Editor: Charles 'Lupine' Oliver
Date: April 1st, 2008
With a focus on high-end gaming and SLI performance, the test suite we used wasn't entirely fair to the 9800 GTX. Many games are able to run 1920x1080 at completely playable FPS such as Serious Sam 2 and and Oblivion. Other games like Unreal Tournament 3, Bioshock, and Crysis will probably need to lower the resolution to 1680x1050. But considering the starting price of admission, with an MSRP between $299 and $349, the ability to play most of today's games on a 22 inch monitor with moderate levels of anti-aliasing enabled begins to look pretty tempting indeed.
9800 GTX SLI
With an entry price of $299 each, 9800GTX SLI becomes one of the more interesting configurations offered by the 9800 GTX. At that price, you can obtain performance greater than a single 9800 GX2 for about the same price. Of course, this configuration would require SLI capable motherboard, but a single dedicated board/cooler per card might be preferable to overclockers as it should allow the 9800 GTX SLI configuration to hit higher clocks than a 9800 GX2. The 9800 GTX also only requires two 6-pin connectors verses the 8-pin requirements of the 9800 GX2, allowing the end user a wider variety of power supply choices than is currently available for the 9800 GX2. The 9800 GTX SLI system was also consistently faster than the 8800 GTX with the bare exception of specific cases where the extra 256 megs of memory allow it to pull ahead of the 9800 GTX.
9800 GTX 3-Way SLI
9800 GTX 3-Way SLI is in a unique position right now. Three of these cards will run you $900 and $1000 and, in some cases such as Crysis, it is able to keep pace with even the 9800 GX2 Quad SLI setup. In other titles, however, 9800 GTX 3-Way simply isn't quite able to keep up. The 9800 GTX is also the easiest 3-Way SLI configuration there is to setup. It doesn't require the same level of exotic cooling or thermal management required by its G80 cousins and, with the low temperature of the G92 core and excellent cooling, you can pretty much plug them in and forget about it them.
Unfortunately, while it performed impressively compared to the 8800 GTX 3-Way configuration, it still wasn't as easy to use as the 9800 GX2 SLI configuration. Many opting to build a high end system will likely go for dual 9800 GX2 cards in a Quad SLI configuration rather than three 9800 GTX cards in a 3-Way configuration. However, if your running 9800 GTX SLI cards to start, 3rd 9800 GTX card may make sense for an intermediate performance upgrade in the future to give current and future games a little more "oomph". The final consideration between 9800 GX2 Quad SLI and 9800 GTX 3-Way SLI is the 6-pin connector requirement, allowing far greater PSU compatibility verson the 9800 GX2 Quad SLI's 8-pin requirement.
9800 GTX Pros
- Improved shader core
- Cool running G92 architecture, even in a 3-Way SLI configuration
- Dead silent fan
- Strong SLI performance that matches and exceeds a 9800 GX2 for similar price
- Advanced PureVideo functionality
- Overall faster than 8800 GTX
- 9800 GTX SLI systems only require 6-pin compatibility
9800 GTX Cons
- 256 fewer megabytes of Memory than 8800 GTX cards, which can be a real bottleneck in some cases
- 3-Way SLI faces tough competition from 9800 GX2 Quad setups, which is easier to set up for the average user
- only supports three existing chipsets, while Quad SLI can be used on a wide variety of SLI supported chipsets.
Evolution, Not Revolution
Those looking for a card that destroys the 8800 GTX need not apply. The 9800 GTX should not be looked as a successor to the 8800 GTX cards, but as a more economical replacement. Those with 8800 GTX systems won't likely be tempted to rush out to buy this card, but those in the market for a current DX 10 card should find the 9800 GTX a more sensible purchase than its aging cousin.
While the G92 architecture is extremely impressive, we're not pleased with Nvidia's naming choice for the 9800 GTX. With some G92 cards now being labeled as both 8800 and 9800, the end user faces unnecessary confusion when looking at Nvidia's G92 range of products. You cannot help but wonder why some of the cards are named as they are; G92 cores should share a similar but separate name from the G80 series to reduce confusion about exactly what you are getting.
content not found