ATI has announced a follow-up to its high-end Radeon 9800 Pro graphics card. Dubbed the Radeon 9800 XT, the new card offers faster engine and memory speeds but no notable new technology.
Upside: We have yet to run the Radeon 9800 XT through our benchmarks, but going by specs alone, it could be the fastest card on the market right now. It has 256MB of graphics memory running at 730MHz and a core engine speed of 412MHz. It's also designed to take advantage of the next-generation DirectX 9.0 games that will be introduced shortly.
Downside: The Radeon 9800 XT's $499 price--for what's essentially a speed bump--could be hard to justify, especially if you already have the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro.
Outlook: Thanks to the Radeon 9800 Pro, ATI currently dominates rival Nvidia in the ultracompetitive graphics-card market. By partnering with the makers of Half Life 2, the highly anticipated first-person shooter game that will be available later this year, ATI has positioned the XT as the card to own for the next generation of games. However, the only constant in graphics cards is change, and Nvidia is expected to release new technologies of its own very soon.