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ASUS EN9800GTX+ 512MB Dark Knight
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by Rob Williams on October 21, 2008 in NVIDIA-Based GPU

Need a new mid-range GPU for under $200? NVIDIA’s 9800 GTX+ is a good model to keep in mind, and ASUS’ Dark Knight card in particular proves to be one well-worth considering. The card offers great gaming performance for the cash, even handling certain games at 2560×1600 with ease, has a sweet-looking cooler, and best of all, is priced-right.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky

When it comes to first-person shooters, post-apocalyptic adventures are a dime a dozen. But when S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was first released in the spring of 2007, it dared to be different. How? By basing the game off of a real-world tragedy, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred way back in 1986 near the city of Prypiat in the Ukraine. Despite the disaster happening so long ago, people are still unable to live in the surrounding area, and will be unable to for at least another 150 years.

In addition to the games real-world ties, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. happened to be one of the grittiest, realistic (aside from the problematic AI) and expansive games we’ve seen on the PC in a while. Having the ability to roam as you like is a huge benefit and really helped make the game feel real. Clear Sky further delivers on what made the original so great, but at the same time, adds support for DX10.

It might be difficult to judge from the screenshot, but Clear Sky (like the original) is one of the most demanding games on the PC today, especially if you wish to play using DX10. To help push all of our GPUs to their breaking-point, we stick to that mode while using the “High” quality setting.

Continuing along with what we’ve seen so far, the performance scales with our expectations. The increases in the performance is still incredibly minor though, and neither of these three resolutions were remotely “fluid” with such high detail settings.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Enhanced Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
Palit 9800 GX2 1GB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
Palit HD 4870 512MB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
ASUS HD 4850 512MB
2560×1600, Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium
ASUS 9800 GTX+ 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
ASUS 9800 GTX 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, High
Gigabyte 9600 GT 512MB
1920×1200, Full Dynamic Lighting, Medium

While most of our GPUs here could handle 2560×1600 at reasonable detail settings, neither of our GTX’s could manage it. You really shouldn’t expect anything higher than 1920×1200 with this particular GPU, unless you really want to lower all detail settings to levels that will cause the game to appear ugly – which tends to defeat the purpose of running a game at such a high resolution.