PCIe High End Range

As promised, ATI's X800, X850XT and X800XL are here, albeit a little later than we had all expected. Hopefully, you have had the opportunity to read our introduction of the X800/X850 back in December as well as the X800XL follow up a few weeks later. The X800XL caught our interest as one of the strong price/performance cards, given its $299 estimated MSRP. Unfortunately, instead of a $299 GeForce 6800GT competitor, we have a $369 GeForce 6800GT competitor instead. Granted, almost everywhere we look, the Radeon X800XL [RTPE: Radeon X800XL] is very competitive with the GeForce 6800GT [RTPE: GeForce 6800GT]; and that's based on the fact that you can find the PCIe version of the 6800GT. For months, system builders were given priority from NVIDIA channel distributors over retail vendors, and we are just starting to see consistent availability now.

Prices are falling rapidly on the X800XL, and we will probably have a better feel for the market in the next couple of weeks. If the card stabilizes just under the GeForce 6800GT, we would be crushed, but at the rate that prices are dropping, it might do much better than that.



Even with the fact in mind that prices are still falling, the X800XL claims our top pick for this week's high end purchase. The Sapphire Radeon X800XL [RTPE: 100105] and the PowerColor X800XL [RTPE: R43C-TVD3D] are within a few dollars of each other, and you should be very pleased with either one of them.

Crossing the threshold from High End to Insanity, the X850XT began showing up at select merchants about two weeks ago. The best available pricing still puts the card in the mid $500 range, which is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a video card.



You'll notice that we deliberately did not weigh SLI very high in this week's high end pick. With issues on nForce4 starting to surface, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense right now to throw all of your eggs into the SLI basket. Tumwater SLI support seems fine - but if you are an enthusiast willing to spend thousands of dollars on a high end workstation, you probably aren't running an Intel based system anyway. SLI is a nice, possible upgrade bonus if you already intend to purchase a 6600GT or a 6800GT, but we don't recommend investing in an SLI setup until some of the more mature motherboards and chipsets hit the retail market.

Index AGP High End
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  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, February 26, 2005 - link

    It's been a week now, is Wes going to let us know what issues he found with the nForce4 boards? Reply
  • rastamanphan - Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - link

    Where are the AGP ATI cards on the highend card pricelist? Reply
  • Bobby Peru - Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - link

    crucibelle, the x700 pro is not PCI-E it is AGP bus.

    they are saying, for PCI-E use x700 pro or Leadtek
    6600GT PCI-E. For AGP use XFX 6600GT. Only newer
    motherboards have PCI-E.

    I guess if nobody else is having heat problems that
    guy at pricegrabber installed his heatsink wrong.
    Reply
  • donxvi - Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - link

    XFX claims the new heatsink is 20 degrees COOLER than the old, reference design. Reply
  • fargazer - Tuesday, February 22, 2005 - link

    I have been considering a Linux desktop for a while now, and one thing I could use from a video card roundup is how well the various cards perform under Linux. Any chance of that being covered, either in a general pricing guide for video cards, or in a separate article? Reply
  • crucibelle - Monday, February 21, 2005 - link

    Kristopher,

    I was wondering if you could tell me why the 6600GT was previously recommended as the best mid-range PCI-E card (midrange buyer's guide), but now it's the x700 pro that is recommended. Why did you all change your minds? Thanks!
    Reply
  • Bobby Peru - Sunday, February 20, 2005 - link

    This raises the general issue of possible differences between "review" pre-production boards and actual production boards. It may be asking a lot but it would be interesting if review sites were able to just buy boards at retail rather than having special boards sent to them by the manufacturer. I need to find some explanation of reading the writing on the memory chips to determine their speed. I will say that at least review sites do generally post detailed photos of the boards. I can believe that if a manufacturer wanted to shave costs before doing a production run that the memory and the heatsink would be obvious places to start. At this point I would simply ask people what their heat sinks look like, what their memory chips say, and if their board looks like the review board photos. For all we know the other review is from some agent provacateur troll. The last sentence is a typo, 1.6ns is preferable to 2.0. Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Sunday, February 20, 2005 - link

    Bobby Peru: I have one of these cards and I have not noticed the thermal throttling mentioned in the price grabber "review". I cannot disrepute the 2.0ns memory, but as for gettings speeds lower than a 5950: that seems like a complete farce.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • Bobby Peru - Sunday, February 20, 2005 - link

    I wonder if AnandTech or someone who bought this card recently could comment on this review from pricegrabber...

    "I purchased this card after reading many many reviews of the GF 6600GT series of cards, especially the XFX version of this card. Needless to say I am quite disappointed with what I received.

    XFX has changed their production process for their 6600GT series of cards. No longer will you get 1.6ns memory, they are now including 2.0ns. Which by itself it not necessarily bad, but every review currently out there was done with the 1.6ns memory. You will not be able to get the same results that the reviewers have gotten in the past.

    The worst part of the changes XFX made with this card was the heat sink and cooler. The cooler they are now shipping on the card is a small underpowered piece of crap, not the nVidia standard 6600GT cooler.

    I removed the cooler, cleaner all surfaces with 100% Isopropyl Alcohol then re-installed it with Artic Silver 5. The result: the GPU runs at 55c even at IDLE with no overclocking. Under full load it hits 80c+. This cooler sucks.

    I can’t play Half-Life without choppiness as the card is throttling down because of excess heat. In 3DMark 2003, this card gets a lower score than my FX5950. Again because of heat related throttling.

    If you buy this card plan on buying a third party cooler as well. Or make sure you get an older version of the card that has the standard nVidia heat sink and fan. That way you can get the 2.0ns memory as well.
    Reply
  • glennpratt - Sunday, February 20, 2005 - link

    AGP != PCI-E Reply

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