Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX Review

GeForce 9800 GTX: New Wine In Old Bottles

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

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Specifications Of The Main Cards
GPUHD 3870 X28800 Ultra8800 GTS 512 MB9800 GTX
GPU frequency825 MHz612 MHz650 MHz675 MHz
Shader clock frequency825 MHz1512 MHz1625 MHz1688 MHz
Memory clock frequency900 MHz1080 MHz970 MHz1100 MHz
Memory bus width512 bits384 bits256 bits256 bits
Memory quantity2 x 512 MB768 MB512 MB512 MB
Number of pixels/Vertex Pipelines(160)(32)(32)(32)
Number of texturing units32326464
Number of ROPs32241616
Processing power~1 TFlops387 GFlops416 GFlops432 GFlops
Memory bandwidth115.2 GB/s103.7 GB/s62.1 GB/s70.4 GB/s
Number of transistors1334 million681 million754 million754 million
Die surface area2 x 196 mm²484 mm²324 mm²324 mm²
Shader Model supported4.

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 favor 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).

  • BPT747
    Interesting results, I have found several card makers (Palit, Asus, Evga, and Zotac) that make a 1GB 8800GT(S). Since you were speaking of the memory limitations of the 9800GTX, I am curious how these cards would preform with the 8800 driver optimizations you mentioned.
  • Spectere
    I purchased a GF9800GTX not long after it came out and the only time I recall hearing the fan spin up to high (which is fairly loud) is when the card first initialized itself when I turn my system on. I've logged many hours of game time on this rig and haven't heard it spin up at all. I'm using the ForceWare 174.74 drivers and an XFX branded card (if that would make any difference at all...probably not).
  • teamjawbox
    Would an Intel Core 2 Duo Dual Core E6600 (2.4ghz) 1066FSB processor bottleneck the 9800GTX? Trying to decide whether to get one or not and dont want to get it and not see an increase in performance due to my processor. Thanks!
  • ziegemon
    Processor bottleneck goes up to about 3.2 Ghz on my Q9450
  • TiberiumSoldier
    i am going to buy an intel Core 2 Duo E8500 with ASUS or XFX or eVGA 9800gtx and 2gb Corsair Dominator ram.. is this a good option??? or i should buy an AMD Phenom 9600?