Both nVidia and ATi (AMD these days) have now released their new midrange cards. Links are to Anandtech reviews.
Something odd is going on. First, at the end of October, nVidia release the 8800 GT. A new midrange card to repace the decidedly lackluster 8600 GTS, made on a smaller process to reduce heat production and make it cheaper to produce.
The odd thing is, its too good.
In fact, its better than the 8800 GTS, nVidia's currently-actually-purchasable high end card. And it was slated to appear at midrange prices.
While nVidia has, recently at least, managed "hard" launches (def: the product is widely available at launch), the GT is in short supply. Where it is available it is selling for 25% higher than list, at least in theory, as no-one seems to have any to sell.
But wait, there's more.
Today ATi released their new midrange cards, the 3850 and 3870. They are slated to appear at less than the GT.
The 3870 is about 85% as fast as the GT, which may match the comparative prices. The 3850 is a little less fast, but another chunk cheaper.
For the last couple of years, nVidia has had a definate edge in performance. It hasn't been worth getting an ATi card for a while now. Given the GT's good performance, and ATi's relatively unimpressive cards recently, you might suspect that the 3870 outperforms ATi's current high end card, the 2900 XT.
You would be right. Also, the 3850 has most of the performance of a card they list at more than twice the price.
So, if you're looking to buy a graphics card soon, don't buy high end, unless you find it listing for less than the midrange (unlikely IMO, as I suspect retailers will easily be able to unload them on unsuspecting people looking for the biggest model number).
If the 3870 lists for 85% or less of the price of the GT, then it probably wins in "bang per buck". The 3850 is likely to be good on that too. That said, if you can find a GT for sale, it has the highest performance outside a 8800 Ultra, and doesn't cost much more than the 3870 in all probablility.