Two months ago when we first looked at 3-way SLI with a set of GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards it was tough to draw a conclusion as the GeForce 9800 GX2 and GeForce 9800 GTX were not released at that time. Now that those cards have been released all of the high-end NVIDIA based graphics cards are on store shelves. Sure, the GeForce 9800 GT is rumored to be coming out this summer with a die shrink, but like the GeForce 8800 GT series it will likely not support 3-way SLI like the GTX series. With the launches finally starting to slow down consumers can finally catch up and figure out what platform and configuration to go with.
Performance on the GeForce 9800 GTX graphics cards did seem to be a notch above the GeForce 8800 GTX series on all the games we tested except for S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, which was a popular DirectX 9 game title that was published last year. Hopefully this will not be the case when S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky comes out later this year for as it is official prequel S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and will be DirectX 10 based. Scaling of the GeForce 9800 GTX was also slighty higher than that of the GeForce 8800 GTX, which shows that NVIDIA has made some great optimizations to their products.
When it comes to pricing and availability things are looking good as the GeForce 9800 GTX has come down in price since it was launched and can be picked up for $289 plus shipping. The biggest performance jump comes when running SLI, but for those than can afford it 3-way SLI offers even more performance on a a large number of popular game titles. As we noted in the testing section problems with 3-way SLI that we say with the GeForce 8800 GTX series has been fixed with the newer GeForce 9800 GTX series drivers. Need for Speed: ProStreet is a popular gaming title and it’s finally playable in 3-way SLI!
NVIDIA has done a great job with 3-way SLI and it seems to be getting better as time goes on. Anyone with a 30″ monitor that wants to game at 2560×1600 resolutions with some eye candy turned on should certainly consider 3-way SLI. After all, you are getting a tax refund right?
Legit Bottom Line: 3-way SLI with a set of GeForce 9800 GTX graphics cards makes for a great gaming experience at 2560×1600 resolutions.