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Tuesday, 08 April 2008 14:21

EVGA's SSC, the fastest 9800 GX2 around

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: 675MHz OC out of the box

 

Geforce 9800 GX2 cards were available immediately after the launch, but there were no overclocked cards at the time. EVGA is the first partner to offer them, and they’re offering three cards running at higher speeds than reference 9800 GX2’s. They’re Superclocked, KO and the fastest iteration SSC (Super Superclocked). Today, we’ll show you what SSC is capable of, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of their offer lacks in performance, or anything else for that matter. No matter what card you choose, you will end up with the fastest card ever made. Geforce 9800 GX2 is a dual-chip, dual slot card with DirectX 10, unified Shader architecture, and it’s the only Quad-SLI capable card.

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Nvidia invested a lot in this card based on the already famous G92 graphics processor. The result is a high-end card whose performance is unparalleled and the best thing about it is that you can make it run even faster. EVGA proved that with their SSC version that runs at 675MHz, which is 75MHz more than reference. All EVGA cards are meticulously tested and guaranteed to run at their speeds. G92 GPU is a great overclocker, and that’s already a well-known fact, and even the newest Nvidia card, Geforce 9800 GTX, is based on it. EVGA is preparing an overclocked version of 9800 GTX too, and it will have the fastest G92 core so far.


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Geforce 9800 GX2’s memory runs at 1000MHz (2000MHz effectively), compared to 900MHz (1800MHz effectively) on 8800GT’s or 970MHz on 8800GTS’s. The memory interface is 256-bit and the card packs 2x 512MB of GDDR3 memory. The 9800 GX2 SSC’s memory runs at 1050MHz (2100MHz effectively), which is 100MHz more than reference. Shader speeds followed the GPU speeds and jumped from 1500MHz to 1674MHz.

EVGA 9800 GX2 SSC card is using reference cooling, and although it looks good, the card does heat up a bit. Still, it’s far from overheating but if you have a 9800 GX2 in your case, you’ll notice that the case temperature will significantly rise. If you don’t want to take risks, then EVGA has another solution – Black Pearl water cooled 9800 GX2 that’ll suit the needs of the most demanding users. On a normal card, temperatures hit 82°C under a workload whereas idle mode resulted in temperatures around 68°C.

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Geforce 9800 GX2 or D8E (that some even call D9E) is based on two G92 chips running at 600MHz, whereas in SSC’s case that’s 675MHz. Each chip addresses 512MB of GDDR3 memory, and it totals to 1GB.

Two GPUs are, as you can see from the picture above, mounted on separate PCBs and facing each other. This enabled placing a fan with a heatsink, creating somewhat of a PCB sandwich. The fan intakes air through the openings on the sides and the back side of the card, and it blows it through the card. However, most hot air exits through the opening on the top and will stay in the case unless you have appropriate cooling within.

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A glance on this side reveals the placement of power connectors.

With the new cooler design, even SLI and SPDIF connectors received protective caps that also improve the looks. We can connect two 9800 GX2 cards and get Quad-SLI, the best scaling mode in card connectivity world. AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering) does the task of rendering 4 frames simultaneously. However, AFR is a Vista-only feature, so Quad-SLI won’t run in XP.

Specification-wise, the card shouldn’t draw more than 197W, and the recommended PSU is 580W or 850W for two 9800 GX2 cards.

You should check whether your PSU has an 8-pin PCIe power connector, because you will need both an 8-pin as well as 6-pin connector to power your card. 8-pin power connectors on certain PSUs will not fit, but Nvidia suggests forcing them in. The only problem is a plastic clip on the connector, but the width is fine. Still, don’t push too hard, it’s easier to cut off the plastic clip from the connector.

However, PSU manufacturers will fix this problem, as Nvidia claims that it’s them who failed to adhere to specifications.

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I/O side of the card features two DVI and one HDMI connector. EVGA’s box didn’t feature an HDMI connector since HDMI is an integral part of 9800 GX2’s reference design. SPDIF cable, needed to route audio from an external source, comes in the box.

Above the HDMI connector, you’ll find diagnostic LEDs. The DVI port for your monitor is marked with number 1.

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HybridPower is one of the great things about 9800 GX2 cards and it will enable for powering down the card when demanding 3D apps are not in use. That will save you a lot of power, and when discrete GPU is not in use, integrated graphics will do the job, consume far less power and will be sufficient for 2D, less demanding 3D or viewing HD video.

EVGA’s box is painted red, and it seems like they opted for a game, and the color should tell you what this card can do. Red means hot, and EVGA 9800 GX2 SSC card is exactly that. PCIe 2.0, DirectX 10, 1GB GDDR3 and HDMI with HDCP are the words written on the box, and it basically means that you have everything needed for gaming, and then some.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 09 April 2008 11:27
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