Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce Review

f you have £600 burning a hole in your pocket then perhaps today’s review product may interest you. The Gigabyte GTX980 Ti XTREME Gaming is a custom, heavily overclocked graphics card which features a semi passive three fan ‘Windforce’ cooler. With a 12+2 Phase Power implementation and proprietary backplate, the XTREME has been clearly designed to push frame rates as high as possible.
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The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce is a hefty beast of a card – shipping with an all metal enclosure incorporating three large bladed fans – Gigabyte claim this cooler can cope with 700W of heat. Gigabyte have also adopted a LN2 mode switch on the PCB to unlock voltage and power limits – this is supplemented with an additional power connector.
GPUGeForce GTX960Geforce GTX970GeForce GTX980Geforce GTX 980 TiGeforce GTX Titan X
Streaming Multiprocessors813162224
CUDA Cores10241664204828163072
Base Clock1126 mhz1050 mhz1126 mhz1000 mhz1000 mhz
GPU Boost Clock1178 mhz1178 mhz1216 mhz1075 mhz1076 mhz
Total Video memory2GB4GB4GB6GB12GB
Texture Units64104128176192
Texture fill-rate72.1 Gigatexels/Sec109.2 Gigatexels/Sec144.1 Gigatexels/Sec176 Gigatexels/Sec192 Gigatexels/Sec
Memory Clock7010 mhz7000 mhz7000 mhz7000 mhz7000 mhz
Memory Bandwidth112.16 GB/sec224 GB/s224 GB/sec336.5 GB/sec336.5 GB/sec
Bus Width128bit256bit256bit384bit384bit
ROPs3256649696
Manufacturing Process28nm28nm28nm28nm28nm
TDP120 watts145 watts165 watts250 watts250 watts
The Nvidia GTX980 Ti ships with 2816 CUDA cores and 22 SM units. The memory subsystem of the GTX980 Ti consists of six 64-bit memory controllers (384-bit) with 6GB of GDDR5 memory.
The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce has received a clock boost over Nvidia’s reference card, with final speeds set at 1,216mhz (core)/1,317mhz (boost). The memory is boosted from reference speeds of 1,753mhz (7Gbps effective) to 1,800 mhz (7,2Gbps effective).
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For the last couple of weeks we have been retesting many graphics cards with the latest AMD and Nvidia drivers and have made the switch to the 64 bit Windows 10 operating system as well. We compare the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce against a plethora of high end solutions, including, but not limited to the AMD Fury X, Nvidia Titan X, Nvidia Titan Z, AMD R9 295X2, Nvidia GTX980 Ti, AMD R9 390X and AMD R9 390.
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The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce box artwork is rather bland, with a primary focus placed on the ‘Xtreme Gaming’ logo. The rear of the box highlights various aspects of the technology.
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The bundle includes a wrist band, power converter cable, case badge, software and literature.
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The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce is a large card – predominately black with minor while/silver accenting. It incorporates a substantial backplate on the rear of the PCB, shown above. The Windforce 3X cooler is rated to be able to cope with up to 700 watts of heat.
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The middle fan spins in a clockwise direction, opposite to the other two fans. This apparently optimises air flow to help dissipate heat more effectively. The fans remain off when the GPU is idle or under light low conditions. There are LED indicators on the fans to hint at the fan status. Fitted inside a normal ATX case they can be difficult to see however.
The ‘Windforce’ name on the card is lit by an RGB illuminated LED.
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This LED can be controlled via the OC GURU II utility software included on the disc, or available from Gigabyte’s website.
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The card takes power from two 8 pin PCIe power connectors, shown above. Gigabyte have added smart power LED indicators close to the PCI E connectors. If the lights are always on then the power is fine, if they are flashing then the power is unstable, or the PCI e connector is not inserted properly.
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On the PCB there is an additional 8 pin PCIe power connector next to an LN2 Bios switch – perfect if you are using liquid nitrogen and want to break benchmark records. The rest of us will never touch this.
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The Gigabyte card ships with a single DVI-D port. There are three DisplayPorts 1.2 and a single HDMI 2.0 port along the bottom of the I/O plate. If you wish, you can use all these ports at the same time for triple monitor gaming. HDMI 2.0 is supported, so you are able to get 60hz at 4K resolutions, without the need for any adapters.
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The Windforce cooler is comprised of six thick heatpipes which run into a copper base on one side and two separate racks of aluminum fins on the other.
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This card is an 12+2 Phase power design and Gigabyte say they have applied a ‘breathable aerospace grade coating’ to shield against moisture, dust and corrosion. They even seem to claim that this may protect against ‘watercooling leaks’ (see image above which was taken from Gigabyte ‘media kit’ literature).
In the literature we received from Gigabyte, Titan X grade chokes and capacitors are used on this PCB to provide ‘extreme durability’. These capacitors are said to provide a longer lifespan than those traditionally fitted to a standard GTX980 Ti.
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An overview of the hardware in the latest version of GPUz. This overclocked GM200 core runs at 1,216mhz with a boost speed set at 1,317mhz and is built on the 28nm process. The GTX980 Ti has 96 ROPs, 176 Texture units (Titan X has 192 texture units) and 2,816 CUDA Cores (Titan X has 3,072 CUDA Cores). The 6GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 1800mhz (7.2Gbps effective) and is connected via a 384 bit memory interface.
We wanted to make time to test the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce at both reference clock speeds and when overclocked to the limit.
overclocking
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Even though the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce is massively overclocked ‘out of the box’ we managed to push the core by close to another 9% before instability would occur. The GDDR5 memory responded well to our overclocking tests, hitting 2,003mhz (8Gbps effective) before artifacting would cause problems.
On this page we present some high resolution images of the product taken with a Canon 1DX and Canon 28-70mm F2.8 lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source.
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We have been retesting a slew of graphics cards over previous weeks, focusing on new Nvidia and AMD drivers (AMD Catalyst 15.8 and Nvidia Forceware 358.50). We have also selected some new game sections to benchmark during our ‘real world runs’.
Additionally, even though it is not close to being finished, we wanted to include some findings from an early access build of the (Windows 10) Direct X 12 capable Ashes of The Singularity by Stardock (website HERE) – this uses the Nitrous game engine. We are confident this is not an indication of how the game will run when it reaches retail at a future date, but still, it is interesting to showcase today. You can buy it from STEAM, over HERE.
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If you want to read more about our test system, or are interested in buying the same Kitguru Test Rig, check out our article with links on this page. We are using an Asus PB287Q 4k and Apple 30 inch Cinema HD monitor for this review today.
If you have other suggestions please email me directly at zardon(at)kitguru.net.
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Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming (1,216mhz core /1,319mhz boost /1800mhz memory) & (1330mhz core /1431 boost /2003mhz memory)
Comparison Cards on test:
ASUS Strix R9 380X DirectCU II OC (1,030 mhz core / 1,425 mhz memory)
Asus ROG Matrix GTX980 Ti Platinum Edition (1,216 mhz core / 1,800 mhz memory)
PowerColor Radeon R9 390 PCS+ (1,010 mhz core / 1,500 mhz memory) & (1,150 mhz core / 1,693 mhz memory).
Sapphire R9 295X2 (1,018 mhz core / 1,250mhz memory)
AMD Fury X
 (1,050 mhz core / 500 mhz memory)
Nvidia GTX Titan Z (706 mhz core / 1,753 mhz memory)
Nvidia GTX Titan X (1,000 mhz core / 1,753 mhz memory)
Asus GTX980 Strix (1,178 mhz core / 1,753 mhz memory)
Nvidia GTX980 Ti (1000 mhz core / 1,753 mhz memory)
Palit GTX970 (1,051 mhz core / 1,753 mhz memory)
Sapphire R9 390X Tri-X 8GB (1,055 mhz core / 1,500 mhz memory)
Sapphire R9 390 Nitro 8GB (1,010 mhz core / 1,500 mhz memory)
Sapphire R9 380 Nitro 4GB (985 mhz core / 1,450 mhz memory)
Palit GTX960 Super JetStream (1,279 mhz core / 1,800 mhz memory)
Software:
Windows 10 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark 11
3DMark
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Games:
Ashes Of the Singularity DX12 mode (early access build)
Grid AutoSport
Tomb Raider
Grand Theft Auto 5
Metro 2033 Redux
We perform under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Game descriptions edited with courtesy from Wikipedia.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista. The benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
3dmark11
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The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming delivers killer results in this benchmark, especially when manually overclocked to the limit – only 1,500 points behind the dual GPU R9 295X2.
3dmark 11 extreme
3dmark11x3dmark 11 x oc
When manually overclocked to the limit, the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming manages to claim top spot, ahead of the R9 295X2.
3DMark is an essential tool used by millions of gamers, hundreds of hardware review sites and many of the world’s leading manufacturers to measure PC gaming performance.
Futuremark say “Use it to test your PC’s limits and measure the impact of overclocking and tweaking your system. Search our massive results database and see how your PC compares or just admire the graphics and wonder why all PC games don’t look this good.
To get more out of your PC, put 3DMark in your PC.”
3dmark
3dmark3dmark oc
The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming outperforms the Titan Z and Titan X, even at the out of the box clock speeds. When manually overclocked it can’t quite touch the dual GPU R9 295X2.
3dmark ultra
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Another very strong indicator of the class leading performance, especially when manually overclocked – almost 5,000 points in this benchmark at 4K is a very commendable score.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk. Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
unigine heaven setts
We test at 2560×1440 with quality setting at ULTRA, Tessellation at NORMAL, and Anti-Aliasing at x2.
unigine heaven
heaven 2015-11-19 14-23-49-81heaven 2015-11-20 09-40-55-30
The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming scores well in this tessellation heavy benchmark, especially when manually overclocked – averaging over 100 frames per second.
Grid Autosport (styled as GRID Autosport) is a racing video game by Codemasters and is the sequel to 2008′s Race Driver: Grid and 2013′sGrid 2. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on June 24, 2014. (Wikipedia).
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We test at 2560×1440 with 8xMSAA and with the ‘ULTRA’ profile enabled.
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This isn’t a particularly demanding engine, and as such we can consider the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming to be completely overkill – unless you want to maintain 120 frames per second on a high refresh gaming monitor.Grid Autosport (styled as GRID Autosport) is a racing video game by Codemasters and is the sequel to 2008′s Race Driver: Grid and 2013′s Grid 2. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on June 24, 2014. (Wikipedia).
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We test at 3840×2160 with 8xMSAA and with the ‘ULTRA’ profile enabled.
grid autosport 4k
At Ultra HD 4K, the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming averages almost 100 frames per second after the manual clock enhancements. Great results.
Tomb Raider received much acclaim from critics, who praised the graphics, the gameplay and Camilla Luddington’s performance as Lara with many critics agreeing that the game is a solid and much needed reboot of the franchise. Much criticism went to the addition of the multiplayer which many felt was unnecessary. Tomb Raider went on to sell one million copies in forty-eight hours of its release, and has sold 3.4 million copies worldwide so far. (Wikipedia).
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We test at 1440p with the ‘ULTIMATE’ image quality profile selected.
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This is a very demanding engine, which you might not think when looking at the average frame rates from the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming.Tomb Raider received much acclaim from critics, who praised the graphics, the gameplay and Camilla Luddington’s performance as Lara with many critics agreeing that the game is a solid and much needed reboot of the franchise. Much criticism went to the addition of the multiplayer which many felt was unnecessary. Tomb Raider went on to sell one million copies in forty-eight hours of its release, and has sold 3.4 million copies worldwide so far. (Wikipedia).
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We test at 3840×2160 (4K) with the ‘ULTIMATE’ image profile selected. We normally reduce the image quality profile to ‘ULTRA’ at this resolution, but we decided to keep it at the highest image quality possible.
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At Ultra HD 4k, you really do want a GTX980 ti, Titan or Fury GPU to get the most from this engine.
Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure game played from either a first-person or third-person view. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story.
Outside of missions, players can freely roam the open world. Composed of the San Andreas open countryside area and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world of Grand Theft Auto V is much larger in area than earlier entries in the series.
The world may be fully explored from the beginning of the game without restrictions, although story progress unlocks more gameplay content. (Wikipedia).
We maximised every slider – FXAA was enabled, although we left all other Anti Aliasing settings disabled – based on reader feedback from previous reviews. ‘Ignore Suggested Limits’ was turned ‘ON’.
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We found some intensive sections of the Grand Theft Auto 5 world and tested each card multiple times to confirm accuracy. The game demanded around 3.5GB of GPU memory at 1440p and just over 4GB at 4K.
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A silky smooth gaming experience at 1440p, averaging over 80 frames per second.Grand Theft Auto V is an action-adventure game played from either a first-person or third-person view. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story.
Outside of missions, players can freely roam the open world. Composed of the San Andreas open countryside area and the fictional city of Los Santos, the world of Grand Theft Auto V is much larger in area than earlier entries in the series.
The world may be fully explored from the beginning of the game without restrictions, although story progress unlocks more gameplay content. (Wikipedia).
We maximised every slider – FXAA was enabled, although we left all other Anti Aliasing settings disabled – based on reader feedback from previous reviews. ‘Ignore Suggested Limits’ was turned ‘ON’.
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We found some intensive sections of the Grand Theft Auto 5 world and tested each card multiple times to confirm accuracy. The game demanded around 3.5GB of GPU memory at 1440p and just over 4GB at 4K.
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At these settings this is a demanding engine to power smoothly. The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming averages 47 frames per second, and 50 frames per second when overclocked.Metro 2033 Redux is a remake of the original game, with enhanced graphics. We often test with Metro Last Light Redux, but decided to mix things around for this review today. We test at 2560×1440 with the following settings: Quality-Very High, SSAA-off, Texture Filtering-16x, Motion Blur-Normal, Tessellation-Normal, Advanced Physx-off.
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The GTX980 Ti gives the best results in this test, and the overclocked Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming pushes the frame rates even higher- even past the R9 295X2.
Metro 2033 Redux is a remake of the original game, with enhanced graphics. We often test with Metro Last Light Redux, but decided to mix things around for this review today. We test at 2560×1440 with the following settings: Quality-Very High, SSAA-off, Texture Filtering-16x, Motion Blur-Normal, Tessellation-Normal, Advanced Physx-off.
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When manually overclocked, the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming is the only card to maintain a constant 30+ frames per second at all times.
Ashes Of The Singularity is still in the early phases of development, although you can buy it from STEAM as an ‘early access’ game overHERE. This game has a Direct X 12 mode available, if you are using Windows 10. We don’t expect our results today will be indicative of the engine performance when the final game is released in the future, but it is interesting to include as an additional test.
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We test at 3840×2160 with the ‘Crazy’ Profile enabled, but with Anti Aliasing disabled.
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The manual overclock helps drive the all batches average result to 29.1 – ahead of the Titan X and top of the chart.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 23c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
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The triple fan cooler performs well, holding gaming temperatures at 64c in our environment. Surprisingly, the cooler doesn’t perform at the same level as the dual fan cooling system fitted to the Asus ROG Matrix Platinum GTX980 Ti. The core on the ASUS ROG card runs at 5c less at all times.
We install the graphics card into our system and measure temperatures on the back of the PCB with our Fluke Visual IR Thermometer/Infrared Thermal Camera. This is a real world running environment playing Tomb Raider for extended periods of time.
Details shown below.
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The backplate works very well, leveling out the PCB temperatures. Most of the backplate is running at around 60c under load, however there are a couple of hotspots close to the heatsink areas – peaking at 67c. Still very impressive results.
We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with almost completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation. Ambient noise in the room measures close to the limits of our sound meter at 28dBa. Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum
noise
The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming is audible but never too intrusive. The Asus ROG Matrix GTX980 Ti Platinum that we reviewed recently however is a little quieter under load. Asus really did nail their profile and cooler design on that specific card.
On a positive note, the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce exhibits no coil whine, even under specific stress loaded conditions.
We measure power consumption from the whole system when idle and when gaming, excluding the monitor.
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Under gaming load, the system demands 352 watts from the socket. The Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming demands a little less power than the Asus ROG Matrix Platinum GTX980 Ti (around 13 watts under load).
If you have £600 in hand and want to upgrade your graphics card then the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce deserves serious consideration. If you have recently bought a new high refresh 1440p monitor or 4K screen, then the GTX980 Ti is still the most powerful solution available on the market.
Regular readers will know that I rate the Fury X and Fury cards quite highly, however the modified, custom, overclocked GTX980 Ti widely available now from Nvidia partners are in a performance league of their own.
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Our tests today have highlighted that the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce delivers class leading performance and can drive insane frame rates at the highest resolutions. Many gamers would be happy with these Ultra HD 4K frame rates in many of the newest titles, although some engines will ideally demand two in SLi for super smooth 50+ frame rates – at maxed out image quality settings.
We recently reviewed the ASUS ROG Matrix GTX980 Ti Platinum Edition (review HERE) and while their cooling system only adopts a dual fan configuration, the cooler itself incorporates thicker heatpipes. This means the ASUS card is actually able to perform better – exhibiting lower temperatures and less noise under sustained load. That said, it is £60 more expensive than the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming solution, so you could argue that the benefits balance out.
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Buy the Gigabyte GTX980Ti XTREME Gaming Windforce from Overclockers UK for £599.99 inc vat HERE.
Discuss on our Facebook page, over HERE.
Pros:
  • class leading performance.
  • 12+2 Phase Power.
  • quality backplate.
  • good running temperatures.
  • even more headroom available via software.
  • 2,000mhz+ (8Gbps effective) available from the GDDR5 memory.
  • very high grade build quality.
  • zero coil whine.
Cons:
  • The Asus ROG Matrix GTX980 Ti Platinum is the best GTX980 ti we have tested, but it is also the most expensive.
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