9800 GTX > 8800 GTS > 8800 GT

NVIDIA is pumping out new products like they are going out of style…so are they? The new 9800 GTX does not bring us anything that we haven’t seen before but better performance and lower prices is always a plus. Oh, and 3-Way SLI is always fun to test!
YANL (Yet another NVIDIA launch)

It would seem like NVIDIA’s PR plan for the new year is to just keep reviewer’s so busy with THEIR products that we could not possibly have time to find the benefits in their competition.  So far, it seems to be working, and this week we have yet another NVIDIA launch (I’m really hoping this YANL term catches on); the culprit this time is a new graphics cards by the name of the GeForce 9800 GTX.

I’m going to be pretty honest here – other than some new specs the 9800 GTX is about as new and innovative as the wash up of April Fool’s jokes I have already started seeing on the web today.  And WHY NVIDIA decided to launch a new product on this day known for its pranks and mischief is beyond – surely some people will find a point to call NVIDIA’s card joke in some spiteful manner now because of it.  I can assure you that this is NOT a prank; the 9800 GTX is real.

The GeForce 9800 GTX and a repeat for 3-Way SLI

The GeForce 9800 GTX is in fact merely a higher clocked version of the 8800 GTS 512MB card released last year.  The G92 GPU still sports the same number of stream processors, the same memory bus and is still a native PCI Express 2.0 card built on the 65nm process.

NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB Review - 3-Way SLI makes a return - Graphics Cards 178
Looks all too familiar…

What has changed is the primary GPU clock rate, the speed of the 128 shader processors and the memory frequency.  Here is a handy table for quick comparison:

NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB Review - 3-Way SLI makes a return - Graphics Cards 179

The increases are relatively slight over the 8800 GTS 512MB card and include a whopping 25 MHz on the core clock, 63 MHz on the shader clock and 130 MHz on the memory clock.  As you might guess, the performance of the 9800 GTX card is somewhat predictable then and I really don’t think the new card deserves a lot of time here for me to discuss its “technology” as I think repeating myself 4-5 times since the 8800 GT launch is ridiculous. 

The only worthwhile feature added to the 9800 GTX over the previous G92 cards is the ability to upgrade to 3-Way SLI.  (You can see my first look at 3-Way SLI technology from December.)

NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB Review - 3-Way SLI makes a return - Graphics Cards 180

Yep, those mystical dual-fingers SLI connections are back with the GTX labeling as they were previously only available on the 8800 GTX and the 8800 Ultra.  We’ll be testing single, dual and three card performance in our benchmarks.

The GeForce 9800 GTX does stand out for another reason: its price.  Estimations from NVIDIA (oh how reliable they are) put the 9800 GTX at $299-349 – a price that puts it well within the reach of most gamers.  NVIDIA has stated that the 9800 GTX is NOT an attempt to push the overall performance of GPUs to another level but rather to bring performance similar to that of the G80 8800 cards to a much more reasonable price segment.

In other words don’t expect these cards to blow the 8800 GTX or Ultra out of the water; price is the name of the game today. 

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