A Review of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti 4K-capable Graphics Processor Unit
For at least the past year or so, the undisputed king of high-performance PC gaming GPUs has definitely been Nvidia, and one of their most powerful lines of game processing units has without a doubt been the GTX line. Since September of 2014, the very top of the GTX line has been the GTX GeForce 980, but now that has changed, with the very recent introduction of the 980 Ti.
This latest in the legendary Nvidia line of GPUs is a total powerhouse that offers wide range of specs for not only hardcore Full HD gaming but also even for some very serious gameplay at full 4K resolution. In fact, it’s been built with this in mind. The 980 Ti is so good, that it even almost gives Nvidia’s own absolute top performing GPU, the Titan X, a run for its money. Let’s take a look.
Even by the high standards of Nvidia’s GPUs, the 980 Ti is a superb graphics card. This machine is the current most powerful member of the entire GTX line and uses a fantastic Maxwell 2 chip architecture to cram in the transistors while utilizing only half the power of older GTX cards like the 780 and before.
Furthermore, in terms of overall performance, the 980 Ti combines most (by a very high percentage) of the best performance features of the Titan X while running more smoothly, quietly and at lower temperatures than anything from any competitor brand, even AMD’s Radeon cards.
Finally, as far as 4K gaming --the absolute highest metric of graphics performance-- goes, the GTX 980 Ti is almost unbeatable and even features an HDMI 2.0 port for connectivity between PC and the card at the 60 Hz refresh rate that 4K deserves.
4.3 - 7 Reviews
Speaking honestly, the only bad thing to be found about the GeForce GTX 980 Ti is that it isn’t the even better Titan X. And even in this regard it comes bloody close. As far as any objective measure of performance relative to other current technologies goes, the 980 Ti can’t be called a crappy GPU in any important regard.
If you want to enjoy your 4K and Full HD PC games in a serious way with what is in effect the second best GPU in the world right now, then the 980 Ti is your choice. Furthermore, it’s a surprisingly affordable piece of hardware.
• CUDA Cores: 2816
• Texture Units: 176
• ROPs: 96
• Core Clock: 1000MHz
• Boost Clock: 1075MHz
• Memory Clock: 7GHz GDDR5
• Memory Bus Width: 384-bit
• VRAM: 6GB
• FP64: 1/32 FP32
• TDP: 250W
• GPU: GM200
• Architecture: Maxwell 2
• Transistors: 8B
• Manufacturing Process: TSMC 28nm
Given the effort put into making the GeForce GTX 980 Ti such an awesome GPU, highlights abound about the card.
For starters, it offers an excellent connectivity setup as part of its construction. This includes 3 Display Port 1.2 outputs, a single dual-link DVI output and an HDMI 2.0 connector. This last port is particularly interesting because it offers the option of rendering 4K content via HDMI at 60Hz, something not possible with HDMI 1.4 ports. Furthermore, the 980 Ti is one of only a small few cards –all from Nvidia—that offer HDMI 2.0.
Furthermore, the 980 Ti has enough internal horsepower to really push out the visual graphics and can even support several displays at the same time (in HD, not in 4K). This means that it comes with Nvidias 3D Vision Surround technology and is also ready for Nvidia’s G-Sync render matching technology in whichever PCs happen to have G-Sync installed.
Finally, we should mention that the cooling hardware of the 980 Ti is top notch and offers a performance that’s quite a bit better than what you’d find in competing AMD GPUs. Not only does it cool better than many other cards, it also does it with much less noise and with a much lower level of power consumption. This is thanks to a large vapor chamber with a densely packed aluminum finstack and a large, rear-mounted barrel-like fan with adjustable fan curves.
Other aspects of the cooling system’s design are geared towards minimizing whine and other noise as much as possible, even under heavy processing loads.
4.3 - 7 Reviews
The GTX 980 Ti takes things beyond the slightly weak specs of the original GTX 980 and offers a total of 2816 CUDA cores that run at a nominal clock speed of 1000MHz but which can be boosted to 1075MHz. Furthermore, it offers a total of 96 ROP units and a memory data rate of 7Gbps.
On top of these performance specs, the 980 Ti gives you a GDDR5 RAM of just over 6GB. This isn’t as impressive as the 12GB of the Nvidia Titan X but it does still go well beyond the 4GB of the original Nvidia 980 or the 3GB of the Nvidia 780 Ti, both of which can be considered direct predecessors of the 980 TI.
In terms of benchmarks for noise, boost voltage, power consumption, average clock speeds and temperature, the GTX 980 Ti performs well in both objective terms and against a number of comparable GPUs.
Starting with boost voltage, the 980 Ti manages at 1.187v, which compares well to the 1.162v of the Titan X and the 1.225v of the older GTX 980. On the other hand, when it comes to power consumption in watts, the 980 Ti performs variably depending on the heftiness of the game being played. For some lighter games, a power consumption of between 380 and 390 watts is the case while average power consumption in a completely idle state sits at 74 to 75 watts.
This is a lot better than what AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 295X2 manages with an idle power consumption of 98 watts and active gaming consumption of between 680 and 697 watts.
Noise-wise, the 980 Ti performs superbly at an average idle level of just 37 decibels –compared to the 42.6 of the Radeon R9 295X2—but its active use decibel level of 52 very slightly underperforms the 50 decibels of AMD’s flagship GPU.
In terms of average clock speeds, the 980 Ti is interesting in that it trails the superior Titan X by just a tiny percentage points despite its weaker overall technical specs. Thus, when used with a wide variety of intensive games like Battlefield 4 a clock speed of 1139MHz in the 980 Ti comes close to the 1088MHz clockspeed of the Titan X with the same game.
Finally, when it comes to temperature, we again see excellent performance in the 980 Ti. Under idle running conditions, it sticks to about 32 degrees Celsius (the same as the temp of AMD’s flagship GPU and of several of the more recent Nvidia cards) and during active gameplay of a game like Crysis 3, the 980 Ti reaches a temperature of about 83 degrees.
One of the most crucial aspects of the GTX 980’s performance for a lot of gamers will be seeing how the graphics card does when it comes to effective 4K gaming. In this regard the 980 Ti comes very very close to what the Nvidia Titan X is capable of.
To make what could easily be a very long summary of game performance metrics short, the GTX 980 Ti is a beast of a performer as far as current GPUs with 4K capability go. It doesn’t do quite as well as the Titan X or even the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 on some high intensity games but for even many truly top of the line 4K games, the 980 Ti does manage to come close to delivering 4K rendering at almost the full 60 Hz that are part of its design specs as long as 4K detail settings are kept to a high, or medium setting. Under medium settings, high intensity games like “Dragon Age: Inquisition” or “Metro Last Light Redux” can be managed at frame rates of above 60Hz and even under “high” resolution settings the 980 Ti can reach 40 or more Hz.
On the other hand, none of the currently available serious 4K-capable games offer much more than 20 to 25Hz refresh rates under 4K resolution settings set at “ultra” detail levels when played with either the GTX 980 Ti, the Titan X or the Radeon R9 295X2.
Pricewise, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti is a very unique offer in the world of performance GPUs. It’s retailing for $649 right now, just days after its initial release and costs nearly $300 less than the Titan X, despite delivering nearly the same level of performance.
4.3 - 7 Reviews
• Nearly the same performance as Nvidia’s Top GPU
• Excellent clockspeed
• Low running temperature
• A+ refresh rate at medium and high 4K detail settings
• Power efficient
• Great price
• HDMI 2.0 port included
• AMD Radeon R9 295X2 superior in some regards
• Can’t handle 4K at max resolution well