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ATI and Nvidia's Same-Day Mega-Launch Mayhem

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
March 9, 2006 5:03:59 PM

Today, Nvidia unloads both barrels at ATI with the debut of the GeForce 7900GTX and 7900GT for the extreme crowd and the 7600GT for those willing to settle for the mid- to high-end graphics card experience. Punching back, ATI Radeon X1800GTO has unveiled a scaled-down and cheaper version of its R520. Did someone say "buyer's market"?
March 9, 2006 5:22:05 PM

I for one am lovin this. Between the new upgrade options and lower prices on older products, I picked the perfect time to upgrade my GPU.

I also think this has a lot more affect on most of us than the stupid depates about unreleased conroe over in the CPU forum.
March 9, 2006 5:50:39 PM

...and the 7600GT for those willing to settle for the mid- to high-end graphics card experience.

Still, it's pretty disappointing when this £170 card -- which is available today in the UK, kudos -- isn't really enough to make me want to replace the old X800GTO (well, XTPE ish, but still).

It strikes me as Nvidia had an opportunity to decimate ATI on the cost front with some super-aggressive pricing. This is lost, since the mid-range, marginally better cards are still retailing for that bit more than their predecessor, and the X1800GTO is slated to be even more pricey than the 7600!

So really I don't understand the hype here, all this talk about reduced costs is certainly not working its way down to us yet.
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March 9, 2006 6:51:17 PM

I believe nothing is better than nvidia graphic chips but myself I am quite impressed with Ati technical data for its upcoming graphic design, unfortunaly ATI is to late to get the buyers market now. Most hard-core gamers have gotten the 7800 and are very happy with the results. ATI was trying to entice people to buy with lower prices while nvidia was making the bucks. This gave the room for nvidias techs to work on the next generation and for nvidia this has been their market for producing the best and most stable graphic chips. Ati benches are very nice but compared to nvidia with nearly matching scores Ati will most likely have to lower their prices a few hundreds to steal the buyers market again.
March 9, 2006 7:19:40 PM

ATI has already announced price cuts on a lot of their X1X00 series cards.
March 9, 2006 7:21:47 PM

As single cards, ATI overall rule.
When dual cards come into question the cross fire seems to lose against SLI.
The 7900GT has started from where 7800GT stopped being the best price/performance. I'll probably go for one of these things when i'll build my rig. Though i'm also considering the 1900XT.
I'd still chose a 1900XTX over a 7900GTX since dual cards seem pointless from my point of view.
Nvidias cards still don't beat ATI. I guess we can conclude this as being a stalemate in performance though ATI might have to lower the prices.
March 9, 2006 7:49:49 PM

so when do we see 7600gt on agp? itd be the perfect upgrade for me since its pretty cheap and gives excellent perforamnce... im doubting ati will release any x1800 series onto agp so im kinda hoping nvidia will step up... the 7800gs is a bit too pricey for me being in the agp market... so info on if/when 7600 will come to agp would be helpful :) ... it has 16 pipelines right?
March 9, 2006 7:57:21 PM

I haven't heard about a 7600 for AGP, but I have heard that ATI has all but given up on AGP, so don't expect to see any X1800 series or above realeased there.

That is why I am finally going to go PCI-E, though it hurts to give up my $200+ Gigabyte mobo.
March 9, 2006 7:59:03 PM

my mobo came free with the cpu, but i like my agp card and the fact that pci express is overrated since cards dont even use 8x bandwith, let alone 16x... it annoys me :( 
March 9, 2006 8:08:09 PM

Yeah, I can understand that.

Unfortunately, I have one of the very first socket 939 mobos, and being that is was the only one with decent features, it was very expensive.
March 9, 2006 8:21:43 PM

Dual processor, dual GPU, Dual channel Memory Is an advantage in today’s market, for example; ‘{Colombia studios and many others have been using dual processing for years}’ to the movie industry and the gamers perspective, dual integrated systems is the smarter investment. Look at the benefits of having a dual system opposed to a non-dual 1 year from now. Most software, new releases of windows, and other OS systems will take great advantage of a dual and multi core instruction set.

Nvidia VS ATI has been for years and it was decided by most reasonable thinking imputs that it comes to choice.
March 9, 2006 8:23:08 PM

oh yea, plus the fact that i have socket 754... somehow i dont see socket 754 + pci express working too well together, there arnt many name brand mobos that support pciexpress on 754, or last time i checked all i could find was jetway... if i did get one i guess it wold be a hybrid because my x700 is plenty fast for now, and in 6 months when i cant run games id like to jst pop in a nice ati card and have no troubles...
March 9, 2006 8:32:52 PM

I hear ya dude, who can affort that.
March 9, 2006 8:45:42 PM


There is talk of a X1600 coming to AGP. So this GTO version might also. I spoke with ATI and the GTO might be unlockable. Granted the GTO was designed primarily from chips placed aside that could not hit the retil X1800 clock frequencies or had deficiencies. However, there are sure to be some that consumers can unlock. So if this makes it to an AGP card via a third party maker than you might get your wish.

Simplest thing is to bug manufacturers. Nvidia saw demand and released 7800GS.
March 9, 2006 8:46:13 PM

I would just like to add I just sumbitted my request for step-it-up on evga's website :) . Purchased my 7800GTX's on Dec 18th.... talk about cutting it close to the 90 limit!!!!! Ok as for 7900GTX v X1900XTX i don't care they both rule. I personaly just like SLI over crossfire.
March 9, 2006 8:46:26 PM

The SLI performance increase is much larger than Crossfire's.
March 9, 2006 8:57:59 PM


There is talk of a X1600 coming to AGP. So this GTO version might also. I spoke with ATI and the GTO might be unlockable. Granted the GTO was designed primarily from chips placed aside that could not hit the retil X1800 clock frequencies or had deficiencies. However, there are sure to be some that consumers can unlock. So if this makes it to an AGP card via a third party maker than you might get your wish.

Simplest thing is to bug manufacturers. Nvidia saw demand and released 7800GS.

Actually, the X1600PRO has been available in AGP for a while, but I think that's the bset your gonna get from ATI.
March 9, 2006 9:05:17 PM

yea ive looked into those, but the thing is it wouldnt be much of an pgrade over an x700pro.. maybe 10% at most, 1600 is a decent card but not worth upgrading, even though a friend is going to buy my x700 for 100 bux, i paid 130 for it tho..
March 9, 2006 9:18:17 PM

In my humble opinion, the 1600 is cripled by the 128-bit memory interface. But then, it still beats my 9800 Pro
March 9, 2006 9:53:30 PM

Im liking the 7900GT
March 9, 2006 10:07:48 PM

The one I know about is an XT version.
March 9, 2006 10:09:16 PM

128-bit might severly limit the theoretical bandwidth but that is the approach that 7600GT is taking with its texture memory interface.
March 9, 2006 10:23:35 PM

well my x700 shares the same 128 bit... and clock speeds are similar, the 1600 offers sm3.0 but its overrated for such a weak card...
March 9, 2006 10:25:06 PM

Yeah. That's usually what seperates the higher from the lower cards in that situation. Oftentime, if they get a card that doesn't meet the higher specs, IE 256-bit memory doesn't pass, but it will pass as 128, then they will market it as that so that they don't waste silicone
March 9, 2006 10:49:08 PM


You realize DFI and Epox have fantastic PCI-E based 754 boards...

That being said...
I'm liking the look of the cards. I think ATI still has a solid standpoint,
as they finally realesed a decent midranged card (Being the GTO) which
might be able to capture some of the midranged market in time.
I'm sure they have a slight edge simply becuase they can start (and have started) to cut X1900 prices. Which in turn, should keep the 7900 series in check. Great hardware from both companies though...much love.

I'm still debating between the 7900GTX or the X1900XT though...
March 9, 2006 10:52:40 PM

i didnt know that because i havnt been looking it up because it doesnt seem wotrht it, upgrading a dead processor, with no upgrade path... although i do have a 3700+ its the last cpu for this chipset and it will be outdated soon with the hole dual core craze gonig on, buying a 70 dollar 754 mobo, then buying a 300 dollar gpu isnt worth the money for me when i could just buy a 300 dollar gpu for agp, since ill be upgrading my entire system in a years time...
March 9, 2006 10:53:22 PM

I have to agree that a 128 bit interface really cripples the card. My vanilla 6800 cannot match up my brother's 6800 GT, even after unlocking the pipelines and a bit of OCing. What annoys me is that such information is usually absent from most e-tailer's websties, most just post onboard memory size and core speed.

What I'd like to see is power consumption charts. How do the flagship offerings from both companies match up in this area?
March 9, 2006 10:59:12 PM

I'd say ATI for single card and Nvidia for dual card.
March 9, 2006 11:01:57 PM

that seems to be the case... i didnt really look over the benchies but nvidia single card with max filtering would be faster than ati?... once again, didnt look over benchies that well
March 9, 2006 11:37:19 PM

I had said this before and when I reviewed the 1900 specks I was shocked at the techical view, which in my opinion has gone beyound what nvidia has to offer. Now it boils down to choice
March 10, 2006 12:17:41 AM

How do the X1800GTO and 7600GT compare for heat, power and noise?
March 10, 2006 12:35:50 AM

just bought a 7900gt off of newegg for my sons computer
he had 300 dollars saved up and was waiting for the x1800xts prices to drop but i convienced him to get this, im not an nvidia guy but well see how it goes, the fact that theres no heatsinks on the memory kinda scares me.
March 10, 2006 1:15:41 AM

6800 and 6800gt both have 256bit memory interface, the only difference is 4 pixel pipelines, 1 vertex shader and some clock speed
March 10, 2006 1:46:19 AM

Is it me or does it look like they rearanged the memory configuration so things like the NV Silencer won't work on the newer cards?

I don't like how the 7900 GT and the 7600 GT heatsinks don't touch the memory, though I guess you could always put memory sinks on them individuarly now to help cooling.

Anyone seen a 7800 GT to 7900 GT comparison?
March 10, 2006 1:51:04 AM

Is it me or does it look like they rearanged the memory configuration so things like the NV Silencer won't work on the newer cards?

I don't like how the 7900 GT and the 7600 GT heatsinks don't touch the memory, though I guess you could always put memory sinks on them individuarly now to help cooling.

Anyone seen a 7800 GT to 7900 GT comparison?

Yeah, that kinda stinks. Seems like they skimped on the cooling.

All the comparisons I have seen put the 7900GT at the same level as the 7800GTX.
March 10, 2006 2:48:48 AM

I thought the most interesting portion of the article was this:

We think that scrambling to launch a counter product is just as insane as giving reviewers less than one week to review three new products in six configurations with a driver that has a revision 1/3 of the way into testing. Then to find out that the driver has an overclocking bug, what good does that do anyone? So the question begs to be asked, what good is a rushed launch? Does it keep rumors from flying across the Web or leaked reviews? Does the consumer benefit any more from a secretive launch with a short time to market or from a preview of things to come with a met delivery date a few weeks later? It seems there is some logic behind the antics but this is a little childish.

Truer words were never spoken. This battle between ATI and nVidia is flat out ridiculous. I've always been one for competition, but these two knuckleheads are taking it to the extreme! I mean... we're down to less than 6 months now!

Ugh.... i can't keep up anymore. This coming from a dude w/ dual 7800GTX's!

March 10, 2006 2:54:30 AM

:wink: Still paying that note eh?
March 10, 2006 4:22:48 AM

The die size says it all... Nvidia is clearly the winner in both architecture and pricing...

I was always a big fan of Nvidia, a buddy of mine convinced me to try ATI... so I got the 9800Pro. I was disappointed. After purchasing the 7800GTX that I now have, I will most likely never go back to ATI. Especially with blockbuster releases like this... :D 
March 10, 2006 4:41:31 AM

The SLI performance increase is much larger than Crossfire's.

That is not true, I am only looking at the highest resolutions with the most features turned on and X1900xt crossfire provides higher frame rates at the high resolutions on MOST games. I am not sure you can see the difference, But I got my crossfire setup : 2 1900xt, one is a crossfire edition of course) for about $900. If you are running 1920x1600 or 2540x1600, you need to have SLI or Crossfire. Look at the X1900XT and XTX benchmarks on Toms. Only 1 or 2 games work better with SLI over Crossfire.
March 10, 2006 5:21:54 AM

I thought the most interesting portion of the article was this:

But we've heard it all before. You can either moan and bitch about not getting long enough to test, or you can keep up with the plethora of other tech writers who won't.

Sorry... that paragraph really bugged me for its insincerity. After deciding you are in fact "going to play that game", suck it up.
March 10, 2006 9:15:58 AM

:)  Its a good thing as the beaches are fast being depleated of sand...we don't want to run out of that stuff....LOL....All joking aside just think about the bucks they make that they would of had to put in the trash; had they thrown it away that is. My question is you think some of that money made on the subordinate video cards trickels its way to the consumer in price breaks? Some Harvard Grad must of done a study to see if the end result is better (Profit margins for the company) I mean better pricing for the consumer....LOL...Its all about the bucks!..Way too many choices in my opinion also. I'll pay the bucks just remove the confusion and give us great price/performace ratio for our hard earned bucks. I sure as hell don't want to spend it only to throw it out a few months later. Nvidia and Ati don't throw thiers out. But they expect us to???? Just think ..the proof is in the pudding....why use two cards for a 20% improvement. If these guys were fair the second card would only cost us 20% more. Instead it instantly gives them 100% more revenue///// Its just about the bucks!
March 10, 2006 1:32:30 PM

Nv hasn't won anything. ATI lowered prices and now their cards are competitive with pretty much everything Nv has except 7900GT and maybe 7900 GTX SLI(huh, you have to be stinkin' rich to pay extra 500+$ for a 0-70% performance increase). In fact the winner between ATI 1900XTX and 7900GTX actually is the 1900XT. At 450-480$ it's the best bargain for a very high performance card(i place 7900GT one level under it).
But i really didn't expect good performance to come this cheap. Probably their prepering for The Oblivion now and for UT2007 later. I hope at least the last mentioned will work ok on a "budget" 7900GT-1900XT-1800XT (not sure what to pick). I don't want to blame bad performance for my poor play.
March 10, 2006 1:32:31 PM

Oops :oops:  hehe...well, I unlocked the pipelines and vertex shader on my card and OCed the core to GT speeds. Must be just his memory that makes the difference.

And "bigspender" thinks SLi is too pricy? :D 

From the looks of it, SLi and Crossfire don't outpreform each other overall. It just depends on the game you're playing, and wether you just like ATi or nVidia.

I will wait for DX10 video cards before I buy anything.
March 10, 2006 1:59:10 PM

I am wondering which model to buy to work well with oblivion as well. But I like the AIW cards, so I am looking at a 7900GT, and AIW1800XL, or just saying the hell with it and getting an AIW 1900.
March 10, 2006 6:26:42 PM

Well from simply watching the screnies i came up to the conclusion that even with the cards mentioned above i defenitely won't be turning AA or aniso on. It looks just so real. I have X3 The Reunion which is a totally different game but rocks at graphics. And on normal cards it runs like sh... . Oblivion will be even more gfx hungry so no time to waste. Conroe better arrive soon as my CPU will soon be bottlenecking.
March 10, 2006 6:28:21 PM

We had one reader ask about the driver issue.

So to elaborate for everyone, there were a total of 3 drivers available during the testing cycle. There was an 83 series driver that we never used as it was replaced immediately by 84.11 on Monday the 27th. We received cards on Tuesday at Editor’s day. We flew back on Wednesday from San Jose and started testing. On Saturday night, around 8PM EST, a revised driver was released; 84.17. This new driver fixed some performance issues in F.E.A.R. We of course had to retest everything because you never know if there is an impact on the other titles they didn't tell you about.

Later on we as many other sites found out there were overclocking issues on the 7900GTX. The control panel would report high frequencies without being enabled. To fix this they launched another driver, 84.20 yesterday with the launch. You can find this driver listed on nZone under the BETA drivers. Needless to say this was a week short of when we needed solid drivers for testing.

I hope this clarifies this for everyone.
March 10, 2006 11:26:56 PM

the 7900gt is an awsome card it performs the same as my x1900xt in most games. my son can play his games with all the eye candy turned up now. the only complsint i ave is the stock cooler its very whiney and my son cant find a watercooling block for it. hopefully some comout soon.
March 15, 2006 12:44:09 PM

It seems to me that both companies produce cards worth owning. Neither has a real advantage hardware wize. But, I did make a choice on one very important difference. That difference was their business practices.

nVidia more and more is becoming very draconian in it's business and causing a lot of problems with developers. Because they have so much trouble trumping ATI, they have taken a path that partners them exclusively with developers to produce software that favors their cards and not ATI's. This type of behavior will result in bad returns for the gamers. If nVidia get hold of too many developer then ATI may no longer be able to hold ground and then we will never ever see any more price wars like this again.

The 7800 series marked a new price high for video cards. It was no surprized that ATI was able to beat them in price by over $200. nVidia thought they had the market hold strong, so they jacked up their prices in order to get more money to convince more game developers to code only for their card.

Kinda makes you sick if you think about it.

nVidia want money to bribe developers and to advertise until we are sick of see their ads. Advertising does pay. The iPod is a good example, while it's an nice player it doesn't produce the best sound in comparison to some others on the market, yet it's got a hugh lead. Why? Ads. Plain and simple.

Anyway, I'd rather pay for engineering instead of advertising, so my money went to ATI.

And that engineering shows off too. ATI still meets and beats nVidia will less processing paths. It's only been the recent boards that ATI finally put more pixel shaders in their card than nVidia. But they still have less pipes on other functions. So they obviously do the work better than nVidia. Using smarts rather than brute force. That says a lot.
March 18, 2006 11:31:28 PM

I think it boils down to costomer service. A few fps, and a few $'s one way or another is no big deal.