Where Are You, Fermi?
Before we dive too deeply into the testing, I’m going to start with what’s missing more than a month after the GeForce GTX 480 launched and more than two weeks after it was first supposed to be available in quantities of tens of thousands: ample supply. I don’t sign myself for email notifications every time an online vendor gets a shipment, but I do check newegg.com and zipzoomfly.com on an almost-daily basis. Call it a bad habit that formed when AMD struggled with its Radeon HD 4770 and then Radeon HD 5870.
On one of the two sites, catching a GeForce GTX 480 in stock is like spying Big Foot arm-wrestling with the Chupacabra—but at least they’re being kept close to the $499 MSRP Nvidia set forth last month. The other site does seem to hold onto cards a little longer—but it’s no surprise, considering they’re selling at a $50 to $100 premium.
So, where are the tens of thousands of cards? That’s hard to say. One board vendor told us it shipped a few hundred at launch. Another happily let us know that it recently moved another shipment of “80 or 90.”
The bottom line is that enthusiasts eager to get their hands on GF100-based cards today have two options: scramble for near-MSRP pricing or pay a premium for a better shot at securing product. Keep this in mind as the story progresses—our value calculations are based on the lowest prices of a card we found in stock at Newegg.
Update: I'll update this once, since it's fruitless to try to track availability in real-time. Just prior to publishing, Newegg has three different vedors' cards in stock, all between $499 and $509. Zipzoomfly has one card available priced at $579.
Waiting For 3D Vision Surround
One of Nvidia’s most compelling advantages in the battle against AMD’s Radeon HD 5800-series is GeForce 3D Vision. With Eyefinity getting so much positive attention, Nvidia came up with GeForce 3D Vision Surround as a way to deliver stereoscopic game play while burning pixels across two graphics cards.
The allure to those who’ve already seen 3D Vision on a single 120 Hz panel is an even more immersive experience (providing you have the cash for a pair of cards, a trio of monitors, and the 3D Vision Kit).
But while we were first told to expect 3D Vision Surround shortly after launch via a new driver, it’s simply not yet ready. We don’t have an ETA, so anyone who was lucky enough to track down a pair of GeForce GTX 480s hoping to experience 3D Vision Surround right out of the gate will have to wait a little while longer.