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PostPosted: 11 Jan 2018, 17:29 
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Joined: 13 Oct 2003, 05:00
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9800GX2Like most people, I am unable to upgrade my whole rig every year. While faster CPUs, motherboards and GFX cards come out every year - if not every six months, my wallet (and wife) dictate that upgrades come in cycles. GFX this year, CPU next year, and maybe the mobo (and probably RAM) some time after that. And, I've never upgraded my GFX at each generation. I skipped both the 6-series and the 8-series along the years.

So, as my rig currently stands, it's not the speediest rig at the WSGF (that title belongs to Paddy). But, I do think that it is reflective of many readers, who (unlike most "professional" reviewers) don't get to upgrade to cutting edge each January.

I received my original GeForce 7950GX2 and ASUS nForce 590 motherboard (P5N32-SLI Premium/WiFi-AP) almost two years ago, when the 7950 was just launching. Almost a whole year would go by before I was able to put together my entire rig. At that time the E6700 was at the top of the Core2Duo list, but my nForce 590 motherboard was now a generation behind. With only a 800MHz FSB, I settled on 4GB of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800 memory.

With this upgrade to a GeFore 9800GX2, my GFX is again top of the line, my CPU is "last gen" (with Quad Cores now standard), and my RAM/mobo is two generations old (with the nForce 680 and 790 both crossing into 1333MHz on the FSB).

As of now, my rig stands at:

  • GeForce 9800GX2 Reference Board from NVIDIA at 600MHz Core and 2000MHz Memory
  • P5N32-SLI Premium/WiFi-AP
  • Intel E6700 Core2Duo at 2x2.667GHz
  • 4GB XMS2 Corsair RAM
  • 2x Samsung 320GB T-Series HDD (one for the OS and games; one for swap file and FRAPS)
  • LiteOn SATA Optical Drive
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro
  • Enermax Infiniti 720W
  • Lian-Li Black PC-777
  • Dell 3007WFP
  • Matrox Digital TripleHead2Go
  • 3x HP LP1965
  • Logitch G15 Keyboard & G5 Mouse



I'd like to upgrade the CPU to a Quad Core, but a Q6600 probably wouldn't give much "real world" improvement, and anything else would require a mobo and RAM upgrade to keep the FSB on the CPU and RAM in sync. At this point, I will probably just wait for Nehalem. And, considering the benchmarks I hit with the 9800GX2, waiting won't be difficult.

Full Disclosure


NVIDIA is a sponsor/supporter of the WSGF, and as part of their support they supply hardware to the WSGF. Some I've kept to build/upgrade my gaming rig, and some I've given to Insiders. NVIDIA supplied both GX2 video cards, as well as the key components of my gaming rig, including the CPU, RAM and motherboard. Their support of the WSGF hasn't influenced this review. The benchmarks ran, and the numbers are what they are. Remember, I'm comparing two products from NVIDIA; this isn't a head-to-head vs. ATI.



Installation


The installation was relatively painless, and the issues encountered had nothing to do with the GeForce 9800GX2. Before swapping video cards I ghosted my drive with a clean install of Windows XP SP2 I keep in reserve, and updated everything with the latest patches and drivers. I had held off for SP3, but when it was delayed I pressed on anyway. I had also downloaded the latest ForceWare 175.16 WHQL drivers. I had the 169.21 installed before the swap, as that was the latest version for the 7900GX2.

I pulled out the old card (which required a 6-pin molex), and installed the new one (which requires both an 8-pin and a 6-pin for power). My Enermax power supply has modular cables, but included one 6+2 pin molex cable in the "main bunch" that is hard wired in. To power the 9800GX2 I had to dig out one of the 6-pin cables and add it into the rig. I ended up having to remove the power supply to get the cable plugged into it. This is due to my power supply and case configuration, and has nothing to do with the GeForce 9800GX2.

Upon reboot I was greeted by ugly 640x480 Windows (stretched across my TH2Go). I cancelled out of Windows' attempt to install drivers for the 9800GX2 and ran the setup on the 175.16 WHQL. One reboot later, and everything was perfect.


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