GeForce 9800 GX2 Overclocked and Tested

We tested NVIDIA's GeForce 9800 GX2 at stock settings - we are back testing at overclock speeds to see what it can do!

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Sat, Mar 15 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:04 PM CST
Manufacturer: none

Introduction





When a new high-end graphics card comes out you like to think that a CPU with four cores clocked at 3GHz is going to do the job pretty well. Though, like most high-end cards, when we start to increase the CPU clock further, we can begin to see some really good gains in performance.

So we've done exactly that today, we've moved our trusty Intel quad-core Q6600 processor up to 3.75GHz but at the same time we thought that we may as well see what we can do with the clocks on the GeForce 9800 GX2. The increases clock speeds will be what most consumers can achieve without spending a truck load of cash on extreme cooling. CPU is cooled using Corsair water cooling and the GX2 uses its stock standard air cooling.


Word has leaked out that MSI will release a 9800 GX2 with a core clock of 660MHz so that was our starting point. Out of the box a stock clocked 9800 GX2 will give you a 600MHz core clock, 1500MHz shader clock and 2000MHz DDR clock on the memory.



(Buggy drivers and software claim SLI enabled in XP but not Vista)

Climbing too 660MHz and beyond we found ourselves at 726MHz on the core which increased the shader clock up to 1815MHz. We then put ourselves onto the memory clock which saw an increase of almost 20%. The final memory clock we landed on was 2386MHz DDR.

So, how about we get started here and see what the GX2 is really capable of with some overclocking?

Test System Setup and PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1
Drivers: Forceware Beta 173.67


What we'll be doing is comparing the overclocked results against the stock standard results that we got the other day with our test bed CPU running at the standard 3GHz which we use for regular VGA testing.

Let's not delay and just get stuck straight into it!


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.






Straight away we can see the significant gains in the minimum and average under PT Boats. At the highest resolution we can see that we're able to crack that crucial 30FPS minimum.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




Moving to Cinebench we can see significant gains on performance as well.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here





By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode Two opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode Two with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




Moving to something not so intensive we can see good gains at the higher resolutions. At the lower ones we see no difference between the two setups.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.






WIC doesn't seem to get great gains with the overclocked spec. It does see increases but nothing spectacular.

Benchmarks - Enemy Territory: Quake Wars


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Version
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.splashdamage.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.enemyterritory.com/





Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is the latest Quake incarnation to make it out of the iD labs and carries with it a fast paced experience that manages to place a good amount of strain on your graphics card.

We use a custom made time demo which shows a bit of everything and manages to give us a good solid benchmark for the graphics cards that we test.




Under ET:QW we can see only small gains of less than 10%.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here





From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving game play, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.

Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.




Moving to the intensive Crysis we really start to see some good numbers, at the lowest resolution we get an average of almost 70FPS and we're climbing up real close to 50FPS at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: CTF-Coret_bot
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




UT3 like HL2:E2 manages to see good gains when we hit the higher resolutions.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)



In typical Source engine fashion the numbers go haywire when overclocked.


World in Conflict





When we turn on AA and AF, the difference between the two configurations is about 20% extra performance for the overclocked setup.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the very latest version of the "Gamers Benchmark" from FutureMark. The newest version of 3DMark expands on the tests in 3DMark05 by adding graphical effects using Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range lighting) which will push even the best DX9 graphics cards to the extremes.

3DMark06 also focuses on not just the GPU but the CPU using the AGEIA PhysX software physics library to effectively test single and Dual Core processors.




Here we can see that we're right on the tip of 20,000 3DMarks. We did actually get over 20,000 at 3.8GHz but the CPU didn't want to play nice at that speed so we dropped it back 50MHz.

We can see good gains across the whole board with the highest resolution test being well and truly higher than the lowest resolution test of the stock setup.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performance capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).




Windows XP doesn't see the gains that we saw under Vista. As you can see only 9 points separates the two.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.






WIC continues to show gains but again they are not huge.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: CTF-Coret_bot
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.




Windows XP doesn't manage to get the same kind of performance increase that we saw under Vista when testing UT3.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR) - XP


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from Steam
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom Timedemo
Developer Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.com
Buy It Here





By taking the suspense, challenge and visceral charge of the original, and adding startling new realism, responsiveness and new HDR technology, Half-Life 2 Episode Two opens the door to a world where the player's presence affects everything around him, from the physical environment to the behaviors even the emotions of both friends and enemies.

We benchmark Half Life 2 Episode Two with our own custom timedemos as to avoid possible driver optimizations using the "record demo_name" command and loading the timedemo with the "timedemo demo_name" command - For a full list of the commands, click here.




Under Windows XP we can see big gains at the higher resolution though the numbers are so high with over 270FPS at 1920 x 1200.

Final Thoughts




You can see as soon as we let the 9800 GX2 breath more with an increased CPU overclock, we really begin to see some big numbers. Under 3DMark06 we can see we were just shy of 20,000 3DMarks.

NVIDIA's GeForce 9800 GX2 still isn't perfect though but with a good driver it could really begin to shine in the weeks to come but you get an early look with early drivers here today of what is to come. In our opinion, NVIDIA could have taken a different approach to the GeForce 9 series - instead of re-releasing the 8800GTS 512MB and introducing the 8800GT, these cards should have either not been released or released under the GeForce 9 series. The problem is that the 8800GT bought with it such exceptional value that NVIDIA were too high up on the podium. A new naming scheme should mean big things. Unfortunately at the moment it doesn't look like its being delivered.

The bottom line is spec for spec the 9800 GX2 is still lower than two 8800GTS 512MB cards. At least AMD didn't choose to release the HD 3870 X2 under a different series - the name that AMD chose perfectly explains the card: Radeon HD 3870 times two. This offering from NVIDIA is more 8800 than 9800 due to the fact that NVIDIA chose to implement the G92 core into the 8800 series products.

The next thing we want to know is how two of these GX2 cards scale. If we can bench Crysis at 1920 x 1200 and get an average of 80 FPS, we will be happy. If we get a 5 FPS increase though we will be as disappointed with the SLI Quad GPU setup as we were with a pair of HD 3870 X2 cards in Quad Crossfire.

Before we wrap this all up it's worth noting that I did a little bit of testing with the CPU at 3.75GHz and 3.8GHz with the GX2 at stock when I was just initially playing around and trying to find the sweet spot. The biggest gains were seen from the CPU overclock rather than the VGA OC. A standard 3DMark06 run showed us just over 16k under XP on our 3GHz setup. Moving the CPU to 3.75GHz we found our 3DMark score coming in at just over 18.5k. But as always we get into a bit of a mission and in this case it was to see if we could overclock this sucker. With Rivatuner we started messing around with the clocks and at 3.8GHz we actually managed to break 20k in 3DMark06. Unfortunately the system didn't want to consistently play nice at 3.8GHz so we did drop it back to 3.75GHz.

We could have tested the GX2 at stock speeds but with the CPU at 3.75GHz, it's kind of boring. You don't turn around and overclock a 2.4GHz quad-core processor to 3.8GHz and leave your graphics card at default speeds.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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