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GeForce 9800 GT and 9500 GT Graphics Cards

From ECS, Galaxy, Palit, and Zotac.

September 25, 2008



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Over a year has passed since the launch of GeForce 8600 and almost a year since the launch of GeForce 8800 GT. It's high time to update these price ranges. GeForce 9500 GT has actually been overhauled with thinner 55nm process technology, higher shader frequencies, 512 MB of memory. But GeForce 9800 GT hasn't changed. It still uses G92 at frequencies of 8800 GT and has the same 512 MB of memory. Just memory latency has been reduced a little, so it works a little faster now at the same clock rates. That's it, actually. Even the new G92 revision gives nothing to users, as the architecture and clock rates are the same.

So we'd like to ask: on what grounds did they change "8" to "9"? The transition from "7" to "8" was justified, because engineers radically modified the architecture and introduced the DX10 support. But in this case it's just a marketing trick, nothing more.

So when you see both GeForce 8800 GT and 9800 GT cards in stores, be sure to find out their clock rates and then buy a higher-frequency product. If clock rates are the same, buy what's cheaper.

With 9500 GT it's more difficult. We suspect that it may be cheaper than 8600 GTS at similar performance, if 9600 GTS has 512 MB of memory. So it's hard to give any advices here. Everything depends on a given card and its clock rates. But 9500 GT has essentially the same architecture as 8600.

To prove our assumptions right or wrong, we've tested seven cards based on 9500 GT and 9800 GT GPUs operating at different frequencies. Here is what we have got.

Graphics Cards


ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Fan Edition) 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9800 GT (G92)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 600/1512 MHz (nominal -- 600/1512 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 900 (1800) MHz (nominal -- 900 (1800) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 256bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 112
  • Texture processors: 64 (28) (BLF)
  • ROPs: 16
  • Dimensions: 220x100x15 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: blue
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Pipe Edition) 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9800 GT (G92)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 600/1512 MHz (nominal -- 600/1512 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 900 (1800) MHz (nominal -- 900 (1800) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 256bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 112
  • Texture processors: 64 (28) (BLF)
  • ROPs: 16
  • Dimensions: 220x120x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: blue
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
ECS GeForce 9500 GT 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9500 GT (G96)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 550/1400 MHz (nominal -- 550/1400 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 800 (1600) MHz (nominal -- 800 (1600) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 128bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 32
  • Texture processors: 16
  • ROPs: 8
  • Dimensions: 170x100x15 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: blue
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
Galaxy GeForce 9500 GT Overclocked 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9500 GT (G96)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 700/1650 MHz (nominal -- 550/1400 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1000 (2000) MHz (nominal -- 800 (1600) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 128bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 32
  • Texture processors: 16
  • ROPs: 8
  • Dimensions: 170x100x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: dark blue
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9800 GT (G92)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 650/1625 MHz (nominal -- 600/1512 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 950 (1900) MHz (nominal -- 900 (1800) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 256bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 112
  • Texture processors: 64 (28) (BLF)
  • ROPs: 16
  • Dimensions: 220x120x33 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: green
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
Zotac GeForce 9800 GT AMP! Edition 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9800 GT (G92)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 700/1675 MHz (nominal -- 600/1512 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 1000 (2000) MHz (nominal -- 900 (1800) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 256bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 112
  • Texture processors: 64 (28) (BLF)
  • ROPs: 16
  • Dimensions: 220x120x15 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: orange
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link/HDMI), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)
Zotac GeForce 9500 GT AMP! Edition 512MB
  • GPU: GeForce 9500 GT (G96)
  • Interface: PCI-Express x16
  • GPU frequencies (ROPs/Shaders): 650/1600 MHz (nominal -- 550/1400 MHz)
  • Memory frequencies (physical (effective)): 900 (1800) MHz (nominal -- 800 (1600) MHz)
  • Memory bus width: 128bit
  • Vertex processors: -
  • Pixel processors: -
  • Unified processors: 32
  • Texture processors: 16
  • ROPs: 8
  • Dimensions: 160x100x15 mm (the last figure is maximum thickness of the graphics card)
  • PCB color: blue
  • RAMDACs/TDMS: integrated into GPU
  • Output connectors: 2xDVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out
  • VIVO: not available
  • TV-out: integrated into GPU
  • Multi-GPU operation: SLI (Hardware)


ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Fan Edition) 512MB
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Pipe Edition) 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9800 GT AMP! Edition 512MB

The graphics card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.0 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 1000 (2000) MHz.

Galaxy GeForce 9500 GT Overclocked 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9500 GT AMP! Edition 512MB

Each graphics card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.0 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 1000 (2000) MHz.

ECS GeForce 9500 GT 512MB

The graphics card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in four chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.2 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 800 (1600) MHz.



Comparison with the reference design, front view
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Pipe Edition) 512MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Fan Edition) 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9800 GT AMP! Edition 512MB
ECS GeForce 9500 GT 512MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS
Galaxy GeForce 9500 GT Overclocked 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9500 GT AMP! Edition 512MB


Comparison with the reference design, back view
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Pipe Edition) 512MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT
ECS GeForce 9800 GT (Fan Edition) 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9800 GT AMP! Edition 512MB
ECS GeForce 9500 GT 512MB Reference card NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS
Galaxy GeForce 9500 GT Overclocked 512MB
Zotac GeForce 9500 GT AMP! Edition 512MB

We can see that only Zotac's 9800 GT is very close to the 8800 GT reference design. Other products are customized to a certain degree. As there are very few differences between 9800 GT and 8800 GT, we can assume that all these changes have been introduced to make cards cheaper. And Palit's card is designed for 1 GB of memory, as there are empty seats for memory chips on the back of its PCB.

The same can be said about 9500GT-based cards, PCBs of which differ much from the reference 8600GTS. However, this time changes make more sense, as new cards are based on the revised core with different power requirements.

Let's examine the cards. The G92 label on 9800GT hasn't changed from "G92-270-A2", just like in 8800GT. That's another proof that the core is the same. The 9500GT is labeled differently, of course, because it's based on the new G96 core.

GeForce 9800 GT



GeForce 9500 GT



All cards have TV-Outs with original jacks. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV set via S-Video or RCA.

An analog monitor with a D-Sub (VGA) interface can be connected by means of a special DVI-to-D-Sub adapter. The bundle also includes a DVI-to-HDMI adapter (these graphics cards support video/audio output to HDMI receivers), so there should be no problems with such a monitor.

Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz maximum refresh rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit @ 85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface (all Dual-Link DVIs)

As of MPEG2 playback (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on modern graphics cards does not exceed 25%.

As of HDTV, a review is available here.

All 9800 GT cards require additional power source, so each is bundled with a molex to 6-pin adapter, even though all modern PSUs have such cables. Note that 9500 GT cards (except for the Galaxy card) do not have such power requirements, unlike 8600 GTS. Galaxy engineers decided to ensure stable operation at increased frequencies by utilizing an additional (external) power source.


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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, graphics cards

Page 2: Cooling

Page 3: Bundles, packages

Page 4: Performance tests

Page 5: Conclusions



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