|ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 31 March 2008|
Page 16 of 17
GeForce 9800 GTX Final Thoughts
As of 1 April 2008 NVIDIA lists their top-to-bottom GeForce product line-up as follows below. With only the GeForce 8800 GTS follow-up product release scheduled in the next few months, you can expect that the 9800 GTX will remain in the #2 position of this ranking for quite some time. It really surprises me to see some of the older items still clinging to the list such as the 7300 GS, but every step in the ladder serves a purpose. This brings us to the purpose of the GeForce 9800 GTX.
So is the GeForce 9800 GTX worth the investment? Early rumors proved to be nonsense, with price estimates listing absurd amounts. However, since the actual launch price starts around $299, the motivation isn't all that hard to muster up. The ZOTAC GeForce 8800 GT 512MB AMP! Edition video card that we have repeatedly mentioned in this article wasn't by mistake; since it presently sells for $259.99 at NewEgg the price to performance ratio is almost the same as ZOTAC's vanilla GeForce 9800 GTX. The primary reasons to justify the 9800 GTX isn't the speed, especially since we've already proven that it's on par with older or less expensive offerings, but instead it's the functionality that makes all the difference:
Which leaves us with one final question to answer: is the 9800 GTX better than the version it replaces? This depends on your needs really, and the hardware you already have, but in most cases the answer is going to be "yes". There are specific lessons to be learned from the G92 architecture, especially when compared to the older G80. The primary reason to support my answer has already proven itself a reality; just take a look back at the Crysis benchmarks. If you're the low-demand gamer who doesn't use high resolution displays or enable post process effects such as anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering, then the 9800 series is probably not your best investment. But if you'll notice from the tests, whenever post process effects were included at high resolution the 8800 GTX (and GX2) performed well ahead of the competition. NVIDIA's 9800 series products are squarely aimed at the upper high-end segment of performance gamers, and to most hard core enthusiasts there is more than enough value to realistically afford three units for a triple-SLI array.
But even still, let's pretend you're already using an G80-based 8800 series graphics card; because there are some additional benefits worth considering. To begin with, you're probably going to barely enjoy the latest video games on their lower post processing effects setting, with AA and AF turned down or off. Beyond this, you'll may also be unprepared for that day in the near future when DirectX 10.1 (or the upcoming DX11) resides on your operating system. Finally, there's the potential for using this HDMI-ready solution for something other than video games - such as a home theater PC. There's a longer list of reasons to support the justification in replacing an older G80 video card with the 9800 GTX; even beyond using it inside an HTPC for your home theater.
Since the days of Battlefield 2 there haven't been very many games to seriously stress mid and high-performance video cards. The Battlefield 2142 was more of a lukewarm please-all with nearly no landscape to speak of, and until EA and Crytek GmbH came along with Crysis there hadn't been any major milestones to speak of for almost three years. Company of Heroes was (and to some players it still is) one of the most popular games of 2006, but its scalable Havok game engine allowed just about anyone with a personal computer to play the game. World in Conflict could very well be characterized as the CoH for 2007, especially since CoH: Opposing Fronts offered almost nothing new to gamers in regards to performance. WiC is equally scalable, but the large world-scape can have a greater impact on frame rate. In 2008 it appears that the Quake 3-based gaming engine in Call of Duty 4 is making headlines with superior game play and graphical delivery. When it comes down to PC video games, there are only a handful of titles that stand out more than those which I have tested here in this review. The important message is that the GeForce 9800 GTX can handle them all very well and delivers high frame rates across the board, right in step with its predecessor. If you're using a GeForce 8-series or older video card you may not prepared for the future of PC video games, which is already into DirectX 10.1 and quickly tuning the mechanics of DirectX 11.