Nvidia's headlining GeForce 9 series card, the monstrous 9800 GX2, officially launched today. It pulls an old trick out of Nvidia's hat—melding two GPUs onto a single board—so you can actually go quad-SLI for a mere US$1200. It completely crushes ATI's top-of-the-line dual-GPU Radeon HD 3870 X2. But is two times the GPU necessarily two times the awesome?
It's running the same GPU series as the 9600 GT, 8800 GT and 8800 GTS 512MB (not be confused w/ the regular 8800 GTS). Actually when you look closely at the number of shader and stream processors and their clock speeds, it turns out the 9800 GX2 is basically two slightly underclocked 8800 GTS 512MB GPUs strapped together, and this plays out in the virtually indistinguishable benchmarks too.
Here's the rub: The 9800 GX2 is over 600 smackers. You can run two 8800 GT cards in SLI at $200 a pop and get almost the exact same performance for US$200 less. So the real conclusion is that the 8800 GT is still the best card out there for the money. [Hard OCP]