Was It Worth The Wait?
Is R600 worth the wait? That is the question that has been on our minds ever since ATI first delayed R600. In November, Nvidia unveiled G80 in the form of GeForce 8800 GTX and GTS models. Three months went by and the only thing we heard out of ATI was that R600 was delayed. As a preemptive strike in February, Nvidia launched its 320 MB version of the 8800 GTS, figuring ATI was ready for its launch. By the end of the month, the world was let down by yet another message telling us R600 would be delayed until May. Last month, Nvidia made its third DX10 offering in the form of GeForce 8600 and 8500 cards. Having struck first, Nvidia has a hat trick with G80, G84 and G86, and it seemed to be game over for AMD/ATI. Today, we finally get to see ATI's counter strike against Nvidia after a six-month-long hiatus.
Before we go any further, I would like to include a preface about what you are going to read. You undoubtedly will read several other Websites looking for more detail or additional benchmark results. Do, though, remain on guard against biases that can taint your opinions. There are a lot of angles as to how information from the companies gets into your hands. We sign agreements so we can have an inside look before launch but some break those agreements. Such is life. The problem with that is the information is not always full or accurate: "Does it have this or that?" "AMD is done for!." "Nvidia will get crushed!" Speculation is fun to read but it needs to be taken with a smidgen of understanding and awareness that all of the information is not on the table. That leaves you having to take one person's opinions at face value... that isn't always a healthy thing to do.
The other side of the story is how companies try to taint the opinions of those writing the stories about their products. To give you both sides, ATI flew over 200 writers and editors to Tunis, Tunisia, for two days and nights of technical briefings and fun. While this, plus a pair of graphics cards, is enough to sway the opinions of some, there are those who remain unbiased. At the same time, a launch would not be a normal one without backlash from Nvidia. A wealth of information hits writers like a broadside of comments and rebuttals. It also never ceases to amaze me how fast a driver can be produced when the competition might have the upper hand in something. So the miracle driver made available to fix known issues and push performance.
That being said, we at Tom's Hardware refuse to cater to companies with their PR and marketing spin teams. We love looking at hardware and explaining our adventures with you. Our soul purpose is to give you as much information and as many resources to help you make up your own mind about a new product or technology.
So, I will warn you about the pages to follow. While I would encourage you to read through the entire article, some of it will get deep. We want to cater to both those interested in what is new and cool, while continuing our tradition of appeasing tech junkies who can't get enough of the details. Without further ado, we give you R600.