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ASUS EN9800 GTX 512MB Graphics Card

We've got our first retail 9800 GTX on the table, this one being in the form of a stock offering from ASUS.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Apr 15 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction





While the 9800 GTX might not be the revolutionary jump that we had hoped for, it's still a very good card for someone looking at buying a new graphics card with this kind of budget. The first retail 9800 GTX we're going to look at comes from ASUS and doesn't carry with it any extra acronyms such as TOP.

It's a basic stock clocked model with the normal ASUS take on the bundle. Pre-overclocked 9800 GTX cards still seem to be a bit few and far between at the moment, with the card having been out for two weeks.

Let's have a look at what ASUS has done with the 9800 GTX bundle before we get into the card itself.

The Package




Like most high-end cards from ASUS, we have ourselves quite a large box that we can imagine would be a bit of a pain to ship. The box is actually quite plain with the majority of the box just showing a single colour across most of it. The right does have a picture of the girl we've seen on a number of other ASUS boxes in the past.



The top of the card mentions the brand while the bottom of the card gives us the model, and above that we have some of the specs on the card like the fact that 512MB of GDDR3 memory is used, PCI Express 2.0 support along with mention of some of the extra programs that ASUS include.



Turning the box over we get some more details on the 9800 GTX core along with some explanations on the software that ASUS includes in the package; this includes GamerOSD, Smart Doctor and more.



With the outside of the box done, it's time to dive inside and see what exactly we have with us. The paperwork department is pretty standard as usual with the speed setup guide, we also have the standard driver disc which includes some of the specific ASUS applications. Alongside that, we have the multi language manual CD if you're interested in a bit of light reading.



The cable department also gives us a pretty standard setup with a DVI to VGA connector, Molex to PCI Express power connector and a component out cable.



Alongside all the normal stuff we also have the CD Wallet that we see on the higher end cards from ASUS. What they've done though is move away from the black one, they're now using this brown one which not only looks like better quality, but feels it as well.

It's disappointing to see that ASUS has opted not to include any games with the card, considering it's the second highest model from NVIDIA at the moment. Hopefully ASUS re-evaluate this when they release the TOP model, which we're sure isn't that far away.

The Card




With the box out the way it's time to check out the card. Straight away you notice the cooler takes up the majority of the card. It also uses the reference cooler which doesn't come as a surprise.



The only thing that ASUS has done is cover the entire cooler in a sticker that resembles the company, which is pretty much standard these days.





Making your way around the card we have our two PCI Express power connectors across the top. Fortunately these are just standard 6-pin connectors and not the more obscure and rarer 8-pin connectors that we see on the 9800 GX2.

Continuing across the top of the card we also have our two SLI connectors which of course give us full support for Tri SLI (three of these cards) if you have the money and a supporting motherboard.



Finally moving to the I/O side of things, we can see the card is of course a dual slot one. We have the standard two Dual Link DVI connectors alongside the TV-Out port.


Specifications

Like we've already mentioned, the card carries with it just the default clocks which means the core comes in at 675MHz, the shader clock carries with it a speed of 1688MHz and the memory comes in at that very nice number of 2200MHz DDR.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


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 174.53 (9 Series)


With the 9800 GTX in hand we took the time to see how it goes up against other high-end retail cards like the HD 3870 X2 from ASUS and the 9800 GX2 from Zotac. While Dual GPU cards are good in theory, if the application isn't able to make full use of the power then high-end single core cards can outperform them. Let's find out how the 9800 GTX goes against these Dual GPU wielding cards.


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.




Straight away we can see that 3DMark06 is able to make full use of SLI and Crossfire technology, so the 9800 GTX lags behind a bit. The biggest difference in performance between the single GPU card and the dual GPU ones are at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


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.






Here we can see that PT Boats doesn't take the best advantage of SLI and Crossfire; the 9800 GTX is able to outperform the X2 across the board, and the only time the GX2 comes out ahead is in the average department.

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 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).




While the dual GPU offerings do come out ahea,d it's not a huge gain. We can see the 9800 GTX and its single GPU only sits slightly behind them both.

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 our first real world game and we can see that the GTX and GX2 perform almost identical to each other with at most only a few frames separating them. The HD 3870 X2 does come out ahead at all resolutions, thanks to the way the source engine makes better use of AMD based GPUs. At most though, it's only 10% and at 190+ FPS it's not going to be noticeable.

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.






Checking out the DX10 based World in Conflict we can actually see that the 9800 GTX comes out ahead of both setups most the time. The only time where it's beaten is where the GX2 gets a slight jump on it in the minimum department at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Enemy Territory: Quake Wars


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Version
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
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.




Enemy Territory which generally puts high-end cards close together; this shows us exactly that here. The GTX actually just comes out ahead of the other cards, but the difference between them is so small.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
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 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.




Moving onto the super intensive Crysis; we can see that the HD 3870 X2 really struggles while the NVIDIA offerings handle the game a lot better. At the lower resolution the GTX actually comes out ahead, but as we climb up the resolution table we can see that the dual GPU equipped 9800GX2 is able to come out ahead.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.




Moving to Unreal Tournament 3 we can see that the numbers are really a bit all over the place. At the higher resolution the dual GPU cards do come out ahead, while at the lower one they're quite close together.

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.


3DMark06



Turning on AA and AF we can see that 3DMark06 continues to make excellent use of the Dual GPU technology. However, the 9800 GTX still pulls a very respectable 10k with these intensive settings.


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)



With the settings turned up we can really see the GX2 shine; the X2 begins to fall back but the single GPU is the only card to pull under 100FPS.


World In Conflict





While the minimums have nothing more than a single FPS separating them, when we move to the averages we can see that the X2 and GTX perform quite close together. The NVIDIA 9800 GX2 shows a decent gain over the other two cards.

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.




Moving onto Windows XP we see much of the same with 3DMark06 continuing to make good use of the Dual GPU technology, coming out ahead of the 9800 GTX quite considerably at the higher resolution.

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 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).




Under XP we can see that the GTX and X2 score quite close together here, with the GX2 dropping back a bit.

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 performance under XP between all three cards is quite similar, with only an FPS here and there separating the cards.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo 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.




The X2 sits at the back of the pack just slightly here, while the GX2 and GTX perform quite close to each other.

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 XP we can see that the difference between the cards isn't as obvious; the HD 3870 X2 doesn't have its lead like it did under Vista.

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.




The large cooler does a good job of keeping the temperature down on the 9800 GTX core.


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).




While the load noise is above the rest, the difference between them wasn't really noticeable.

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 are as you would expect, coming in below that of the Dual GPU cards.

Final Thoughts




The 9800 GTX looks good as always, but with word coming that NVIDIA are already talking about the 9900 series, you have to wonder how many people are going to jump on the bandwagon.

As usual, the ASUS offerings carry with them a slight premium over other models, but the extra year warranty, CD Wallet and other pieces of software that ASUS include might be enough for you to spend the extra few dollars.

Dual GPU cards are good, but they still aren't the most practical solution. This is especially the case when you compare a card like the GTX which comes in at about 30% cheaper and its ability to stay on the tail or outperform the dual GPU based cards in some situations.

Hopefully ASUS decide to mix it up in the near future with the release of a TOP model, which will not only carry with it higher clocks speeds but hopefully a full version game as well.

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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.

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.
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