Looking into our extremely unreliable crystal ball, we see much hope tainted with just a hint of desperation for ATI. The beginning of another year may yet herald an upturn in fortune for the Canadian chipmaker. Since its less than successful launch of its newest Radeon X1000 series of graphics cards, ATI has not exactly flooded the market with its new cards until recently. Despite a staggered release date, some of the higher end models were relatively in short supply and its performance was quickly surpassed by the even rarer but powerful NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB. Luckily for the Radeon X1000 series, NVIDIA's kingpin is even today grossly expensive and rare. By the closing phase of 2005, retail availability of ATI's new graphics cards shot up drastically while the flagship Radeon X1800 XT unofficially became the fastest mass available graphics card in the market. Even so, ATI is in the works to release a revision to succeed the Radeon X1800 XT - the Radeon X1900 XT. Supposedly better equipped to tackle NVIDIA's top-end, we would have to wait till it arrives to see if it is up to snuff, but then again lies the question of when that would make it to retail, which by now everyone is well aware of ATI's launch patterns.
As for the Radeon X1800 XT 512MB, they are no longer that hard to find so today we have finally assembled quite a few of them from various brands. Hence for the next few days, we will be going through the merits and demerits, if any, of these cards. First up, in alphabetical order, we have the ASUS EAX1800XT TOP, a beast among the Radeon X1800 XT cards. Overclocked to the extreme of ATI's approved limits, this card features a unique cooler and for the first time ever, its very own external power adaptor. Here are its technical specifications: