|by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig | April 1, 2008|
By now some of you may be wondering how this card really differs from the 8800GTS 512MB since that at face value the 9800GTX looks like an overclocked version of its smaller cousin and nothing more. Let’s be honest here: the 9800GTX IS an overclocked 8800GTS 512MB with faster memory but there is much more than what first meets the eye. Let’s take a look at some of the features this card has going for it.
As multi-GPU solutions become more and more popular Nvidia is moving towards giving consumers the option to run as many as 3 graphics cards together in order to increase performance to insane levels. Before the release of the 9800GTX, the only cards available for 3-way SLI were the 8800GTX and 8800 Ultra which meant shelling out over $1500 for trio of cards. Luckily for all of those who want the highest performance possible, Nvidia has made the 9800GTX 3-way SLI compatible which means you would “only” have to shell out around $900 to $1000 for three of these cards. Let’s push these mind-numbing prices aside for a moment and just bask in the possibilities…
Optional Full HDMI Output
All 9800GTX cards come with the option for full HDMI output over a DVI to HDMI adaptor. Notice we said “option”? This GPU has integrated HDMI support but it is up to the manufacturer to provide the necessary hardware for this to be possible. While every 9800GTX card will come with an SPDIF input connector on the card itself, manufacturer has to choose whether or not to include a DVI to HDMI dongle so the card can output both sound and images through a HDMI cable. Coupled with the fact that the GTX fully supports HDCP, this feature can make this card into a multimedia powerhouse. Unfortunately, in order to keep costs down we are sure that there will be quite a few manufacturers who will see fit not to include the necessary hardware for HDMI support. With this in mind, make sure you keep a close eyes on the accessories offered with the 9800GTX of you choice if you want full HDMI support.
To put it into a nutshell, Purevideo HD is Nvidia’s video processing software that offloads up to 100% of the high definition video encoding tasks from your CPU onto your GPU. In theory, this will result in lower power consumption, better feature support for Blu-ray and HD-DVD and better picture quality.
In addition to dynamic contrast enhancement, Purevideo HD has a new feature called Color Tone Enhancement. This feature will dynamically increase the realism and vibrancy for green and blue colors as well as skin tones.
By far, the most interesting feature supported by the 9800GTX is Nvidia’s new Hybridpower which is compatible with HybridPower-equipped motherboards like the upcoming 780a and 750a units for AMD AM2 and AM2+ processors. It allows you to shift power between the integrated GPU and your 9800GTX so if you aren’t gaming, you can switch to integrated graphics to save on power, noise and heat.
While we have not seen if this works, it is definitely an interesting concept since it should allow for quite a bit of flexibility between gaming and less GPU-intensive tasks. There has been more than once where I have been working in Word in the summer where I wished my machine would produce less heat so I wouldn’t be roasting like a stuffed turkey. If this technology can deliver on what it promises, this technology would be great for people who want a high-powered graphics card by night and a word processing station by day.
This technology even works if you have 9800GTX cards working in SLI and once again you should (in theory) be able to shut down the two high-powered cards when you don’t need them.
All HybridPower-equipped motherboards come with both DVI and VGA output connectors since all video signals from both the on-board GPU and any additional graphics cards go through the integrated GPU. This means you will not have to switch the connector when turning on and off the power-hungry add-in graphics cards. All in all, this looks to be great on paper but we will have to see in the near future if it can actually work as well as it claims to. In terms of power savings, this could be a huge innovation.
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