Radeon 8500 - $ 399, available end of September
Radeon 7500 - $ 179, available mid of September
It seems obvious that if NVIDIA's intention was to screw up ATi's Radeon 8500-launch then the decision makers in Sunnyvale should be proud. NVIDIA will think "to hell with sportsmanship. We won and that's all that counts!" Well, I cannot say that I am a big admirer of this philosophy, but I know that I am of a dying breed.
Still, Radeon 8500 has huge potential and after almost losing the first round, it might well come back and win the next few rounds. Radeon 8500 has the biggest muscles in this contest and now all it takes is to train the cerebellum. There is no doubt that the hardware engineers of the Canadian chip and board maker have done an excellent job. Radeon 8500 has all that it takes: Brute force in terms of core clock, pipelines and memory bandwidth as well as a huge set of nifty features that sets it apart from any other 3D-chip in the market. Now it's the time of the software engineers to build up upon the fundament laid by the board architects. Let's hope that ATi has learned from past mistakes and that its driver department has been improved. It will be tough to compete with Dwight Diercks group of software engineers, who have so far proven to be the best driver makers in the industry.
I like Radeon 8500 and I won't let NVIDIA spoil my happiness about the fact that a 3D-chip maker has put a product together that can give NVIDIA's flagship a run for its money. The timed Detonator 4 release reminds me of old Intel tactics and it lets ATi win a lot of sympathy. Times have changed and while NVIDIA is on its way to become GeForcilla, ATi is looking more and more like the AMD we remember from the days before Athlon. Today, a world without ATi would be like a world without AMD. Intel and NVIDIA would do with us whatever they want. We need the competition.
I'd also like to send a few words of criticism across to Toronto. I don't think that it was a wise decision to launch Radeon 8500 now. The product is obviously not quite ready yet and we testers didn't appreciate the fact that three important features of the card wouldn't work. I hope the next Radeon 8500 that ends up in my hands will be 100% operational.
Radeon 7500 seems like an interesting product, especially for the price. However, before I come to any final conclusion I will have to test it against Kyro II and others.