PNY Technologies subjects its XLR8 cards to rigorous testing regimes, allowing it to push the technology on these cards as far as it can by overclocking.

While the original nVidia 9800 GTX had a core clock speed of 675MHz, the XLR8 boosts this to 725MHz. Likewise, the memory clock of 1,100MHz (2,200MHz DDR effective) has been pushed to 1,160MHz (2,320MHz DDR effective).

Memory bandwidth shoots up to 74.2GBps from 70.4GBps. While these figures aren’t quite as high as those employed by some of PNY’s competitors, they do run close. We believe these settings represent an excellent balance between performance and stability.

Other specifications remain the same, so you still get 512MB of GDDR3 memory, 128 stream processors and DirectX 10 support. It misses out on the DirectX 10.1 capabilities of the ATI cards although current gamers won’t lose out through not having 10.1. PureVideo HD continues to be a very able proposition to maximise the high-definition experience. And should you be deep enough of pocket to be able to afford more than one, you can use the 9800 GTX’s three-way SLI feature to connect a trio of these for one huge visual extravaganza.

So how does this card compare to the standard 9800 GTX? Given that the 9800 GTX costs just £20 less, it wouldn’t take much for this card to be worth the higher price. The XLR8 doesn’t shatter standards set by the straight GTX, but it does beat them across all game titles.

In FEAR testing, the XLR8 led its little brother by more than 8fps at lower resolutions. By the time we got to 1,920x1,200, it was still around 3-4fps ahead.

In Crysis, it managed about 3fps extra in every resolution, and about 2fps in Quake Wars. If you’re playing at resolutions up to 1,280x1,024, you can expect to see around a 6-7% increase from the majority of titles. Should your tastes extend to 1,920x1,200, you may find the figure falling to about half that.

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GeForce 9800 GTX: Specs

  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX
  • 512MB GDDR3
  • 725MHz Core Clock
  • 1,160MHz Memory Clock (2,320 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 128 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E interface
  • TV out
  • DirectX 10
  • DVI
  • 3-year warranty
  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX
  • 512MB GDDR3
  • 725MHz Core Clock
  • 1,160MHz Memory Clock (2,320 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 128 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E interface
  • TV out
  • DirectX 10
  • DVI
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

The figures may not look stunning, but a potential 7% increase isn’t to be sniffed at. It now makes the XLR8 a very competitive card against the significantly more expensive Radeon HD 3870 X2. With that in mind, the extra £20 is money well spent for those with around £200-250 budget for a new graphics card.

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