Weekly Motherboards & Video Price Guide: February 2003 2nd Editionby Kristopher Kubicki on February 24, 2003 4:31 AM EST
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The ATI video card train proves again this week to be a wild ride. We are not sure if resellers just can not make up their minds, or if products fly off the shelves, but we can conclude that unusual practices are abundant in this market. For example, last week we noticed that the Gigabyte Maya II 9700 Pro was carried by virtually every merchant. This week, however, most major merchants do not have a single unit in stock. Several in fact deleted the item from their inventory.
Meanwhile, we are having troubles differentiating between Sapphire and "Built by ATI" video cards as almost every merchant we list tends to use the interchangeably. These cards are technically identical, the only difference being the color of the PCB and the OEM fan. However, most people enjoy getting what they pay for, so paying for a video card that proclaims "Built by ATI" should result in the same red PCB card. We attempted to screen our cards the best we could, although some resellers seem to make it very difficult to find out which card you are actually buying.
Most 9700 Pro cards were priced in the 300USD range while the FIC AT010 undercut the Sapphire equivalent by approximately 20USD. Although not all 9700 Pro's are made the same, we can justify the the marginal differences with a significant 20USD difference. However, the Sapphire cards are also slowly coming down in price, and we can expect them to break the 300USD range within the next few weeks. Obviously, when we start to see some R350 chipsets we can expect the 9700/Pro cards to drop at least 25% in price.
Other notable tidbits include the lack of any third party 9700 Pro All-In-Wonder cards. We are starting to see some 9000 AIW cards which we will start listing next week. However, the promised Sapphire BEAST 9700 Pro seems surprisingly absent from the "Powered by ATI" market. Hopefully it makes an appearance soon since Sapphire cards seem to carry 30-40USD difference under the ATI OEM cards.