Price Guides, October 2005: Video Cardsby Anand Lal Shimpi & Howard Johnston on October 1, 2005 5:54 PM EST
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A few months ago we could safely say that ATI had almost nothing competitive to offer in the $100-$200 video card segment. In our last guide we saw the X800 starting to hit the streets in numbers. This week ATI brings us even more quality mid-range solutions: the X800 GT, X800GTO and X800GTO squared (GTO2).
With 8 pixel pipelines, the X800GT is positioned between the X700 and X800 in ATI's model hierarchy (although it usually performs about the same as an X800!). The X800GTO features a 12-pipe version of the R420, R423, or R480 core depending on the card vendor.
However, our pick for this week will definitely be for the Sapphire Radeon X800GTO2 256MB [RTPE: 100130]. This card features the R480 core with all 16 pixel pipes enabled for a price of around $220! These cards overclock very well, but since ATI sold the cores as excess inventory, they can't be labeled what they really are, X850 parts. Update: Some cards have 16 pipes enabled, some have 12. All unlock to 16 with a very simple BIOS flash.
With the launch of the 7800GT, the plain 6800 series cards are dropping to around $200 as well. Choosing between the 6600GT and 6800 can be difficult. The main difference is that the 6800 features a 256-bit memory interface. However, manufacturers of the 6800s are using slower memory in their PCIe adaptations of the cards than in the AGP versions. The XFX 6800 remains a good value for AGP users at $150 after mail in rebate [RTPE: XFX 6800 AGP].
On the 6600GT front you can see that prices haven't really moved much over the last month. These cards have been flying off the shelves and thus come into lower supply then usual so expect prices to actually increaseover the next few months. The X800GTO and GTO2 are great alternatives to the 6600GT.
Also, we've gotten word from manufacturers that the GeForce 6600GT and FX5200 components are in allocation right now. Due to their popularity, NVIDIA has slightly limited the number of chips per manufacturer. As a result, 6600GT prices aren't really expected to change much through December.
For the lower end of the mid-range products the ATI X700 remains a good bargain cards under $120. The Connect3D Radeon X700 Pro 256MB [RTPE: Connect3D X700 Pro] is still the best X700 bargain this week even though prices have risen a few dollars.