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GeForce 9800 GT Roundup (EVGA, ASUS, Gigabyte & Palit)

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses exclusively DX10 so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about running this benchmark. However, it presents us with a truly stressful test of any modern graphics card so we have decided to begin including it in our testing procedure.

Overall Score

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GPU Score

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Prey / Enemy Territory: Quake Wars

Prey


Even though Prey may be a bit older game compared against many of the other ones we are testing, it still provides a workout of even the best graphics cards on the market. This time we have enabled its Graphics Boost feature (Gboost in the charts) and run through a custom timedemo.

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Enemy Territory: Quake Wars


Enemy Territory: Quake wars is the latest iteration of the wildly popular Quake franchise from ID Software. While it was met with luke-warm reviews by both the media and the gaming community, it remains an extremely popular online game.

In this test we set up a 15 minute timedemo on the Refinery level while the framerates were recorded in-game.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Devil May Cry 4

Devil May Cry 4


Devil May Cry has long been a staple platformer on consoles but has found only moderate success with its PC ports. The 4th iteration of this series aims to buck this trend with stunning visuals and intuitive gameplay

In this benchmark we used the in-game benchmark tool while running FRAPS to measure an average and minimum framerate.



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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Montreal
Crysis DX9

Crysis DX9


Crysis is one of those games that comes along every now and then and totally humbles every graphics card on the market. While some people have pointed towards shoddy programming, it is undeniable that this game looks ridiculously good when played at higher settings.

For this test we recorded a custom timedemo on the Harbor level equaling about 20 minutes of game time through jungle, over water and in vehicles. All results were recorded with FRAPS over the course of the timedemo.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Crysis DX10

Crysis DX10



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SKYMTL

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Messages
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Montreal
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare


This has quickly become one of the most popular games for the PC and with good reason. This is one of the few times I have experienced actual excitement when looking for a good area to record the timedemo. The graphics are amazing and at the same time quite demanding when you get into the higher resolutions.

For this test we recorded a 15 minute timedemo on the Crash multiplayer level and recorded framerates using FRAPS. The maximum in-game framerate was bumped to 999.



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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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World in Conflict DX9

World in Conflict DX9


This is one stunning game. World in Conflict has provided us with some of my most memorable gaming experiences since the first Homeworld game was released and it has not stopped wowing me. In its DX9 form it provides eye-popping visuals and pushes most modern GPUs to their limits. However, in DX10 mode this game will cause nearly every graphics card to beg for mercy.

For this test we used the in-game benchmarking tool.


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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Joined
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Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
World in Conflict DX10

World in Conflict DX10



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2560 X 1600

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SKYMTL

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Temperature Testing & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Testing


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All things considered, these results lined up exactly where we expected them with the reference-based cooler on the EVGA card putting down the highest load temperatures while the Gigabyte card with the Zalman cooler really stretched its legs. We were very disappointed with the idle temperatures form the EVGA card since they look to us like the heatsink could have been installed without enough pressure or too much thermal compound.

Even though Gigabyte was a the top in terms cooling performance, the Palit 9800 GT was right on its heels with almost equal load performance and better idle performance. To be honest, considering the Sonic has a 50Mhz overclock on the core which produces more heat than the stock card, I would say its cooler is at least equal to the Zalman on the Gigabyte card. Palit’s other card, the 1GB Super+ didn’t perform as well even though it also has an aftermarket heatsink and wasn’t overclocked but its temperatures were still very good.

Finally, we have the ASUS card which is highly overclocked and seems to be at the upper limit of the stock heatsink to keep cool without ramping its fan speed up too much. Without a doubt, the stock 8800 GTS 512MB heatsink does its job quite well all things considered.


Acoustical Properties


To avoid any confusion, let’s quickly take a look at each card individually concerning what our subjective acoustical tests drummed up.

Gigabyte 9800 GT 512MB

At stock settings, the Zalman fan was barely audible but we can see how some people would think that it is a bit on the loud side if they were using a case with an open side window. Since it only comes with a 2-pin fan connector, there is no way to control the fan speed so what you see is what you get. However, I’ll be perfectly honest: I am using this card in my HTPC which is completely enclosed and I can’t hear a peep from it.


EVGA 9800 GT 512MB HybridPower

This thing is quiet as a mouse but as we saw in the Temperatures section, this is a sword that cuts both ways and the core does not get the cooling afforded by some of the louder heatsinks in this roundup. Even when it does spin up a bit, it is barely audible over any other fans you might have in your case.


Palit 9800 GT Sonic

If you are someone who puts value in cards that are quiet, this one may not be for you…but there is a silver lining. After a good 10 minutes of gaming, the small fan on the Sonic spins itself up to some pretty high RPMs and emits a perceptible bearing whine. The good news is that the heatsink is quite good at dissipating heat and the fan speed is completely controllable through software like RivaTuner or nTune. So, if you have good ventilation in your case we would recommend notching back the fan a bit so it isn’t quite as annoying.


ASUS 9800 GT Ultimate

Like the EVGA card before it, the Ultimate is impressively quiet which counts for boatloads of praise considering the gaming performance this card was able to show us. There were a few instances where the fan would pulse a bit to keep temperatures under control but even then it was for less than 5 seconds and returned to normal quite quickly. Near-silence and blistering performance; does it get any better than this?


Palit 9800 GT Super+

Well, what can we say about this card? The second it hit around 70C, all hell broke loose and the sound the fan made knocked us senseless. This card is LOUD, there is no other way to put it. Once again though Palit pulls their collective asses out of the fire by giving the user complete control over the fan speed which means it can be turned down…a bit. However, we do not recommend manually setting the fan too low on this card due to the heatsink getting thoroughly overwhelmed when the fan isn’t spinning like it should. Just make sure you do enough testing to make sure your fan speed doesn’t mean your core gets to crazy temperatures.


Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.

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Power consumption of these cards was pretty much in-line with what we expected; the overclocked cards consumed significantly more power while the stock-clocked ones mirrored what we saw in the past with the 8800 GT. The one card which stands out for us is the Gigabyte 9800 GT that seems to benefit quite a bit from its custom designed power distribution layout. On the other hand, the Palit 1GB’s extra 512MB of memory contributes to it having one of the higher wattage footprints of the group.
 
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SKYMTL

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Overclocking

Overclocking


We were debating whether to include this section or not but in the end our need to push every bit of hardware as far as it will go on the stock heatsink won out. Some of the cards in this roundup overclocked like gangbusters while others fizzled out before we would have thought they would have. What you see here is what we have determined to be the highest stable overclock (after the card passed a 1 hour loop of 3DMark06’s Batch Size Test at the highest triangle count).

Before we go any further it should be mentioned that these overclocks represent our experiences and your final scores may not reflect what we have achieved here.


Gigabyte 9800GT

Final Overclocks

Core: 766Mhz
Shaders: 1915Mhz
Memory (DDR): 2300Mhz

The Gigabyte card may be small in stature, the overclocks we achieved with it were among the highest in this roundup and among the regular 9800 GT cards (including the suped-up ASUS) it achieved the single highest memory clock. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the voltage control working properly in the GamerHUD so hopefully we will be able to revisit this card’s overclocking potential in the near future.

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Click on image to enlarge​


EVGA 9800GT Hybridpower

Final Overclocks

Core: 705Mhz
Shaders: 1762Mhz
Memory (DDR): 1982Mhz

The EVGA 9800 GT really disappointed us with its overclocking potential when compared to the other cards. However, a 105Mhz increase on the core and 182Mhz on the memory isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things.

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Palit 9800GT Sonic

Final Overclocks

Core: 767Mhz
Shaders: 1917Mhz
Memory (DDR): 2276Mhz

The Palit Sonic just edged out the Gigabyte card when it came to the overclock on the core with an amazing 767Mhz without any voltage increases. The memory also did very well. All things considered, the non-stock heatsink and the improved 4-phase power design really seem to help the Sonic’s overclocking capabilities.

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ASUS 9800 GT Ultimate

Final Overclocks

Core: 852Mhz
Shaders: 2056Mhz
Memory (DDR): 2220Mhz

We can’t really take the overclocks achieved by the Ultimate in relation to the other 9800 GTs we have here since this one is based off of a higher-end design from front to back. However, that didn’t stop it from putting down some simply staggering numbers: over 2Ghz on the shaders, brushing past 852Mhz on the core and a smashing through the 17,000 mark in 3DMark06.

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Click on image to enlarge​


Palit 9800 GT Super+

Final Overclocks

Core: 684Mhz
Shaders: 1710Mhz
Memory (DDR): 1926Mhz

Overclocking this 1GB Sonic+ card from Palit proved to be a good lesson in frustration management since for some reason even the core didn’t get anywhere near the other competitors. It is understandable that the 1GB of memory will achieve a slightly lower clock but all in all this card was disappointing on the overclocking front.

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