Video Cards: ATI

This week prices continue to be quite normal for ATI's bleeding-edge X800-based cards. Even though ATI is working to put more on store shelves, and roll out their X600 and X300 cards, they are all still a bit too pricey to recommend in a guide that is focused primarily on price. Recent benchmarks comparing X800's to NVIDIA's 6800-series cards also show that it may be best to wait and see what's in stock as more DX9-intensive games are released later this year. Doom 3 seems to be a mark against ATI while other games such as Half-life 2 are still missing in action and not yet available to balance the scale, or tip it further.

While you may be tempted to rush out and pick up one of the newer cards, we suggest giving the market at least a few more weeks, preferably a month or more, to figure out whether or not an X800 Pro or PE is worth your cash, or if NVIDIA may be the way to go. With the spotlight shining directly on the latest generation of video cards, it's easy to forget that there are other, very solid alternatives available if your system just can't wait for an upgrade.

The best value for ATI-based cards currently available goes once again to Sapphire's Radeon 9800 Pro, which has finally started showing up more frequently below the $200 mark without rebates or special sales being involved. Considering that price point, it may be possible to hunt around and find even better deals or special offers from various retailers. The Radeon 9800 Pro continues to provide very respectable frame rates in today's gaming titles without sacrificing quality or noise and without sounding like a blow dryer. The upcoming patch version of 1.2 for Far Cry promises to bring even more to the 9800 to help sweeten the deal.

Alternatively, the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro 128MB is a great option if high-end gaming is not a prerequisite. Don't take that the wrong way either, since this card is still capable of providing satisfactory performance and resolution in most current game titles. Be aware that once games such as Doom 3 and Half-life 2 are available, this card will most likely be the bare minimum when it comes to system requirements.



Index Video Cards: NVIDIA
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  • Trake - Sunday, August 01, 2004 - link

    bah, you are indeed correct. too bad you didn't post a couple days ago. :-) it would have saved me a whole lot of time. The AOpen 5700 just, not "LE", is indeed a good buy. I discovered that my friend's was in fact an AOpen 5700 whereas the one i purchased, by mistake no less, was 5700LE. My apologies to the good people at anandtech. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, August 01, 2004 - link

    256MB versions of mid-range (and low-end) cards often use slower memory than the 128MB versions, which makes them slower cards overall. If you use something like Coolbits (just Google for it if unsure) you can check the current core and memory clock of your card to see how it compares with other 5700's.

    The usual speed of a 5700 is core 425, memory 550. There are also the faster 5700 Ultra (core 475, memory 900), and the really slow 5700LE (core 250, memory 400).

    That should be enough for you to find out how your 5700 compares with the standard.
    Reply
  • Trake - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    Please don't ever recommend the AOpen 5700 again. Using a benchmark I heard of here at anandtech (aguamark 3) I found that it is a terribly underperforming card (i have 3dmark2003 but didn't bother because the AQ3 rating was so poor). I used a friends 5700 a couple weeks ago to see what kind of gains i'd get by upgrading, they were substantial, though i didn't know the brand. I have a pixelview 5600. The AOpen 5700 didn't even outperform my 5600, not to mention come even close to the performance of my friends 5700. The AOpen 5700 performed about 8% worse than my pixelview 5600 and a whopping 33% worse than my friends 5700. 33%!!!! and it's SUPPOSED to use the same nvidia chipset? I bought it because of the recommendations here and man am i now sorry. In all fairness to anandtech, i did buy the 256 version and not the 128... not sure what kind of difference that would make. It's not a driver issue either because i made sure all tests used the same and most recent drivers. AOpen = suck Reply

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