First hints as to pricing. – Ed
Well, if these numbers hold up, looks like I was wrong on one item.
Models and prices for the GF4s can be found here.
There will be two Ti and three MX models:
The most noteworthy “features you can use now” of at least some of these cards is increased memory speed combined with more efficient memory management. Since memory speed is the major video card bottleneck, that’s the stat gamers should be most interested in.
The Ti cards are supposed to come with DDR RAM capable of 350/700MHz. This is about a 20-25% improvement over what we have now. The top end MX card, the MX460, is supposed to come with 275/550 RAM, which is about what we’re getting now.
The Difference Between Too Expensive and Ripoff
There’s a difference between “this is too expensive for my taste/wallet” and “this is a ripoff.” The new highend nVidia cards belong in the first category.
Pricing may be better than I thought on this. I say “maybe” because nVidia’s going to do something a little odd here.
Apparently, at least according to this, nVidia will start off with the Ti4400. This will have a GPU running at 275MHz and 64Mb of 350/700 MHz DDR for a suggested price of $400 (figure $350 street).
Sometime later, nVidia will then come out with the Ti4600, which will have a GPU running at 325Mhz, and 128Mb of 350/700Mhz RAM, for the same suggested price.
We don’t know yet what “later” means. If “later” means 45 days from now, you might be inclined to wait for the 4600. While I suspect the Ti4600 isn’t going to benefit too much over the 4400 from increased GPU speed due to memory bandwidth, and 128Mb of video RAM isn’t going to do much for current gaming, you’d still get more for your money by waiting.
On the other hand, if “later” is more like 3-4 months from now, and this is the GF4 Ultra; it’s probably not worth the wait.
For Everybody Else
Most of you aren’t going to lay out $350 for a video card. $150 seems to be more like it. One way or the other, it’s likely a DX8 nVidia card will come into your price range rather shortly.
nVidia will have three MX models. These will be based on the NV17 chipset (as opposed to the NV25 for the Ti cards).
The MX460 card looks to be the card of immediate interest to gamers. It will have the quickest memory of the new line, and has a suggested price of $200 (figure $175 street).
How well will it do? Will there be a big difference between the NV17 and NV25 cards, or the current NV20 cards? Don’t know yet, but it probably won’t matter.
The card’s existence matters more than its performance. If the card does better than current GF3Ti cards, then you buy the MX. If it doesn’t, odds are at least the GF3 Ti200 cards with 4ns or better RAM will drop below $150, and you buy that instead. (I expect Ti500 prices to remain north of $200 for quite some time to come.)
The MX440 will have a lower GPU speed, and a much lower RAM speed (200/400), but only a $50 difference in suggested price between it and the MX460. As configured, the money saved isn’t worth it. However, like the Ti200, odds are that many manufacturers will upgrade the RAM, and at that point, the card may be worth considering.
Time For Grandma To Get A nVidia Card?
The MX420 will be a gaming dog, using 166Mhz SDR RAM. However, it will also be cheap, and may prove an excellent choice for somebody else’s system.
What America needs is a good $50 video card with good image quality and at least a little gaming capability (for kiddie games, if nothing else). Right now, the only card that somewhat fits that bill are the lower-end Radeons. The MX420 seems to be aimed right at that market.
You may say nVidias flop at image quality, and that’s been often true up to now, but with the GF4s, nVidia is supposed to include items like quality RF filters into the reference design. That seems to be the major part of the nVidia image quality problem.
Whether this solves the nVidia image problem remains to be seen, but it may.
There really hasn’t been a fully DX8 capable video card at a popular price yet (though the Ti200 has gotten close). Although the NV17 is not supposed to be completely DX8-compatible, at the least, it should slide better Ti200s below that $150 range. So if you’ve been holding out for the right price, it’s going to be Real Soon Now.
To me, at least, the image quality of the GF4s are the dark horse in this comparison. Let us see if any legitimate issue will be laid to rest this go-round.