Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB

The 9800 GT has just been released and Palit decide to spice it up with the release of an overclocked Sonic version.
| Jul 29, 2008 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Palit

Introduction

Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
IntroductionNVIDIA has just launched the new 9800 GT which is basically the old 8800 GT. So, they haven't really launched a new product, rather, a new name. The renaming of cards is becoming a bit of a pain in the ass, but really there isn't a whole lot we can do about it. The best thing we can do is help keep people educated so they don't upgrade from an 8800 GT to a 9800 GT or an 8800 GS to a 9600 GSO. The thing is, though, these new cards come with new pricing which tends to be lower than their original counterpart, which means that they become more competitive than ever and that's something we're not going to complain about.Palit have today decided to mix it up a bit by adding their own cooler to the card along with overclocking the core, shader and memory clock. We'll check out the package before we have a closer look at the card and the specs that Palit have gone for today.

The Package

The PackageStraight away we don't see anything too out of the ordinary with the same box we've been seeing for a while now. Across the top we see the brand along with NVIDIA, Vista and HDCP logos. Towards the middle of the box in front of FroBot we see mention that the card is of course an NVIDIA GeForce based card.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Across the bottom of the card we see mention that the card comes with a copy of Tomb Raider: Anniversary edition. To the right we have another sticker that gives us some of the main specs including the overclocked core and memory speed along with the mention of 512MB of GDDR3 memory and a 256-bit bus.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Turning the box over, we have some more details on the card in a number of languages along with the address to the Palit website and some more logos.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Inside the package there isn't a whole lot going on apart from the quick install guide, driver CD and also a copy of Tomb Raider as mentioned on the front of the box. The cable department is even lighter with only a Molex to PCI-E connector and a DVI to VGA connector in the package.

The Card

The CardOpening the box up and pulling the card out, we notice that the card looks very similar to most mid-range Palit cards with the big gold / orange cooler taking up most of the card.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Around the heatsink we can see another plate that goes over the memory and another heatsink towards the back of the card that keeps some of the other warmer components cooler.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Like the GIGABYTE 9800 GT, we have a single PCI Express power connector towards the back of the card and across the top a single PCI Express connector. While it was rumored that the 9800 GT would support Tri-SLI, we can see the fact that we only have a single SLI connector here, meaning it's not possible.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Over in the I/O department we can see our two Dual Link DVI connectors and single TV-Out port. We can also see that while the card does take up two slots, it uses a larger bracket to help exhaust some of the hot air out of the case instead of letting it float around inside.SpecificationsAs we've already mentioned a few times, the Sonic model is of course overclocked. The core has gone from 600MHz to 650MHz, shader from 1500MHz to 1625MHz and the 512MB of GDDR3 goes from 1800MHz DDR to 1900MHz DDR.

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: ForceWare 175.31 and Catalyst 8.7When we looked at the GIGABYTE 9800 GT, we compared it directly against the HD 4850. What we saw was the 9800 GT continue to just trail behind the HD 4850 for the most part. Today though, we will add the 9800 GT Sonic from Palit into the same graphs and see if the card is capable of closing that gap or even passing the HD 4850.3DMark06Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/Buy It Here
3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Straight away we can see the Palit gives us a nice little boost in performance, which puts it ahead of the HD 4850 at the lower resolution and only a few marks behind it at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage

3DMark VantageVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/Buy It Here
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Increasing the load; we can see the HD 4850 continues to have the lead, but the overclocked 9800 GT gives us a big boost in performance compared to the stock clocked GIGABYTE offering.

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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Moving over to PT Boats, we saw that the 9800 GT in its stock form was able to outperform the HD 4850. The overclocked offering here form Palit helps extend that lead a little more.

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).
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
CINEBENCH shows the two 9800 GT cards scoring quite close to each other with the HD 4850 just going over the 5000 point mark.

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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Under WIC we saw the HD 4850 again just trail behind the stock clocked 9800 GT offering from GIGABYTE. Palit gives us a little bit of a bump over the GIGABYTE to extend that lead a little more.

Benchmarks - Crysis

CrysisVersion and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1Timedemo 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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Looking at Crysis, we saw the HD 4850 was ahead of the GIGABYTE 9800 GT. With the overclock on offer from Palit, that gap has been closed with the 9800 GT really getting up close to the HD 4850.

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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Where the GIGABYTE 9800 GT fell back at the higher resolution, the Palit offering manages to put up a bit more of a fight, though still falling to the HD 4850 at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - 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
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Turning on AA and AF, we can see that we get quite a boost in performance from the overclocked Palit compared to the stock GIGABYTE offering. It's not quite enough to pass the HD 4850 though.World In Conflict
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Under WIC we see another little bump for the Palit card. At the end of it though, the HD 4850 continues to just sneak out ahead.

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 worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Under XP we see a similar line set of results to our Vista testing.

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).
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Here under XP we can see all three cards score quite close together, but the overclocked 9800 GT does come last. This isn't the first time we've seen a negative effect for overclocked graphics cards under CINEBENCH.

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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
WIC finds the Palit 9800 GT extend the lead for the 9800 GT over the HD 4850 with a minimum of above 30 FPS at 1920 x 1200.

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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Where the 9800 GT at stock clocks dropped back behind the HD 4850 at 1920 x 1200, we can see that the Palit offering gets a big enough boost to overtake the HD 4850 at this 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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
The Palit cooler doesn't seem to do as good a job as the Zalman one that GIGABYTE use, but the temperatures are way down compared to the stock cooler used on the HD 4850.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).
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Noise levels for the Palit cooling solution are a few dB above the Zalman offering on the GIGABYTE 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.
Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic 512MB
Power ratings between all the cards are pretty similar at both idle and load.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsPalits decision to come straight out of the gate with an overclocked model is good news as it helps compete against the HD 4850 at stock clocks a bit better. It is very often we see it right on the tail of the HD 4850, or even passing it.While the cooler Palit are using these days is probably becoming a bit dated, it still does an excellent job of keeping the card at a reasonable temperature, be it a bit louder than a lot of other aftermarket coolers.It's also nice to see that Palit have chosen to include a game in the package, which is good news for people who want to install the card and get into something that doesn't look too bad straight off the bat.Like we've already said, while the 9800 GT might be nothing more than an 8800 GT, the aggressive pricing of the card, the overclocking capability and the availability of the product make it a very strong competitor against the HD 4850. Then you add in the fact that out of the box the card is able to pass the performance of the HD 4850 in a lot of situations and it does become quite appealing.Palit have done a good job with the 9800 GT and there's no doubt it's going to quickly become a popular card thanks to the aforementioned pros.
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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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