14 - The Conclusion
The GeForce 9800 GX2 remains a really interesting card. The overall performance is definitely the best money can buy right now. But with multiple GPUs often also the more common SLI issues pop up. There definitely will be games where that 2nd GPU will not kick in. See, with a single GPU solution you are bound to have very few issues. With two GPU things tend to get more complicated, from a practical as well as technical side. That aside, my biggest worry for this card remains heat build-up. Trust me when I say that though the GPU's remains at acceptable temperatures, you now have two of them disposing that residual heat into your system warming up the components and in the end the card itself. It's a very vicious circle you need to break.
Now, our test system is an open PC (no cover due to photography) we do have some fans pointed at the graphics card(s) though. As a result we did have some stability issues .. GRAW2 crashed multiple times, Frontlines Fuel of War crashed .. when I started investigating I noticed that I could not even touch the graphics card. It became that hot. This is not something we ever experienced with any other graphics card, yet it's reoccurring with the GX2s pretty consistently. So the one rule that applies to today's tested product is that you need to create airflow ... you need a well ventilated PC to preventing the components from overheating and causing stability issues. Once you are past this fact and weighed out this factor, surely the fun begins as the XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 BE offers a tremendous gaming experience. You play Call of Duty 4 at 2560x1600 with every gimmick enabled and still the framerate is gigantic, that's where the fun kicks in. If you game below 1920x1200 ... get a single GPU based card, really. Also let me include that other then the heat related issues we did not have any multi-GPU related issues whatsoever with the tested games. Everything worked straight out of the box fine and dandy.
I also just have to mention this; for a 9800 GX2 to reach 700 MHz; wow... that's quite something. XFX make selections of their products, and are testing their product pretty rigorously, only with a very stringent and low-yield approach they select these black editions by first selecting the normal yields, then then the XXX editions ... and finally the gems that pass all performance, heat and stability tests combined becoming the Black Editions. This selection is what will make this more expensive. Here in the Netherlands the BE edition will cost you roughly 499 EUR and that's just a huge amount of money to be able to play games. Interestingly enough this actually is the launch price of the product as due to volume stock and availability the overall GX2 price now has dropped to roughly 430 EUR for the standard version.
Whether you believe it's worth that kind of money is totally up-to you, heck I won't blame you at all as the result is some extreme fun playing your games with the very best image quality settings at the highest resolutions. With the heat issues at hand we however didn't feel comfortable overclocking the card any further so my suggestion here is that you stick at these pre-overclocked clock speeds.
So then, if a game is SLI supported (and 95% of the games today are), this is the fastest product you can purchase for that gaming experience. With the computational power that the 9800 GX2 brings you'll reach new performance heights that surpasses the mighty GeForce 8800 Ultra at a steep yet lesser price. Any game to date can be played in the highest resolution with the finest image quality settings.
As stated in our initial GX2 review, there are some very notable factors to be found in the GeForce 9800 GX2, in fact multiple factors. I find it to be a relatively energy friendly product. Roughly 200 Watts, while having an accumulated 256 shader cores crunching data, that's just not bad man. And fact is that the raw gaming power it can push out is simply magnificent. Next to a bitching nice gaming experience please do not forget that the cards comes with HDMI connector and a plethora of multi-media functions, with the the PureVideo HD engine embedded as well. All that coolness is included in this product.
Oh and guys, if you decide to purchase this product, remember my remark about the 8-pin power connector. For whatever mysterious reason a 6- to 8-pin adapter is not included, so your power supply must have the 8-pin connector for you to be able to even power this card up.
The XFX 9800 GX2 will sell for roughly 499 EUR, comes with 2 years of warranty and to sweeten the deal a little, Ubisoft's Assassins Creed (full game) is included for free. The black edition offer astounding clocks and performance, that's for sure. And you know what they say, once you go black ... you never go back.
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