|ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ Zone Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 01 September 2008|
Page 18 of 18
9800 GTX+ Conclusion
This isn't going to be easy... I would like to begin this section by admitting that I only like half of this product. Liquid cooling, while not being something I would normally be a part of, has actually become a very convenient cooling solution because of ZOTAC's design. I could easily add-in my Northbridge to the cooling loop with very little effort, allowing me to enjoy both a cool video card and extremely stable motherboard. The only problem: it's using the GeForce 9800 GTX+. Don't get me wrong - the GTX+ is a great product when you weigh it on its own. But when you take a moment to realize that it's built from the same engineering that put the 8800 GT on the map nearly two years ago you have to wonder if you're getting top performance from a new name. As our tests would indicate, you're not.
ZOTAC starts off with a very positive first impression. I like color, and the burnt orange hues used on the retail package are enough to catch my eye. Aside from sharp looks, they are also very good at keeping the consumer informed by adding important product details and specifications on the packaging. The retail box offers an inviting design and attractive layout, along with some product data on the back. Like the other ZOTAC products we have reviewed here at Benchmark Reviews, there is an underlying sense that they are in tune with the visual attraction a consumer has with products.
Once you unpack the ZT-98PES2P-WSP it become obvious that the ZONE Edition is not just another video card with the addition of a cooling radiator. The video card itself is extremely light, with any real weight going towards the liquid-filled cooling radiator. The black hoses are not entirely attractive, but they filter out all forms of light and thus reduce organism growth which in turn cuts maintenance down to zero. I know why ZOTAC painted the aluminum radiator black, but part of wishes they had picked another color. Lastly, my impression of the overall appearance is very positive, with very little to dislike in the ZONE Edition variation of NVIDIA's GeForce 9800 GTX+.
In the not so distant past I was forced to replace my GeForce 8800 GTX video card because of an errant SATA cable swiped off an exposed capacitor. At that very moment, I felt that NVIDIA definitely should have done something more to protect the electronics on their product. Unlike the higher-end 8800 series GeForce products, the 9800 GTX+ does not expose any electronic components, and ZOTAC faithfully adheres to this standard with the ZONE Edition. NVIDIA has engineered the GeForce 9800 GTX to sustain above-average abuse, and since there are no exposed electronic components (with except to the back side of the PCB) there is very little chance that you'll have to RMA this product because it falls apart on you. The plastic shell covering the 9800 GTX+ will work very well in cramped environments where the video card will be in contact with cables and components, so long as it can fit and there's an open path for the hoses.
When I compare performance for any GeForce video card, I look to the other products that compete against it; both in the GeForce family and from competitor offerings. It amazed me to discover that the 9800 GTX+ is one of sixteen video card models currently offered by NVIDIA, and it holds the #4 position behind the GTX 280, GTX 260, and 9800 GX2. Perhaps this is why I feel like there's not too much to be impressed after testing the 9800 GTX: there are still twelve more video cards in the GeForce family trailing right behind it. I'm not going to get into the reasons why NVIDIA does what they do, but I am going to add that it doesn't make consumers as happy as their accountants. So in regards to performance and functionality of ZOTAC's GeForce 9800 GTX+, I personally feel that the core, shader, and memory clocks could have been higher, since overclocked versions of the 65nm 8800 GT maintain nearly identical specifications. The 9800 GTX+ was practically identical in performance to the Radeon HD 4850, making price the only major separating factor between the two.
ZOTAC has just launched the ZONE Edition GeForce 9800 GTX+ video card, which has subsequently dropped pricing for other related products. Pricing on the ZONE Edition is not yet available, but the AMP! Edition of the GeForce 9800 GTX is now selling at NewEgg for $187.99. It's encouraging that ZOTAC would offer liquid-cooling on a video card, and considering how easy it is to tie the video cards hoses into the newer Northbridge cooling systems which also feature liquid cooling, there's the potential for serious value if applied in the right combinations.
In conclusion, I feel that the ZOTAC ZONE Edition GeForce 9800 GTX+ has a lot to offer gamers and enthusiast than we might first expect. For most video cards functionality is measured in only one application: video games. However, the 9800 GTX+ can suit more than just one purpose. The ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ includes native HDMI video output and offers digital audio output through the attached S/PDIF audio cable, making this a fully-functional HDMI output solution for home theater buffs. Collectively rated, the G92 graphics processor offers full HDMI audio and video output, excellent cooling improvements, and triple-SLI functionality. I won't dispute that the results we recorded in most benchmarks were right in line with those of the Radeon HD 4850 which costs about the same, but then again ATI doesn't have a water-cooled version (and they need it). While value is a relative subject, the performance and functionality appear to have some credence in relation to the product cost. If you're a gamer on a very tight budget, the 8800 GT AMP! Edition sells for $119.99 and may be the best solution for you. But if you're considering DirectX 10 game play or you plan to use post processing effects like anti aliasing, the ZOTAC 9800 GTX/GTX+ series is a great future-ready solution.
+ Great AA/AF performance for hardcore gamers
- Performs exactly like other G92-based products
- Expensive enthusiast product
- Cooling radiator requires space for mounting
- Large footprint full ATX form factor VGA space
Final Score: 8.85 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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