While the Palit brand isnít as established as industry veterans like ASUS, BFG, EVGA, etc, the company is quickly becoming one of our favorite card manufacturers. The reason weíve become so quickly enamored with the companyís products is because theyíre so unique. Their GeForce 9600 GT Sonic for instance not only shipped with a custom board design with 3-phase power and dual-slot heatpipe cooling, Palit also outfitted the board with a bevy of display outputs: in additional to the traditional dual DVIs you see on all of todayís cards, the 9600 GT Sonic also ships with HDMI and DisplayPort outputs, as well as a SPDIF input! Palitís GeForce 8800 GTS Sonic 1GB just took home our Editorís Choice Award.
Unlike some manufacturers, Palit doesnít charge a hefty premium for these extra features either. Their card pricing is typically quite reasonable for what youíre getting. In fact, with its $129.99 price tag, their baseline GeForce 9800 GT is the least expensive 9800 GT card on Newegg right now.
This innovative spirit continues with their GeForce 9800 GT Sonic. Once again the company has come up with a board design that goes beyond NVIDIAís reference board, with a more powerful 3-phase power system in comparison to the 2-phase power used by NVIDIA on their reference design. By integrating a beefier 3-phase power solution, Palit is able to deliver a steady flow of power to the GPU even at the highest clock speeds. In theory, this could lead to higher clock speeds when overclocking.
Another added benefit from Palitís 3-phase power is lower operating temps for the graphics board and its underlying components. Excessive heat can prematurely damage or kill your graphics card, so anything you can do to keep heat at bay will only lengthen its longevity.
To further combat heat, Palit has also developed their own custom cooling solution for their GeForce 9800 GT cards. Palitís heatsink is Orb-shaped and is a dual-slot design made entirely from aluminum. Looking solely at the back plate of the card you may think that it exhausts hot air outside your case, but it doesnít. The cooler does an excellent job of dissipating heat off the GPU though, even under load GPU temps remained just under 55 degrees Celsius on both our Palit 9800 GT Sonic boards.
Like all Sonic boards, Palit spices up the package by overclocking the GPU and memory. The graphics core is clocked at 650MHz, 50MHz higher than stock, while the boardís stream processors run at 1625MHz. Thatís 125MHz higher than the stock 9800 GT specifications. Finally, the memory operates at 950MHz (1.9GHz effective), an improvement of 50MHz over the 9800 GT reference specs.
Of course, if youíre intimately familiar with the specs of Palitís GeForce 8800 GT Sonic card offering, all this probably looks remarkably similar to you right now. Thatís because it is. Spec for spec Palitís GeForce 9800 GT matches the features previously offered in their GeForce 8800 GT Sonic. Other than the 9800 GT designation, this card is identical to their older 8800 GT Sonic card. The only difference between the two cards that we noticed was in the bundle. Unlike their GeForce 8800 GT Sonic, the 9800 GT Sonic ships solely with one DVI adapter and a 6-pin PCIe power adapter. Thatís it when it comes to hardware accessories. The 8800 GT Sonic shipped with a DVI adapter, HDMI adapter, power cable, and a SPDIF cable! For you Lara Croft fans, Palit continues to include a copy of Tomb Raider: Anniversary with the 9800 GT Sonic.
We managed to hit speeds of 785MHz on the GPU/ 1963MHz on the shaders and 1070MHz memory with one of our Palit 9800 GT cards. The other card didnít go quite as far, topping out at 758MHz GPU/1896 shaders/1050MHz memory.
Overall these speeds are much higher than the 8800 GTs weíve tested previously, but itís quite possible that most of this is due to improvements that have been made in TSMCís 65-nm process since we last took a look at 8800 GT cards that were manufactured in late 2007 or January 2008.