|ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ Zone Edition Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 01 September 2008|
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ZONE Detailed Features
In our last section, we skimmed over the outer skin of ZOTAC's new ZONE Edition GeForce 9800 GTX+. With a basic understanding of what you'll get on the outside, we're ready to get inside the product and dissect the technology. This information will be very helpful for those hardware enthusiasts and overclockers willing to void their warranty and potentially ruin this expensive product in order to tweak it's electronics. This information is for entertainment purposes only, and not a recommendation to disassemble your product or perform modifications.
ZOTAC uses the GeForce 9800 GTX+ as a reference for their ZONE Edition of the product. Although it may appear very similar in the overall appearance, the ZONE Edition borrows little more than the PCB from NVIDIA graphics card. By looking closely as the image below, I began to wonder if ZOTAC could have turned the GeForce 9800 GTX+ into a single card-slot size product. Perhaps the pump would be the biggest obstacle, because the remainder of the graphics card looks like it could easily drop some empty space.
After removing four flat-head screws that fastened a thin aluminum plate over the top of the unit, the 'inner' components were revealed.
From the two images above an below, you can see that the ZOTAC ZONE Edition is a well-engineered specimen and not just a novel concept. I especially like the way ZOTAC used a large heatsink across the entire PCB to cool memory components and electronics. Nevertheless, I find myself with a few small criticisms in regard to the design. To start, the short inter-connect hoses stand out from the GeForce 9800 GTX+ unit, which could have been avoided if the GPU water-block and pump unit were positioned to face each other. It's also unfortunate that this heatsink is relegated to passive cooling, and doesn't benefit by the liquid-cooling solution.
Identical to the previous GeForce 9800 GTX, the GTX+ offers no cooling enhancements to the backside (topside when installed) of the PCB... and for good reason. Since the GTX+ makes the move into a 55nm fabrication space, the thermal envelope is much easier to control. I will admit that liquid cooling may not have been necessary on the GTX+, but cooler is better in the world of electronics.
Not to rehash an already old topic, but the GeForce 9800 GTX (G92) GPU was manufactured by TSMC using 65nm technology, employing a total of 754 million transistors to command 128 processors cores operating at 1688 MHz. The sole innovation attributed to the 9800 GTX+ series is the refined fabrication process to 55nm technology. There are still 128 cores available, with each processor capable of being dynamically allocated to vertex, pixel, and geometry operations for the utmost efficiency in GPU resource allocation, and maximum flexibility in load balancing shader programs. The newly minted GTX+ comes with a higher reference shader speed of 1836 MHz.
Working alongside the processors cores are 64 texturing processors (eight texture processors per shader block) each capable of one addressing and filtering operation per clock. With a peak bilinear fill rate of 43.2 gigatexels, it offers unprecedented texturing performance for any GPU. The G92 chip features sixteen render back-end units (ROP) with full support for 128-bit high-dynamic-range rendering and NVIDIA's exclusive 16x Coverage Sampling Antialiasing (CSAA) algorithm. The ROP compression system has also been enhanced to improve performance at extreme resolutions such as 2560 x 1600. The enhanced compression will help keep memory usage in check and improve performance in high resolution, antialiased scenarios.
754 Million Transistors are etched through a 55nm process and all live inside the small square G92 GPU. A 256-bit memory bus allows the GeForce 9800 GTX+ to offer 512 MB of GDDR3 to the G92 GPU, and gamers understand the importance of a fast video frame buffer. A total of eight Samsung GDDR3 modules line the outer perimeter of the printed circuit board, bearing the Samsung 807 K4J52324QE-BJ08 part number. Hardware enthusiasts should note that these same vRAM modules were also used on late-edition GeForce 8800 Ultra's. Perhaps NVIDIA missed their opportunity to introduce GDDR5 with the GTX+ launch?
This concludes our in-depth look into the ZOTAC ZT-98PES2P-WSP, which has revealed several interesting discoveries about the hardware and the assembly process. The 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition is a good-looking graphics card, but from here on out this product will have to put up some impressive results or be put down. In our next section, Benchmark Reviews begins testing on the GeForce 9800 GTX+ video card, but only after we spend some time explain how it's all done here in our lab.