GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING Video Card Review
Today we review a custom built retail factory overclocked GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING video card. This video card is built to overclock in every way. We'll take this video card, compare it to the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X and overclock the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING to its highest potential. The overclocking potential is amazing.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti video card was released on June 1st, 2015. We began our evaluation with a preview on launch day, going over the specifications and early performance. Immediately our interest was piqued when we discovered just from the preview that performance was very close to GeForce GTX TITAN X levels.
We followed-up with our full evaluation on June 15th of 2015. We discovered with no shadow of a doubt that this $649 video card was performing within 10% of GeForce GTX TITAN X performance. The GeForce GTX TITAN X costs $999.
Amazingly we had a video card that performed close to TITAN X levels of performance, with half the VRAM at 6GB versus 12GB on the TITAN X. It seemed like an amazing deal. Of course, this was just a reference video card and it was yet to see the potential from actual retail custom video cards.
Today we have our first evaluation, and many more to come, of a custom retail video card with a factory overclock and custom cooling. The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING is the pinnacle of GTX 980 Ti offerings from GIGABYTE. It represents the highest factory overclock, and the best potential for overclocking performance. The MSRP is $689.99, but this cost premium over the reference $649 pricing offers you more, and the potential to have a cooler, quieter, and better performing GTX 980 Ti.
GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING Introduction
The official product naming for the video card we are evaluating is GV-N98TG1 GAMING-6GD. On the box, and for simplicities sake, it is called GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING. It is the "G1 GAMING" that sets it apart from the other two models GIGABYTE offers. This video card has an MSRP of $689.99. It is the most expensive model, but there are reasons for that.
GIGABYTE also offers a GV-N98TWF3OC-6GD model and a GV-N98TD5-6GD-B. The former is a custom design but doesn't have as high of a factory overclock as the G1 GAMING. It also has a different cooler design and doesn't use hand-culled GPUs like the G1 GAMING. The latter model is a simple reference design GTX 980 Ti with GIGABYTE box and software.
One big difference between the two custom video cards is the expansion of display output connections, which we will talk about. Naturally, all three models have 6GB of VRAM as that is standard on all GTX 980 Ti video cards.
GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING Information
Since this video card is based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU it shares all the same specs as the reference GPU. It is based on 28nm, has 2816 CUDA Cores, 176 Texture Units, 96 ROPs, 6GB of GDDR5 at 7GHz on a 384-bit bus for 336GB/sec of memory bandwidth. It supports DX12 Feature Level 12.1, SLI, and there are drivers for Windows 10.
Now the specs that differ. The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING model uses two 8-pin power connectors versus one 6-pin and one 8-pin on the reference model. The GIGABYTE video card also carries a factory overclock at 1152MHz Base Clock and 1241MHz Boost Clock. A reference GTX 980 Ti runs at 1000MHz Base Clock and 1075MHz Boost Clock.
As you can see, that is quite a big difference for a factory overclock, so it should perform a lot faster than a reference GTX 980 Ti out-of-the-box. The memory runs at the same 7GHz. There is also a difference in output connectors, with a more expanded option on the GIGABYTE video card explained below. GIGABYTE is also using an 8-phase GPU power design and Ultra Durable graphics card components.
There are many aspects that set the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING apart from a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Let's break down each one.
GPU Gauntlet Sorting - Think of this as hand-culled GPUs that have the best chance of reaching higher clock speeds. That means the "G1 GAMING" version should offer the best overclocking potential out of the GPUs specified for the other two models GIGABYTE offers. If overclocking is your main goal with a GTX 980 Ti, this is the model video card you want.
WINDFORCE 3X Cooling - GIGABYTE has a new WINDFORCE 3X cooling system that is rated up to a heat dissipation capacity of 600W. That means there is plenty of headroom for extreme overclocking with voltage increase.
The fan blades have a unique design that increases air flow by 23%. Triangle Cool Technology is GIGABYTE's own technology that shapes the fins with clip into a triangle shape that supposedly improves cooling performance by 35% by improving efficiency of heat dissipation and minimizing flow for turbulence. Actual fin architecture area is increased by 45%.
There are six composite heat pipes that make up the heatsink. There are five 8mm and one 6mm heat pipes that improve heat dissipation by up to 29%. Though this slide doesn't show it, the heatplate and heatpipes are all copper. The fins on the heatsink are aluminum. This makes the video card heavy, but also better cooled using copper materials.
The front shroud is a full metal fan shroud with stylish coloring. It wraps around the sides of the video card, and the rear as well. On the back is a full back-plate. All of this adds stability to the video card, so even though it is heavy, it won't break in half when you pick it up or have it inside your case with no support.
Fan Stop and Indicators - We put the fan stop and indicator features under its own category since this is a feature in-itself unique to custom video cards only. The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING can completely stop the fans from spinning while idling, or performing light tasks. The fans spin up when the temperature hits a certain level. We experienced that level to be 62c. When the GPU hit 62c the fans turned on.
When the fans are spinning, the "WINDFORCE" LED logo lights up. When the video card's fans are stopped the "Silent" and "STOP" LED logos light up on the edge of the video card. Since video cards are usually fan-side down in cases, this allows you to look throw a windowed case and at once glance see if the fans are spinning or stopped.
GIGABYTE doesn't stop there though. With OC GURU II you can change the color of the "WINDFORCE" LED logo. As you can see in the slide above colors range from white, to yellow, to blue, to purple, to red to green and to light blue. You can select whatever color you want, or leave it on Auto.
Flex Display - One strong point of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti reference design has been its display output options. However, GIGABYTE has expanded upon and given you even more options. A reference GTX 980 Ti has one dual-link DVI-I connector, one HDMI 2.0 connector and three DisplayPort connectors.
The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING expands this to one dual-link DVI-I connector, one dual-link DVI-D connector, one HDMI 2.0 connector and three DisplayPort connectors. This gives gamers greater flexibility in how they need to connect multiple displays to the video card.
The video card supports 4 monitors, and the video card auto-detects the configuration. With the added customization options, it offers more options than the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X with only three DisplayPort connectors and HDMI 1.4.
OC GURU II - OC GURU II is GIGABYTE's overclocking software. It is easy to use, and we will show it on the overclocking page. One thing to note, it allows a very high power target, and it has voltage controls that actually work. What you set, you see in-game.
There are also three GPU Clock modes supported at the click of a button. There is an OC Mode, the "GAMING" mode which is the default mode, and then an ECO Mode. We will talk about this on a following page. The card runs out-of-the-box in the default "GAMING" mode.
GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING Pictures
The exact card size according to GIGABYTE is: H=42mm, L=309mm, W=135 mm. Two 8-pin power connectors are needed.