NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2 - HotHardware

NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra and GeForce 9800 GX2

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Way back in late 2006, NVIDIA simultaneously unveiled a new flagship GPU and desktop chipset that became the foundation of what NVIDIA was calling the "ultimate gaming platform".  At the time, the combination of a pair of GeForce 8800 GTX graphics cards and an nForce 680i SLI-based motherboard was clearly the most powerful hardware combo available for gamers.  And here we are, nearly a year and a half later in early 2008, and still that combo is tough to beat; truly a testament to NVIDIA's engineering abilities and execution.

Since the introduction of that version of NVIDIA's ultimate gaming platform, the company's product stack has changed quite a bit.  New GPUs have hit the scene in all segments of the market and desktop chipsets for both Intel and AMD platforms have been released as well.  But NVIDIA never went all out and released a full-on update to their proposed ultimate gaming platform, complete with a new flagship graphics card and nForce chipset - until today that is.

Rumors abound for the last few months regarding the GeForce 9800 GX2 and nForce 790i SLI Ultra, and today we can finally show you what all the fuss has been about.  This is a big day for NVIDIA.  A new desktop chipset complete with a DDR3-based memory controller is here, along with a dual-GPU powered monolith of a graphics card that is NVIDIA's most powerful to date.  Together, the combination of a GeForce 9800 GX2 (or GX2s), with the nForce 790i SLI Ultra chipset, redefine the high-end of desktop PC gaming hardware.  Read on for the details and to see just what 2008's version of the ultimate gaming platform can do...

 
Quad-SLI is Coming: The nForce 790i SLI Ultra with a pair of GeForce 9800 GX2 cards

NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI Ultra
Specifications and Features

First, let's talk a bit about the nForce 790i SLI Ultra.  Although the main focus of this article will revolve around this chipset, NVIDIA is actually releasing a few others as well.  The nForce 790i SLI and 750i SLI will also be debuting soon, with similar capabilities and feature sets.  As has historically been the case with NVIDIA's desktop chipsets, as you move further down the product stack, prices go down, and a few high-end features are stripped away.  In this case, the 750i SLI is a DDR2-based chipset, capable of 2-way SLI, with a single Gigabit Ethernet connector and PCI Express 2.0 support by way of the NF200 chip.

The nForce 790i SLI and 790i SLI Ultra, however, are more difficult to differentiate.  Essentially, the two chipsets are identical.  The Ultra version of the chipset is more vigorously binned and is capable of DDR3 memory speeds in excess of 2GHz.  The non-Ultra 790i SLI is officially supports DDR3 memory speeds as high as 1333MHz.  Other notable features to the 790i SLI chipset include 60 lanes of PCI Express connectivity with native gen 2 support, with 10 USB ports, ESA, Media Shield, and First Packet support, in addition to three-way and Quad-SLI support.

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The bottom line IMO is that the GX2 is an impressive card and barely gets beats by 2 x GTS!

$600 isn't really that bad either since this beast is king of the single slot right now and should easily carry a person through 18-24 months of gaming!!!

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I agree the price is a bit steep but it's typical for a flagship card. Look at the history of the 7000,8000 and now the 9000 series. All the flagship cards in those series fit the profile. It was either get 2 mid range cards for the same price with comparable benchmarks or get the high end card. The only difference I see though is that this is a dual gpu card. With that being said you would think they could come out with a single gpu card that could produce these results like other flagship cards have in the past.

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 As I was reading the review, something struck me as odd.  Not about the 9800 GX2, but about the 8800 GTS vs the 8800 GTX.  The 8800 GTS was outperforming the 8800GTX.  Doesn't the GTX have 768 MB ram and 384 bit processing?  How does the GTS with only 512 BM ram and 256 bit processing beat it? 

 I readily admit that I haven't kept up to date like I should have, but I'd appreciate any help in understanding this.

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nhwynter:

 As I was reading the review, something struck me as odd.  Not about the 9800 GX2, but about the 8800 GTS vs the 8800 GTX.  The 8800 GTS was outperforming the 8800GTX.  Doesn't the GTX have 768 MB ram and 384 bit processing?  How does the GTS with only 512 BM ram and 256 bit processing beat it? 

 I readily admit that I haven't kept up to date like I should have, but I'd appreciate any help in understanding this.

 

The new 8800 GTS 512mb is based on the G92 core.  It's often more efficient and thus can outperform the GTX in some games.  More often than not the GTX wins due to the sheer power of 384-bit and it's high clock, but some games like the G92 more. 

The extra memory is actually irrelevant.  Virtually no game uses more than 512mb of memory, Crysis included I believe.  It was good for advertising, but doesn't matter right now.  And future games that do use more than 512mb may nor may not be so stressful that the GTX might not even take advantage of all that memory.  But that's speculation and only time will tell.  At least with 768mb you know the ram will never limit you in a game for a looong time.

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wow  seems impressive

but im getting a system with 3 8800 ultras with an option for getting the 3 ultras or 2 9800GX2 cards

so what do you think i should go for? as its not costing me anything extra either way

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well after reading all the revies and the advice from everyone on here im opting for getting 2 9800GX2 cards as opposed to the originally planned 3 ultras.
thanks for everyones help in deciding this

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 Sweet, much better choice.

 

Now you will have room for a sound card!

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