The Gigabyte 9800 GT is the only 9800 GT in our roundup which came with NVIDIA's reference clocks. This means 600MHz for the core, 1800MHz for the memory, and 1500MHz for the shader units aka stream processors. However, the card does come with a Zalman cooler, which should keep the card running cool and give us decent overclocking potential.
This is what the Gigabyte 9800 GT comes with:-
From here on, we are entering overclocking territory. With its GPU core clocked at 700MHz, and its memory and shader units at 2000MHz and 1700MHz respectively, the Zotac is by far the most aggressively overclocked of our trio of overclocked cards. While you can't tell that just by the way it looks (especially as it sports a reference cooler), you can most certainly tell by the way it sounds. The fan is loud, sounding akin to a vacuum cleaner, and it is no doubt hard at work trying to keep the card cool. When it is plugged in, it also gives off a warm orangery glow.
This is what the Zotac GeForce 9800 GT AMP! Edition comes with:-
Next up is Palit's GeForce 9800 GT Sonic, which has its own custom dual-slot cooler. The Palit has a rather unique heatsink, which, we must caution, can be rather sharp at the edges, so handle with care. For the Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic, the core has been tuned to 650MHz, while the memory and shader units are at 1900MHz and 1625MHz.
And these are what we found in the Palit GeForce 9800 GT Sonic:-
Lastly, we have ASUS's EN9800GT Matrix, which belongs to a new line of graphics cards featuring some interesting twists. What we got was an early engineering sample from ASUS and it will only go on retail later this month at the earliest. It boasts a customized hybrid cooler that looks a bit like the ones found on the ATI Radeon HD 4850 and HD 4870 that spun up very loudly at boot up, though it quickly throttled down soon after.
Most importantly, the Matrix also boasts something ASUS calls the "Super Hybrid Engine" which will automatically adjust the voltage and fan speed of the card according to its load, thus saving you power while ensuring sufficient cooling. It will also come with a software utility to allow for adjustments of both clock and fan speeds, together with pre-configured user profiles like automatic overclocking during 3D applications and downclocking while in 2D/idle mode.
The Matrix comes slightly overclocked at default, with its core clocked at 612MHz, memory at 1800MHz and shaders at 1500MHz. ASUS says it can be further overclocked to 750MHz for the core, 2000MHz for the memory and 1753MHz for the shaders, if need be. We'll test it out later to see how true this is.
Since the card is not exactly retail ready at the moment, we cannot confirm the included package, but we expect it to have the usual assortment of cables.