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Conclusion

Summing up our today’s tests, we can say that after a year’s break, ATI has finally entered the same price category with Nvidia introducing its 3-way CrossFireX system that is competitive to the GeForce 9800 GX2 at least theoretically. Is it competitive in practice, though? The following table can give you the answer:

Obviously, it’s too early for ATI to claim a victory or even a tie: the Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 is faster in most of the tests. The ATI platform won five out of the 18 tests including both versions of 3DMark. In three more tests, it equaled Nvidia’s result. Not so bad, considering how difficult it is to support the triple-processor graphics subsystem on the software side and the lack of support for three GPUs in OpenGL applications. ATI is going to collaborate with game developers and polish off the software aspect of CrossFireX to solve these problems, but the user already has a choice.

The choice in favor of ATI’s CrossFireX requires a higher qualification from the user who has to deal with two individual graphics cards. It also means you must have a CrossFire-compatible mainboard with two PCI Express x16 slots. The power consumption and heat dissipation of this graphics subsystem are going to be high. In other words, the 3-way CrossFireX solution from ATI is inferior to the Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 in its consumer properties. The latter card has only one significant drawback – it doesn’t support multi-monitor configurations but Nvidia is expected to add such support soon. So, the user doesn’t seem to have a choice, after all.

We can’t recommend the 3-way CrossFireX as an alternative to the GeForce 9800 GX2 today. The triple-processor platform may only appeal to inveterate fans of the ATI brand. The GeForce 9800 GX2, although not an ideal solution, features higher performance and is much simpler to install and use.

As for the Zotac card we tested today, it is hard to say anything new about the card, because it is a precise copy of the reference GeForce 9800 GX2, which is the fastest single graphics card available today and the best choice for a wealthy gamer.

However, we would like to give Zotac due credit for taking good care of their users: Zotac included all the necessary adapters into the box as well as such nice bonuses as an HDMI cable and a full version of Lost: Via Domus game. The Zotac GeForce 9800 GX2 is a high-quality product. It’s not going to disappoint you if you are aware of the features peculiar to modern dual-processor graphics cards.

Highs:

  • Best gaming performance with software optimizations;
  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes;
  • Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering;
  • Hardware HD video decoding and post-processing support;
  • Audio over HDMI support;
  • PCI Express 2.0 support;
  • Pretty good overclocking potential;
  • Great accessories bundle.

Lows:

  • Performs at the level of Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB without software SLI support;
  • Suffers from all the issues typical of contemporary multi-GPU platforms;
  • Doesn’t support multi-monitor configurations in SLI mode;
  • High power consumption;
  • High heat dissipation;
  • High level of generated noise;
  • Large size;
  • Heavy weight;
  • High price.
 
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