Gigabyte 9800GT Reviewccokeman - August 28, 2008
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The one thing that stands out front and center when you remove the Gigabyte 9800GT from its cocoon of foam and the obligatory anti static bag, is the Zalman heatsink used to cool the GPU core. The Zalman equipped card should be able to handle the thermal load from the G92 core. Curiously absent are any RAM sinks for the GDDR3 memory. The 9800GT features a GPU core clock speed of 600MHz,1.5GHz on the shader cores and the 512MB of GDDR3 memory runs at 900MHz through a 256bit bus. Gigabyte uses Ultra Durable 2 construction on the 9800GT. What does this mean to the average Joe? It means that Gigabyte uses high quality components, including Ferrite core chokes, lower RDS mosfets and lower ESR solid capacitors allowing the components to run cooler and more efficiently for of course, longer life.
Connecting the 9800GT up to the display of your choice could not be simpler. At this point, dual DVI-I dual link capable ports are the norm. In addition, there is an HDTV-out port that can be converted via the supplied dongle to a component output. The rear of the card features the 6-pin PCIe power supply connection and the components used in the Ultra durable 2 construction method. The solid capacitors, lower RDS mosfets and the ferrite core chokes. On the top of the PCB near the SLI bridge connection is the SPDIF audio input. This connection is made to the motherboard and allows the high definition audio to be carried along with the video through an HDMI cable to your display device.
The Zalman heatsink uses 2 heatpipes that transfer the thermal load from the GPU contact surface to the fin array to be dissipated.The contact face is mirror smooth, allowing more of the contact surface to actually contact the GPU core. This is much better than some manufacturers that have obvious machining marks that can be felt when running a nail over the surface. The heatsink is held on by four spring loaded nuts, providing a secure mount. Not that this would be an issue with the thermal interface material used. Whatever was used is definately meant to be on for the long haul, since it required acetone to remove it.
The 9800GT has just a single SLI bridge connection, meaning it only supports a two card SLI setup. From the factory, this connection is protected with a plastic cap to prevent any damage to this connection that could spoil the SLI goodness.
Last but not least, I have to see what is under the hood er.. heatsink! After some rigorous cleaning with 90% alcohol and finally acetone, the thermal paste finally came free, to reveal the G92 core. This core looked a little familiar, so I pulled out some pictures of an 8800GT I had looked at previously and bingo bango - the cores are identical. So it seems the 9800GT is just a refresh of the 8800GT with a few more features. Both cards have a GPU core clock speed of 600MHz and are built using the 65nm process so this should make for an interesting comparison. The GDDR3 memory used on the 9800GT is made by Samsung and is rated at 1000MHz or 1ns.
Now we can see just what kind of performance the Gigabyte 9800GT can deliver. Will its overclocking tool set be enough to make this card stand out from the crowd? We shall see.