Check up on the enthusiast Web sites and their review of AMD's new $130 512MB ATI Radeon HD 4830 graphics card and you'll find a common thread. Each laments the crowded $100 to $200 3D card segment, where rebates and minute performance wins make it very hard to determine a clear winner between AMD and Nvidia in this price range.
If you believe AMD, and want to compare the Radeon HD 4830 with Nvidia's GeForce 9800, it seems as if the Radeon card wins on performance, even on games such as Crysis and Call of Duty 4, where, as the folks at PC Perspective note, Nvidia traditionally has the upper hand. The complication here is that you can find the GeForce 9800 card for a few dollars less than the new AMD card.
Follow Nvidia's guidance, and compare the Radeon HD 4830 to the GeForce 9800 GTX+, the situation is reversed, Nvidia maintains a slight performance edge, but the AMD card is less expensive. Just keep in mind that the 9800 GTX+ is a double-wide card. The Radeon HD 4830 has a single slot design, meaning you can install it in a wider variety of desktops.
In one view, 3D card shoppers win. All of these cards deliver speedy 3D frame rates on current PC games for relatively affordable prices. But with so many options, this midrange thin-slicing, as always, is confusing and annoying. You can bet both AMD and Nvidia are aware of the game they're playing, a kind of one-upsmanship in minor increments.
Our suggestion? We like generally like AMD's cards more than Nvidia's lately. Among other things, they have better audio implementation over the HDMI port, you get more flexibility in multicard setups, and on level that's completely irrelevant to you, AMD doesn't send us overly aggressive weekly propaganda newsletters via e-mail. Ultimately, you're best off buying the fastest card you can afford. That strategy will typically give you the longest break between upgrades.