XFX 9800GTX+ Reviewccokeman -
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The XFX 9800GTX+ is still based on the Nvidia G92 architecture, but the GPU core has been reduced in size via a new 55nm manufacturing process. The GPU core and shader speeds get a significant bump up to the tune of 65 and 144MHz respectively. The GDDR3 memory though, stays right at the 1100MHz through a 256 bit bus specification of the 9800GTX. Other than those few things, the 9800GTX+ is not much different than the 9800GTX released earlier this year. The cooling solution and 9 series logo remain unchanged.
The business end of the XFX 9800GTX+ features two dual link DVI connections and an HDTX out that can be utilized with the supplied dongle. Just to the left of the heasink vent on the mounting bracket is a small LED. This LED will let you know if you have the correct power connections made to the 9800GTX+. The rear end of the card features a large vent that allows airflow through to the heatsink fan and is much needed when two of these cards are run in an SLI configuration because of the close proximity of the fan to the rear of the second card when installed in the motherboard.
Along the top edge of the XFX 9800GTX+ the connectivity remains the same as the 9800GTX so there is nothing really new. Two six pin PCIe power connections are used to power the card. The small two pin connection is an S/PDIF in for the HDMI sound when the card is used in this capacity. Of course a DVI to HDMI adapter is needed for this. Toward the front is the SLI bridge connection. You will notice that there are two connections available. This allows the card to be used in not only a dual card SLI configuration but a three way solution can be utilized for a nice increase in gaming performance.
The reference heatsink comes off of the XFX 9800GTX+ with the removal of quite a few spring loaded screws. Once off you can see that it is made with a copper contact plate with heat pipes running into the aluminum fin array. This method of construction utilizes the best properties of both materials to make a more effective cooling solution.
With the heatsink pulled clear of the PCB you can see how the components on the PCB are oriented. The GDDR3 memory modules surround the core with the power regulating circuits on the right hand side of the PCB. To let you know the 9800GTX+ has power, there is an LED that shines from the top of the PCB out to the mounting bracket. This lets you know it is indeed alive. As with most video cards the thermal paste is applied quite heavily and is the consistency of a dry peanut butter. This was replaced with something a little more suitable after the testing is done.
The XFX 9800GTX+ uses a 55nm version of the G92 gpu core. This replaces the 65nm version and should provide the same performance of an equivalently clocked 9800GTX. The 55nm product is seen on the left the 65nm is seen to the right. The memory used on the XFX 9800GTX+ is made by Samsung and is rated at 1200MHz. This explains the ease with reaching over 1200MHz on the memory clock speeds.
Will the higher clock speed on the GPU and shader processors provide an increase in performance? They should, so let's see just how much!