XFX 9800GX2 Quad SLI
Well I think the results speak for themselves. It's quite clear that a Quad SLI setup will currently demolish any other GPU setup currently on the market. I guess that dosn't come to much of a surprise to many as most are now aware of the current lead Nvidia hold over ATI. What did surprise me is how much better the Quad SLI handled Antialiasing and Anisotropic filtering. While the Quad SLI just shrugged its shoulders, the 3870x2 cringed and cowered when the settings were applied which is a real shame as without the AA and AF settings the 3870x2 CrossfireX setup is a solid performer and can handle anything out there.
However those who want the best and desire maxed out settings with AA and AF need only look toward these results which show the GX2 Quad SLI setup standing triumphantly. Not only is it astounding in Quad SLI but the XFX card is also a very capable single card solution, in fact it can still holds its own against the G200 cards that have recently been released. The G280 might overtake the GX2 with more mature drivers and would also likely outclass it in SLI but with Nvidia's slow release of drivers I wouldn't hold your breath. With this new release, the price of the GX2 is now becoming more affordable to those mere mortals among us; so much so that the bang-per-buck crown the ATI card held is now not so secure.
So is it win/win for Nvidia and specifically XFX?. Well yes and no. Performance-wise there is no doubt the 9800GX2 Quad SLI setup is currently unbeatable, however this can come at a price. Nvidia are still very slow with driver updates and the buggy reponse in Crysis, getting the setup to perform as required almost had me throwing the damn setup out of the window. However as the cards are not mine to keep and fearing a horses head on my pillow should I make off with them, I ventured on and gradually sorted the problems out, something that wasn't required with ATI. Having said that they are a dramatic improvement over the previous Quad SLI setup which Nvidia failed to resolve and despite the numerous rants and head scratching coming from our test labs, I would happily purchase these cards in a heartbeat had I the funds to do so.
So in short ATI still have some catching up to do if they are to dethrone their arch-enemy and if they can sort the AA/AF issues that crippled the CrossfireX setup then I would be very cagey about placing any bets in the near future, especially as rumours are beginning to surface regarding the excellent performance of the 4000 series cards. For now thought the 9800GX2 is the heavyweight champion and it is going to take a very fast card(s) to outperform it.
The XFX 9800GX2's used in today's review can be purchased over at Scan.co.uk
for a rather eye watering £325 each.
- Nothing can currently touch its performance.
- Quad SLI is very easy to setup.
- Looks great.
- Power requirements.
- The cooling solution dumps heat into the case.
- The price of 2 cards is going to leave little, if any change from £600 although prices are beginning to fall.
- Driver support still lacking in the NVidia department.
Were it not for the price of a Quad SLI setup I would not hesitate in giving the cards the much coveted Editors choice award. The Quad SLI setup does however deserve the performance award as despite the difficulties I had in getting Crysis to perform as it should, I believe it was a driver issue and not the cards themselves and once working as they should I was blown away with how good they really are. So regardless of the price, if you want the best you are simply going to have to pay for it.
Many thanks to XFX for providing the 9800GX2 cards and 790i Ultra motherboard for this review.
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