|Gigabyte GV-NX98X1GHI-B GeForce 9800 GX2 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 26 March 2008|
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Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2
It seems like it was just yesterday that I bought my first discrete graphics card to outfit an overclocked Cyrix M2-300 6x86MX-based computer. Back in those Windows 98 (first edition) days of 1998 the term GeForce wasn't even in existence yet, and NVIDIA was called referred to as nVidia. So when I bought my first computer late that year, I would have never thought Quake II played on my RIVA TNT2 AGP video card would mark the last time I would spend money in an arcade. This was nearly ten years ago and since that time NVIDIA has developed several successful GeForce product lines, including the newly launched 9th generation.
On the 18th of March 2008 NVIDIA launched the GeForce 9800 GX2 to coincide with their 790i motherboard chipset. Because gamers were teased by NVIDIA's first 9-series release which barely satisfied the middle-market with their GeForce 9600 GT, the discussion as to which upcoming product would become the new king of the hill quickly became a heated topic. Since the 8th generation GeForce series launched with a monumental success, starring the still powerful 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS, most hardware enthusiasts come to expect the same level of awe in this launch of new generation of discrete graphics. Few enthusiasts would say NVIDIA has outdone themselves again, while most others will claim that they have disappointed the community. Benchmark Reviews ignores the chatter, and makes a solid case with the Gigabyte GV-NX98X1GHI-B GeForce 9800 GX2 video card.
The GeForce 9800 GX2 features 256 processor cores each independently operating at 1,500 MHz. Counting conservatively (2 flops per processor core), this amounts to an unprecedented 768 gigaflops of raw shading horsepower. In texturing performance, it can filter 76.8 billion pixels per second, or 190% more than the Radeon 3870 X2. In raw specifications across the board, it is vastly improved over its predecessor, the GeForce 8800 Ultra. But with a price of $599-$649, it launches at the same price as the GeForce 8800 GTX. With more than twice the shading power and a vastly improved PureVideo HD engine, the GeForce 9800 GX2 offers peerless 3D performance and great value for money.
In the past, Benchmark Reviews has compared GeForce 8800 Graphics Performance: GT vs GTS vs GTX. In that article, it was shown that a more affordable 8800 GT could easily beat a heavily-overclocked 8800 GTS and close the gap with far more expensive 8800 GTX. Not much later we tested the ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition HDMI video card which in many tests performed very near to the more expensive GTX. Several other product reviews from our affiliates have eventually discovered the same thing, and our collective results shook the market and announced an affordable high-end solution. But the 8800 is so... last generation, and now we have to determine how the 9800 GX2 fits into all of this.
Since several of the former heavyweight products are now threatened with replacement by the new GeForce 9800 GX2, there seems to be a lot of concern as to how well the GX2 performs against the older 8800 GTX and Ultra which it supersedes. Gamers want to know if the GX2 is worth the money, or if they should wait. Making this decision a little more difficult is yet another change to the market. As if there wasn't enough competition already in the high-end segment of the 3D graphics market, on April 1st there will be one more addition to the 9th generation family named GeForce 9800 GTX.
Powered by the NVIDIA G92 graphics processor originally introduced in the GeForce 8800 GT series, the newly released Gigabyte GV-NX98X1GHI-B GeForce 9800 GX2 video card takes gaming performance to an unbelievable level by packaging two GPU's into the same enclosure. By utilizing an integrated SLI configuration to combine the two independent GPU's, NVIDIA has made it possible to fit the equivalent of two 8800 GT's into the same form factor footprint as the 8800 GTX and Ultra. The reference core clock speed amounts to a modest 600 MHz on both GPU's, and GDDR3 memory is clocked to 1000 MHz. For an extra performance boost during intense gaming situations, NVIDIA has designed the GX2 to offer a total of 256 stream processors operating at 1500 MHz.
The new PCI Express 2.0 interface sends data to the graphics card‘s combined 1024 MB of GDDR3 video memory for smooth performance and realistic textures in PC games. The 512MB of GDDR3 video memory on each PCB communicates with the host graphics processor through its own 256-bit memory interface, and combines the resources through the integrated PCI (Express) bridge. Compared to the older PCI Express x16 bus which it replaces, the new PCI Express 2.0 interface delivers 5.0 GBps of graphical bandwidth which amounts to twice the data throughput over the previous generation. In the new generation of PCI Express 2.0 compatible motherboards, such as the Gigabyte's GA-X48T-DQ6 we used for testing, this new technology delivers bleeding edge graphics while remaining backwards compatible with older PCI Express x16 motherboards.
Taken together as a whole, the GeForce 9800 GX2 signifies a major step up from the days NVIDIA last delivered a dual GPU video card with the 7950 GX2. With better scaling between graphics processors the SLI package embedded within the 9800 GX2 is far superior to the 7950 GX2, and more efficient to boot. Because the 9800 GX2 works within the ATX form factor compartmental confinements (right up to the edge in fact), this video card can be teamed together into an additional SLI configuration that equates to quad-SLI. Previously this kind of configuration (quad-SLI) would require massive 1200 watt output from an SLI certified power supply unit, but with the new 65 nm fabrication process this power demand has dropped to a more realistic level around 800 watts.
But the list of improvements is still not complete (not by far). A few months back we reviewed ZOTAC's GeForce 8800 GT AMP! Edition HDMI video card, which used a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and S/PDIF audio input cable to stream full HDMI audio and video output for the first time in any NVIDIA product. Perhaps impressed with the idea, NVIDIA returned to the design boards and reconfigured their new 9800 series to offer the same functionality. The improvement with this generation is that the adapter is no longer necessary since there is now an HDMI port directly beside the two DVI connections, but the S/PDIF audio cable is still a separate input.
Benchmark Reviews will test the new Gigabyte GV-NX98X1GHI-B GeForce 9800 GX2 discrete graphics card against the most widely used NVIDIA products it competes against. Below is a chart with the most recent high-performance offerings from NVIDIA.
About the company: Gigabyte United Inc. (G.B.T. Inc. USA)
Gigabyte United Inc., established in December 2006, is assuming the GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co., Ltd. Brand, which for the past 20 years has been a world-renowned leader in the motherboard industry. Continuing to focus on its core businesses of GIGABYTE branded motherboards and graphics cards, Gigabyte United Inc. is committed to providing our valued customers with the highest quality products and services featuring the industry's most innovative design.
In order to meet the challenges of today's intensely competitive channel market, Gigabyte United Inc. fully utilizes its key assets including its cutting-edge research and development team as well as its professional sales and marketing resources to continue to develop technologies to fit a complete range of digital life solutions. Now and for the future, Gigabyte United Inc. will continue to embody the unique spirit and culture, which has made Gigabyte one of the foremost brands in the industry.
More information about Gigabyte is available by visiting their website.