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Friday, 17 October 2008 10:31

MSI 9800 GTX+ Gaming Series tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Better than the overclocked 9800 GTX

 

A few months ago, somewhat unexpectedly, AMD recaptured the graphics crown. Nvidia had to find an answer to Radeon HD 4850 fast, because the card surprised everyone with great performance at an affordable price. Geforce 9800 GTX couldn’t handle ATI’s new ace and that’s where Geforce 9800 GTX+ comes in.

As the name suggests, this is an improved version of 9800 GTX, where the only difference is the new G92b core. A more advanced 55nm production process enabled higher speeds than those on 65nm 9800 GTX. Smaller surface also means lower voltage and temperatures, but there was also some optimization in play. After this chip was locked and loaded, Nvidia decided to slash 9800 GTX pricing and position 9800 GTX+ on GTX’s previous price point.

9800 GTX’s G92 core runs at 675MHz, shaders at 1688MHz and the memory at effective 2200MHz. As we’ve mentioned before, GTX+ runs at higher clocks – 738MHz core, 1836MHz shader whereas the memory was left unchanged and runs at 2200MHz.

Now we know how this card came about, but it was long speculated that launching this card is a fool’s errand, as an overclocked 9800 GTX will perform better in gaming. This is indeed the case, and you’ll see it for yourself today, as we used an overclocked 9800 GTX card running at 760MHz for comparison. However, the good thing about the new G92b core is that, apart from the higher reference clocks, it’s much more overclocking friendly.


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MSI Gaming Series is not significantly overclocked from reference speeds, but you’ll receive RainbowSix Vegas2 gift game in the box.

Looks-wise, the new 9800 GTX+ card is no different from 9800 GTX. It still features a dual slot cooler – the same one found on 9800 GTX cards.

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The cooler is dual-slot and efficient, so we had a hard time figuring out why it still runs at fixed speeds, rather than auto control. It’s inaudible, but temperatures occasionally hit up to 90°C. If we set it to auto control mode, you’ll still have a pretty quiet card running at 65°C. This is a turbine cooler that blows the heat out of the case.

Temperatures show the advantage of the 55nm core. The 65nm 9800 GTX runs 5°C hotter in the same case scenario.

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The cooler covers the entire card and it features a picture of MSI’s monsters and the name of the card. I/O panel features a TV out and two DVIs, which are covered with blue protective caps. DVI outs have HDCP and are HDMI ready. Audio-in connector is located on the upper side, next to the MSI’s sticker. We’re no strangers to Nvidia’s so called “Audio Integration Solution” which basically means that you’ll have to route sound to the graphics card using a separate cable in order to have both audio and video streaming through the HDMI cable to your HDTV device. You’ll also have to use the DVI-to-HDMI dongle included in the box.

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Geforce 9800 features TriSLI and Hybrid Power support. Powering is, like with any other graphics card in this category, done trough two 6pin PCIe connectors.

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Consumption difference between the overclocked MSI 9800 GTX+ and reference Geforce 9800 GTX cards is negligible, but note that MSI GTX+ runs at much higher speeds. The difference is more evident when compared to the overclocked 9800 GTX card. While our system equipped with MSI’s card consumes around 280W, the old core at same speeds results in some 15W more.

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Apart from nice looks, this card provides the capabilities for playing all the current games. Additional capabilities provided by Nvidia’s GPU are executing apps directly on the graphics core by using CUDA, and PhysX support.

The card ships in MSI’a standard packaging, but this time in Rainbow Six Vegas2 theme.

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Last modified on Saturday, 18 October 2008 06:24
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