Between a Rock and a Hard Launch

In the wake of the recent, very successful hard launch of the X1900 series by ATI, NVIDIA has had quite a bit of pressure placed on them to make up for the stumbles that they have had with 7800 GTX 512 availability and the limited regional availability of the 7300 series at launch. We have certainly been putting a lot of pressure on these companies to deliver tangible product on the day of a launch. Doing so helps reviewers and consumers alike. We are able to report on a product that we know exists, and we are better able to make a solid recommendation about what to buy. Those interested in the cards don't have to wait for some far off date in the future to get their hands on hardware. Hard launches are a good thing and we want to keep seeing them happen.

And, as is usually the case, we would love to see even more: more parts, more stores with parts, and more countries included at launch. But these kinds of things tend to get a little complicated, and sometimes we end up in situations like what we see today.

We have full retail boxes from both BFG and EVGA. NVIDIA is calling this a hard launch, and we know that they have product out there. Only, no one can buy it until Sunday and Monday. The reason for this is that Best Buy is working with NVIDIA on this launch, and they will start selling their stock on Sunday. NVIDIA has informed us that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are poor days to launch new products, and in order to get the word out before Best Buy started selling cards, the most logical choice is to launch today. Right?

So, we are left with an odd situation where NVIDIA is launching a product that will be available in a brick and mortar store before it is available online, but without immediate availability at launch. This time, we're asking what you think. Is this a good thing? Certainly, getting parts out to physical locations anywhere near a launch is a great thing, but what do we need to see from a company in order to call something a hard launch?

This time around, we will adopt a wait-and-see attitude. We will base future reaction to and analysis of launches like this on what actually happens with this launch (when we go to Best Buy Sunday, there had better be some parts on the shelf) and the feedback that we get from our readers. The power is in your hands; let us know what you think in the comments.

UPDATE: We stand corrected. It has been brought to our attention that CompUSA has 7800 GS boards and is selling them. With that, we are quite impressed with the level of hardness that NVIDIA has brought forth: it's right off the end of the Mohs' scale.

Index The Card and The Test


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  • mrkkbb007 - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    As I said in my earlier post. Head over to Tom's HW for comparison with a 6800 Ultra, the 7800 GS beats the 6800 Ultra AGP in almost all the latest games. The X850XT is still tops, but can't do the eye candy. Reply
  • ciparis - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link


    We've got full retail boxes from both BFG and EVGA.


    For the purposes of these tests, we underclocked a card to the minimum speed NVIDIA is endorsing.

    I'm a little shocked at the decision to ignore the actual speed these cards run at out of the box, and instead show an artificially limited card -- exclusively.

    I wouldn't have minded seeing the "published spec" score, but not at the expense of knowing what you get if you walk into a store and walk out with one of these cards. Without that, this article is glaringly incomplete. I'm left little more informed about how an actual retail product performs than I was before I read it. That doesn't sound like AnandTech.

  • formulav8 - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    I agree that the reviews are subpar. I think anand should not be delegating as many reviews as he has been. You can ALWAYS tell which reviews he does from the moment you start reading it (a good thing). I guess he is just to busy these days to do more of them. Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    Where is the 6800 Ulra or 6800GT in that review? How about a 6600GT? Come on guys... these are the cards that people who would consider buying a 7800GS own right now. Not including a 6800 or 6600 series in that review makes no sense at all.

    On a side note... AT has changed since I started visiting... I used to be able to get all the info I could ask for right here... now I have to visit 5 other forums to get the info I want, and that's not a good thing.
  • spinportal - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    here here.. this article is weak; run the cards at their OC speed, and then LABEL the REFERENCE Speed 7800 GS on the charts, since this is MISLEADING and *NOT* intuitive in comparisons when putting money down on the table.

    From a competition performance-cost standpoint, let's talk about bang for the buck here. This isn't a PREVIEW, this is about a card coming out in days.

    How does the X1600XT 256MB, 6660GT 128MB, 6800 128MB rate in the $130 range.
    Then its the sub 200$ range with the 6600GT or 6800 256MB versions.

    We can all go thank Tom's HW site for the 2005 VGA charts to get a rough ball estimate due to the X850XT PE (which was not 210$ but rather in the $400+ range (from using pricegrabber). Not only that but they do compare the 7800GS against the 6800U and the BFG card is modestly beating the old tech. For the 300$ target price of the 7800GS AGP, there is a vast wasteland and no competition pricewise, but I feel its not justified to say it will drop 6800GT/U prices since it is no longer being manufactured (still going to be rare, and same performance, so why even bother getting an old large hot stinker of a card on E-bay-like services when you can get brand-spanking new tech?)

    I'm still leering of why nVidia cannot see to get HDR and AA/AF to play nice, so I personally don't see much advantage in upgrading from a 6600GT / 6800 GT / U part just for SM 3.0. If the 7800GS is ~30% faster than a 6600GT, ~11% faster than a 6800 GT, and barely ekes out victory over a 6800 U, it doesn't do justice to upgrade unless you need to make the leap from TurboCache or integrated. I do hardware (& sys building) recommendations for many people and want to steer them in the right direction and make them feel they got the best value. Will this make people put off buying an M2 & PCI-e mobo for another year and stick with AGP? I'm not in the business of making predictions, but for me personally, I would rather get an X2 chip, mobo, and X1900 or 7800GTX (or maybe even the refresh to choose from), possibly an Creative X-Fi entry (but highly doubtful, shrug to the 5.1 audiophiles because there is a lack of a stand out digital spdif 5.1 headset - this boggles my mind and is another side topic) and 2GB of DDR2-667 RAM right about xmas 2006. I never find a truly good integrated PC builder that satisfied my DIY urges.
  • mrkkbb007 - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    The 6800 Ultra looses the lead in comparison to 7800 GS. Head over to toms hardware to see benchmark scores. I have an Opteron 146 w/ socket 940 and 2GB ECC-DDR400 that I received from work, but it has an ATI 9600SE. The 7800 GS is exactly what I have been waiting for since upgrading to a 939 with PCI-E is useless and will cost me more than a 7800 GS. The 7800 GS should give my system usefull life for a year at least, maybe more and it will be half the price of a 6800 Ultra.

  • phusg - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    I'd be interested in a comparison between the XT1600 and the 7800 GS AGP cards. They are my 2 candidates for a low power, high performance AGP card for my HTPC. I think many other HTPC owners would be interested in this as well, especially how the HDTV performance and quality compares on older CPUs. Reply
  • Mithan - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    Wish you guys had included a 6800GT or Ultra in here. Reply
  • puffpio - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    Could you add one more line showing how the card benches at the EVGA default overclock? Or maybe do your own overclock and test?

    Since this is the last bastion of AGP performance, I don't think any of us AGP users will want to stock clock this..
  • DrZoidberg - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    Yeah i cannot see why Anandtech decided not to show default factory o/c scores from evga. Sure if AT wanted benchmark with 7800gs underclocked but ALSO include 7800gs standard retail overclock benchmark.

    I mean the consumer who buys the evga 7800gs is not going to underclock the card by 20% from 460/1.35 to 375/1.2 and lose 20% performance.

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