Techical Specs and The Test

First off we'll break down the technical specifications of the card. Of course, this part has two GPUs on it, so in order to get an idea of what each of the GPUs under the hood of the 9800 GX2 have in them, just divide most of these numbers by two. If the same number of transistors were shoved into a single piece of silicon, performance would be much higher (and it would cost a ton more and heat a small village).



Clearly the GPUs on this card are not a huge leap forward. Putting the two together is what makes this card what it is.

Our test setup is the same Skulltrail system we used in other recent graphics hardware reviews. Remember that isolating the graphics subsystem is important, as removing the CPU as a bottleneck gives us a better indication of the differences in performance between graphics cards. This time, we are also lucky in that the top of the line graphics hardware is meant to be paired with a top of the line system. Skulltrail fits the bill here, though NVIDIA would recommend the 790i in this case.

We would agree that a more gaming oriented board would be a better fit for most, even at the high end as the extra CPU processing power is only going to make a real difference in niche situations. In our case, the ability to run CrossFire and SLI in the same system trumps everything else.

Test Setup
CPU 2x Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 @ 3.20GHz
Motherboard Intel D5400XS (Skulltrail)
Video Cards ATI Radeon HD 3870 x2
ATI Radeon HD 3870
NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2
Video Drivers Catalyst 8.3
ForceWare 174.53
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.9 120GB 8MB 7200RPM
RAM 2xMicron 2GB FB-DIMM DDR2-8800
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1

The 9800 GX2 Inside, Out and Quad Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Performance
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  • archerprimemd - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    i apologize for the noob question, just didn't know where to look for the info:

    dual gpu single card or single gpu dual cards (meaning, in SLI)

    which is better?

    also, isn't having the 2 gpus in one card sort of like doing an SLI?
  • Tephlon - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    "dual gpu single card or single gpu dual cards (meaning, in SLI)
    which is better?"

    To be honest, these seems to very based on timing and pricing.
    For instance, back in the 7 series, I bought two 7800GT's and SLI'd them. About a week later, the 7950GX2 became available. It offered similar (if not better in some cases) performance than the two 7800gt's, so I returned the gt's and got the GX2.
    But at the same time... The 7800 Ultra's were available... and two of those in SLI were better than the GX2... but for nearly twice the money.
    Again, this might vary generation to generation, so YMMV.

    "also, isn't having the 2 gpus in one card sort of like doing an SLI?"

    the short answer is yes. I actually posted about this in more detail just a few pages ago, so for more on the subject see">
  • Tephlon - Friday, April 4, 2008 - link

    oops, sorry.

    I meant to say see my post at">

    Its about half way down the comments page. or you can just search 'Tephlon'
  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, March 26, 2008 - link

    You know 3dfx tried this SLI madness, and put 16 chips on one board...and you know they failed...these products are not attractive to standard joe and the only people who care are the ones who install new computer for a living. Is it not good practice puting 4 video cards together. People want new design, etc.
  • Ravensong - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Ok, here's what I don't get and I hope someone can clarify this for me. In the article "ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2: 2 GPUs 1 Card, A Return to the High End" the CoD4 benchmarks running at 1920x1200 HQ settings, 0x AA/16x AF give a result of 107.3 fps yet this article's benchmark shows a result of 53.8 for 1920x1200. When I saw this I yelled out like like Lil Jon "WHAAT??" How did the frames drop this much? Perhaps the new 8.3 drivers are raping performance? This seems to be the case with every benchmark other than Crysis which received a minor increase from the 8.3 drivers. I'm not a fanboy for ATI/AMD by any means but I hardly see these scores as fair when just a few video articles ago this thing was doing well and then all the sudden it has piss poor performance when the GX2 launches. Reading this site on a daily basis I figured that the weird drop in performance would have been noted?? Not sure if anyone else noticed this but I surely did right away. I know I've had nothing but headaches atm with 8.3 and trying to get the 4 3850's I bought running in crossfire X. Thankfully thats just my secondary rig, if it had been my main I may have smashed it into pieces by now :D
  • TheDudeLasse - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    It's gotta be Catalyst 8.3
    The scores im getting with 8.2 are 70% better.

  • Ravensong - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    Definitely, no other explanation as to why the scores are so horrid compared to only a month and a half ago when the original benches debuted. I wish all the sites using 8.3 would correct this injustice!! lol... Hardocp went as far as saying "The Radeon HD 3870 X2 gets utterly and properly owned, this is true “pwnage” on the highest level." ... just wow. :D
  • Ravensong - Saturday, March 22, 2008 - link

    Any comments on this dilemma Sir Wilson?? (referring to the author) :D
  • TheDudeLasse - Friday, March 21, 2008 - link

    I think you may have had some driver issues with the 3870X2.

    Im running a q6600@3.4 and 3870x2.

    I´ve been running the same benchmarks as you describe and the results are completely different.

    For instance Call of Duty benchmark results vary almost over 70%
    I ran the same benchmark "We start FRAPS as soon as the screen clears in the helicopter and we stop it right as the captain grabs his head gear."

    1920x1200 4xAA and 16AF Your result 42.3 fps average
    My result 76.056fps average
    That's an over 75% improvment to your score.
    What's the jig? screwed up catalyst drivers or what?

  • 7Enigma - Thursday, March 20, 2008 - link


    I see you have not answered the requests regarding why 8800GT and 8800GTS SLI was not included in these benchmarks. I can understand if you were not allowed to due to some Nvidia NDA, and why you might not be able to talk about it.

    If you could please reply with a :) if this is the case, we would be greatly appreciative. Otherwise it looks like there is a gaping whole in this reveiw.

    Thank you.

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