Yes, NVIDIA leads the way in performance. They own the fastest single GPU card, the fastest multiGPU single card, and the fastest multi card configurations. People who want the best of the best do pay a premium for the privilege, but that isn't something everyone is comfortable with. Most of us would much rather see a high end card that doesn't totally depart from sanity in terms of actual value gained through the purchase. Is the 9800 GTX that solution? That's what we are here to find out.

We've gotten a lot of feedback lately about our test system. Yes, at the very high end we haven't seen what we would have expected if all things were equal between all platforms. But the fact is that making a single platform work for apples to apples comparisons between CrossFire and SLI is worth it. With this review, we aren't quite there, as we just uncovered a HUGE issue that has been holding us back from higher performance with our high end hardware. We do have some numbers showing what's going on, but we just didn't have time to rerun all of our hardware after we discovered the solution to the issue. But we'll get to that shortly.

The major questions we will want to answer with this review are mostly about value. This card isn't a new architecture and it isn't really faster than other single card single GPU solutions. But the price point does make a difference here. At about $400, AMD's Radeon 3870X2 will be a key comparison point to this new $300 part. With the 8800 Ultra and GTX officially leaving the scene, the 9800 GX2 and 9800 GTX are the new top two in terms of high end hardware at NVIDIA. The price gap between these two is very large (the 9800 GX2 costs about twice as much as a stock clocked 9800 GTX) and the 3870X2 falls right in between them. Does this favor AMD or NVIDIA in terms of value? Does either company need to adjust their price point?

Things are rarely straightforward in the graphics world, and with the crazy price points and multi-GPU solutions that recently burst on to the scene, we’ve got a lot of stuff to try and make sense out of. Let us take you through the looking glass...

The 9800 GTX and EVGA’s Cards
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  • crimsonson - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    Although the graphs works well it is gets very difficult to read when there are a lot of test subjects. Can you guys find another way? Trying to trace a dozen lines and trying to make a distinction between them is rather hard and defeats the whole purpose of a visual AID. I end up reading the spreadsheet instead.

  • Spacecomber - Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - link

    These graphs are beginning to resemble the one's from AnandTech's heatsink reviews, which is not a good thing. Jamming as much information as you can into a single graph serves no purpose. They're unreadable. The reader is forced to use the table, instead, which means the graph has failed as an illustration.
  • geogaddi - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    seconded. and reading spreadsheets for me is like shooting pool with a piece of rope...

  • jtleon - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    I must second that sentiment. Isn't the objective of web content to clearly communicate a message and minimize confusion? There are many data communication tools available, one example is DaDISP ( which is extremely powerful and rather cost effective. I don't work for dadisp, only use it on a regular basis. The free evaluation version should satisfy your needs easily.

  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    I'm really dissapointed to see the 8800GT not present in this review. As a person just getting ready to build a system I am on the fence with purchasing this new 9800GTX, or saving >$100 and going with the 8800GT until we actually get a next-gen part.

    Since the platforms/issues are around I cannot really compare these results to previous reviews. If you could please comment, or throw the 8800GT on for a couple quick gaming benchmarks I (we) would be greatly appreciative!
  • Spuke - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    I was hoping I could finally see a comparison between the 8800GT 512MB and the 9600GT. All Anandtech has is a review of the 8800GT 256BM versus the 9600GT.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    8800GT and 9600GT are directly compared here:">

    "As we have seen in the gaming tests, 64 execution units are enough for most of modern games. We’ve only seen a serious performance hit in comparison with the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB in such games as Bioshock, Crysis, Unreal Tournament 3 and Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. In a few tests the GeForce 9600 GT was even faster than the more expensive and advanced GeForce 8800 GT 512MB due to the higher frequency of the core. "

    So basically its a good stop-gap solution for right now, but I would probably go with the 8800GT while waiting for the next gen cards (even at typical 19" LCD resolutions). If ATI/AMD was competetive currently I think the 9600GT would be the perfect card, but we have no idea how long Nvidia will milk their crown, and in turn how long before that next gen card actually takes to come out.
  • bill3 - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    So you're saying Nvidia doesn't like more profits? And they like to help AMD?

    Because that's what not bringing out a next gen card does.

    Is Intel going to delay Penyrns successor now to milk their lead also?

    Nvidia doesn't have any other card ready, period. Because they are too slow, period.
  • 7Enigma - Wednesday, April 2, 2008 - link

    Lol Bill, you need to learn something about business. If you have the lead virtually across the board, any system builder but far more importantly OEM's will purchase your card if the price is right (ie AMD/ATI not undercutting for the sake of survival as they are with their Phenom cpu's). It doesn't matter if the top of the line is 2X as fast as the competition or 5X as fast, it will be purchased because it, for the time being, is the best. The same follows for the lower-grade cards. There is no reason to bring out the next-gen card killer until the competition brings something to the table that is actually competetive (or gasp...better). And funny you mention Intel because I believe they are doing EXACTLY that with their new quad's that aren't the very top of the line. These long delays and extremely limited availability seems to smack of milking for all its worth.

    That's good business I can't fault them for doing it. Sucks for us, but smart for them.
  • Jovec - Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - link

    Yes, AT should pick 2-3 of the most common cards (how many of us are still running 8800GTS cards?) and include numbers as a baseline. Or have a low-mid and mid/high system that all cards get tested on for easy comparison in ongoing graphs. The question most of have is "I have card X, if I buy card Y how much of an improvement will it be and is it worth the cost?"

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