Thursday, July 17, 2008

ATI, saviour or ruthless sadist.

I admit it, I love my Mac, my Mac is no ordinary Mac, I spit on dual core, I laugh in the face of four cores, only eight are sufficient to satisfy my browsing and email needs.

When I ordered my Mac Pro I didn't have the patience to wait for the respected NVIDIA 8800GT so I went ahead and ordered it with the stock ATI 2600XT. ATI, at the time, were falling behind NVIDIA and the 2600XT was clearly the budget choice; that being said, I used it for eight weeks and was pretty happy with the performance.

Once the 8800GT was available I immediately placed my order and waited with bated breath to complete my power system with a stonking graphics card. Within minutes of it arriving it was installed and I was booting OS X, anxious to witness the glory that is eight cores, 4GB of ram, and a beast of a graphics card.........

Needless to say, within a week the 8800GT was pulled and the ATI 2600XT reinstalled. In this machine, using Leopard, the 8800GT is a pile of pooh. NVIDIA are dead to me.

ATI may have been behind the curve but the drivers are well implemented and the performance is acceptable, so ATI win, right? Maybe not!!

So there I am with my massively powerful system and a budget graphics card, then, out of the blue, ATI announce they are bringing the 3870 to the mac. The 3870 is supposed to be a significant upgrade over the 2600XT, akin to a more power friendly and quieter 2900XT, a pretty decent card in its own right. Finally a card that will properly compliment my system, I should be happy, right? Not exactly!!

ATI announce that the card will ship in a month, no problem, I have waited this long, another couple of weeks wont kill me. But hang on, over the last week I have read pretty much every article that I could find concerning the 3870; pretty much all of the articles confirm that it is roughly the same ball park as the 8800GT and is indeed a considerable upgrade over the 2600XT, but what's this, all of a sudden the 3870 is being mentioned in the same breath as the 4850, mentioned, as in, the previous generation 3870 is eclipsed by the 4850.

So ATI have a graphics card that is superior to the 8800GT and the 3870, shipping now for the PC but the Mac is to get the 3870, no mention of the 4850, to add insult to injury they are both at the same price point.

So is ATI the saviour of my Mac Pro, or do they simply know a sucker when they see one? I can imagine the conversation at ATI /AMD .....

Exec 1: 'So we finally have an architecture that is competitive with NVIDIA, but what are we going to do with this stock pile of 3870 cores'

Exec 2: 'What do we usually do with out last generation graphics chips'

Exec 1: 'We sell them to Mac users then rush home for tea and medals'

Exec 1 & 2: 'Hooray'

Will I buy a 3870, it seems I have very little in the way of options, but if NVIDIA and ATI keep up the untermensch attitude to the Mac community one can only hope that Intel's ray tracing, many core strategy is bang on and the pair of them are left to pick up the scraps from the legacy mac users, you know, the ones with only 8 cores.

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