Sparkle 9800 GTX+ With Custom PCB and Cooling Review

Videocards/VGA Reviews by jmke @ 2008-12-03

In time for holiday shopping spree Sparkle launches a custom Geforce 9800 GTX+ which features onboard HDMI and a silent GPU cooling. Can it run the latest games fluently? We test twelve on them to find out.

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Test Setup

Test Setup & Benchmarks

We build our test setups with the help of (Belgian’s Largest Hardware Shop!) who helped us with the hard drives, CPUs and monitors, MSI for the motherboards, OCZ for the memory, Coolermaster for the cases and power supplies and last but not least, Scythe for the silent CPU coolers.

Madshrimps VGA Test Stations

CPU 2x Intel Core 2 E8200 @ 3.375Ghz
Cooling 2x Scythe Ninja 2
Mainboard 2x MSI P45 Platinum
Memory 2 kits of 2 * OCZ 2Gb PC2-8500 Reaper
  • 2x Coolermaster CM690 Enclosure (3*120mm case fans)
  • 2x Coolermaster UCP 900W Power Supply
  • 2x Western Digital 80Gb HDD (system)
  • 2x Samsung 640Gb HDD (Data)

  • At the time of purchase each system we build cost us approximately ~€1200 without the VGA card. While it’s not a budget system, it’s also far from high end as we’re using a DDR2 motherboard and a mid-range Core 2 Duo Wolfdale CPU. Combining it with a €300+ VGA card does place it in the more expensive bracket when it comes down to building a game machine.

    One of the costs for a system is the monitor for sure, the system price mentioned above includes this screen, a SAMSUNG Syncmaster 2493HM 24inch, it has a native resolution of 1920x1200 this screen offers quite low 5ms latency. Again this screen is mid-range as more expensive models are available, but the resolution of most 26”~27” screens remains the same at 1920x1200. You need to invest into a 30” to go higher to 2560x1600 at which point you will be spending a pretty hefty sum.

    Software config:

  • OS: Windows Vista SP1 64-bit
  • NVIDIA Drivers: Forceware 180.48

  • These are the games we tested:

    We tried to expand our list with the latest games and different genres to give you an idea of how the 9800 GTX+ performs.

  • Trackmania Nations
  • Crysis
  • Crysis Warhead
  • World In Conflict
  • Unreal Tournament 3
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Race Driver : GRID
  • Call of Duty 4
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Devil May Cry 4
  • Far Cry 2

  • Benchmark Methodology

    We tested the Sparkle 9800 GTX+ 512Mb against a reference clocked XFX 8800 GTX 768Mb card in the benchmarks mentioned above. Each card was installed in the same hardware setup and we ran each benchmark side by side, especially in games which do not have any build-in benchmark mode this came in very handy as we could reproduce the same game path on both systems, as illustrated in the small movie below:

    We used a VIP-844-BC 4 port PS/2 Keyboard Multicaster, which allows you to control up to 4 PCs simultaneously with one keyboard, for the mouse we used 2 Logitech MX1000 receivers and synchronized one MX1000 with both receivers, with this setup we are able to control both PCs 99% simultaneously. It proved a challenge to set up at first as every window and field in Windows has to match up 100% otherwise you would have to focus on one system each, using a HDD image copy we got a complete setup match and benchmarking could start.

    The venerable Geforce 8800 GTX which can be had for €130~150 if bought second hand is not much cheaper than the Sparkle 9800 GTX + which costs new €160~170; which one is faster? And by how much?
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    Comment from mAlkAv!An @ 2008/12/10
    Nice review, just missing a comparison of the Sparkle cooler and the one with reference design.