Radeon HD 3870 could return to e-tail at $229 next week

Now is a frustrating time to be in the market for a new graphics card. Nvidia and AMD both launched very attractive sub-$250 products this month—the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon HD 3870—but both cards flew off store and e-tail shelves within hours of their respective launches, and they have been scarce ever since.

The Radeon HD 3870's scarceness isn't due to low supplies of the RV670 graphics processor, TR has learned. Instead, an industry source tells us the cards are hard to come by because of a supply problem with Radeon HD 3870 boards stemming from a bad resistor. If all goes as expected, the issue should be resolved early next week, at which point Radeon HD 3870 cards should become available in volume once again.

Furthermore, in order to ensure better supplies of Radeon HD 3870 cards, AMD has shifted its production ratio of Radeon HD 3870s to Radeon HD 3850s so that the two are more even, we have learned. Formerly, the firm had allocated a much larger proportion of GPUs to Radeon HD 3850 cards.

However, users expecting to nab a 3870 next week at AMD's officially announced retail price of $219 may be in for a surprise. While prices should drop closer to their intended range once shipments of cards increase, Radeon HD 3870s are expected to stabilize at around $229 and stay there for the foreseeable future. Indeed, AMD will apparently take advantage of the tight supply of GeForce 8800 GTs, which also sell well above their announced price range of $199-249, to draw more cash from users wishing to upgrade this holiday season.

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