We should also note that today, innovations in the 3D graphics arena are confined mainly to cards using the PCI Express (PCIe) interface. Solutions using current graphics processors, such as the GeForce 7 and Radeon X1x00, simply don't exist for the AGP bus, which explains the absence of any AGP cards in this article.
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A few words on availability. With only a few weeks to go until Christmas, you can find many models listed in online shops or at your local store. However, many cards are not available in significant quantities. You can see this for yourself by checking out our TG Stores: Since we began our benchmarking run for the VGA Charts Winter 2005 edition, there have consistently been too few cards based on the GeForce 7 chipset to satisfy demand. Cards based on the smaller ATI chips didn't even make the online stores' lists.
Even now, at the beginning of December, the situation has scarcely improved at all. The only Radeon X1600 card found at all in stores is the Connect 3D model, but it is perpetually listed as "awaiting delivery." Since the card is basically unobtainable, we have no way of testing it. It's no wonder that there are so many readers wondering why these chips - which were announced so long ago and have been listed in stores for all this time - have yet to make an appearance in our reviews and our guides.
At least the situation is better where the top models, such as the Radeon X1800 XT, are concerned. The trouble is that the price tag here, of around $500, is not everyone's cup of tea, and the situation with NVIDIA is similar. However, due to the greater number of board partners and card models, retail boxes often find their way into our lab relatively quickly. As a result, this roundup will focus on GeForce 6600 GT and GeForce 7 cards. There will be a sequel to this article dealing with the ATI cards as soon as retail versions of the Radeon X1x00 series become available to us.