Finally Some Competition

I purchased my current video card, a 7900GTO 512MB, around a year ago when NVIDIA started clearing stock after the GeForce 8 series launch. As a rebadged and lower binned 7900GTX, it was a hell of a steal at under $300CAD. Since the launch of the 8 series, NVIDIA hasn’t faced much competition in the retail graphics market. ATI’s (or should I say AMD) R600, aka HD2900 was only able to keep up with the 8800GTS 640MB, assuming anti-aliasing wasn’t enabled. Due to the lack of competition both in terms of performance pricing from AMD, the price of the ‘performance mid-range’ 8800GTS didn’t fall more than 20% since that launch a year ago. For the computer industry, that’s hellishly little depreciation.

Which is why I’m happy that NVIDIA and AMD are doing their fall refreshes, but not of their top end. The performance mid range ($200-300) which has been severely neglected by both companies is getting an influx of cards. NVIDIA’s recent launch of the G92 based 8800GT will slot in around $200 for a 256MB version and around $250 for the 512MB version. Those prices are supposed to drop even lower, but with the sky-high demand and poor supply, price gouging has occurred, sending the prices up towards $300. Even still, less than $300 for a card that mostly outperforms the 8800GTS 640MB, which was recently priced around the $400CAD mark is quite an achievement.

On November 19th, AMD is expected to launch a slew of products, including Phenom processors (K10 for the desktop) as well as RV670-based HD3850 and HD3870 video cards. One of the headline features is the inclusion of DX10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support. Whether these features will be used in upcoming games remains to be seen, but you can be certain AMD will tout its advantage of the 8800GT that doesn’t have support for anything newer than DX10. The cards should slot in from ~$180 to $240. Hopefully this launch will bring down some of the gouging on the 8800GTs. It remains to be seen how these cards will perform in comparison to the 8800GT as well as the outgoing HD2900’s.

I’ve put in a pre-order for an EVGA 8800GT Superclocked, but with supply so scarce, I doubt I’ll get it much before (if before at all) the November 19th launch by AMD. I’m sort of hoping it won’t be back in stock until some leaked performance numbers for the RV670 creeps out. That way, I’ll have a chance to cancel and order the HD3870 is it’s good, or otherwise still be in line for an 8800GT that will eventually be mine. And what good timing with all these new games coming out (Crysis, UT3, Gears of War for PC).

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