Sparkle Calibre P980X+ ReviewRHKCommander959 - April 5, 2009
Category: Video Cards
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When looking for video cards, users cannot always afford top-tier versions. Especially in times of economic difficulties, companies offer varieties of mid-range solutions that are often coupled with tweaks and improved cooling to push the card closer to more expensive models. The card reviewed here is aimed for this market segment - the Sparkle Calibre P980X+, a 55nm fabrication 9800GTX+ with 512MB of RAM, 128-shader processors, and designed for lower power consumption.
SPARKLE is a company that was founded in 1982 and is based in Taiwan. The company strives for quality in its products, good customer service, to help the environment, and bring unique products enabled by strong research and development. SPARKLE produces video cards solely and only for Nvidia.
The box comes sealed in a plastic bag that helps keep the product dry and clean during shipping. The front of the box features a proud unicorn in chrome, similar to a medallion. A SPA Tune sticker for the included software of the same name, which allows for clock modulation and temperature checking, is located in the corner opposite an HDMI Ready sticker. GeForce is also prominently displayed three times across the front of the box, while the model is saved for an attached tag. The package is also covered in a textured checker pattern, some with circles in them, which makes the box stand out more – especially in well-lit areas.
The rear lists a few of the features - Better Reliability, Rigorous Quality Tests, and Cooling System Technology (CST) - and services available with this card, including 48-hour response, 3 year limited warranty, and exclusive membership benefits for owning a Calibre card. Logos of the supported technologies and attributes line the top, including Vista/XP compatibility, SLI capability, and PureVideo HD, along with a few at the bottom. The top has a collapsible handle with the double-sided tag that denotes this as a 9800GTX+. The bottom is void of any information.
Both sides contain more technical information, with one side listing minimum system requirements of a 350w or greater power supply, and a free PCI Express slot. The other side lists that it is an Nvidia GeForce 9800GTX+ with 512MB GDDR3 running through a 256-bit memory interface. The card is PCI Express 2.0 compatible and features dual 400MHz RAMDAC’s, DVI-I, HDMI, HDCP support, and HDTV resolution up to 1920x1080i.
The tag has a very dark unicorn, with PCI Express and Sparkle logos above the Calibre GeForce 9800GTX+ notation. The rear matches the side of the box, but also includes a graph of the Calibre versus a vanilla 9800GTX+, scoring nearly 9% higher in 3D Vantage on the high setting. A picture to the right side of the specifications says Super Clock Technology with a gauge in the red zone; we shall see how true that statement is!
Opening the box immediately reveals the card, protected by a plastic case and cardboard cutout. Lifting the card out shows the accessories and manuals underneath the cardboard stand. Modest protection from impacts, but should do good against dust and moisture.
The video card is wrapped in an antistatic bag and enclosed in a formed plastic clamshell package, ensuring that moisture and dirt will have a difficult time getting to the card. The card comes with a DVI-VGA adapter, the audio cable for HDMI audio from the card to motherboard, and two Molex male and female Y-splitters with 6-pin PCI Express. Personally I find it a little odd to include the VGA adapter when the card has a VGA port, where a DVI port would have been more fitting.
With the card comes a Quick Start Guide, a short and easy manual for getting things going, driver CD, Membership Warranty card with warranty details and terms of service, and a slip of paper warning users to connect both 6-pin power connectors to the video card.
With that all settled, let's get the card out and poke around!