Low Profile GPU's Why aren't there more of em, etc.
So far from what I've seen the 1600pro in low profile, is about the best card in the small form factor. Why the heck aren't there more of these things out yet? Am I the only one who actually wants a smaller computer?
Making a low profile card isn't easy and a chip like the GF7900 or X1800 require lots power management and traces so that it's not practical to have them on half-height or low profile cards, which would mean more layers on the PCB to accomodate everything. Most people who buy top cards have either full atx/btx cases or sff cases that accomodate the majority of full-height cards. In other words, you're a very VERY small market, and half-height/low-profile cards are primarily for business computers that don't require raw grunt. Think about it, what's the advantage to them in making a low profile GF7900GT/X1800XL which will have terrible cooling, everything crammed together, and likely a market so small as to compete with XGi for the bottom of the volume shipments.
Your other option is a GF7600GS in case you want a counterpoint to the X1600P, but I haven't seen one in retail (just at expos), only the GF7300s are plentiful in retail it seems.
I would suggest the HDMI equipped Sapphire X1600P as a competant card with great resale potential, but you're unlikely to find anything better in a low-profile card.
I couldn't even find a low profile 7600gs, and that's kinda what I had in mind. At 35 watts, couldn't they use both sides of the board better and make it work? I wasn't expected a HIGH end GPU, just more midrange stuff. The 1600pro mentioned is $150. That's pretty much a $50 premium for going low-pro. Not too bad. Get me the GS for $170, and I can make my wife a computer even I can actually use, lol!
The GS is only slightly better than the X1600Pro, so really they're in the same league, and I doubt you'd find the GS low-pro for a small price, the X1600s have been out for a while, and are kind plentiful.
The advantage of the X1600 w/ HDMI is resale you'll likely get much closer to what you paid for it from someone building an HTPC for HD-DVD/BluRay in the future, or you yourself could use it for that.
The nV equivalent is the GF7300 and I haven't seen the HDCP DVI one of those in low pro in retail yet either.
Really it's a tough market, and making the board dual sided for caps regulators, and even memroy, etc, is likely even more expensive than adding a few layers to the PCB design for single side.
I think for now you're stuck with an X1600P, I've sen the low-pro X1600 for under $100, but you're at the whim of supply and demand, and they seem to stick around not much longer than their initial stock sells out. Those things are pretty much a shipment to shipment basis. At least the HDMI has a reason to be always on the list, but the others it would depend on Powercolor and Sapphire etc providing more to people like NewEgg, really for most half-height/Low-pro people the R9500/X300/GF6200/X1300/GF7300 would be 'good enough', and there's a ton of X1300s, just perfect for 2D and light 3D work that these are most commonly used for. Unfortunately, like I said you're going to pay a premium, there's no discount for wanting something outside of the mainstream. Heck the $150 for the HDMi Sapphire is actually at the MSRP, so that's better than what it could be. And really I suspect if the GF7600GS ever do make it that you're loking at at least that $170 you were hoping for, because I think that $50 premium is about what I'd expect on everything due to the niche market and increased costs IMO like I mentioned.