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Tuesday, 12 August 2008 13:26

Gainward 9800 GT Golden Sample tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Good OC potential and 1024MB of GDDR3

 

Gainward Bliss 9800 GT Golden Sample is only a couple of days old, and it comes with a large quiet cooler. Gainward did a nice job; so we see that Golden Sample 9800 GT card features 1024MB of GDDR3 memory.

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On July 29th, Nvidia launched Geforce 9800 GT and Geforce 9500 GT cards in order to fill the gaps in Geforce 9 generation. Up until these cards hit the shelves, we didn’t have the cards above and below 9600 GT.

Geforce 9500 GT is a new low-end card coming to replace Geforce 8400/8500, and it brings some nice improvements compared to the previous generation. However, the new Geforce 9800 GT, apart from HybridPower support, doesn’t bring any novelties or better performance compared to the popular 8800 GT. That’s why 9800 GT is quite a confusing card for the end user, especially since some 9800 GTs support HybridPower, whereas some don’t.

Still, HybridPower is not such an important feature if you don’t have a motherboard with Nvidia integrated graphics, and although it will save you some cash when the power bill arrives, it won’t bring performance benefits. The card will automatically power down when not needed and rendering tasks will be passed on to the integrated graphics.

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Gainward 9800 GT Golden sample comes with a GPU manufactured in 65nm and it doesn’t have HybridPower, but does it matter at all? Gainward overclocked their card, strapped on a better cooler, doubled the frame buffer from default 512MB to 1024MB and even left some headroom for additional overclocking, which, although its GPU is not manufactured in 55nm, makes this card quite interesting.

Bliss 9800 GT GS’s core runs at 650+ MHz, shaders at 1625+ MHz and the memory at 950+ Mhz (1900+ MHz). We already know that Gainward’s “+” means there’s additional overclocking headroom.

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We tried all the Gainward-provided OC tools, and managed to clock everything to the recommended maximum. The card ran stable at 700MHz/1760MHz/2000MHz.

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During operation, temperatures hung around 63°C and overclocking resulted in only 2°C increase.

Geforce 9800 GPU is based on Geforce 8x GPU architecture that with it brings unified shader architecture, DX 10 API support, but also some significant improvements (TMU, ROP, PureVideoHD) seen first on 8800GT and migrated to this card as well.

The memory is 256-bit, and 9800 GT packs 112 stream processors, 16 ROPs and 56 texture units. Most new 9800 GT cards are renamed 8800 GTs, but as soon as 65nm chips are no longer in stock, all the 9800 GT cards will feature 55nm GPUs and HybridPower.

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Previous photos show that this card has a dual-slot cooler. The cooler hides the front of the card, whereas the back is mostly hidden by a black heatspreader. Its role is to cool the memory chips on the back as well as hold the front cooler firmly in place.

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The card comes with 1024MB of memory spread across 16 chips, eight in the back and eight on the front. The dents on the black heatspreader clearly show the layout of memory chips. We’ve taken it off to see what kind of memory it uses and found out it’s Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A GDDR3 memory with 1.0ns speed (1000MHz), but on the card it runs at default 950MHz.

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Gainward 9800 GT Golden Sample’s cooler is, thanks to its size, very efficient. The front memory heatsink and VRM heatsink are not a part of the cooler, but rather separate units cooled by the fan. The card is, just like Geforce 8800 GT, powered through one 6pin PCIe power connector.

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This DX10, PCI Express 2.0 card will run in SLI mode but not TriSLI. One SLI connector is in its standard position and next to it you’ll see SPDIF in, which you will use if you want to route the sound through an HDMI cable to your TV. 9800 GT’s outs feature one TV-out and two dual-link DVI ports with HDCP and up to 2560x1600 resolution support.

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VGA cooler has a small but pretty quiet fan, which is about 6.5cm in diameter. You can alter the RPM through ExpertTool where you can decide whether you’re aiming for silence or better cooling. The two heatpipes connect the cooler’s base to the heatsink that features a fan in the center. Such or similar design of VGA coolers is a common thing nowadays, mostly due to the fact that such a placed fan does a much better job of cooling as it cools components on its sides, too.

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The cooler’s “hood” is made of plastic and it’s nicely painted with Gainward’s red logo.

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Two heatpipes pass above the card, but their height will not get in your way.

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If you intend to view HDTV, HD DVD or BluRay content through your Bliss 9800 GT GS card, Gainward supplies the SPDIF cable used to route the sound to the card, where it will start its journey to your HDTV device. Of course, there’s also a must-have DVI-to-HDMI dongle.

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The box is quite nice and not as large as before, which means you won’t have to waste cardboard or pay for storage. It’s green and quite good eye-candy.

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Last modified on Friday, 15 August 2008 02:14
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