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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  • chizow - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Heh ya he's posted similarly all over the video forums as well. Not sure what he's whining on about though, the GX2 is what everyone expected it TO BE based on already known and readily available 8800GT SLI benchmarks. Even though the core is closer to a G92 GTS with 128 SP, the core and shader clocks are closer to the stock 8800GT.

    Pricing isn't far off either; its about 2x as much as TWO G92 GTS, slightly more than TWO G92 GT. But here's the kicker, you don't need SLI to get the benefits of SLI, just as you didn't need a CF board for CF with the 3870 X2. With an SLI board, you can use TWO of these cards for what amounts to QUAD SLI which isn't an option with any other NV solution and certainly much cheaper than the previous high-end multi-GPU solution, Tri-SLI with 8800 GTX/Ultra with a 680/780 board and a 1000W+ PSU.

    For those with SLI capable boards, ofc its more economic to go with 2x 8800GT or 9600GT or even 8800GTS in SLI. For those who have ATI/Intel boards this offers the same thing the X2 did for NV board owners. For those with native SLI boards this offers the highest possible configuration for either camp but its going to cost you accordingly. Sure its not cheap now, but high-end never is. Expect prices to fall but if you buy now you're going to pay a premium, just as all early adopters do.
  • Methusela - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    I don't see any power draw comparisons in the review. Isn't this important? What about heat and sound output?
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    According to Hardocp the 9800X2 draws 196 watts at idle and 365 at load. The 3780x2 draws 151 idle and 381 at load.
  • Griswold - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Which part of "For this test we used a wattage meter plugged in at the wall that measures total system power" did you not understand? No, these cards do not suck that much power, its the whole system that draws 365W and 381W at load.
  • Methusela - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Derek, I'm shocked you didn't include SLI 8800gt 512mb in the test. Isn't this essentially the same thing as what's inside the 9800gx2, but would cost a lot less?
  • Deusfaux - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    No, it'd make more sense to test with GTS 512 SLI.

    Even more sense if they were underclocked to 600 mhz core and 1600 shader, and overclocked to 1100 mem, to match the gpus in this card.
  • chizow - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    I agree an 8800GT SLI comparison would've made more sense, although there is the 9600GT SLI and also 8800 GT benches in there to compare with single card performance. Hopefully it was just an oversight on Derek's part and not something sinister like some NV enforced embargo. After all, the 9800GX2 is simply 2 G92 cores at stock GT speeds in SLI. But NV has tried hard to keep consumers in the dark about product differentiation and reviewers all seem willing to tow the line.
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Over at Hardocp, they compare the GX2 with 8800GT SLI and 8800GTS 512 SLI
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, March 18, 2008 - link

    Wow at load the 3870x2 draws more power than this while delivering about 60-70% of the performance?
  • Thatguy97 - Sunday, February 28, 2016 - link

    Crazy how my gtx 950 shits all over 3 3870s and a 9800 gx2 in SLI

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