Nvidia talks GeForce 9800 GT, 9500 GT specs, branding

On Tuesday, two "new" Nvidia graphics cards slipped out into the wild: the GeForce 9800 GT and GeForce 9500 GT. We noted that the former’s specifications were essentially identical to those of the older GeForce 8800 GT, and readers commented that the 9500 GT looked awfully similar to the older 8600 GT, as well.

Wary of marketing trickery, we dropped Nvidia a line to ask for some details about the new cards. Two days later, we finally have our answer.

According to Nvidia Technical Marketing Director Nick Stam, the GeForce 9800 GT is indeed "very much similar" to the 8800 GT in "nearly all tech specs." There are two exceptions, however. The 9800 GT has optional HybridPower support, which—if Nvidia partners choose to release cards with the feature enabled—allows compatible motherboards to switch between discrete and integrated GPUs to save power. Also, Stam says the 9800 GT features a 65nm graphics chip today, but it will eventually see a shrink to 55nm with "no [difference] in [performance] between the two processes." 9800 GT pricing should range from $125 to $149—roughly where the 8800 GT lies today.

In passing, Stam had some interesting comments about why Nvidia essentially opted to re-introduce the 8800 GT under a different name ten months later:

When we first came out with our G92-based 8800 GT, the timing wasn’t right to introduce a whole new 9-series. We didn’t have all the pieces of a 9-series line-up at that time, so we went with the brand of 8800 GT. Having rolled out a top-to-bottom 9 series over the last few quarters, this is now the right timing for 9800 GT branding.

But what about the GeForce 9500 GT? Like the 9800 GT, this card is launching with a 65nm graphics processor, but Nvidia will eventually swap that GPU out for a 55nm die-shrink. Stam didn’t reveal what GPU the card uses, but according to the official reviewer’s guide, the chip packs 314 million transistors. That’s a few more than the 289 million in the 80nm G84 GPU that powers the GeForce 8600 GT.

Official Nvidia benchmarks in the reviewer’s guide suggest the 9500 GT is about 17% faster on average than the 8600 GT. That’s not entirely surprising, considering the 9500 GT does have a 10MHz core speed advantage, 210MHz shader speed edge, and 100MHz-higher memory speed than the 8600 GT (if you look at the 9500 GT flavors with GDDR3 memory, at least).

Comments closed
    • swaaye
    • 11 years ago

    9500GT is a hopped-up 8600. Power usage is down a good bit, and performance up nicely too. However, I consider the 9600GT the starting point for those who want to play 3D games in any significant way. They are slipping under the $100 mark now.

    • xtremevarun
    • 11 years ago

    well techreport, where is the 9800gt review?please do so,even if we know that it’s practically a mirror image of 8800gt

    • deruberhanyok
    • 11 years ago

    Mmmmm. That marketing spin is /[

    • billyconnection
    • 11 years ago

    I was losing hope with all the name changing a long time ago. The past year has been extremely hopeless for Nvidia. Cards just kept coming out that couldn’t beat the 8800gtx. And now, wooptee doo, the 280… the 9800xgx2 beats it in some cases. I remember when everyone was really mad that the gx2 was not much of a performance gain over the 8800. Not to mention the NOW obvious price gouging going on by Nvidia when the 280 came out, thanks to ATi. I cant believe Nvidia is pulling outrageous marketing schemes and suckering computer noobs so bad. A backlash is in order, my fellow geeky gamers.

    I held out for a while with my gts320. Recently bought a 8800gt to plan to SLi it, and now look, theyre gonna take the 8800 of the shelf soon to change the freaking name. Ive been a follower, now Im going to buy an ATi just to stick it to them. HEAR ME NVIDIA!

    • cobalt
    • 11 years ago

    Newegg claims this one has “HyperPower” — maybe that’s just a typo?
    §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125227<]§ (edit: sorry, meant to be reply to #14)

      • pogsnet
      • 11 years ago
      • Xenolith
      • 11 years ago

      Very cool, thanks. Now I need that HyperPower ready Motherboard. Nvidia 8300 chipset appears to be one.

        • Xenolith
        • 11 years ago

        Crap, getting my branding mixed up. I should be saying hybridpower.

          • cobalt
          • 11 years ago

          I’ve never heard of “HyperPower” (and a google search turned up little except for that product on newegg). So maybe it actually was supposed to say “HybridPower” and someone just messed up.

    • Xenolith
    • 11 years ago

    When are the first hybridpower cards going to hit the streets. Can’t find any on Newegg.

    • Forge
    • 11 years ago

    Oopsie, eVGA launched these over 24 hours ago. Specs and all.

    Entertainingly, the 9800GT BIOS flashes onto the 8800GT I have cleanly. It works exactly like it should. That kills most of the uses I have for it (OSX86 and Linux) so I rolled it back, but AFAICT these ‘new features’ are software checkboxes only.

    9800GT == 8800GT. 9800GT+ isn’t available yet. Hybridpower = 8800GT + BIOS flash. This is nothing new.

    I’m disappointed at NV for this 9800GT garbage, but at least the 9500 seems to be an at least partially new chip.

      • blubje
      • 11 years ago

      Where did you manage to get the BIOS. I couldn’t find it for download on their site.

    • Peffse
    • 11 years ago

    There goes my chance of getting a 9800GT. I wanted a 55nm version, and from the look of it, I’m not gonna be able to tell what’s what.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 11 years ago

    When they refer to the number of transistors in a chip, are they refering to the total number the chip contains, or only the ones that are “turned on” for that particular model? Do they just make some mammoth chip and bin them or do they actually have 3-4 different versions of a given generation (versions in this context refering to an actual difference in total transistors, not just ones that are active).

    Edit: “optional HybridPower support” could just be a checkbox in a driver if the chips themselves are technically identical.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 11 years ago

      Your first question is only one NV can answer. As for the second question, generally there are a few GPUs and they are further market-segmented by disabling certain parts. This also has the advantage of scavenging what might otherwise be a failed part by selling it as a lower-end part.

        • DrDillyBar
        • 11 years ago

        This I agree is a sensible practice, but isn’t the question really.

      • homerdog
      • 11 years ago

      Every chart I’ve ever seen lists the total number of transistors in the chip, regardless of what has been deactivated.

    • Flying Fox
    • 11 years ago

    When they do get the 55nm 9500GTs out I expect them to be passively cooled. Having no passively cooled low-end product is unacceptable.

      • Xenolith
      • 11 years ago

      There are passive cooled 9600 GT cards… so what’s the gripe?

        • Flying Fox
        • 11 years ago

        9500GT is supposed to be the new low end, and the previous gen 8400/8500GTs did not have a lot of passively cooled versions.

    • ColdMist
    • 11 years ago

    As I’m not really interested in nVidia chipsets, HybridPower won’t be a viable option.

    If you have onboard video, + a 280SLI setup driving 2 monitors, how would that work anyway?

    • Mystic-G
    • 11 years ago

    I’m confused, how the hell is Nvidia making profit with all the video cards they’re offering? There can’t be THAT many buyers to account for the current card line-up they have from the G92 chip.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 11 years ago

      That’s part of the problem. They’re just trying to sucker people in at this point.

      Unless you REALLY keep up with this stuff, if you go to a store and see an 8800GT and a 9800GT, what are you going to assume? Or an 8800GS compared to a 9600GSO, 9600GT compared to probably any 8000 series card, and so on and so forth.

      And to top it off, for people who DO keep up with it at least a little, they’ll basically be mixing together old 65nm and new 55nm GPUs. Some people will undoubtedly buy the relabeled ones thinking they’re already 55nm, or at least hoping to get one, but there’s no telling when that will be. They wouldn’t have bothered relabeling the current ones if they were selling quickly and there weren’t a lot sitting around…

    • Jigar
    • 11 years ago

    If you can’t take down the competition with anything new, Just reintroduce the old product with new name and flood the market with mix bag .. In the end customers are going to get confused…

    Nvidia’s marketing team has been working a lot this days…

    BTW i still have one question.. If this is the same chip ? do we get the HybridPower feature in 8800GT ???

    EDIT: just re-read the line, if Nvidia partner supports it. 🙁

      • cobalt
      • 11 years ago

      According to Fudzilla (yeah, I know) — HybridPower support *is* the way to tell between the 55nm and 65nm version of the chip. I have no idea how to confirm this, but I do see the ‘egg has at least one with HybridPower if anyone’s interested.

      • ImSpartacus
      • 11 years ago

      No, the 8800GT is still an 8800GT.

      I almost thought the 9800GT would be OK, not good but OK. Throw a 55nm process, tri SLI support and some more stuff in there and it would be ok. Just a souped up 8800GT.

      The 9800GT may eventually be that souped up 8800GT, but I doubt it.

      There is no reason for nVidia to have waited this long to release the 9800GT. If it is just an 8800GT with some more features, then it should’ve been out with the 9800GTX.

      By the time we get a consistent 55nm 9*00 series, AMD will get more stuff out and at cheaper prices. The 4850 will only get cheaper, the 9800GT can’t go down /[

      • Flying Fox
      • 11 years ago

      ATI did that when they renamed the 8500 to 9200.

        • seeker010
        • 11 years ago

        no, 9200 was rv280, a modified version of the rv200 to support agp 8x. You’re thinking of the 9100, which was a renamed 8500LE. But by that time full 8500 were pretty hard to find, and at least 9100 > 9000 in many performance aspects at the time.

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