Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GT went out of stock more or less everywhere within days of its launch, and it's now nearly impossible to find either in stock or near its intended $199-249 price bracket. Luckily for folks planning to upgrade this holiday season, AMD's newly launched Radeon HD 3850 and Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards may face a different fate—or at least, they will if numbers quoted by The Inquirer are even remotely accurate.
According to The Inq, AMD plans to ship a cool half million Radeon HD 3800-series cards before the end of the year. That would be an order of magnitude higher than the number of Nvidia's GeForce 8800 GT cards that were available at launch—around 40,000-50,000, The Inq quotes unnamed Nvidia partners as saying. Considering the Radeon HD 3870's very acceptable performance and very enticing $219 launch price tag, it's not hard to imagine buyers being swayed in AMD's direction when faced with out-of-stock GeForce 8800 GTs priced at $270 or more.
Interestingly, The Inq also claims a "substantial number" of Radeon HD 3850 graphics cards will be models outfitted with 512MB of memory. We saw in our review that the reference card's 256MB of memory was mismatched to its GPU power, so an attractively priced Radeon HD 3850 512MB could be an interesting proposition, as well. Of course, only time will tell if AMD actually delivers Radeon HD 3800 cards both on time and in volume.