Review: The 9800GT overclocked
Today we’ll show you Gainward’s top notch version of the Geforce 9800 GT, which the company dubbed Geforce 9800 GT Golden Sample Goes Like Hell. This card comes with the core overclocked from reference 600MHz to 650MHz, shaders from 1500MHz to 1625MHz and the memory from 900MHz to 1100MHz (1800MHz to 2200MHz effectively). Furthermore, this card is surely a great addition to Gainward’s 9800GT offer, which already features a few “Green Edition” cards. The aforementioned cards are apparently a trend now as they consume less but come clocked lower than reference.
The 9800 GT GS GLH comes with dual slot cooling. This cooler has been in Gainward’s arsenal for a while, and it’s instantly recognizable by the large central fan with the aluminum heatsink and the large plastic hood covering the rest of the card. The following photo shows our today’s Gainward card codenamed GF9800GT GLH 512M DDR3 256B CRT DVI HDMI. As the name suggests, the card comes with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, 256-bit interface and comes with three types of video outs.
In case you’ve forgotten, the 9800GT is actually the 8800GT card with the new 55nm graphics core. The core brought about some improvements, most notably lower consumption and Hybrid Power. Note that HybridPower will run only when paired up with the corresponding Nvidia chipset, meaning motherboards with integrated Nvidia graphics. The G92 graphics chip is responsible for many awards the 8800GT has won, but the new 55nm version codenamed G92b didn’t disappoint either. It’s well worth noting that this two year old technology is still good enough to deliver a decent framerate in the latest games and at standard resolutions.
While most of the “GLH” cards we’ve tested had the famous “+” in the name, the 9800 GT GS GLH comes without it. The “+” as you know means room for additional overclocking, but since Gainward already did it for you , additional overclocking will void the warranty. We still checked the functionality of Gainward’s overclocking tool, “ExpertTool”, included on the driver CD, and overclocked the card to the maximum allowed 700MHz core, 1760MHz shaders and 1150MHz for the memory.
As we expected, the dual-slot cooling did a great job. After our overclocking, maximum temperatures were 72°C, otherwise it stays below 69°C. Although the cooler is pretty large and does a good job, it doesn’t feature manual RPM settings, so the fan speed is dynamically altered to suit the needs of the graphics core. Of course, this results in a bit of noise when the GPU is pushed harder. The card ran stable at 700MHz/1760MHz/2300MHz and idle temperatures were around 46°C.
The Geforce 9800 GPU is based on Geforce 8x GPU architecture with all the goodies it brings to the table – unified shader architecture, DX10 API support, as well as other significant improvements (TMU, ROP, PureVideo HD) first seen on
8800GT and moved to the 9800GT. The memory is 256bit GDDR3 and the 9800GT core comes with 112 stream processors, 16 ROPs and 56 texture units. Although the GPU-Z reports the GF9800GT GLH 512M DDR3 256B CRT DVI HDMI to be based on the 65nm graphics core, we took the cooler off and found out this card is indeed based on the new 55nm G92 (G92-286-B1) GPU, which consumes less and runs cooler.
The pictures make it clear that this is a dual slot card. The cooler touches the graphics core whereas the memory is cooled by the fan air. The card has 512MB of memory distributed among the 8 memory chips, all of which are positioned on the face of the card. Gainward uses Samsung K4J52324QH-HJ08 GDDR3 memory rated at 0.8ns or 1200MHz, but the memory runs at 1100MHz on the card which leaves room for overclocking.
The 9800 GS GLH comes with a dual-link DVI, VGA and one HDMI connector. In order to get both video and audio via an HDMI cable, you’ll have to bring sound from the motherboard’s/soundcard’s SPDIF out to the graphics card with the provided SPDIF audio cable, something Nvidia graphics owners are probably familiar with.
This DX10, PCI Express 2.0 card supports both dual SLI as well as triple SLI. Gainward used two SLI connectors, which kept their original position. Note that many 9800GT cards come with only one SLI connector, allowing only for dual SLI.
Just like on the 8800GT, the card draws power via one 6-pin PCIe power connector.
The box is small but stylish and pretty rugged. Note that if you require two DVI outs, you’ll have to make a trip to the store and get it as it doesn’t come with the card. Gainward was the first vendor to start sending these converters with native HDMI cards, but it seems like the recession has affected everyone.
Motherboard: MSI P45D3 Platinum ( Provided by: MSI );
Processor: Intel Core 2 QX9770 Extreme edition at 3.6GHz ( Provided by: Intel );
Memory: Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 ( Provided by: Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM ( Provided by: SmoothCreation );
Driver: ForceWare 190.62, Catalyst CCC 9.8 Vista 32 SP1
Gainward 9800GT Golden Sample Goes Like Hell does well in 3DMark06 tests, where it outscores the HD 4850. The reference 9800GT with 512MB of memory doesn’t do so well, lagging behind Gainward’s card by up to 17.5% lower results. The higher clocks on Goes Like Hell card helped it to even beat Gigabyte’s reference clocked 9800GT card with 1GB of memory.
Far Cry 2
FarCry 2 makes good use of Gigabyte GV-N98TSL-1GI’s additional memory and this resulted in more frames at high resolutions with antialiasing on compared to both the reference 9800GT and Gainward’s overclocked card. At 1680x1050, Goes Like Hell out-muscles Gigabyte’s card even when we threw antialiasing in the pot. FarCry2 clearly shows that the memory is important, but at resolutions such as 1680x1050 – core clocks are much more important.
HAWX also shows that additional memory goes a long way to contribute to higher scores, but Gainward compensated for the memory with its higher clocks. The best case scenario sees Gainward beating the reference 9800GT by 13.5%. Unfortunately, HAWX comes with DX10.1 support, which when enabled allows Radeon cards to run much better and emerge as winners.
Left 4 Dead
Left4Dead clearly shows that Gainward 9800 GS GLH runs much better than the reference card. This game likes higher clocks more than the additional memory so Gainward leaves both Gigabyte’s and the reference card in the dust.
World in Conflict
World in Conflict confirms that Gainward did a good job overclocking their card. We recorded as much as 20% better results than the reference 9800GT.
Geforce 9800 GT Golden Sample Goes Like Hell is a gamer version of the 9800GT, and it comes overclocked to 650MHz core, 1625MHz shader and 1100MHz memory (2200MHz effectively). The cooling solution is pretty efficient but sometimes loud, courtesy of the lack of manual RPM settings. The card comes with 512MB of Samsung’s GDDR3 memory.
The GF9800GT GLH 512M DDR3 256B CRT DVI HDMI card comes with native HDMI, which is a nice touch, but that’s not all as the card also features dual link DVI and VGA outs.
Gainward’s “ExpertTool” overclocking tool we’ve found on the driver CD allowed us for smooth overclocking, and we easily pushed the GPU to 700MHz. Although additional overclocking will bring more muscle, the card is already pre-overclocked and as our testing has proven – this will be enough to beat any reference 9800GT card whether it’s 512MB or 1024MB version.
The memory maybe matters at high resolutions, but if you’re planning on gaming at 1680x1050 or less, Goes Like Hell is one hell of a choice as you’ll receive a card with a native HDMI that’s overclocked, covered by the warranty and faster than any reference card.