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About ten days later than expected originally ATI Technologies managed to start deliveries of its top-of-the-range RADEON X800XT graphics card. So far the graphics monster is only available from Alienware, a leading PC company focused on die-hard gamers, as well as from a few online stores.

ATI’s Top Card Shows Up

ATI RADEON X800 XT-series graphics cards are ATI’s flagship offerings for early Summer 2004 that have recommended price of $499. The RADEON X800 XT chip contains 16 pixel pipelines with 6 geometry pipelines and is clocked at 525MHz. The graphics card itself comes with 256MB of 256-bit 1.6ns GDDR3 memory operating at 1120MHz as well as D-Sub, DVI, TV-Out and optional VIVO connector. ATI’s flagship offering RADEON X800 XT graphics card outperformed NVIDIA’s top-of-the-line GeForce 6800 Ultra in a lot of cases based on the result of numerous gaming benchmarks conducted by X-bit labs.

The RADEON X800 family of graphics processors is ATI’s second generation breed of DirectX 9.0-supporting graphics engines that generally revamps performance and brings some new capabilities that are aimed to improve realism in conventional 3D games. Unfortunately, ATI’s RADEON X800-series does not sport some capabilities NVIDIA’s new chips are able to execute, such as Shader Model 3.0.

Alienware, one of the largest builders of high-performance personal computer for gamers and other enthusiasts, now offers to install ATI RADEON X800 XT graphics cards into its leading-edge systems. Additionally, the firm has other powerful options for customers, such as ATI RADEON X800 PRO as well as NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra.

The default configuration of Alienware Area-51 system includes the previous generation GeForce FX 5950 Extreme graphics card. In order to upgrade to NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics card customers have to pay extra $241, in order to change the graphics card to ATI RADEON X800 XT, end-users have to bid extra $80, while installing ATI RADEON X800 PRO graphics card will save customers $31.

At press time Alienware did not have NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra graphics cards in stock.

Concern About Quantities

X-bit Labs’ “Check Prices” section revealed numerous RADEON X800 XT offerings in the USA from e-tailers at $459 to $789 price-points, though, the products were out of stock at press time. The same engine revealed no availability signs of the GeForce 6800 Ultra. PriceWatch and PriceGrabber search-engines did not unveil any available RADEON X800 XT products, but stated that a number of them were actually sold. PriceWatch found a number of GeForce 6800 Ultra offerings for $545 to $698. One store had the SKU available immediately for $610. Other said the product will be available next week.

Even though both leading graphics processors developers promised to bring their high-end offerings into the market by late May 2004, the brief investigation carried out on June, 1, 2004, revealed that the quantities NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra and ATI RADEON X800 XT are shipping in are not sufficient to support sales globally. The most powerful offering available immediately from leading retailers is the ATI RADEON X800 PRO that performs little-bit slower compared to the top products.

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