iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Foxconn GeForce 9800 GTX / GX2 2x512MB

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Serious changes have occurred in the layout of forces in our old tests after our upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista and from Intel X38 to nForce 790i. We've also added new tests. First of all we must note that the upgrade to a new OS and platform drastically decreased performance results of all NVIDIA cards in 3DMark06 and Call Of Juarez. All graphics cards perform much worse in a new DX10 version of CoH than in its DX9 version. Even though AMD cards now work in AA mode in 3Dmark Vantage, all 26xx cards would still freeze and the program would crash. Hence no results of these cards here.

Foxconn GeForce 9800 GX2 2x512MB is one of the fastest graphics cards today. But we should keep in mind that, like all dual-GPU cards, it has a weak spot - software. Performance of this card depends much more on software optimizations than a single-GPU card. The GX2 is based on SLI, which controls GPU modes and distributes the load on the software level. So even a minor miscalculation slows down such an expensive product to the level of single-GPU solutions or even worse, considering that operating frequencies of each GPU inside GX2 are lower than in the 9800 GTX.

The situation in a number of tests in the 2560x1600 mode is especially dispiriting. Frankly speaking, the GX2 is designed for very high resolutions, such as this one. And now it demonstrates poor results (see the charts). That is, NVIDIA has a lot to improve in SLI systems operating at high resolutions. Perhaps, the problem is not in SLI, but in insufficient memory bandwidth or something else.

As this Foxconn product is a reference card with a usual bundle, we have nothing to add. Just compare prices and make your choice.

Foxconn GeForce 9800 GTX 512MB is also a reference card with the same standard bundle (it's slightly overclocked, but it has a little effect on its performance, within a measurement error). As for the 9800 GTX itself, it's a slightly improved 8800 GTS 512MB. I already described this card in detail here. If you already have a 8800 GTS 512MB, it makes no sense to upgrade to this card.

But if you are looking for a very good graphics card for a reasonable price, you may have a closer look at the 9800 GTX.

To find more information about performance of various cards, please visit our monthly special i3DSpeed.


A few words about our benchmarks.

In our updated article about FRAPS, 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
Foxconn Russia
for the provided graphics card.

PSU provided by TAGAN,
Monitor provided by NVIDIA.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Bundles, boxes

Page 3: Performance in games

Page 4: Conclusions, afterword

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