The XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 that we will be looking at today is part number PV-T98U-ZH4 and is the standard clocked version of the NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 reference design. Down the road NVIDIA will allow video card makers to release overclocked cards, but for now this is all that can be on the market. With the core clock at 600MHz and the GDDR3 at 2GHz with a 512-bit bus the card isn’t that slow to begin with. The shader clocks are set to 1500MHz, which is not as high as we are seeing on the GeForce 9600 and GeForce 8800 series, but remember this card has 256 of them.
When you flip the card to the other side you can see the single SLI connector that is used for Quad-SLI. NVIDIA is not allowing Quad-SLI numbers to be published, so hang tight and in the near future we will bring you Quad-SLI performance benchmarks.
The pair of dual-link DVI connections have a maximum resolution of up to 2560×1600 on two LCD monitors at the same time, which makes for Xtreme HD. The GeForce 9800 GX2 is the very first reference designed NVIDIA graphics card that features a single HDMI video output on the board. HDMI is a new standard that combines digital video and audio in a single consumer-friendly connector. HDMI delivers a clear clean image at any window size, including full-screen high-definition resolutions up to 1080p. Combined with NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology the GeForce 9800 GX2 is great for playing HD content from a Blu-Ray or HD DVD player. We did run HD HQV Benchmark on the GeForce 9800 GX2 and found that it easily scored 100 out of 100 points with the image quality assessment tool. Not a big shocker as the GeForce 9600 GT has no problem getting a perfect score.
The GeForce 9800 GX2 comes with a sticker covering the power connections, so be sure to remove the sticker and connect both the 6-pin and 8-pin PCI-E power connector. Also covered is the SPDIF audio header that will be needed if you use the HDMI connection.
With the stickers now removed we can see the 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors for the video card that both need to be used. For a single GeForce 9800 GX2, a 580-watt power supply unit is required at minimum. For dual GeForce 9800 GX2, a minimum of 850 watts is needed. If your system has multiple hard drives, higher-end CPUs, or other PCI devices, you should use a more powerful power supply. The GeForce 9800 GX2 requires both a 6-pin and 8-pin PCI-E power connector. The GPU will not operate with only two 6-pin connectors, which is unlike older cards where the 8-pin connector was only required for overclocking. The image above also shows the SPDIF cable in use, which will be required if you intend have audio through HDMI. If your motherboard has an internal SPDIF header, use the cable provided with the bundle to connect the correct pins from the motherboard connector to the SPDIF connector on the top edge of the graphics card as shown above.
The card does have a power status LED light that will be green if both power connectors are correctly plugged in or red if they are incorrectly or not inserted. The light is green, so our test system is ready to go! With two GeForce 9800 GX2 cards in the system running in Quad SLI mode, only one display will be active. Since only one of the two dual-link DVI connectors will be active NVIDIA placed a blue LED indicator on the 9800 GX2 card that is associated with the primary display.