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Wednesday, 09 April 2008 12:46

MSI's overclocked 9800 GTX tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Core running at 720MHz

 

Geforce 9800 GTX is the latest card on the market, and it's the third one from Nvidia´s 9th generation. Only a couple of days old, this card is also available as an overclocked version.

As far as we know, MSI is one of the first partners that dared to overclock them, but the others also have aces up their sleeves.


Geforce T2D512 N9800 GTX card runs at 720MHz, compared to the reference speed of 675MHz. The memory was left unchanged at reference 1100MHz, whereas the Shaders run at 1750MHz.

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Geforce 9800 GTX is based on G92 GPU, a chip that we’ve already seen in action in numerous iterations, and it’s the main reason for 8800 GT or GTS cards' great success. Specification-wise, 8800 GTS resembles GTX, but GTX is faster. Furthermore, it’s the speed that underwent most changes in the latest G92 GPUs. Although MSI dared to overclock the cores to high speeds, 720MHz isn’t the maximum that this card can churn out.

If you take a look at reference 8800 GTS results, you’ll see that GTX isn’t much faster than 8800 GTS, but its overclocking potential is far beyond 8800 GTS capabilities. 800MHz isn’t a problem for 9800 GTX, but MSI chose not to go higher with their N9800 GTX cards, most probably in order to make sure that your card runs for a long time.

MSI T2D512 N9800 GTX is Tri-SLI and Hybrid Power ready, and although it will do well in multi-media – gaming is its area of expertise.

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MSI kept the reference design, and the only thing different about this card is MSI stickers and plastic caps on DVI outs.

The cooler is dual slot, and it looks stylish just like it should because it hides the entire PCB. However, that results in slightly higher temperatures and we could easily hear the fan run in 3D apps. We can’t say that it’s too loud, but it would’ve been better if the temperatures exceeded 75°C and the card ran quieter.

For your HDMI+HDCP+Audio MSI includes an HDMI adapter in the box. In order to have HDMI with audio, you’ll have to do an already common routine where you connect your motherboard/soundcard’s SPDIF out to your graphics card, using a cable also supplied in the box. Apart from the DVI outs, you also have a 7-pin analog video-out port that enables S-Video plus composite and component (YPrPb) through an optional dongle.

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Suggested price is between US$299-349, whereas Europeans will have to pay somewhere around €250. The card is 10.5’’ long, similar to 8800 GTX, 8800 Ultra or 9800 GX2 cards.

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The PCB and the cooler on 9800 GTX are quite different from those on 8800 GTS cards, but the core is quite similar specification-wise.

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Eight memory chips surround the core and they’re well cooled, since they touch the cooler’s aluminum base. The prints in the white paste suggest that the VRM is also taken care of. Hot air is pushed out through the free bracket of this dual slot cooler.

The card packs 512MB of GDDR3 memory with 256bit memory interface. The memory in use is the fastest GDDR3 around (0.8 ns, 1200MHz – 2400MHz effectively) and that’s Samsung’s K4J52324QE-BJ08. However, on this card it runs at 1100MHz, and that led us to think that there’s a lot of overclocking potential.

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The new 9800 GTX is powered by two 6-pin PCIe connectors (identical to Ultra or the old 8800 GTX), placed on the upper side of the card. Its maximum consumption should be 156W, whereas Ultra and 8800 GTX draw 175W and 145.5W, respectively.

9800 GTX has two SLI connectors that you might need in your Tri-SLI setup. The card also supports Hybrid SLI technology and its HybridPower and Geforce Boost features. We already wrote about these, so we know that Geforce Boost is a feature aimed at low-end graphics cards whereas HybridPower will work just fine with 9800GTX.

HybridPower will let your card power down when not needed for demanding 3D apps. We’ve grown quite fond of it since we’ve seen it in action.

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Nvidia chipset’s integrated graphics will handle 2D, less demanding 3D and HD video content viewing until the need for your discrete GPU arises. This will save you precious digits on your power bill, without sacrificing your rig’s everyday performance.

MSI N9800 GTX card comes in MSI’s standard packaging with standard features, such as the driver CD and a quick-start manual.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 09 April 2008 18:21
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