The reference 9800 GTX may not perform as well as some of the older 8800 GTS cards, but can the overclocked version offer some good results? This is what we will find out as we we put the Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC to the test. Let’s find out can this card offer some good results.
NVIDIA has a rather interesting way of doing business. They usually do not throw the one-two punch that Intel does with their processor line-up; rather, NVIDIA generally releases some good products followed up by some mediocre (occasionally bad) ones. Look at the history of NVIDIA and we can all remember the GeForce 5800 dust buster that was quickly rectified by the subsequent release of the GeForce 6 series. Despite the fact that NVIDIA is enjoying the performance crown at the moment with the 9800GX2 and has a good mainstream market share with the 8800GT/GTS, and a budget card contender with the 9600GT, they seem to leave a gap in between. This is what prompted NVIDIA to release the 9800GTX on April 1, 2008 to fill the gap. Although the 9800GTX is priced close to $400, its performance gain over the 8800GT/GTS makes it hard to recommend. Maybe this is NVIDIA’s “April Fool’s” joke to everyone who has bought the card.
Fast forward one week later to April 8, 2008, and notice that NVIDIA partners - such as XFX, EVGA, and Foxconn - have released overclocked versions of the card. Despite the lackluster performance gain over the 8800GTS at stock speed, the overclocked 9800GTX has will potentially offer some significant performance increases and justify the premium price over the cheaper 8800GTS. This is what we aim to find out in today’s review.
Bjorn3D has previously reviewed the performance difference of the stock 9800GTX versus various high-end and mainstream graphic cards: namely the 8 series cards (review). We are fortunate to receive the Foxconn GeForce 9800 GTX Extreme OC card which features clock speed of 780/1900/2360 (core/shader/memory) as opposed to the reference speed of 675/1688/2200. Today, we will put this card against other mid-range graphic cards ranging from the last generation G80 to current generation G92 cards and even the HD card from AMD.
Foxconn: The Company
For those of you who are new to the computer enthusiast arena Foxconn may not be a corporate name that you are readily familiar with. On the other hand those of you that have been around for a while are probably very familiar with Foxconn motherboards. My guess is that most of Bjorn3D’s readers are not aware that Foxconn is one of the extremely small number of manufacturers that actually make and assemble NVIDIA based graphics cards as well for all the other companies that market them. Chances are you’ve already owned a Foxconn manufactured card and never even knew it. You probably aren’t aware that in addition to motherboards and graphics cards Foxconn also manufactures: cases, coolers, barebones computer systems, power supplies, card readers, and wireless cards.
Foxconn is the registered trade name of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., a global leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of advanced computer, communications, and consumer electronics components, including motherboards, graphics cards, CPU coolers, barebone systems, and chassis for personal computer desktops and servers. With over three decades of demonstrated manufacturing excellence, Hon Hai sets the standard in the industry for product quality and reliability, customer support, and value. In 2005 Hon Hai had sales of $25 billion (USD).
The Channel Service Division (CSD), part of the PCE Business Group of Hon Hai, is Hon Hai’s worldwide organization for servicing channel customers. Guided by the mantra “The Art of More”, CSD is dedicated to making it simpler and more affordable for its customers to offer superior information systems to their consumer and enterprise customers. CSD serves a network of distributors and OEM customers in Asia, EMEA, and the Americas.
FEATURES AND SPECIFICATION
|Foxconn GeForce 9800 GTX Extreme OC|
|Fabrication Process||65nm (G92)|
|Number of Transistors||754 million|
|Core Clock (Including dispatch,
texture units, and ROP units)
|Shader Clock (Processor Cores)||1900 MHz|
|Memory Clock / Data Rate||1630 MHz / 2360 MHz|
|Memory Interface||256 bit|
|Memory Size||512 MB|
|Texture Filtering Units||64|
|HDMI Support||Yes (Using DVI to HDMI adaptor)|
|Connectors||2 x Dual-Link DVI-I
1 x 7-pin HDTV Out
|BUS Technology||PCI-Express 2.0|
|Form Factor||Dual Slot|
|Power Connectors||2 x 6-pin|
|Max Board Power||156 Watts|
|GPU Thermal Threshold||105° Celsius|
|Dimensions||270mm x 100mm x 32mm (L x H x D)
10.5in x 3.93in x 1.26in
- PCI Express 2.0
- NVIDIA® SLI™ Support
- Dual Dual-Link DVI Support
- HDTV Out Support
- NVIDIA® GeForce® 9800 GTX,
- 512MB GDDR3 High-Speed Memory,
- Full HDCP Support ,
- Full Microsoft® DirectX® 10 Shader Model 4.0 Support ,
- PCI Express 2.0
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
The 9800GTX is built on the G92 core, which includes the latest support for HD movie playback and NVIDIA’s PureVideo HD. The older G80 does not include some of the features of the PureVideo 2 - namely the ability to completely offload AACS-decryption and H.264-decoding to the graphic card. Furthermore, the new card also has finally included the ability to transmit audio over HDMI interface, although NVIDIA’s implementation is still not as good as AMD. You will require a cable to route the audio from your sound card, but it’s better than nothing.
Many readers are probably aware that 9800GTX is not the first G92 based card from NVIDIA. In fact, the “older” 8800GTs/GTSs are both built on the same G92 core. What NVIDIA has brought to the table for the 9800GTX versus the older G92 is the ability to run three-way SLI and the upcoming HybridPower (ability to turn the GPU off and use integrated graphics when the demand is low). In addition, the 9800GTX uses a slightly higher clockspeed at 675/1688/1100 versus the 650/1625/970 (core/shader/memory). Other than this, both cards are virtually identical as the 9800GTX still supports DirectX 10.0, OpenGL 2.1, Pixel Shader 4.0, and Vertex Shader 4.0. It is still built on the 65nm process with 64 texture units, and 16 Raster Operators, and has 512MB or 1GB onboard memory.
The Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC is packaged in a box that is often found on many graphic cards. You see a cardboard box outside of a much thicker brown cardboard box which is splashed with cool artistic graphics on the front. On the outside, you will find some marketing information. I was actually a bit surprised at the package’s lack of flashy looks and the hard-to-notice, little red icon that emphasizes the word “Extreme OC” given the fact that this is an overclocked card.
After tearing the plastic wrap, you will find a foldout containing more detailed marketing materials. Here we can see that the Foxconn cards use only Japanese solid capacitors which in theory will prolong the life span of the hardware. Solid capacitors are able to withstand higher temperature and will thus increase the overclocking performance and stability. Furthermore, the card is also built with dual power input filters which will ensure the card gets clean power and eliminates hardware failure due to power glitches.
Inside the cardboard box, you will see the card is being protected in a plastic box. Surrounding it are a few cardboard inserts, protecting the card from sliding during shipping. This plastic box packaging is unique for graphics card protection, and seems to protect the card fairly well.
Underneath the card are the accessories, and the bundle is quite sparse. The card comes with:
- Two PCIE-moles power adapter
- Two DVI-VGA adapters
- HDTV dongle
- Driver CD
- Virtual Drive 11.5
- Driver Clone 3
Foxconn has opted not to include a DVI-HDMI adapter, which in my opinion is a major oversight. In addition, I am also a bit surprised to find the card is missing the S/PDIF audio cable. For the price, you would expect these accessories to be included.
This is not the first time we have reviewed a Foxconn card, and rather than including a whole bunch of games, Foxconn included the software titles Virtual Drive and Driver Clone. The Virtual Drive is a CD-ROM/DVD-ROM emulator and the Driver Clone is a back up software. I do appreciate the fact that these software applications are included, but if you are like me, you probably have your own emulator software and backup software that you prefer to use. I think Foxconn should include at least one of the latest game titles instead.
THE CARD AND IMPRESSION
Foxconn actually has three 9800GTX cards and they are all running at slightly higher speeds than the reference 9800GTX. Our review sample is the highest clock of the three cards: the Extreme OC version. This card is clocked at 780/1900/2360 (core/shader/memory) as opposed to the reference speed of 675/1688/2200.
After opening up the packaging, my first impression of the 9800GTX is that it is so much lighter than the older 8800 Ultra card. The card is also a tad longer than the 8800 Ultra, 228.6mm in length as opposed to the 220mm for the older card. This extra 8.6mm can pose a huge problem for certain cases, as my NZXT Zero case has barely enough space to stuff the new 9800GTX in. Do make sure that you have enough space before you make your purchase.
Foxconn uses the same reference cooler that is used with the 9800GTX for their 9800 GTX Extreme OC. The front of the card is covered completely with a black plastic shroud and features a single radial fan. As you can see, the shroud is not flat, but rather curvy around the fan area. This is similar to what we have seen with the 8800GT/GTS card, but here we have more of a wavy look as opposed to the hard angles found on the 8800GTS. This curve is meant to provide better cooling for the card, as the older 8800 Ultra suffers from insufficient airflow when multiple cards are installed. This is a welcome improvement that leads to lower noise levels. Furthermore, the fan noise is barely audible idling and during extensive testing, it does not even rev up like other cards I have used. Initially I thought something was wrong with the fan controller but after checking the temperature of the card, I can see that the card actually runs fairly cool even under load; and that’s why it does not rev up.
The Foxconn 9800GTX uses black PCB (which looks much better than the green PCB, and although color does not make any performance difference, personal preference is always important). On the top, we see all the internal connectors. Next to the PCI bracket, we see two SLI connectors, making it possible to run three-way SLI. Moving along, you will find a S/PDIF connector (almost invisible if you do not look closely) and at the end, you will find the two PCIE power connectors. The 9800GTX requires two six pin PCIE connectors to be plugged in, as the maximum power drawn is quoted at 156W.
Looking at the back we find two DVI connectors for two displays with resolutions of up to 2560×1600. The board supports HDCP so you will have no issue using it to output HD contents. In addition, you will find a HDTV output connector. Using this along with the included adapter, you will be able to hook your computer to your HDTV set. I am a bit disappointed to find that the card does not come with HDMI or display port built in to make it more future-proof.
The test will be conducted in two systems with the specifications listed below.
|Processor||Intel E6600 @ 3.2GHz||Intel e6420 @ 3.2GHz|
|Motherboard||EVGA 680i||XFX 680i LT|
|Memory||2 GB (2 x 1 GB) TeamGroup DDR2-800||2 GB (2 x 1 GB) G.Skill DDR2-800|
|Drive(s)||Samsung HD501LJ SATA||1 – Seagate 80GB Barracuda SATA
1 – Samsung HD501LJ SATA
|Graphics||Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC
Foxconn 9800 GTX (downclocked to stock speed)
XFX 9600GT XXX SLI
|ASUS 8800GT TOP
XFX 9600GT XXX
XFX 9600GT XXX SLI
|Sound||On board||On board|
|Cooling||Thermalright SI-128 with Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F||Big Typhoon VX|
|Power Supply||Enermax Galaxy 850 W||OCZ GameXStream 850 watts|
|Display||Gateway FPD2485W||Westinghouse 37″ LVM-37W3|
|Case||NZXT Zero||No case|
|OS||Windows XP SP2||Windows XP SP2|
A word of warning with the test at 1920 resolution: in the World of Conflict and Company of Heroes benchmarks, the Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC and XFX Fatal1ty 8800 GTS 320MB are being tested at a 1920×1200 resolution, while the other cards are tested at 1920×1080 resolution. The tests for 3DMark06 and Crysis are run at 1920×1080 resolution.
In addition, we downclocked the Foxconn 9800 GTX EXtreme OC to the reference clock speed in order to estimate the performance of the 9800 GTX at reference speeds.
Crysis v1.71 (0AA/0AF and 2AA/8AF)
World in Conflict v1.007 (4AA/16AF)
Company of Heroes v 1.71 (4AA/16AF)
Industry standard 3DMark06 shows that the 9800 GTX Extreme OC performs about 5% better than the referenced card’s speed. The card is able to perform better than any single card among the cards tested; but when it is compared to the SLI cards, it lags behind even the 9600GT SLI.
Company of Heroes
At stock speed, the 9800 GTX really lags behind the 9600 GT SLI, but the overclocked version is able to keep up with all the SLI cards. We see a whopping 10% increase in performance. The stock speed 9800 GTX is also able to perform better than either 8800 GT or GTS.
World in Conflict
Switching to a more hardware demanding game like World in Conflict, we can now see the true benefit of SLI. The 9800 GTX Extreme OC is not able to out-perform the 9600 GT in SLI. In fact, it lags behind the 8800 GT and GTS. I think this is partially due to WiC being a bit more CPU dependent than GPU dependent. We see that the 8800GT and GTS and the 9800 GTXs are within one or two frames of each other.
Crysis is one of the most grahically demanding - and therefore hardware demanding - games out there today. We can’t even get the card to run at any good FPS when it’s using 4AA/16AF. We had to use 2AA/8AF to run our tests. The 8800 GTS clearly fails to offer any playable framerate when the effects are enabled, and it even fails to run at 1920×1080 resolution. Once again, we see that SLI really shines in Crysis with the 9600GT beating the 9800GTX Extreme OC, and its performance is almost equal to the 8800GTS running in SLI. The Foxconn’s 9800 GTX Extreme OC is able to perform 10% better than the reference card.
PERFORMANCE AND PRICE RATIO
To estimate the performance vs price ratio, we used PriceGrabber to find the cheapest price that is available at the time of the review. Bear in mind that we did not select a specific vendor or overclocked card – but only the cheapest in price we could find. In addition, since I was not able to find the retail price of the Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC, I can only list the price of the reference card for comparison.
At the time of the search, here are the prices for each of the cards:
- 9600GT SLI–299.98
- 9800 GTX, stock speed–289.99
- 8800GTS, 512MB–242.99
- 8800GTS, 320MB–125.83
With less hardware demanding games, the 8800 GTS 320MB card seems to be the best choice, as it yields the best performance vs price ratio. We can see that it beats out any other cards in terms of value. So if you primarily play older games, there is really no need for an upgrade if you have already bought the older card.
Once we moved to more current game titles, we start seeing that the aging 8800 GTS 320MB is not able to keep up with the G92 variants. In fact, the 8800GT and 8800 GTS is a great choice and even the 9600 GT is a good choice if you need to upgrade from the older 8800 GTS 320MB.
In Crysis, we can see that although the 8800 GTS 320MB is able to offer good performance to price ratio when the game is running without any AA or AF enabled; but as soon as we enable the AA and AF, the game takes a huge hit in performance. Surprisingly, the 9600 GT shows an excellent performance vs price ratio, and is followed by the 8800 GTS 512MB. Although the 9800 GTX at stock speed does not offer a good performance per price ratio in comparison to other single cards, it does offer a slightly better ratio when it is compared to the 8800 GTS running in SLI but it still cannot compete agaisnt the 9600 GT in SLI.
I use NVIDIA’s own nForce System Tools to overclock the card. Initially, I ran the software’s stability test by raising the core, memory, and shader speed independently. I was able to achieve 850 MHz for the core speed, 1220 MHz for the memory speed, and 2100 MHz for the shader speed. Having found the maximum potential speeds, I then set out to find the highest stable overclock. Unfortunately, I was only able to raise the core speed up to 800 MHz, memory speed up to 1200 MHz, and the shader speed up to 2000 MHz. This may seem low, but do keep in mind that this card is already heavily overclocked. With this setting, you may get a small percentage of performance gain, but it’s probably not going to be noticeable in games anyway.
TEMPERATURE and NOISE
Using Everest, I was able to record the temperature while the benchmarks were taking place. The Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC runs surprisingly cool. At idle, it is hovering around 56 °C, and under load, it is running at 76 °C. I am really pleased with the temperature of the card and it is nice to see an overclocked card running at such cool temperatures. What is even better is the fact that the card runs really quiet even under load, and I am really pleased with the noise level of the card as well. It seems to me that the new cooler design pays off big time.
NVIDIA has gotten itself into a big mess with the release of the 9800 GTX. This card should be called the 9800 GT or maybe 9800 GTS as its stock performance is barely edging out the older 8800 GT/GTS. We are not even comparing the performance to the overclocked 8800 cards, where in our previous reviews we’ve showed their ability to out-perform the 9800 GTX. Our review clearly shows that currently, the price tag of the 9800 GTX does not justify the premium price of the card. Especially when you can get similar performance at a lower price.
If you have already own the G92 core 8800 cards, you should save your money for something better in the future. Also, if you currently own the 9600 GT, it would be better to go SLI than upgrade to the 9800 GTX, as the performance gain is slightly larger.
This does not mean that the 9800 GTX has nothing to offer in comparison to the older cards. In fact, the ability to run Tri-SLI; the support for HybridPower; and HDMI support is something not found in any of the older cards. So, if you are in the market for a new card from 8800 GTS 320MB or GeForce 7 cards, then this would be a nice upgrade.
If we look at the benchmark results, we can conclude that the performance of the Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC is approximately 10% higher than the reference card. This is a nice performance boost, as it is able to offer a performance gain without sacrificing noise levels or raising temperatures. Taking this into consideration, if Foxconn does not charge a premium for its 9800 GTX Extreme OC, then it would be a good alternative to the 9600 GT SLI cards for anyone who is looking to upgrade an aging card.
The Foxconn 9800 GTX Extreme OC receives a score of 8 (very good) out of 10.
+ Runs Quiet
+ Factory overclocked
+ Japanese solid-state capacitors and dual power input filters
+ Supports HybridPower
+ Offers approximately a 10% performance gain over reference card
+ Supports tri-sli
- Poor bundle
- Dual slot
- Slightly Expensive
- Long, which can pose problems in some cases
- No HDMI and S/PDIF cable included