Nvidia ruled the top-end graphics card market for a long period of time but history teaches us that no rule is permanent. The announcement of the Radeon HD 3870 X2 was the first blow at Nvidia’s position showing that two inexpensive GPUs installed on one PCB could challenge one higher-class GPU. The blow didn’t prove fatal due to the drawbacks typical of multi-chip graphics solutions. However, the reduction of the price of the Radeon HD 3870 X2 made it a peril to the GeForce 9800 GTX, the last and the fastest single-chip graphics card based on the G92 core.
On June 25, ATI introduced the new generation of the Radeon HD architecture. That was a heavier blow. The GeForce 9800 GTX was defeated by the modest Radeon HD 4850, a mainstream product costing a mere $199. Nvidia’s countermeasures smelled of despair: the developer cut the price of the GeForce 9800 GTX from $299-349 to $199 and announced the GeForce 9800 GTX+, a card with increased clock rates. The higher clock rates of the “plus” version (738/1836MHz as opposed to 675/1688MHz of the ordinary version) may make the card more competitive against the Radeon HD 4850 but what about the Radeon HD 4870? Its potential is so huge that, according to Diamond Media, it can challenge Nvidia’s flagship GeForce GTX 280 if overclocked well enough!
So the question is if overclocking the GeForce 9800 GTX can ensure a stable advantage over the Radeon HD 4850 and make the card competitive to the Radeon HD 4870? To answer this question in this review we will modify our GeForce 9800 GTX in order to control the GPU voltage and overclock the GPU frequency to the maximum.
Of course, this overclocking method is unreliable and even dangerous for the card but it will help us see the full potential of G92-based cards. This information may be useful for people who have or are going to have a GeForce 9800 GTX, Radeon HD 4850 or Radeon HD 4870.