High-End Graphics

As we stated earlier, with prices of the ultra high-end and mid-range cards being so competitive, we do not recommend the purchase one of these high-end video cards. However, AGP users as yet do not have ultra high-end options.

AGP cards have developed a tendency to be priced significantly higher than their PCI-E counterparts. At the moment, your best AGP option would be an ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100-435508] going for about $285.

With the PCI-E X800XL cards, two caught our attention: the Sapphire Radeon X800XL 256MB [RTPE: 100105] and the Connect3D Radeon X800XL 256MB [RTPE: 3028C]. Both of these cards are on sale for about $240 shipped. If you're in the market for an All-In-Wonder card, for a little over $290, you can pick up the ATI Radeon X800XL 256MB A-I-W [RTPE: 100-714301]. We're noticing three 512MB cards from Abit, Gigabyte, and Sapphire, but we strongly recommend against them because of the high price tags. Besides, 512 MB cards have yet to show any real advantage over 256 MB cards; the only reason the latest ATI and NVIDIA cards perform better is because they have fast RAM, not because they have more RAM.

Upon further inspection, we note the X800XL A-I-W is on sale for $290. If you are looking for an All-In-Wonder, rather than the X800XL, we suggest the ATI Radeon X800XT 256MB A-I-W [RTPE: 100-714200] for the same price. The cheapest X800XT that we are seeing is exactly the same price as the MSI 7800GT we recommended on the previous page. It's a rather obvious decision which card to go with.

We would apply the same general rule with these 6800GT cards as we did with the X800XT cards. The cheapest card at the moment is the PNY GeForce 6800GT 256MB [RTPE: VCG6800GXPB] going for $274.00. $35 more gets you a 7800 GT, which is significantly faster. Unfortunately for the AGP holdouts, the cheapest 6800 GT is running $340, and you can get either of the new architectures. We wouldn't recommend spending that much money on outdated technology anyway, and with current prices you could likely get a PCI express motherboard and a 7800 GT for less than the price of a hypothetical 7800 GT AGP.

Index Mid Range Graphics
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  • unclebud - Thursday, December 15, 2005 - link

    @ best buy this week
    because there may be people (like me) who only have pci slots and not any pci-e slots whatsoever on ANY of their machines
    hth somebody. it did me
  • h7o - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    "...and less you're a diehard ATI fan" on the first page.
  • semo - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    what the hell is happening with the low end cards. they're approaching the cost of mid-range and mid-range keeps getting higher and higher.

    this situation is not helped a lot by cards from the last century still being in the market me thinks.
  • GhostlyGhost2 - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link


    but the remainder of the 6800 Ultra cards are basically high-performance cards at an ultra high cost. Quite a few of them cost as much or more than a 7800 GTX!

    Wow... And to think I was contemplatin buying a first 6800U and go SLI some time later as AnandTech always pushed as a wonderful idea. I'm sure glad I didn't make that ***COSTLY MISTAKE***.

    I sure feel for those who did, though.
  • rrcn - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    For the past few price guides, we've been restating that it's definitely better, performance and price-wise, to go with a single 7800GTX rather than two 6800U/GT's in SLi. ;)
  • GhostlyGhost - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    Yeah,. Ok. Great.

    But what will you say when the next iteration comes around? In the end, isn't SLI a pointless feature since (it appears) Nvidia can outdo itself in just one card generation?
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    I put this in the article, as I never have been a strong proponent of SLI "upgrades":

    By the way, have we mentioned that purchasing a single high-end card now and planning on upgrading with the second high-end card in the future might be a bad idea? There's probably a decent number of people out there that by the 6800 Ultra for a lot of money, with the intent of purchasing a second one when the price dropped below $300. Now they're stuck with a single card and the option to upgrade to SLI at a premium that just isn't worth it. Until ATI and NVIDIA get their multi-card solutions to work across generations, we would suggest you either go the whole hog and buy two cards initially, or just buy a single card and stick with it. There will be occasions -- like the 6800 GT -- where the prices do drop to reasonable levels, but we certainly wouldn't plan on that.

    Obviously, AnandTech has many writers, and we don't all agree on every point.
  • VooDooAddict - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    The best use for SLI that I have found is this:

    Two brothers are building new systems around the 7800GT.

    Both get inexpensive SLI boards (Biostar or Abit KN8 SLI come to mind).

    When one of the brothers upgrades to the next generation. The other can buy the replaced 7800GT and get a nice boost.

    Sure, they have to get slightly beefier powersupplies. Is that really such a bad thing?
  • rgreen83 - Friday, December 9, 2005 - link

    Where the heck are the 6600 non gt's? thats probably the most compelling card around the low-mid to low range right now which i am looking into for my little bro's pc.
  • Cygni - Saturday, December 10, 2005 - link

    Ya, i too felt the absence of the standard 6600 for comparisons sake to the X700 series. But... its not exactly the price/performance leader it was a few months ago. A vanilla 6600 is $99 at newegg... the DDR2 version is $117... and the 6600GT's in the $120-125 range. The performance of the 6600GT for only an extra twenty spot really makes it the best choice right now, and ive even seen 6600GT's drop as low as $105 AR. The performance of the DDR2 6600's is deffinitly stronger than the vanilla 6600, but not GT levels, and the price gap is too small to reccommend that purchase either.

    The 6600 is a solid card, to be sure, and its something worth keeping an eye on... but right now, the GT's are probably the better choice.

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