ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GX2 Graphics Card

It's time to start looking at what the vendors can do to mix up the 9800 GX2 with our first review of a retail card.
| Mar 23, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction

IntroductionIt feels weird to have done four articles on the 9800 GX2 without having actually had a look at a single retail card yet. The first retail card to come out of the gates comes in the form of a ZOTAC offering.While most of the time we're used to seeing AMP! Edition cards from ZOTAC which carry with them some decent overclocks, this particular card carries nothing more than the default core and memory speed. There isn't a whole lot to say that we haven't already covered in our previews of the model, so let's just get stuck straight into the package and see what ZOTAC have offered us here today.

The Package

The PackageThe ZOTAC box is really nothing too out of the ordinary, though I must say, when pulling it out of the box it was sent in, one thing did stand out. They've included of a game! In this case, Lost. It's good to see that ZOTAC have finally chosen to include a game with their cards. Hopefully we see this filter down to the models below the GX2 in the coming months.
The box runs a pretty standard layout with the brand across the top and model across the bottom. The right of the card gives us the main features of the card such as 1GB of GDDR3 Memory, Two Dual Link DVI connectors, HDCP and a few other important pieces of information.
Turning the box over, we have a bit of a blurb on the card along with some more features mentioned and a bit of information on some of the highlights of this particular model.
With the box out the way it's time to dive inside. We have the normal DVI to VGA connectors, Molex to 6-Pin connector, Dual 6-pin to 8-pin connector, audio cable to go between the graphics card and the sound card along with a HDMI cable. It's so good to see a company choose to include a HDMI cable in the bundle.
Diving a little deeper into the package we have a quick installation guide, driver CD along with a full version copy of Lost like we saw mentioned on the box.ZOTAC packages just got a whole lot better with the inclusion of a full version game and a HDMI cable. Hopefully this isn't a once off for the GX2 and we see this more with other models from ZOTAC, including AMP! Editions.

The Card

The CardWith the package out the way it's time to check out the card. Well, there isn't a whole lot to it. The card is covered in a shroud that goes all the way around the card. The front of the shroud has a sticker that gives us the brand and model while the right of it has some vents where the fan can pull cool air in from.
The top of the card has two power connectors along with a spot for the cable included in the package that carries sound from your sound card to the graphics card and out the HDMI port.
Out of the box there is actually a sticker over the top of the card. It seems a bit pointless, but ultimately it's not really a big deal. Hidden behind the sticker is a single 6-pin connector and single 8-pin connector for power.
Across the top of the card we also have an SLI connector hidden away. You have to take the little clip off to reveal the connector behind it.
The I/O side of things has two Dual Link DVI connectors and a single HDMI connector that is able to carry sound if the internal cable is used.SpecificationsSince the card follows the standard specifications there isn't a whole lot to say. The core comes clocked in at 600MHz which gives us a 1500MHz shader clock. The 1GB of GDDR3 memory carries the stock 2000MHz DDR clocks.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06

Test System SetupProcessor(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 SP1Drivers: Catalyst 8.3, Forceware 174.53 (9 Series), Forceware 169.25 (8 Series)With the latest WHQL driver in hand, the 174.53, we're going to see how the GX2 holds up against the direct competition, the HD 3870 X2 from AMD.3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
Under 3DMark we can see that both cards sit quite close together with the HD 3870 X2 coming out just ahead.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

PT Boats: Knights of the SeaVersion and / or Patch Used: Benchmark DemoDeveloper 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.
Under PT Boats we can see the GX2 from ZOTAC is able to take a more noticeable lead, especially at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace 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).
We can see that CINEBENCH makes no use of SLI so performance sits around the same as a single 8800GT. It still comes out slightly ahead of the HD 3870 X2 though.

Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)

Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy 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.
The source based game favors the AMD offering across all resolutions, but we can see big gains over the 8800GT at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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.
At the lower resolutions we see all three cards perform quite close together, but when we move up to 1920 x 1200 the GX2 comes out ahead with the X2 following close behind. The single 8800GT sits a fair bit back though.

Benchmarks - Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake WarsVersion and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam VersionTimedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper 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.
We can see that all the cards are quite bunched up here. At the highest resolution the GX2 comes out ahead, but it's not a massive gain.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demoDeveloper 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 gameplay, 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.
Here we really see some good gains from the GX2 offering when compared against the single 8800GT which represents just under 1/2 the performance of the card.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: 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.
Under UT3 we can see that the card manages to sit around the same speed as the HD 3870 X2 for the most part. It's only at the highest resolution it seems to fall behind.

High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AFOur 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.3DMark06
When we turn on AA and AF it's no surprise that the HD 3870 X2 manages to drop behind the GX2.Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)
The GX2 continues to show its performance over the X2 when AA and AF is turned on.World In Conflict
While the minimums between the two dual GPU cards are the same, we can see the GX2 is actually 20% faster in the average department.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP

3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct 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.
Under XP we can see the GX2 is able to come out just ahead of the X2 at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP

CINEBENCH R10Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net
CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace 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).
CINEBENCH takes a bit of a hit under XP and actually shows the single GPU 8800GT coming out ahead.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP

World in ConflictVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in TestDeveloper 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 under Windows XP shows both cards score very close to each other with no real winner being noticed.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP

Unreal Tournament 3Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1Timedemo or Level Used: 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.
Unlike Vista, UT3 under XP sees the GX2 come out well ahead with gains of over 30% at the highest resolution.

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

Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)Version and / or Patch Used: Latest from SteamTimedemo or Level Used: Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.valvesoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.half-life2.comBuy 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 XP we see the normally AMD favored Source based Episode Two go to the GX2 at the highest resolution.

Temperature and Sound Tests

Temperature Tests
With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.
With the shroud, temperatures aren't anything out of the ordinary. It manages to come in cooler then the HD 3870 X2.Sound Tests
Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).
Noise levels at idle are great, whilst load noise levels are pretty standard for a high-end card.

Power Consumption Tests

Power Consumption Tests
Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.
Power levels come in below the HD 3870 X2 at load, while you can see it's still well above the single 8800GT setup.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsOur first retail 9800 GX2 doesn't really tell us anything we haven't learnt already about the 9800 GX2 in our other tests. The latest drivers make it a bit of a power house, and against the HD 3870 X2 on most parts it's able to come out ahead.ZOTAC have done some magic with the package as well by including not only a full version game but also a decent length HDMI cable for those of you who want to make use of the HDMI connectivity out of the box. At the moment it looks like the main difference between the GX2 cards on the market include the bundle and the package that comes with them. They all seem to follow the reference clocks and cooler. The ZOTAC manages to stand out a bit more than normal in the package department thanks to the extras included, and it may be put at the top of the list for this reason.At the moment there still aren't a lot of GX2 cards listed for sales, so getting a ZOTAC might be a little difficult along with a few other brands, but over the next few weeks we should see more and more pop up. We expect the ZOTAC offering to come in at a decent price below the RRP, so with the extra inclusions in the bundle it should do alright in the value for money department but we will hold off scoring them for now since we don't have an exact figure at the moment to go by.We thought we'd also take a bit of time to see how we went in the overclocking department. We managed to get 720MHz on the core and 2200MHz DDR on the memory without any issues, which gives you a nice little boost in performance. Let's hope when an AMP! Edition of the card makes it way out that the clocks are aggressive as always.
What do TweakTown awards and ratings mean? Click!

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.
Go to top of the page