The PNY GeForce 9800 GTX is, in essence, a G92 graphics card with superior specifications.

Choice, we're told, is a good thing. But whoever said that clearly can't have tried navigating a path through the minefield that is today's graphics card market.

While recent years have seen many branches of PC hardware whittling down the number of choices to just a few genuine possibilities, the graphics card market continues to throw up new products on a monthly (sometimes even weekly) basis.

And if this has only served to make the need for a logical graphics card naming system that bit more urgent, then the request has fallen upon deaf ears.

Products such as the GeForce 8800 GT continue to be fitted into nVIDIA's 8-series despite being based upon the G92 core.

This was even more strange in the case of the 512MB 8800 GTS – a board based upon a completely different chip from the 320MB and 640MB versions of the GTS.

Now we have some of the first examples of the supposedly next-generation 9-series. Except that, despite the name, the 9800 GTX is actually based upon the same architecture that sits at the heart of the 8800 GT and 8800 GTS 512 cards.

So what we're left with is in essence a G92 with superior specifications.

On paper though, the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX's specifications aren't actually that great.

The PNY GeForce 9800 GTX is built using a 65nm manufacturing process, and comes with 512MB of DDR3 memory.

The PNY GeForce 9800 GTX's core and memory clocks of 675MHz and 1100MHz (2200MHZ DDR effective) combine with the 256-bit memory interface to create a total memory bandwidth of 70.4 Gigabytes per second (GBps).

This leaves the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX rather trailing behind the 3870 X2's figure of 115.2GBps. Indeed, even the 8800 GTS 512 runs the GTX fairly close on raw figures.

NEXT PAGE: three-way SLI, PureVideo HD, test results and our expert verdict > >

Visit Digital World for the latest digital audio, games and home-entertainment news and reviews

The PNY GeForce 9800 GTX is, in essence, a G92 graphics card with superior specifications.

So what else is new? Well, PureVideo HD offers very smooth HD video playback. And while three-way SLI isn't a brand new feature, it is something that nVIDIA is really pushing with the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX.

Standard SLI allows you to connect two similar nVidia graphics cards together and spread the workload amongst them. As you can guess from the name, three-way SLI lets you link up as many as three cards in a single PC.

Unfortunately, we haven't been able to test this feature - with samples of the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX extremely scarce at the time of writing this, the chances of us getting two, let alone three of these cards seems remote for the time being.

Not that this is currently a realistic proposal for typical customers. For best three-way SLI, you're almost certainly going to want a motherboard with the rather extortionately priced 790i (or possibly the 780) chipset.

And since each card itself needs two power connectors, a trio of them will need a massive six spare connectors. You're probably also going to need a PSU that can produce in excess of 1100W. Indeed, you'll do just as well looking at the Quad-SLI capabilities of the also new 9800 GX2 – a card that itself comes with two cores, and so Quad-SLI will only require you buying two rather than three cards. It's also safe to say that, of today's games, Crysis is the only one that really needs either Triple- or Quad-SLI.

What the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX does have is a very competitive price. It should be hitting the shops at a price that's a good £50 cheaper than the 3870 X2's. Given that it competed very well with the X2 in our games testing, this is a fairly good deal. It actually beat the X2 in World in Conflict, notching up an almost 10 percent increase at 1,440x900.

Even at 1,920x1,200, the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX was able to go head to head with the X2. The X2 turned the tables in Crysis, itself inching ahead by around 10 percent in lower resolutions with the highest detail settings (although the fight was rather more equal with lower detail settings), and the X2 was also faster in Company of Heroes.

Visit Digital World for the latest digital audio, games and home-entertainment news and reviews

PNY GeForce 9800 GTX: Specs

  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX
  • 512MB GDDR3
  • 675MHz Core Clock
  • 1,100MHz Memory Clock (2,200 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 128 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • TV Out/Video In yes/no
  • DirectX 10
  • DVI
  • 3-year warranty
  • nVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX
  • 512MB GDDR3
  • 675MHz Core Clock
  • 1,100MHz Memory Clock (2,200 DDR effective)
  • 400MHz Ramdac
  • 128 Stream Processors
  • PCI-E Interface
  • TV Out/Video In yes/no
  • DirectX 10
  • DVI
  • 3-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

If you run your games at a resolution of 1,440x900 and don't feel the need to push the detail settings to their fullest, the PNY GeForce 9800 GTX is a very good card that can keep up (and sometimes even beat) the X2 or a couple of GTs in SLI formation. It's not bad over 1,680x1,050 either, although the X2 does start to show its extra clout here. Given the price though, this is an extremely good product for those who want impressive performance without needing every detail setting pushed to the max. As a superior alternative to the 8800 GT and GTS, it's a no-brainer.

Find the best price