GIGABYTE GeForce 9800 GX2 Graphics Card

The 9800 GX2 is now well and truly in full swing. Let's see what GIGABYTE has done with the Dual GPU beast.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Apr 30 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction





The latest 9800 GX2 incarnation to make its way into the labs comes from GIGABYTE and carries with it all the standard goodies that we expect out of the 9800 GX2. The latest 9 series of NVIDIA cards have impressed us, but like we've said all along they haven't offered the revolutionary jump that we thought the 9 series would offer.

With the standard clocks and cooler there isn't going to be a whole lot out of the ordinary, but we will check out the bundle and box to see if there is anything that gets our tails wagging.

The Package




The front of the box carries that typical high-end box design with the brand up the top corner and the majority of the box taken up by a female character. Just below the half way mark we see the standard line-up of NVIDIA logos along with the HDMI logo.



Below the logos we have the model name, in this case the GeForce 9800 GX2. Also mentioned are some of the main specifications like PCI-E 2.0, Dual Link DVI, HDCP, HDMI and of course 1GB of GDDR3 memory.



Turning the box over and we get some more details of the card along with some of the features the 9 series offers. We also have a bit of a blurb about SLI and what exactly is needed to get it up and running.



With the outside of the box done, it's time to check out what's going on inside. The standard manual and installation guide find themselves sitting next to the Driver CD.



Along with the standard paperwork we have two DVI to VGA connectors. We also have two Molex to PCI Express connectors, with one being 8-pin and the other being the standard 6-pin. Finally, we have a loop back cable that goes between the card and your sound card or motherboard so that sound can be carried through the HDMI port.

The Card




The main thing to look at with the reference based GX2s is the sticker that they choose to use on the card. In this case GIGABYTE has opted for the same design used on the front of their box which looks very cool.



What's cool about the GIGABYTE card is that they've also placed a sticker on the other side of the card so you can actually see what brand it is when installed in your case.



The rear of the card has a number of vents where the air is pulled in via the fan to help keep the two cores at a reasonable temperature.



Across the top of the card we have with us two PCI Express power connectors; one is the standard 6-pin connector that we're used to seeing, and the other is the 8-pin. Fortunately, if you don't have an 8-pin connector on your power supply then you can use the provided cable in the box.

Next to the power connectors we also have a little square; under that is the port for the loop back cable if you want to make use of the HDMI port and have sound carried through it.





Continuing across the top of the card we find ourselves with a little latch which reveals a single SLI connector. Unlike the 9800 GTX which has two connectors and supports up to three cards, the GX2 has only a single one supporting up to two. Fortunately, two of these cards give you the grand total of four cores.



The I/O side of things is just as you would expect for a reference based 9800 GX2. We have two Dual Link DVI connectors along with a HDMI port. We also have some vents at the bottom which let the hot air get out of the case.


Specifications

Like we mentioned earlier, the 9800 GX2 from GIGABYTE is just a reference design, so we find ourselves with the standard 600MHz Core, 1500MHz Shader Clock and 2000MHz DDR memory clock on the 1GB of GDDR3.

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: Catalyst 8.3, Forceware 174.53 (9 Series), Forceware 169.25 (8 Series)


Up against its main competition, the HD 3870 X2 from AMD, we will see how the GX2 goes today.


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.




We can see straight away that there is very little difference between the two Dual GPU cards.

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.






Moving to PT Boats we can see that the HD 3870 X2 falls back. At the lower resolution however we can see that the single core and much cheaper 8800GT performs quite close to the new 9800 GX2, but as we move higher up the resolution table the dual GPU card begins to shine.

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).




CINEBENCH finds itself with no performance gains from the Dual GPU based cards.

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.




The source based engine has always favored the AMD offerings and we can see across the board here that the HD 3870 X2 is able to sneak ahead. We again see that the much cheaper 8800GT is able to hold its own at the lower resolutions against the 9800 GX2, but as soon as we hit 1920 x 1200 the Dual GPU cards again pull ahead a fair bit.

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.






We continue to see at the lower resolution the card just isn't able to stretch its legs, not until we go up to 1920 x 1200 can we see the 9800 GX2 really begin to shine.

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.




ET:QW puts both NVIDIA based offerings quite close together with the HD 3870 X2 sitting just under 10% behind.

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.




We continue to see how the 9800 GX2 pulls ahead of the cheaper 8800GT at only the higher resolutions. The HD 3870 X2 with the latest drivers manages to perform quite well under Crysis.

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.




UT3 puts the HD 3870 X2 and 9800 GX2 quite close together with the HD 3870 X2 actually coming out slightly better at the higher resolution.

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 begin to see the NVIDIA offering pull ahead of the AMD one.


Half Life 2 (Episode Two HDR)



The lead is continued to be seen under the source based Episode Two.


World In Conflict





Finally we leave our AA tests with the 9800 GX2 getting a good 20% on the HD 3870 X2 in the average department.

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 over to Windows XP, while we saw both cards quite close together under Vista the 9800 GX2 pulls a win across every resolution here.

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 see the Dual GPU cards take a bit of a hit with the single GPU 8800GT coming out ahead here.

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.





Under XP we can see both Dual GPU cards performing quite close to each other with no real winner able to be called.

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.




Under XP, while we saw the two Dual GPU cards quite close together the 9800 GX2 from GIGABYTE is coming out ahead at all resolutions.

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.



Even the sourced based Episode Two which tends to favor AMD cards lets the 9800 GX2 come out ahead under XP.

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 temperature on the GIGABYTE 9800 GX2 is a good 10c lower than that of 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).




While you would think the shroud would keep noise a little lower at load, there isn't much difference at all between the two cards.

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.




AMD continues to have the more power hungry card under load with the 9800 GX2 using a good 40watts less.

Final Thoughts




For users looking to get some SLI action, the 9800 GX2 continues to be the card of choice. With a lot of companies still using the reference design for the 9800 GX2, GIGABYTE hasn't been able to do a lot, and the problem with the GX2 is that the cooler in the middle design is quite full on, so if you wanted to go down the aftermarket route there would be a whole lot of messing around needed.

It would have been nice to see GIGABYTE include a full version game with the bundle as it's something that we quite often see with higher end models from GIGABYTE.

The good thing is that quite often you would see a price premium on a product from GIGABYTE even though it had less on offer than some of the other brands, but pricing in this case is very competitive.

The other thing that is worth noting over some of the cheaper brands is that you get a 3 year warranty with GIGABYTE versus a 2 year warranty with some of the cheaper brands, along with a local service center in Australia. You may find yourself with some peace of mind when laying down this much money for a single graphics card.

The GIGABYTE 9800 GX2, while from a looks perspective might not offer much more than the other 9800 GX2s, it's probably more the after sales support that you get which make the card a better option for people who tend to keep their graphics cards for an extended period of time.

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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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