Few graphics cards are as mighty as nVidia's GeForce 9800 GX2. Or as expensive.

Subtlety is rarely a word you'd use to describe graphics cards. So powerful are today's video adaptors that many of them gobble up a third of the space inside your PC without even blinking. And that's before you've even begun on the whopping power requirements.

Even so, few graphics cards are as mighty as nVidia's GeForce 9800 GX2.

The towering MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G measures more than 27mm, and requires two power connectors. One of the latter will need to be an 8-pin, so you should check carefully to make sure that the card will be compatible with your power-supply unit (PSU).

Speaking of which, the PSU needs to be at least 580W, so if you have an old system, ensure that it'll meet the power requirements. And, as if that wasn't enough, you should make sure your PC case is properly cooled, as the 9800 GX2 generates rather a lot of heat.

So, having got all that out of the way, is there any justification for these demanding requirements? Well, yes actually, since the 9800 GX2 consists of not one but two G92 GPUs bolted together. Graphics card enthusiasts will note that this follows in the heavy footsteps of ATI's Radeon 3870 X2. Packing two chips on to the same card isn't the most elegant way of increasing firepower but, as the 3870 X2 shows, it is awfully effective.

At first glance, you could be forgiven for feeling slightly underwhelmed by the MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G's specifications. After all, the 600MHz and 1GHz (2GHz DDR effective) core and memory clock speeds lag behind the figures of the significantly cheaper 9800 GTX.

Admittedly it beats the GTX for stream processors (both GPUs have 126, making for a total of 252) and 1GB of RAM is included – although nVIDIA is still sticking with GDDR3 rather than GDDR4 memory.

NEXT PAGE: the MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G's performance on test, and our expert verdict > >

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Few graphics cards are as mighty as nVidia's GeForce 9800 GX2. Or as expensive.

Figures on the page are one thing though, and real-world performance is another. And when it comes to brute force, there's no doubt that the 9800 GX2 is the new champion.

Those using resolutions of 1,680x1050 almost certainly won't need a card this high-end, but for the user with a 24in 1,920x1,200 flat-panel, the MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G makes quite a statement, moving ahead of the 3870 X2 by almost 16 percent in World of Conflict (a figure that almost doubles with Anti Aliasing switched on), and by 24 percent in Quake Wars.

But it's in the truly demanding titles that the difference can really be seen – and for that you have to turn to Crysis. Even with no anti-aliasing, the GX2 is almost 40 percent faster than the X2 at 1,920x1,200.

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MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G: Specs

  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2
  • 1GB GDDR3
  • 600MHz Core Clock
  • 1,000MHz Memory Clock (2,000 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 2 x 126 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • TV Out/Video In
  • DirectX 10.0
  • HDMI
  • 3-year warranty
  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2
  • 1GB GDDR3
  • 600MHz Core Clock
  • 1,000MHz Memory Clock (2,000 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 2 x 126 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • TV Out/Video In
  • DirectX 10.0
  • HDMI
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

There is a flaw with the 9800 GX2 - and for most users, it'll prove a rather fatal one. It may be the fastest card available, but it's also the most expensive – and by quite a large margin. Indeed, you can save yourself £100 or more by settling for the 3870 X2 – a card that, after all, is still the second fastest available. Those with a ridiculous dedication to gaming (and plenty of cash) will undoubtedly see the sense in paying the high price for the GX2 – this, after all, is the first standalone card that makes Crysis playable on a 24in flat-panel running at its native resolution. But the rest of us will find that, as a value proposition, the MSI GeForce N9800 GX2-M2D1G simply doesn't add up.

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