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MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition Video Card Review

Today we evaluate the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition video card. This video card features a pure copper heatsink geared towards faster heat dissipation and better temps on air than other air cooled video cards. We will compare it to the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING, placing the two video cards head to head in an overclocking shootout.

Introduction

Microstar International (MSI) is a Taiwan-based computer hardware manufacturer founded in 1986. Primarily a designer and manufacturer of PC motherboards, MSI has expanded its business into barebones PCs, servers and workstations, communications devices, consumer electronics, Notebooks, Netbooks, graphics cards, and other various electronic products. Its company motto, "Quality Products Create Faithful Customer," believes its underlying corporate strategy of designing and manufacturing quality devices for various markets and letting its high-quality reputation earn it the trust and respect of electronics consumers worldwide.

On our test bench today is the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition video card.

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The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition is one of many custom video cards we have evaluated based on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti GPU. We have also evaluated the ASUS GTX 980 Ti STRIX DCIII and the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 GAMING. In addition to these, we also reviewed the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING which has LN2 or liquid nitrogen cooling capabilities. Together these three video cards make up the air-cooled GTX 980 Ti model's we have personally inspected.

We also evaluated a liquid cooled MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK which sustained extremely cool temperatures with virtually no noise. We also evaluated this video card at 4K here. The MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK is a little too expensive to use in comparison with the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition, and the unfair advantage of liquid cooling would produce cooler temperatures, less noise, and an extreme overclock. With a price tag of $750 or greater, the more equipped SEA HAWK would dominate.

The appropriate video card to use when comparing the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition in this evaluation is the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING. Each video card from MSI has several unique features that set the two apart. The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition is currently priced at $659 (Up to $669 since our writing.), and you can get an additional $30 back on a rebate card from Newegg which brings your price down to $629. The base price has generally been $699, which puts it in line with the LIGHTNING video card at $707 (Up to $770 since writing!). Prices have fluctuated, it just depends where and when you buy it.


MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition Video Card

The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition ships with a factory overclock. This video cards base GPU frequency is 1140MHz with boost to 1228MHz. We find this increases in-game up to 1329MHz. This is 127MHz faster than a reference 980 Ti. The memory is not factory overclocked, it operates at the standard 7GHz.

Another major feature that really sets the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition aside from the competition is the heatsink. Most heatsinks, including all the 980 Ti's we have reviewed thus far utilize aluminum. This video card is designed with copper. The idea is that copper is one of the better metals as a thermal conductor. Copper doesn't corrode, and it has a high melting point. The transfer of heat through copper is very quick.

The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition utilizes the Twin Frozr V cooling system, which includes two 10cm Torx fans. These fans have alternating fan blades, combining traditional fan blades and dispersion blades that have a raised edge to allow more air intake which is directed at a sharp angle onto the video card to improve airflow.

Part of this advanced cooling system includes the Super SU copper heat pipes that directly contact the GPU and spread across multiple areas on the heat sink. This strategy maximizes even heat distribution across the heatsink. The overall cooling build will ensure low temperatures, but the real key is doing so at a reduced noise compared to the competition. All other air cooled GTX 980 Ti's thus far have 3 fans, while the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition has only two.

MSI also uses top of the line Military Class 4 components, including the DRMOS, Hi-C CAPs, Super Ferrite Chokes, and DARK Caps. These components will drastically improve the video cards lifespan, while ensuring optimal energy distribution on the board. The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition also has a white MSI dragon LED logo along the top edge of the video card.

The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition can be yours for $629.99 after $30 MIR. MSI also offers a 3-year limited parts and 2-year limited labor warranty. You can read more about the MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition here.


MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition Pictures

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The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition ships in a shiny gold box. The video card was well packaged. The accessory package includes a 6-pin to 8-pin power cable and a DVI to VGA dongle, as well as a driver installation CD. When holding it does feel somewhat heavy and will need to be fastened into your case with screws. It feels almost as heavy as the MSI GTX 980 Ti LIGHTNING, but weighs enough less to notice it.

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The MSI GTX 980 Ti GOLDEN Edition has a very intriguing design, with the copper heat pipes and underlying copper heat sink letting off a gold-like hue. It mixes well with the gold paint on the fan housing. The color is more pronounced against the black fan housing, black PCB and backplate. The LED light is located on top of the video card at the white MSI dragon.

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The rear I/O panel houses a dual-link DVI-I connector, an HDMI connector, and 3 display port connectors. MSI recommends only a 600 watt power supply to run this video card properly, and it requires two 8-pin PCIe power connectors. It measures 11 inches in length, 1.5inches wide, and 5.5 inches in height. We dissected the fan housing in order to show you a glimpse of the glittering gold heatsink, or in this case copper.