Hitting the performance mainstream
Last month, ATI announced a new mid-range video card known as the Radeon X800 GT - designed to take on the GeForce 6600 GT's dominance in the 'performance mainstream' sector. Until now, ATI have not been able to match the price point of the 6600GT - £150 / $250 - with something that performs well enough to be a real contender.
ATI have come, passed by and in one case made a no show in their attempts to compete at this rather important price point. We put the majority of this down to the fact that the NV43 GPU was probably the one of the smartest GPU designs in recent times - it was able to surpass the performance of yesteryear's high-end whilst having a very competitive price tag of around £150 at launch. Radeon X700 Pro wasn't fast enough, Radeon X700 XT never turned up in retail, Radeon X800 256MB cost a little too much to be competitive and the Radeon X800 128MB never showed up in any great volume.
Of course, the GeForce 6600 GT has Shader Model 3.0 support, which ATI can't provide right now. But relatively speaking, the GeForce 6600 GT is not likely to make use of a lot of the advanced image quality options available to it because it is simply not fast enough to use the performance hogging features without running at bizarrely low resolutions.
X800GT - worse than that, it's dead, Jim
The spotlight turns today on the Radeon X800 GT - a GPU with eight pixel pipelines and six vertex shaders. It's what is termed as a 'dead-die SKU', which basically means that it is based on any of ATI's R4XX GPUs that have manufacturing defects meaning that some of the sixteen pixel pipelines are not fully functional. Of course, these don't grow on trees as these cards do not have a massive problem with yield.
As such, the Radeon X800 GT will be available in a limited supply - once they are gone, they are gone. Today, we have four Radeon X800 GT solutions that are available to buy today - with the exception of the final card, the All-In-Wonder X800 GT, which is an engineering sample from ATI. The All-In-Wonder X800 GT is going in to full production later this week and we hope that it will be available by the end of September at the latest. We thought you'd like a peek at the official ATI version, as well as the tweaked and modded ones coming in from its partners. We'll be bringing you a full look at the AIW and all its new features next week.