Being a gamer has never been so good, and it stands to only get better this summer as AMD and Nvidia continue their GPU chess match. Nvidia went for the checkmate by announcing the new 9800GTX+, which features a die shrink and faster clockspeeds than the original 9800GTX, but AMD was quick to respond by releasing the HD 4850 a week ahead of schedule. Now it appears AMD is telling its graphics board partners to go ahead and overclock the new part, who are all too happy to oblige with a second wave of HD 4850 videocards expected to debut by the second week of July. Combined with the recent rumor that the new 4xxx series GPUs will play nice with last generation's 3xxx series in a CrossFire configuration, could this mean we're finally witnessing a more aggressive AMD? Either way, it's your move, Nvidia.
Owning the performance crown isn't enough; Nvidia wants to rule the mainstream, too. The GPU maker's highly popular G92 core has nearly defined the term 'bang-for-buck,' and Nvidia plans to tweak the core one more time to steal some thunder away from AMD's upcoming Radeon HD 4850. The new 9800 GTX+ will shrink the G92 core from 65nm to 55nm, and push the core, shader, and memory clockspeeds to 738MHz, 1836MHz, and 1000MHz respectively. The new card will retail at $249. And if that wasn't enough, the original 9800 GTX will drop down to $199. In other words, game on, AMD.
If you’re already gaming with a G92-based 8800 GTS, there’s very little reason to move up to a G92-based 9800 GTX such as PNY’s XLR8. The architecture in both GPUs is nearly the same, with 128 stream processors, a 256-bit interface, and 512MB of GDDR3. Slightly faster clock speeds yield only a modest bump in performance. That’s not to say the 9800 brings nothing to the table, but you’ll have to decide for yourself whether its offerings are worth the price.