NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 Graphics Card
New Dual-GPU Challenger of the 3D Throne
On the example of
Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E,
XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E
FYI, the testbed configuration is here.
We used the following benchmarks:
- Call Of Juarez (Techland/Ubisoft) - DirectX 9.0, shaders 3.0 (HDR), demo. Tests were run with maximum quality settings. The batch file is included.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 1.003 (GSC Game World/THQ) - DirectX 9.0, demo. You should unpack the files into the game folder with savegames (Documents and settings). When the game starts up, load ixbt3, open the console, and start the demo: demo_play ixbt3. Test settings - maximum (DYNAMIC LIGHTS are ENABLED).
- 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) - DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, trilinear filtering.
- CRYSIS 1.2 (Crytek/EA), DirectX 9.0c/10.0, shaders 3.0/4.0, (batch file to start the test), test settings in MS Windows Vista - Very High (DX10), Windows XP - High (DX9), RESCUE and HARBOR levels). You can e-mail us to get the timedemo.
We express our thanks to CRYTEK for writing timedemo for iXBT.com.
- Company Of Heroes (Relic Entertainment/THQ) - DirectX 9.0, shaders 2.0, startup batch file. When you start the game, you should go to options, choose the graphics section, and press the test button. Tests were run with maximum quality.
- 3DMark06 1.10 (FutureMark) - DirectX 9.0c, multitexturing, trilinear test settings.
If you have a decent understanding of 3D graphics, you may draw your own conclusions for the diagrams below. However, if you are interested in our comments on test results, you may read them after each test. Anything that is important to beginners and those who are new to the world of video cards will be explained in detail in the comments.
You may want to look through our reference materials on modern graphics cards and their GPUs.
ATI RADEON X1300-1600-1800-1900 Reference
NVIDIA GeForce 7300-7600-7800-7900 Reference
If you have just begun realizing how large the selection to choose a video card is, don't worry, our 3D Graphics section offers articles about 3D basics (you will still have to understand them - when you run a game and open its options, you'll see such notions as textures, lighting, etc) as well as reviews of new products. There are presently two companies that manufacture popular GPUs: AMD (its ATI department is responsible for graphics cards) and NVIDIA. We can also mention Matrox, S3. However, their share of the discrete graphics market is less than 1%, so we can discard them. So most of the information is divided into these two sections. We also publish monthly i3DSpeed that sums up all comparisons of graphics cards for various price segments.
Thirdly, have a look at the test results of our today's cards. We are not going to analyze each test in this article, primarily because for us it makes sense to draw a bottom line in the end of the article. We will, however, make sure that we make our readers aware of any special circumstances or extraordinary results.
CRYSIS, Rescue, DX9, High
CRYSIS, Harbor, DX9, High
CRYSIS, Rescue, DX10, Very High
CRYSIS, Harbor, DX10, Very High
Call Of Juarez
Company Of Heroes
3DMark06: SHADER 2.0 MARKS
3DMark06: SHADER 3.0 MARKS
All of you knew from the very beginning that this NVIDIA product was the most powerful graphics card on GPUs from this manufacturer. Our tests have just proved it.
Besides, there is apparently a problem with drivers in the highest resolution (2560x1600), where the new card suddenly slowed down in some cases, even though it's designed for high resolutions. It happens only in several tests, not in all of them, but it still spoils the impression a little.
In other respects, it's certainly a new leader in gaming 3D Graphics. In performance. What concerns the performance-price ratio, it's not that clear. Perhaps, the 3870 X2 will be more expedient, as its prices have gone down. It's up to you to decide.
On the whole, this is quite a complex graphics card. It weighs over a kilogram and has large dimensions. So you should carefully consider all pros and cons before you buy this card.
Now let's say a few words about each card.
Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E is a reference card (manufactured by NVIDIA's orders, Gigabyte just buys these cards like other partners). In other respects everything is standard. Just compare prices and make your choice.
XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E is also a reference card, bought from NVIDIA. It's a standard product with a standard bundle. It will all depend on its price. The bundle has a bonus - a game (if you are interested in this old title).
As always, the final choice is up to the reader. We can only inform you about products and their performance, but can't make a buying decision. In our opinion, that should solely be in the hands of the reader, and possibly their budget. ;)
One thing is clear: NVIDIA attempted to take over the throne and succeeded (with some reservations). It's up to you to decide whether you want this king for such a price.
And another thing that we are not tired to repeat from article to article. Having decided to choose a graphics card by yourself, you have to realize you're to change one of the fundamental PC parts, which might require additional tuning to improve performance or enable some qualitative features. This is not a finished product, but a component part. So, you must understand that in order to get the most from a new graphics card, you will have to acquire some basic knowledge of 3D graphics and graphics in general. If you are not ready for this, you should not perform upgrades by yourself. In this case it would be better to purchase a ready chassis with preset software (along with vendor's technical support,) or a gaming console that doesn't require any adjustments.
And one more thing: we want to add a few words about our benchmarks.
In our article about FRAPS, we illustrated how crude and inaccurate tests with this utility are. Testers do not have other tools, except for benchmarks built into games.
The article explains that it's sometimes possible to test games with integrated and IDENTICALLY looped demos (although with lots of potential errors, because measurement accuracy depends on a given tester: will he/she start/stop FRAPS in time or do it later/earlier). 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, such a test is a total waste of time. One time you delay the test, the other time you start it too early (not intentionally, of course), and you end up with absolutely different performance ratios.
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 totally unacceptable method (in our opinion), when they measure gaming performance by walking a straight line from the initial point in a scene to a selected finish spot (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, objects may be placed slightly differently ON THE SAME SCENE.
Unfortunately, web sites that publish a huge number of tests do not reveal their procedures in each game (except for those with built-in benchmarks).
So we are of the opinion that it's better to offer a limited number of game tests, but each one should be crystal clear and accurate, and they should all show differences between graphics cards.
To find more information regarding the current graphics card market and the performance of various cards, feel free to read our monthly special i3DSpeed.
Our Excellent Package award (April) goes to XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB PCI-E
We express gratitude to
Gigabyte Russia and Anna Chupakova
IT-Labs and Natalia Lagunenko
for provided graphics cards.
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