iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






ASUS RADEON 3850 / 3850X2, GeForce 9600GT / 9800GTX / 9800GX2

Five original graphics cards.

October 3, 2008

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Performance tests


  • Intel Core2 Extreme QX9650 (3000 MHz) CPU
  • Zotac 790i Ultra motherboard on NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra
  • 2GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair 2000MHz (CAS (tCL)=5, RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=5, Row Precharge (tRP)=5, tRAS=15)
  • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA hard drive
  • Tagan TG900-BZ 900W PSU
  • Windows Vista 32bit SP1, DirectX 10.1
  • Dell 3007WFP 30-inch monitor
  • ATI CATALYST 8.7; NVIDIA 177.79
  • VSync disabled


  • Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) -- DirectX 9.0, Shaders 3.0 (HDR), maximum quality settings; demo, batch file included.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 1.003 (GSC Game World/THQ) -- DirectX 9.0, maximum quality settings (dynamic lighting enabled); demo, copy files to the savegames folder, run the game, load level 'ixbt3', and type "demo_play ixbt3" in the console.
  • 3DMark Vantage 1.00 (FutureMark) -- DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0, multitexturing, 'Extreme' settings.
  • CRYSIS 1.2 (Crytek/EA), DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0, 'Very High' settings, levels 'Rescue' and 'Harbor'; batch file, e-mail us to obtain the timedemo. We express gratitude to CRYTEK for creating a timedemo for iXBT.com / Digit-Life.
  • Company Of Heroes Opposing Fronts (Relic Entertainment/THQ) -- DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0, maximum quality settings; batch file, run the game, invoke graphics settings and click the test button.
  • World In Conflict 1.007 (Massive Entertainment/Sierra) -- DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0, 'Very High' settings with adjusted AA and AF; run the game, invoke graphics settings and click the test button.
  • Devil May Cry 4 (CAPCOM) -- DirectX 10.0, 'Super High' settings with adjusted AA and AF; Scene 1 and Scene 4.

Note that performance charts are located on dedicated pages, because they don't fit a reasonable resolution.


Performance charts: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

World In Conflict

Performance charts: World In Conflict

Call Of Juarez

Performance charts: CoJ

Company Of Heroes

Performance charts: CoH

3DMark Vantage, Graphics MARKS

Performance charts: 3DMark Vantage, Graphics MARKS

Devil May Cry 4, SCENE1

Performance charts: Devil May Cry 4, SCENE1

Devil May Cry 4, SCENE4

Performance charts: Devil May Cry 4, SCENE4


ASUS GeForce 9600 GT Silent (EN9600GT) 512MB is a very interesting graphics card. It performs like any other 9600 GT card and is very popular nowadays. Add to this noiseless passive cooling and you get a very attractive product.

ASUS GeForce 9800 GX2 TOP (EN9800GX2) 2x512MB is a reference GX2 card. Higher frequencies help this product take the lead among gaming graphics cards. But as 9800 GX2 is discontinued, you will have to search the remaining store stock. And don't forget about the key drawback of all dual-GPU cards -- instant FPS fluctuations in many games. It may spoil the fun.

ASUS RADEON 3850 Smart OC (EAH3850) 1024MB is a very strange product. Really strange. Its many advantages are negated by a huge drawback -- low memory bandwidth caused by slow DDR2 memory. Have a look at the test results. Though we have deliberately overclocked this card to the 3870 level, it barely catches up with even a standard 3850! Not to mention 3870. At nominal frequencies this card is very slow, and 1 GB of memory is almost of no help here. On the other hand, an overclocking button is a very interesting feature. Besides, this card has an excellent cooler and original LED lights. But low memory bandwidth has a catastrophic effect on this product.

ASUS RADEON 3850 X2 (EAH3850X2) 2x512MB is leaving the market. It's a counterpart of 3870 X2 with frequencies of a 3850 card. What can it offer? It might have had a chance prior to the 48XX series launch, but now all is lost. Why buy a huge hot card with two fans, if you can buy a 4870 card instead for the same money. In my opinion, dual-GPU graphics cards operating at reduced frequencies make little sense. They are hardly expedient with all those potential drawbacks (see 9800 GX2 above).

ASUS GeForce 9800 GTX TOP (EN9800GTX) 512MB is a reference card that performs similar to 9800 GTX+. Its insignificantly different core clock makes no performance difference. While this card is apparently faster than 4850, its price is also much higher than $199, while 4850 is already close.


A few words about our benchmarks.

In our updated FRAPS review we have illustrated how crude and inaccurate tests with this utility are. Testers do not have other tools, except for benchmarks built into games.

This article and its first part explain that it's sometimes possible to test games with integrated and identically looped demos. Although this implies lots of potential errors, since measurement accuracy depends on a given tester: whether he starts/stops FRAPS in time or does it too late/early.

But I have run across situations, when demo load changes abruptly in the very beginning or end. So a half-second delay in starting/stopping the utility changes the average FPS by 15-20%. That's not a measurement error anymore - such a test is a total waste of time. One time you delay the test, another time you start it too early (not intentionally, of course), and you end up with absolutely different performance results.

But even that's not the most important thing. The fact is, there are almost no games with built-in demos anymore. So, testers are forced to use a method that we deem totally unacceptable. They measure gaming performance by walking a straight line from the a starting point in a scene to a selected destination (the nearest fence, tree, etc.).

We all understand that it's impossible to navigate to a finish spot in precisely the same route with different cards and in different resolutions. Besides, such games always introduce random elements into a scene, and objects may be placed slightly differently on the same scene.

Unfortunately, websites that publish a huge number of tests do not always reveal their test methods for each game (except for those with built-in benchmarks).

So, we believe that it's better to offer a limited number of game tests, but each will be crystal clear, accurate and showing actual differences between graphics cards.

We express gratitude to ASUS Russia for provided graphics cards.
PSU provided by TAGAN, monitor provided by NVIDIA.

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Page 1: Introduction, graphics cards

Page 2: Cooling

Page 3: Bundles, boxes

Page 4: Performance tests, conclusions

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