ATI lineup update
The introduction of the X800, X800 XL and X850 line has muddied the waters a bit for ATI and especially their board partners and retailers, as multiple SKUs exist within the $200-400 ATI segment.
On the low end, you have the RADEON X700 PRO, which is an eight pipeline card with a 128-bit memory interface thatís intended to service the mainstream segment. When configured with 256MB of memory the board retails for $200, which happens to be the same price ATI has set for the 128MB RADEON X800. As we mentioned earlier, the RADEON X800 features 12 pipelines and a 256-bit memory interface.
On paper, the X800ís greater number of pipelines gives it superior pixel-pumping power, as well as fill rate, while its larger 256-bit memory interface keeps it better fed with data, especially once you scale up the screen resolution or turn on anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. However, its smaller memory size of just 128MB isnít large enough to store the texture data, and other information used by todayís latest games. We saw this earlier this month in the TOXIC X700 PRO review, where its limitation of just 128MB of memory often meant that it was outperformed by slower X700 PRO cards with 256MB of memory.
|ATIís RADEON lineup
||Core Clock (MHz)
||Memory Memory Clock (MHz)
||Memory size and type
|RADEON X850 XT Platinum Edition
|RADEON X850 XT
||RADEON X850 PRO
|RADEON X800 XL
|RADEON X800 PRO
Because of this, many of ATIís board partners have elected to skip the 128MB RADEON X800 SKU at $199, opting instead for the more balanced 256MB RADEON X800. An official MSRP on these 256MB RADEON X800 cards hasnít been set, but most expect it to hover in the $250 range. Herein comes the next difficulty: these 256MB RADEON X800 cards are priced very close to RADEON X800 PRO and RADEON X800 XL.
While ATI themselves had no plans for PCI Express-based RADEON X800 PRO cards, many of their board partners did produce boards, as they couldnít get their hands on PCI Express variants of the X800 XT and X800 XT Platinum Edition. To the best of our knowledge, these boards are still being produced, and are still available in retail channels. In addition, despite the introduction of R430, ATI still intended to continue producing RADEON X800 PRO. During the R480 launch we were told by ATI that they planned to price X800 PRO between the X800 XL and X800, likely somewhere in the $250 range. This is exactly where the 256MB RADEON X800 now resides.
Our best guess is that the RADEON X800 PRO will continue to live on in AGP form, as ATIís AGP bridge chip is still in development with no immediate ETA, while PCI Express X800 PROs will slowly disappear, making way for 256MB RADEON X800 cards.
With 12 pipelines and 256MB of GDDR3 memory, these RADEON X800 cards are well positioned in the market, as NVIDIAís GeForce 6800 features a slower core clock speed and a higher official price tag. But at the same time, their selling price is awfully close to the RADEON X800 XLís MSRP of $300. Of course, if youíve priced an X800 XL card lately you know that current street prices are nowhere near MSRP, with X800 XL boards selling for $370 or more, but as supply of these cards increases, price competition will begin to set in and the prices will fall. When this happens, consumers will have to decide between the 12-pipeline RADEON X800 with 256MB of memory running at 350MHz (700MHz effective), or for $50 more, the 16-pipeline RADEON X800 XL, also outfitted with 256MB of memory, but running at 500MHz (1.0GHz effective).
But PowerColorís X800 Bravo Edition muddies the waters even further, as the board sports a clock speed that is higher than stock thanks to its faster GDDR3 memory modules. This allows the board to run faster than your typical RADEON X800 card!