New Radeon X800 cards appear at online vendors

The new wave of Radeon X800 cards is just beginning to show up at online vendors, following on the heels of the Radeon X850 XT cards. With very limited availability, initial prices are not what we were told to expect by ATI. Of course, there's still time for prices to reach the neighborhood of ATI's MSRPs, but we have been hearing incessant whispers from the shadows about ATI not really meeting its aggressive stated prices for the new cards.

At present, the Radeon X800 XL is still very scarce, and the lowest online price is $429 for this would-be $299 wonder.

Meanwhile, ATI's GeForce 6600 GT-killer, the 12-pipe Radeon X800, is showing up at multiple vendors for closer to $400 than to the supposed $199 list. This one is a bit curious, because the first PowerColor Radeon X800 card is a 256MB model, while ATI had suggested a retail price of $199 on 128MB Radeon X800 cards. I also have a very nice X800 card here from Sapphire, with which I’ll be spending some quality time this weekend, and it's sporting 256MB of GDDR3 memory, as well. One wonders whether the Radeon X800 128MB—cards only to be built by ATI's board partners and not ATI itself—was a very late addition to the product mix, perhaps created when ATI decided to drop prices just before launch. If so, will those $199 cards with 128MB of memory, intended to challenge the 6600 GT, show up in the first wave of actual products? The second? Hmm.

Prices seem to be settling down to near their stated targets on the Radeon X850 series, with the non-Platinum Edition Radeon X850 XT hitting well under $600 at multiple vendors, while the Platinum Edition averages in the mid-$600s. The Radeon X850 Pro, slated for $399, is still nowhere to be found. As a product, the X850 Pro only makes sense to me in a world where the X800 XL is rather scarce, so I suspect we may not see many of these cards—ever.

Since fair is fair, we should note that the SLI-capable PCI Express version of NVIDIA's GeForce 6800 Ultra is also available for a premium on its $499 suggested list, with street prices at about $600. The GeForce 6800 GT PCI-E is more reasonable at not far over its $399 MSRP.

Only time will tell whether and when street prices will meet up with suggested retail prices on most of these cards, but at least some of them are getting closer.

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