6. The latest high-end graphics cards create new premiums for performance
What made last June's rollout of NVIDIA's 7800 GTX graphics cards successful, we learned, is that both virtual and physical storefronts had plenty of units on hand to sell from day one. Although demand was great, so was supply. NVIDIA found itself reaping the benefits of controlled, high-volume inventory flow, rather than maintaining backorders and a low book-to-bill ratio. Meanwhile, NVIDIA's leading competitor - some would say its only competitor - ATI faced significant challenges bringing Radeon X1000 to market, including development delays, factory retooling charges, and having to follow up on the heels of 7800 GTX. Some say X1000 is the finer card, in terms of performance and quality, and our Darren Polkowski has the data to back them up. But both manufacturers have contributed to change the economy of high-performance systems somewhat, by actually increasing the street prices for performance systems, for the first time in several years.