volumes by a lot and clear inventory quick.
In the end, what you are seeing is a little nudge to the market in a slow time to clear the decks before the next generation. If you are a consumer, now is a good time to buy that second card for a crossfire rig, at $119, those 4850/1G parts are looking very good.S|A