GeForce 9800 GX2 Performance Preview
For nearly a year now, the GeForce 8800 Ultra has remained as the flagship of NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 lineup. The 8800 Ultra itself is based on an architecture that is over 16 months old. For NVIDIA, the company that originally conceived the six month product cycle, going 10 months between product refreshes is not just rare, it’s practically unheard of. Even the GeForce 4 to GeForce FX transition didn’t take this long, and as anyone who has followed the graphics scene can tell you, the GeForce FX was plagued with product delays.
Fortunately NVIDIA has used this time to bolster their mainstream graphics lineup. The $250+ graphics segment got a major boost with the introduction of the GeForce 8800 GT last fall. Delivering performance that was generally better than NVIDIA’s $350+ GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB, all while residing in a single-slot package, the GeForce 8800 GT was the most significant PC hardware introduction in 2007 in our opinion (yes, we really feel it was bigger than Vista, Phenom, and Intel’s Penryn line of CPUs). A few months later, NVIDIA rewrote the rules of performance again, dropping the $300+ GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB on the market. In our testing
, a factory overclocked GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB card from ASUS was capable of giving a stock GeForce 8800 GTX a run for its money in some cases.
Then, just last month, NVIDIA unveiled the GeForce 9600 GT
for the sub-$200 graphics market. We found that the GeForce 9600 GT ran anywhere from 2.0-2.5X faster than the GeForce 8600 GTS in games, and when two cards are combined together for SLI, the 9600 GT SLI combo is faster than not only the GeForce 8800 GTX, but in some cases
the two cards combined can outrun the GeForce 8800 Ultra! Never before have we seen a sub-$200 card dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship offering like this.
With these new mainstream graphics cards delivering such incredible levels of performance, the line that used to separate high-end cards from mainstream models has been blurred. As a result it’s getting harder and harder to recommend pricey cards like the GeForce 8800 GTX and 8800 Ultra. Quite simply, the price/performance ratio for cards like the 8800 GT/GTS and 9600 GT is much higher.
With these latest GeForce cards increasingly encroaching on the GeForce 8800 GTX and Ultra, NVIDIA is finally set to do something about it. NVIDIA’s been dropping hints about their dual GPU, GeForce 9800 GX2 card for roughly a month now, and rumor sites have been reporting on the GeForce 9800 GTX for just as long. Today NVIDIA and their board partners are officially launching the GeForce 9800 GX2 to the public, and as the pictures released during CeBIT revealed, the card looks quite daunting. But does it boast performance to match its menacing looks? That’s what we’re here today to find out!