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ATI Graphics Buyer's Guide Spring 2006, Part 1

Introduction

For this latest graphics card buyer's guide, we reviewed 27 cards using either ATI Radeon or NVIDIA GeForce chips. Of those, two are designed for the AGP interface, while the rest use the PCI Express (PCIe) bus. To be eligible for inclusion in our buyer's guide, the candidates must reach our lab in their retail packages. This means that we expect the final hardware version of the card in its final shipping box, with the software bundle and all necessary cables.

Products based on ATI's graphics chips were painfully underrepresented in our last buyer's guide, which was due in large part to their very limited availability. Luckily, this situation has improved; there is arguably even an oversupply of ATI-based graphics cards available in stores. The large number of ATI-based test samples present in this guide is mainly a result of the fact that HIS and Sapphire have just filled out their product lines in the last few weeks. Both companies now carry the full gamut of ATI products, from the X1300 to the X190 XTX.

Our special thanks go out to Powercolor and GeCube for sending us fast X1900 XTX samples, as well as newer boards such as the Radeon X1300 Hypermemory 2 and the X1800 GTO. The Radeon X1800 may no longer be the top of the line, but cards using this chip are still available from all vendors in several variations. Although ATI is officially replacing the X1800 with the newer X1900, there is a new update option available in the form of the X1800 GTO. Price-wise, the X1800 fills the space between the X1600 in the lower middle class, and the high-end X1900s.

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