XFX 9800GX2 Quad SLI
The XFX 9800GX2
When the 8800GTX was released everyone was in awe at the sheer size of it. Well make no mistake the GX2 more than matches the dimensions of its stablemate. With a gloss black powdercoated finish to a metal outer casing and plush stickers that for once add to the appearence of the card than make it look tacky, the XFX 9800GX2 is certainly imposing. Its looks and size are also matched by its weight and this card will certainly add a few pounds to any PC you care to build.
As mentioned previously the 9800GX2 is a dual slot card with two PCB's sandwiched together to make a single card solution. I'm sure this will be debated as to whether this should indeed be classed as a single card, especially by those who enjoy benchmarking but for arguements sake I will be classing each card as just that - a single card.
Above left we see the card with the shroud removed. The shroud itself is a very sturdy affair protecting the internals of the GX2 from all sides and with only the golden fingers of the SLI and PCIe tabs protruding. Static shock damage should be prevented as long as you keep your pinkies away from the said areas. Above right we see the rear of the lower card which unsurpisingly is identical to the top pcb.
Connecting both PCB's is a small bridging SLI ribbon cable. Cooling this monster of a card is a large fan that fills the PCB sandwich and pulls air through both the top and bottom PCB's, pushing the cool air over a copper heatsink that is connected to both GPU's. The hot air is then ejected both from the back and side of the card through the shroud.
With most high-end hardware these days, a powerful PSU is going to be required. Above left we see that both 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe cables will be required for each card - a sure sign of the power draw these cards will have. Q-tec should look elsewhere as each board is rated at a max 197W making near 400W for Quad SLI alone. Add to that the power consumption of a 790i board, Quad core processor and the other peripherals and it becomes clear that only the best PSU's should be used as a powerplant for these beasts. Above right we see the 4 DVI ports of the cards as well as HDMI connectors. It should be noted that at the time of writing, SLI is still not compatible with dual displays so if you want these babies to power multiple monitor displays each card will have to operate individually.
Once slotted in the XFX 790i Ultra motherboard the picture becomes complete. I do appreciate it when everything just 'matches'. Call me picky but I despise gaudy colours on hardware and the design of both the 790i and the GX2's in moody black with just the odd splash of 'NVidia green' is right up my street when it comes to hardware design. The whole setup just looks so classy, yet imposing and while holding one of the cards I couldn't help feeling that this is a quality high-end product. The absence of tacky 'cartoony' stickers that adorn so many graphics cards these days coupled with the sleek black shrouds and the weight of the cards gave me a sense of pride and anticipation of things to come....
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