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ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card

ZOTAC strap some water cooling to the 9800 GTX+ and bring the card under its ZONE naming scheme.
@ShawnBakerTW
Shawn Baker
Published Thu, Sep 4 2008 11:00 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:27 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: ZOTAC

Introduction

ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
IntroductionThe water cooled graphics card isn't something that's exactly new; we've seen a lot of companies offer it over the past few years. BFG Tech tends to go the more hard core route which involves people needing an existing water cooled setup within their case.Other companies go for the all-in-one solution; MSI did it not too long ago with the 9 series and we've also seen ECS release a dual pack which comes with two 9800 GTX+ cards. We've even seen some companies do it to AMD cards, but not for a while now, it seems.Today we're looking at one that comes from ZOTAC. It's an all-in-one system that's strapped to one of NVIDIAs higher end cards, the 9800 GTX+. While a bit of a pointless model and designed just to cause a bit of trouble for AMD, plenty of companies are offering some pretty good variations of the card.Today we'll have a look at what ZOTAC have done with it and see if it's able to stand out from the competition. But before we check out the water cooling and the card, let's take the time to have a look at the package and see what ZOTAC have included.

The Package

The PackageIt comes as no surprise that the box is quite large with a water cooling unit sitting inside; extra room was always going to be needed. Across the top of the box we have the brand along with a number of NVIDIA logos. Across the bottom we have the model along with mention of the card being a ZONE edition.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
In the middle of the box we can see a bit of the cooler. We also have a sticker on the front of the box that lets us know a full version game is included in the package. To the right of the box we have some of the main features of the card like 512MB GDDR3 memory, 256-bit interface, two Dual-Link DVI connectors, the fact the card is water cooled and more.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Turning the box over, we again have the brand and model mentioned. Below that we have a bit of a blurb on the card and below that ZOTAC go into some detail on the technology the card has. To the right we have some information on the cooler, the benefits and the fact that you will need some extra room in your case to install the radiator.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
As far as paperwork goes, we have the standard user manual, quick setup guide and installation guide for the card. We also have a sticker, driver CD and a full version copy of XIII Century Death or Glory which is a game I haven't actually heard of before.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
The cable department is pretty full on with a component / s-video out cable, DVI to VGA connector, DVI to HDMI connector, audio loop back cable for the HDMI convertor and two dual molex to 6-pin PCI Express power connectors.

The Card

The CardPulling the card out of the box, you have quite a handful thanks to a bit of tubing and a 120mm radiator and fan all connected to each other.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Looking straight on at the card, there isn't a whole lot to see thanks to ZOTAC putting a big plate across the front that incorporates itself into the heatsink. We can see there's a picture on the card along with the brand and the model.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
If you take a peek underneath you can see a heatsink that covers some of the hotter components along with the block that has an integrated pump in it to help push the water around.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
The radiator comes in at 120mm and has a 120mm fan attached to it. Running off the fan is a single molex connector that is needed for the fan to spin. You need to make sure you have room in your case to mount the radiator or you're going to quickly find yourself annoyed with the purchase.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Looking around the card, we see the standard connectors that we're used to seeing on a 9800 GTX. Towards the back of the card, hidden underneath the heatsink you will find two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors while the front of the card has two SLI connectors in the event you want to run three of these cards.On the I/O side of things we have the two standard Dual-Link DVI connectors and TV-Out port that we've become so accustomed to seeing.SpecificationsWhat's interesting is that ZOTAC have taken the time to water cool the card but they have decided to leave the core at the stock 738MHz while also leaving the memory at the stock 2200MHz. Where the AMP! Edition of cards tend to be overclocked, the ZONE Edition are all about noise levels. With that said, it would have been nice to have seen the card overclocked and maybe it could have been called the ZAMP! Edition.

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: NVIDIA ForceWare 177.79With the card clocked at default 9800 GTX+ speeds, we're not expecting any real surprises today. We're going to see how the card goes against the XFX 9800 GTX+ while also comparing it to the older BFG 9800 GTX OCX and ASUS 9800 GX2.3DMark06Version 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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Straight away we can see the ZOTAC card and the XFX sit quite close to each other; the overclocked BFG 9800 GTX does come out ahead thanks to its massive overclock.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Again we see the two stock clocked cards perform quite close to each other under Vantage. We can see here that the two cards come out ahead of the BFG 9800 GTX OCX as well.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
We continue to see the two 9800 GTX+ cards perform very closely with each other. But the highly overclocked yet older 9800 GTX still comes out ahead.

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).
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Under CINEBENCH we can see both GTX+ cards score very close to each other with them both just coming out ahead of the older 9800 GTX.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Like we've seen all along, the two GTX+ cards perform extremely close to each other with the older 9800 GTX actually performing at around the same speed in this test.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Under Crysis we continue to see the two GTX+ cards perform very close to each other. Performance is also very similar to the heavily overclocked BFG 9800 GTX OCX.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
UT3 seems to favor the new plus variant with it coming out ahead of the older 9800 GTX at all resolutions.

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
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
We can see with AA and AF on all three 9800 GTX cards, they perform extremely close to each other.World In Conflict
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
We again see under WIC the GTX+ is able to come out ahead of the older overclocked 9800 GTX.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Like our Vista tests, the two GTX+ cards score very close to each other with the older BFG 9800 GTX OCX coming out just a little ahead 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).
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Again under CINEBENCH we see that the new Plus is able to come out ahead of the older 9800 GTX. We see that both plus cards also score very close to each other.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
Under WIC we again see the 9800 GTX+ cards perform close to each other with them both outperforming the BFG 9800 GTX OCX at the highest resolution.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
UT3 again seems to favor the Plus with the ZOTAC offering come out ahead at all resolutions.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
This is where the ZONE side of the card comes in and we can see the water cooling gives us quite a significant drop in temperature.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).
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
The drop in temperature doesn't come at the cost of more sound either, with the 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition being extremely quiet and is the only card under 60dB.

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.
ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZONE Edition Graphics Card
The ZONE also manages to use slightly less power than the stock cooled 9800 GTX+ from XFX.

Final Thoughts

Final ThoughtsThe first thing I have to say is that it was disappointing to find the card came in with the stock clocks. It just seemed like such a waste to go down the water cooling route and then turn around and offer the default clocks. What you end up doing is testing the performance of the card and feeling a bit empty. The thing is, though, when you finally come to the point to check the temperatures out and really knuckle down and get the volume of the card, you see the true benefit behind the ZONE series of cards.The other thing is with the new Nitro overclocking tool coming out soon from ZOTAC, you will be able to turn around and overclock all those important bits on the fly, which is great. It's easier to turn around and overclock a card then it is to setup water cooling; sure it would have been nice if both were offered out of the box, but it's not the end of the world.The other thing is that the kind of user who buys a water cooled card is probably going to be a bit more computer savvy and will be able to overclock the card themselves. We've seen some pretty ordinary water cooling solutions, but the kit that ZOTAC uses is not only quiet, but also very efficient.This is a good stepping stone for ZOTAC when it comes to entering the water cooling market; let's hope that they choose to strap the cooler onto something faster like the GTX 280 while taking the time to increase the clocks 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.

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