Review: The fastest single-chip card money can buy
Geforce 9800 GTX cards hit the market on the 1st of April, but things really got interesting on the 8th of April when Nvidia gave an official nod for their partners to start selling overclocked cards. EVGA is one of the companies that wouldn’t let such an opportunity pass by, and on that day we found out the clocks of their fastest EVGA 9800 SSC card.
Super Superclocked 9800 GTX runs at 770MHz, which is super-high compared to reference 675MHz. We’ve seen other partners offering overclocked cards but none of them, including EVGA, dared to go further than 770Mhz. EVGA, together with some other partners, overclocked the G92 chip to a magical 770MHz and so the speed race ends. We might see some other water cooled 9800 GTX running faster, but so far we’re not aware of such a product.
9800 GTX cards are built around the G92 chip manufactured in 65nm and packing 128 stream processors. We’ve already seen it on 8800 GTS and 8800 GT cards, cards so popular that we had to wait a month or so just to buy them.
New 9800 GTX is nothing but an improved version of 8800 GTS, but Nvidia still decided to make it a 9th generation card and give it a name 9800 GTX. This card is here to replace 8800 GTX, but it’s unlikely that any 8800 GTX owner will decide on abandoning their pets in favor of the new 9800 GTX. The reason is as simple as it gets – 9800 GTX isn’t significantly faster.
Reference 9800 GTX card’s speed is only 25MHz higher than 8800 GTS (G92), but it’s the memory that gives this card a nice boost. Although the card packs only 512MB of GDDR3 memory (8800 GTX has 768MB), it runs at 1100MHz, compared to 8800 GTS card’s 970MHz or 8800 GTX’s 900MHz.
We see that 9800 GTX’s core is 4% faster than 8800 GTS, and its memory is 14% faster. However, those are reference card results, so 9800 GTS SSC makes some serious changes. SSC’s core speed is 14% faster than reference and 18% faster than 8800 GTS. Memory got a boost of 50MHz, and now runs at 1150MHz.
Despite the similarities to 8800 GTS, this new card has a different board design and a different cooler. Length-wise, it’s identical to 8800 GTX, which in turn means that it’s larger than 8800 GTS. Its dual-slot cooler covers the whole card, whereas the sticker is the only thing separating this card from the rest of the 9800 GTX pack. The cooler is stylish, but the fan gets quite loud. 3D apps made it run a bit louder than usual, but it’s still not unbearably loud. However, cooler efficiency is right on the spot and temperatures stayed within 74° Celsius mark.
Two SLI connectors on this card separate this card from the rest based on G92 cores. In order for this card to run in TriSLI you’ll need two more SLI connectors.
Nvidia Geforce 9800 GTX uses Nvidia HybridPower technology. This enables combining integrated Geforce GPU on your motherboard with discrete graphics. When 9800 GTX is not used, the card powers down and leaves non-demanding tasks, such as HD video or 2D, to integrated graphics core.
Nvidia claims that combining three cards in TriSLI on 7th series nForce will result in performance scaling of up to 2.8 compared to a single card. Tri Sli technology uses AFR (Alternate Frame Rendering) to achieve this.
Of course, Geforce 9800 GTX packs DirectX 10, Pure Video HD technology for high-definition video reproduction with HDCP protection. The packaging is green this time and has flagship 9800 GTX SSC features listed on it.