by Rob Williams on October 21, 2008 in Graphics & Displays
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.
In the age where anyone can appreciate good power efficiency, it’s almost upsetting to see how much wattage any graphics card manages to pull from our walls. Even the lowest-end models don’t seem too impressive when compared to the power efficiency of a CPU, but that’s how it is, at least right now. It’s interesting to see how different GPUs compare in this regard, as some might perform better than others, but use less power, like we normally see with a shift to a smaller process node.
To help see what kind of wattage a given GPU eats on average, we use a Kill-A-Watt that’s plugged into a power bar that’s in turn plugged into one of the wall sockets, with the test system plugged directly into that. The monitor and other components are plugged into the other socket and is not connected to the Kill-A-Watt. For our system specifications, please refer to our methodology page.
Like our temperature testing, the computer is boot up and left idle for ten minutes, at which point the current wattage reading is recorded. To test for full load wattage, 3DMark Vantage is again loaded up and run at the “Extreme” setting. The space flight test is used here, with the result being recorded during a specific sequence during that run where it seems to stress the GPU the most.
Similar to our temperature tests, the GTX+ proved not only to run cooler than the original, but it also sucks less power from the wall, thanks in part to its die shrink. Runs cooler, more power efficient and more powerful? Three things we love to see in any computer component.
When all said and done, ASUS has a quality release with the Dark Knight version of their 9800 GTX+. The GPU itself is already quite capable of handling the most demanding games at nice resolutions, as we’ve seen in our performance reports, and it comes in at a great price to boot. As pointed out earlier in the article, this particular GPU can be had for as low as $160 with the help of a mail-in-rebate, making it an affordable, yet still powerful choice.
As with any GPU purchase though, it’s important to keep an eye out for instant and mail-in-rebates, if you are looking to save some money. Rebates used to be a fad, but now it seems they’re almost a requirement, because at sites like NewEgg, every second GPU seems to carry one. Because of that, it’s very easy to wind up paying more for a lesser product, so keeping your eyes peeled is imperative.
Luckily though, this ASUS card costs no more than the rest of the GTX+ cards I’ve found, especially after taking the MIR into play, so it should undoubtedly be considered if you are on the lookout for such a card. Why you wouldn’t purchase this card is if you are willing to spend a little more money to pick up an HD 4870, which is pretty-well the next step up. This GTX+ beat out the HD 4850 in every one of our results, so there is no competition there, despite that card carrying a similar price tag.
This is a quality GPU, no question about it, but I’d love to see ASUS release the Radeon HD 4870 version of their Dark Knight on these shores, as that’s a GPU that really could take advantage of superb cooling.
- Well-priced (especially after taking advantage of a mail-in-rebate).
- Performs well, better than the Radeon HD 4850.
- Dark Knight cooler looks sweet and does its job well.
- Both temperatures and power consumption is better when compared to original GTX.
- Not much to complain about. Bundle could be a bit better.
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