ATI Technologies has already struck a blow on its main market rival NVIDIA in the sector of mainstream solutions by announcing the RADEON X800 GT graphics card. The card was tested in our labs and you could see that the NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT which had earlier had no competitors in its price sector was now facing a very dangerous rival. What’s more, the RADEON X800 GT could even challenge the GeForce 6800 notwithstanding the latter’s 12 pixel pipelines. The strong points of that graphics card from ATI were high clock rates and a 256-bit memory bus which helped it greatly in high resolutions and with enabled full-screen antialiasing.
As a matter of fact, ATI Technologies seems to have large stores of last-generation GPUs in stock, but the users’ interest towards high-performance graphics cards on such GPUs is declining because they are technically less advanced than GeForce 6/7 or RADEON X1000 series devices. So in order to avoid some heavy loss, the company has to throw away the stored chips to the market and this problem has been partially solved with the release of the above-mentioned RADEON X800 GT which can come with either an R480 or an older R423 chip on board. Being a 0.11-micron, but poorly overclockable chip, the R430 also became out-dated and shared the fate of its 0.13-micron mates the same instant the RADEON X1600 came out. In other words, these chips are now like cumbersome ballast for ATI Technologies.
Meanwhile, in consequence of the recent aggressive price reduction on NVIDIA’s part, the GeForce 6800 graphics card based on the very successful NV42 chip has come to cost $199 or less and has thus become a very appealing buy. Unlike the ATI R430, the NVIDIA chip is overclocker-friendly – we can recall our overclocking the GPU of our sample of the MSI NX6800-TD128E from the default 325MHz to an impressive 460MHz and enjoying an appropriately hefty performance boost. As said above, the RADEON X800 GT delivers about the same performance, yet the GeForce 6800 is better in some cases as it has more pixel pipelines.
ATI Technologies had to react to NVIDIA’s actions and the reaction came quickly in the form of the September announcement of the ATI RADEON X800 GTO graphics card. The new card emerged under the same “Putting Old GPUs to Good Use” motto. It differed from the RADEON X800 GT in having 12 active pixel pipelines and a lower core clock rate (400MHz against 475MHz), so the company could use not only R480/R423 chips, but also R430 which was unsuitable for the RADEON X800 GT due to its limited frequency potential (420-430MHz at best). Costing about $200, the new graphics card is a direct market opponent to the GeForce 6800 and its faster memory makes it the more dangerous, especially in high resolutions and/or with enabled full-screen antialiasing. And now we are going to see with our own eyes which of these two graphics cards is better by taking a PowerColor X800 GTO VIVO model for our tests.