The Video Card Market
Currently the video card market is extremely competitive and shows
no signs of changing. With consumers ready to purchase for needs from standard
office computing to high end gaming the manufacturers have a product to meet
any and all needs. Prices for high end video cards have seen all time highs
recently as manufacturers have been creating ever higher performing products.
Is there an end in sight? Is there even a plateau within reach? A better question
is where do consumers strike the balance between performance and price, and
where is the product that meets that need?
ATI and Nvidia have released quite a few GPU's all at different clock
speeds and memory speeds, as well as varying the pipeline handicaps and enabling
or disabling features to adjust price. Consumers are easily lost in the fray
of part names and features. So what does Techwarelabs look for when considering
a video card? The short answer . . A card which delivers high end performance
at a low cost. No marketing gimmiks here folks, thats simply what all of us
want. Now lets take a quick look at current product offerings:
This is an overgeneralization of the video card market at this time. Each of
the cards above comes in different flavors but will generally offer the performance
associated with its cooresponding number. Each manufacturer has attempted to
deliver a card which delivers good performance at a good price, today we will
take a look at an offering from Sapphire
which resells video cards based on ATI GPU's. The X800XL sent to us by Sapphire
is placed in the upper mid range by its X800 class. Lets take a look at the
specifications from Sapphire.
- 256MB of GDDR3 memory
- 256-bit memory interface
- 16 parallel pixel pipelines
- PCI Express x16 lane native support
- Dual display support
- Dual integrated 400MHz DAC's
- 2048x1536 @ 85Hz Maximum Resolution
- S-Video TV-out port
- Full support for DirectX® 9.0 and the latest OpenGL® 2.0 functionality
- SMARTSHADER™ HD technology
- SMOOTHVISION™ HD technology
- 3Dc™ High quality 4:1 Normal Map Compression delivers beautiful scenes
without the performance hit.
- Unique VIDEOSHADER™ HD engine uses programmable pixel shaders to accelerate
video processing and provide better-looking visuals
- HYPER Z™ HD is optimized for performance at high display resolutions,
including widescreen HDTV resolutions.
As you can see this is a full featured video card from ATI that shares many
features of its high end cousin the X850. The X800XL has all its pipelines enabled,
a 256-bit memory interface, and 256MB of GDDR3. These are the same features
that at a high clock speed, give the X850 its stunning performance. The X800XL
also sports dual display support, and the new PCI-Express x16 native support.
As for the price, the Sapphire X800XL can be found online for a relatively low
price of $269 while the base model X850 has a starting price of $368 nearly
$100 higher. For most consumers the high end X850 XT will give heart palpitations
While $269 is a much lower price its still a large ammount of money, lets see
what you get for your money.