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The launch of the AMD Radeon HD 5870 a year ago has brought DirectX 11 features to gamers worldwide. AMD has released a top-to bottom line up from $599 to $59 with their HD 5450 chips. In terms of cards sold NVIDIA has not been much competition on the low-end of the market as NVIDIA only recently began selling derivatives of their GeForce Fermi series driving price points down for the market.
NVIDIA is in a bit of a crisis situation. They know that Intel and AMD are set to launch chipsets with much improved graphics over the current integrated solutions, in the form of Sandy Bridge and Fusion. They also know they are over 6 months to market later than AMD in launching cards to the market that are priced to the mainstream. NVIDIA needs to deliver Kepler and Maxwell on time as well as derivative chips that can show significant improvement over the solutions already on the CPU or the low-end of the market will start to fade.
Add-in cards won’t die as the issue with integrated graphics, even with the better solutions coming from the two companies is, games are improving as well. The Sandy Bridge demonstrations of StarCraft 2 show it can have good visual fidelity with an OK level of performance.The latest study by Mercury Research shows four distinct market segments: from 0-100, 101-200, 200-300 and $300 or above. While the highest end is always more “sexy” in terms of performance, and the enthusiast segment has its own appeal, the vast majority of the market, over 50% of it, is dominated by the under $100 price category. One particularly important part of this category is graphics cards for the Home Theater PCs which is currently 2x that of the gaming market according to NVIDIA. With the advent of Blu-ray 3D and TVs that are 3D, the need for stereoscopic video cards is clear. Today, NVIDIA launches the newest entry into their Fermi family, the GF108 in the form of the GT 430 video card. ASUS has always been a favorite of mine in the video card companies and today I’m reviewing the latest card from ASUS, the ENGT 430 video card which is a reference clocked version of the new card.