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XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition

XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB

Manufacturer: XFX
UK Price (as reviewed): £116.85 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $159.55 (ex. Tax)

Core Clock: 670MHz
Shader clock: 1,600MHz
Memory Clock:1,950MHz (effective)
Memory: 512MB GDDR3
Warranty: Two years (parts and labour)

Strictly speaking we’ve not looked at Nvidia’s 9800 GT before, following its somewhat covert launch last July to replace the ludicrously popular 8800 GT. However, you’ll forgive us the lack of coverage in this case because the 9800 GT IS an 8800 GT – it’s the exact same GPU with the exact same architecture and the exact same clock speeds. The only difference is some versions of the 9800 GT benefit from a die-shrink from the 65nm G92 GPU down to 55nm G92a GPU, a switch that should go some way reduce power consumption of heat output.

XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition
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While the hollow renaming exercise by Nvidia does leave something of a bad taste in the mouth (a more appropriate name would be GeFarce 9800 GT perhaps?), it’s important to remember that the 8800 GT was a fine graphics card at launch. And although getting a little long in the tooth since its October 2007 release, is still able to slug it out with the ATI Radeon HD 4830. Moreover, it isn’t too far off the Radeon HD 4850 in some circumstances.

The 9800 GT we’re looking at today comes from XFX and in the best tradition of board partner cards, benefits from both a third party cooling solution and a hefty factory overclock. With the core clock increased from 600MHz to 670MHz, the shader clock bumped up from 1,500MHz to 1,600MHz and the memory upped from 900MHz (1,800MHz effective) to 975MHz (1,950MHz effective).

It’s good to see such a well rounded and fairly ambitious overclock after a few recent mis-fires from various board partners in the overclocking department. What's more, with increases all round we’re sure to see some decent frame rate improvements during our benchmarks. However, this card still uses the older 65nm G92 core, so the scope for futher overclocking might be a little limited.

The replacement cooler is a little strange though, dropping the full card shroud and the stock 8800 GT’s front to back airflow for a more compact copper cooler fitted directly onto the card’s GPU and memory modules that blows air from the rear of the card to the front – a strange choice considering you usually want to move air towards the back of a PC to be more readily exhausted.

XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition
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The XFX GeForce 9800 GT is also a little different in its construction, although only so far as the type of components used (the core architecture, of course, remains the same). Some of solid state capacitors have been replaced with cheaper electrolytic versions and the stock card’s small low profile chokes have been replaced with larger and in one case full height chokes. We’ve seen board partners redesign power delivery systems in the past with varying degrees of success and for every card that saves a few watts of power consumption there seems to be another which consumes far more – we’ll be paying careful attention to this in our testing.

There's also the addition of a metal top bracket that runs along the top of the card, carrying the XFX logo. While not necessarily required, it's a nice little addition, especially for those with windowed cases looking to show off tier new GPU (although we're not sure a 9800 GT really grants you a whole lot of bragging rights these days). Dual neon green DVI ports and S-Video out complete the package.

Looking at the card’s bundle reveals a nice surprise in a full retail version of Far Cry 2. One of the better games of 2008 (and rather conveniently at the heart of our mid-range graphics test suite), it’s a great inclusion. The rest of bundle includes the pre-requisite dual Molex to PCI-E converter, a DVI to VGA adapter and the usual quick start guide, driver CD and documentation, along with a door hanger to warn everyone that you’re “gaming”. Ahem.

XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512MB XXX Edition
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Warranty

XFX supplies the card with a two year warranty in Europe that covers the cost of parts and labour – this isn’t anything special and it’s what most other board partners offer. Having said that, XFX spices the deal up by making the warranty transferable if you choose to sell the card on.

The company urges customers to register their purchase on its website, as this makes a warranty claim a lot more efficient. Upon registering, you’re given a registration code that can then be passed on when you sell the card – it also opens up a support avenue with XFX directly using the company’s web-based technical support system, which includes a real-time chat service for Live technical support, but this isn't available on all purchases.

For those products that are eligible, XFX makes support assistants available during normal business hours. If that doesn't help you, XFX offers a standard support ticket system as well and say it responds to technical support requests within 24 hours. And if you're unable to get onto the Internet to submit your RMA, the company has a technical support telephone number, but calls cost 60 pence per minute in the UK at the time of writing.