nVidia Geforce 7800GTX
The NV4x based 6-series cards, released 15 months ago, started nVidia off on a new path that would help rebuild a reputation that took a serious beating after their failed NV30 5-series line. The 6-series introduced new features and improved performance over the previous generation so much so that people realized how serious nVidia was about reclaiming the performance and features crown that ATI managed to wrest from them in the summer of 2002. While the battle between nVidia's 6-series and ATI's X-series was often bloody, brutal, and sometimes downright ugly, it reached a clear conclusion when nVidia launched the 7800 GTX onto the battlefield. No more is it 6800 vs. X800, it's now 7800 vs. X800 and as you'll see in this review, that's a battle ATI has no chance to win.
Normally the length of time between product announcements from both of these companies can be counted in days or weeks; one would release a new card and, in response, the other would do the same (whether they were ready or not). However, nVidia changed the rules of engagement with the 7800 GTX release last month that I think caught a lot of people by surprise. Instead of the regular paper-launch, NVIDIA had immediate availability of the 7800 GTX on the same day the card was announced. That means that the card was actually on store shelves and available to order online that exact same day.
Clearly ATI wasn't ready for this new tactic. Their R520 wasn't ready to anywhere near that degree, and they obviously couldn't respond to a hard-launch with a paper-launch. So while ATI fights to finish the R520 and get a sufficient supply on hand for a hard-launch of their own, nVidia enjoys zero competition in an industry that thrives on marketing and mindshare.