It’s been merely days since NVIDIA Corp. unveiled its new family of mainstream GPUs. Equipped with the PCI Express interface, GeForce 6600 chips are the first mass product to deliver the performance of previously top-end solutions like RADEON 9800 XT or Pro. NVIDIA became the first manufacturer to fill in this niche of mainstream graphics cards for the PCI Express platform, now being rapidly deployed. It became the first, but could hardly hope to remain the only one. ATI Technologies, NVIDIA’s archrival in the PC graphics field, had also been preparing a riposte with a new weapon, codenamed RV410.
You may remember that we had already witnessed much the same fencing earlier this year: NVIDIA was the first to release its new flagship product, the GeForce 6800, whereas ATI took a while to disclose its RADEON X800. The same old story recurs once again and now we welcome the new niche-mate to the GeForce 6600 family – the ATI RADEON X700 graphics processing unit!
The RADEON X700 GPU must fill the vacuum between ATI’s existing RADEON X800 and X600 families. The former of the two will remain in the sector of expensive and highest-performing products, while the latter is going to move down into the realm of inexpensive mainstream graphics cards now that the X700 has arrived. The line-up of ATI’s PCI Express solutions is now complete, and any user of that platform can pick a graphics card with an ATI chip according to his/her own tastes and finances. Well, there are still unused smaller names like X400 or X500, which may be employed in the future, too.
By the way, the series of PCI Express products from ATI looks more logical and comprehensive than the RADEON 9xxx nomenclature, in which there were products with a bigger number in the name but worse characteristics in comparison to products with a smaller number. We hope ATI will keep this consistency in the future, so that inexperienced users wouldn’t be confused by the misleading numbers.
Now it’s time to move on to the subject of this review proper – the X700 graphics processor with all its qualities. Good or bad? Let’s find out.