GPU High End

Last month, we were excited to announce that the X800, X850XT and X800XL were showing on store shelves. Of course, we were originally promised a December/January ship date instead of a February/March ship date, but this is just business as usual for those of us accustomed to the hardware world. This month, the same cards from last month are on retail shelves, but now, in easy-to-upgrade AGP form. However, recommending a third generation Radeon X series repackaged into an AGP form is a difficult proposition for us. Although you may have upgraded your motherboard and CPU in the past, an AGP Radeon X800 only makes sense for those who have spent a lot of money on a relatively recent nForce3 or K8T800 setup, but only need to upgrade the graphics card now. A socket 462 based solution really would benefit more from a CPU/motherboard upgrade than from a high end GPU upgrade, although some overclockers among the crowd will always beg to differ. Further, considering that the X800 AGP cards carry a $30 premium over their PCIe brethren, we can't justify the extra cost. nForce4 boards are very easy to get under $100 for Socket 754 and Socket 939 [RTPE: nForce4]. By the way, if you really want an AGP video card, an ASUS 6800 GT might be the better way to go, but more on that in a second.

Since March, the Sapphire X800 256MB [RTPE: 100107] fell almost $50, certainly impressive considering that we were promised an actual $250 MSRP on this product. Sapphire's X800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100105] also fell to the $299 MSRP, which was certainly welcomed as well. Take a look at how both of these products have behaved over the last three months.

Sapphire X800 256MB

Sapphire X800XL 256MB

Considering the fact that we were recommending X800XL video cards over GeForce 6800GTs [RTPE: GeForce 6800GT] a month ago, and the Radeons took a nose dive in price, we would be ridiculous to not call the X800XL cards our top graphics card pick this month. We do commend NVIDIA for ramping up shipments of their retail 6800GT and 6800 Ultra PCIe cards. Although, until vendors decide to drop the MSRP on these cards, we are quite sure that ATI will continue to dominate the $200-$300 video card market. We have mentioned it before in the past, but the Radeon X800 Pro [RTPE: Radeon X800 Pro] lineup is a dead end. With prices on the better performing X800 XL where they are, we strongly recommend against buying a Radeon X800 Pro.

We alluded to an LeadTek GeForce 6800 GT [RTPE: A400 GT TDH] earlier, and if you fall in that specific high-end AGP market, there really aren't many effective options. For those looking for the benchmark numbers, take a quick look at our benchmark summary from a few months ago. When talking about AGP video cards, these aren't apples-to-apples comparisons because of the bridge chips, but for all intents and purposes, there will not be much difference between those benchmarks and the AGP variants. Going the 6800GT route saves you $20 or so if you go with the 128MB version on AGP.

A bit of competition in this field would be nice. As we mentioned earlier, the bout for PCIe high end cards certainly go to ATI.

Index GPU Ultra High End


View All Comments

  • cryptonomicon - Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - link

    neat stuff.

    hard to decide between 6600GT and 9800pro as it just dropped in price. i'll have to do some benchmark comparisons against price ratios.
  • semo - Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - link


    €428 = $553 according to this site:
  • KristopherKubicki - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    patrick0: I am not 100% sure of the exchange rate, but I know the USD against the Euro is not favorable. €428 is definitely more than $459.

  • EODetroit - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Its a shame about Newegg, they used to allow negative reviews. I remember shopping for a DVD burner back when they were new and expensive, and people who write stuff like "This burner sucks, avoid it at all costs! Newegg rocks, they got it to me in 2 days, but don't buy this burner, it sucks!". Those reviews were really helpful. But now you don't see anything negative so you can't trust the reviews any more :(. I still shop at Newegg all the time but I don't recommend them to all my friends like I used to 'cause of this.
  • junyor22 - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    On page 4 they mention a 256MB 6600GT offering from MSI...
    The link actualy goes to a 128MB version of this card and looking at MSI's website

    They don't offer this card. Only a 256MB AGP 6600 (non GT)

  • patrick0 - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Forget about the $70-$120, that's what alcohol is doing :)

    Still the X850XT PE is about $40 cheaper.
  • patrick0 - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    I really don't understand why you always compare prices of these expensive stores.

    A Radeon X850XT for $460, I can buy one for €378 (GeCube) or €385 (PowerColor)
    Radeon X850XT PE for $459, I can buy one for €428

    Even if you have to pay international shipment, over $70-$120 diference will make up for that.

    I suppose you can buy in the USA for these prices as well. For those who care, these are prices of a store in Barcelona (Spain)
  • Phiro - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Hey, where's the regular 6600's? Don't they fill the gap between the $180 6600GT and the $100 6200? Reply
  • Souka - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Pretty useless article.... my opinion... nuff said. Reply
  • intellon - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    I'm a student and I have a P4-2.8GHz 533FSB with 512mb RDRAM and an AGP 9700 pro AND it's a Dell!!!(please spare the bashing)
    now strictly economically, should I bother to replace 9700pro with a X800XL or a BFG-6800GT OC (Both can be had for $500 here in Canada) or should I dump the dell and build my own PCI-e rig?
    Note: Money matters. So need the total cost to be minimum in the end.

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