ATI Radeon X1600 series

Comprised of five different types, ATI's new Radeon X1600 family of 3D graphics cards doesn't offer the fastest 3D performance around, but it will help you achieve a more refined video image on your PC. Although they were announced on October 5, 2005, none of them will be available until the end of November. If you're a gamer looking for midrange 3D power, we suggest a card based on Nvidia's GeForce 6800 chip instead. Although it's a generation old, that chip has all of the same 3D graphics features as the new series from ATI, and Nvidia's chip has even faster performance.

However, you might favor the Radeon X1600 over Nvidia's cards if you use your PC to watch a lot of video. The Avivo decoding technology has H.264 support, an important codec that will play a role in watching HD video on your PC. Avivo also provides a set of driver tweaks that you can use to refine your current video quality. Prices range from $149 for the lowest-end 128MB Radeon X1600 Pro to $249 for the 256MB Radeon X1600 XT. Prices and release dates haven't been announced for the dual-card-enabling CrossFire Editions of any of ATI's new cards, but we expect the Radeon X1600 CrossFire card to cost roughly $300.