Now What?

Boy, that nVidia card really sucks.

Only kidding! 🙂

It would be crazy not to wait for ATI’s new card along with any dirt ATI may be able to find about any nVidia err. . . . optimizations, but provided the numbers more or less hold up, we do have a pretty big leap in performance.

Unless video card prices on current generation products fall through the floor, if you’re interested in performance first and foremost, you probably should set your sights on this new-and-upcoming generation of video cards to buy sooner or later. As we mentioned the other day, though, later will be likely be wiser than sooner.

Again, presuming that these numbers are the real deal, initial pricing doesn’t look too bad. At worst, at least you’ll be getting more for your money than you have recently.

However . . . .

Evolving A New Species

These cards are more expensive than their price tag. Unless you already have a maxed-out power supply, you’d better plan on getting one. Others have talked about this already.

This is not going to be much of a deterrent for any serious gaming hotrodder, well, at least not those who can afford the card to begin with.

I do have to wonder, though, how do companies like Dell feel about it? They’re certainly not going to want to slip 500-watt power supplies into everything they make. Sure, that will be no problem for their XPS systems, but then they charge a lot more for those systems, don’t they?

Going to get toasty inside those Dell boxes between whatever tamped-down furnace Intel furnace Dell finally ends up selling along with this alternate heating supply. Going to be expensive for someone like Dell to keep everything reasonably cool and reasonably quiet.

Of course it can be done, at a price. That’s the point and the problem.

In all likelihood, companies like Dell will put these kinds of video cards in their high-cost gaming boxes, and the little Johnnies who wanted the hot card inside the cheap 4600 aren’t going to be given that option by Dell, and Johnny’s dad or mom is more likely to disappoint little Johnny than before.

And, eventually, there will be an army of enterprising little Johnnies who later decide to buy the hot video card to soup up the family computer only to find that it doesn’t work with the 250-watt power supply the vanilla Dell comes with and that he’ll need to buy a new power supply with money he doesn’t have. This will not promote family harmony. While recent Dells use standard ATX connectors, older ones need an adapter. See here for more on that.

Companies like Dell aren’t going to charge everybody else more for beefy power supplies just because Johnny wants to play games. If Johnny needs more than the average buyer, let him (or dad or mom) pay for it.

I can see a bunch of readers saying, “I build my own. Why should I care what Dell does?” You should care because what Dell do affects what you pay for what you do.

As gaming systems become a superset of the PC; and become a high-end cousin rather than brother to a mainstream PC, they’re bound to become more expensive, directly and indirectly. The additional cost won’t be just the video card anymore.

Yes, they’ll be more expensive to make, but perhaps more importantly, those buying such systems will on the whole be rather more enthused than someone buying a computer for word processing.

This gives the green light to those who want to turn your enthusiasm into their extra cash. The plain vanilla PC market is practically a commodity market today, so OEMs and component makers are looking for any opportunity to make extra cash and profits. For now, this is it.

As they become more expensive, the number of buyers shrink. This isn’t bad if you can get more revenue from fewer people, which means the price goes up by rather more than it might otherwise.

This is part of a long-term trend. We’ve already seen the effective demise of the very good $150 video card; this is the next step.

I don’t know if much can be done about this. The last year has made it clear that enough people are going to end up buying these cards to sustain the strategy of first- and second-class video cards.

A step like this is another, more fundamental step towards evolving away from the mainstream species, where gaming cannot no longer be accommodated by the mainstream solution, and the mainstream solution will not accommodate itself to gaming demands.

Making the intrastructure of high-end video more expensive is yet another step towards high-end priced gaming as gaming systems evolve away from PC mainstreamdom.


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