Yesterday we showed you the first Geforce 9800 GX2 benchmark results and they were impressive. Nvidia's new high-end outperformed the 8800 Ultra and ATI's HD3870 X2 and that says it all. We know that the 9800 GX2 is a sandwich card with two PCBs and two G92 GPUs, but there's a twist to today's test.
The GPUs run at 600MHz, while the Shaders and memory run at 1500MHz and 1000MHz respectively. Each GPU has 128 Shader processors and you can probably see a resemblance to the 8800 GTS (G92). In fact, the 9800 GX2 is pretty much a dual 8800 GTS card, as both of them are based around the same GPU with similar clocks.
We had a lot of inquiries about the performance of two 8800 GTS cards in SLI versus a single 9800 GX2, so we decided to take some time and pit them against each other. Two Geforce 8800 GTS cards in SLI should provide us with similar performance as a single 9800 GX2, which also has two G92 GPUs running in SLI thanks to alternate frame rendering. Nvidia's SLI technology is slightly better implemented on the 9800 GX2 and we're expecting to see some higher scores on the new card. Another thing the 9800 GX2 has going for it are the new drivers. We used the recommended Forceware 174.53 for Win XP.
For comparison we used two reference clocked 8800 GTS cards in SLI, along with the latest beta drivers downloaded from Nvidia, Forceware 169.44. The 8800 GTS G92 is clocked at 650MHz, while the Shaders run at 1625MHz and the memory at 970MHz. As soon as we get the new official drivers for the 8800 GTS we will repeat this test.
At the moment you can get two 8800 GTS cards for about €450, while a single 9800 GX2 will set you back around €500.
We conducted our tests under Windows XP using the following testbed:
EVGA 680i SLI (Ustupio EVGA)
Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme edition (Ustupio Intel)
OCZ FlexXLC PC2 9200 5-5-5-18 (Ustupio OCZ)
na testu CL5-5-5-15-CR2T 1066MHz at 2.2V
OCZ Silencer 750 Quad Black ( Ustupio OCZ)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB SATA (Ustupio Seagate)
Freezer 7 Pro (Ustupio Artic Cooling)
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 12 PWM
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 8 PWM
3DMark 06 test
In 3Dmark 06 the results are almost identical. Two G92 GPUs inside the 9800 GX2 sandwich score about the same as their siblings on two 8800 GTS cards connected via an external SLI connector. Two 8800GTS cards are about 13 percent faster than a single 8800 GTS.
In this game the 9800 GX2 and 8800 GTS SLI score about the same in all resolutions.
At 1600x1200 with AA our 8800 GTS SLI is slightly faster than the 9800 GX2m, but it's also around 80 percent faster than a single 8800 GTS. On higher resolutions the 9800 GX2 jumps ahead and at 1920x1440 with AA it outperforms the 8800 GTS SLI by 14 percent.
Crysis prefers the new card and it's up to 21 percent faster. At 1600x1200 with AA the SLI setup didn't provide us with a playable framerate, while the 9800 GX2 did.
World in Conflict and Half Life Episode Two also love the 9800 GX2. We often see that the 8800 GTS SLI performs better on lower resolutions, while at higher ones it runs out of breath.
We can see that a single 9800 GX2 regularly outperforms two 8800 GTS cards in SLI, but that the difference is really not that big. In fact, in most cases it is negligible. The biggest performance advantage was 21 percent, in Crysis. This could be attributed to optimized drivers on the part of the 9800 GX2 or simply better technology. With a price difference of around €50 we would go for the 9800 GX2.
If you're investing in the future, the 8800 GTS is not a good choice, SLI is all you can hope for. With the 9800 GX2, Quad SLI is an option and that sets it apart from other Nvidia solutions.