And the best buy is...

Both the ATI Radeon X1950 Pro and the Nvidia GeForce 7900GS are $200 graphics cards, at least this was their suggested retail price at launch. Currently however, GeForce 7900GS cards can be found for as little as $180, while most X1950 Pros will set you back something closer to the $220 mark. As it commonly happens, we expect that as the X1950 Pro establishes better and more samples hit shelves, its price will drop closer to that of the GeForce.

This being the case for now though, even with the price premium, I believe buying the Radeon X1950 Pro over the GeForce can easily be justified. The performance of the X1950 Pro is just that good, despite offering poor overclocking capabilities. Clocked at its default frequencies the X1950 Pro was faster than the overclocked 7900GS in X3: Reunion, Far Cry and F.E.A.R making it faster in three of the five games tested. Then when it came to games such as Prey and Quake 4, the 7900GS was faster though the performance margins were very slim.

The overclocked GeForce 7900GS configuration did its best to hang in there, and at the lowest tested resolution of 1024x768 it did quite well against the X1950 Pro. As the resolution was increased, so did the performance gap, and by the time we hit 1600x1200 the X1950 Pro was leading the pack.

Just a month ago we found ourselves testing the 7900GS as the new king in the $200 price bracket as it bridged the performance gap between the 7900GT and the budget performance king the 7600GT. Only a month later, the 7900GS has been knocked from its perch by the Radeon X1950 Pro which has now established itself as the most dominant $200 graphics card on the market. Now ATI just needs to get the X1950 Pro out there in numbers, and I am sure this is what will happen in the coming weeks.