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GeForce 9800 GTX: New Wine In Old Bottles

Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX Review

Before we take a more detailed look at the card, let’s compare the technical specifications of the GeForce 9800 GTX with those of its competitors.

Specifications: Test Cards
Specifications Of The Main Cards
GPU HD 3870 X2 8800 Ultra 8800 GTS 512 MB 9800 GTX
GPU frequency 825 MHz 612 MHz 650 MHz 675 MHz
Shader clock frequency 825 MHz 1512 MHz 1625 MHz 1688 MHz
Memory clock frequency 900 MHz 1080 MHz 970 MHz 1100 MHz
Memory bus width 512 bits 384 bits 256 bits 256 bits
Memory type GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3 GDDR3
Memory quantity 2 x 512 MB 768 MB 512 MB 512 MB
Number of pixels/Vertex Pipelines (160) (32) (32) (32)
Number of texturing units 32 32 64 64
Number of ROPs 32 24 16 16
Processing power  1 TFlops 387 GFlops 416 GFlops 432 GFlops
Memory bandwidth 115.2 GB/s 103.7 GB/s 62.1 GB/s 70.4 GB/s
Number of transistors 1334 million 681 million 754 million 754 million
Process 0.055µ 0.09µ 0.065µ 0.065µ
Die surface area 2 x 196 mm² 484 mm² 324 mm² 324 mm²
Generation 2008 2007 2007 2008
Shader Model supported 4.1 4.0 4.0 4.0

One thing jumps out at you right away - the similarity between the 9800 GTX and the 8800 GTS 512 MB. They share the same GPU (G92), number of texturing units, memory, features and so on. The only difference is the 9800 GTX’ slightly higher operating frequencies, resulting in processing power that’s a little less than 4% higher, and - more importantly - offers 13% greater memory bandwidth. The latter is still well below that of the 8800 Ultra or even the 8800 GTX (86.4 GB/s, with 768 MB, of course), which is another reason to doubt the appropriateness of the name "GeForce 9800 GTX".

So to find justification for the name, Nvidia is emphasizing such features as triple-SLI support (supported until now only by the ageing 8800 Ultra and GTX) and the more interesting Hybrid Power. But for that, we’ll have to wait until compatible motherboards come out - which makes the feature less of an argument in favour of the 9800 GTX. Because whether you’re about to buy a new system today or just want to update your graphics card, your motherboard won’t be able to support the triple-SLI feature.

Finally, there’s an LED indicator on the card, but it doesn’t indicate proper operation of the card once the computer is powered up (unlike the ones on the 9800 GX2, which told you that all the power connectors were correctly plugged in).

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