The NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti graphics cards recently hit the market with a lot of fanfare, and early returns show great performance, excellent power efficiency, and a good deal of overclocking potential. Today, we’ll have a look at the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming, which comes factory overclocked and topped off with their Windforce 3X 600W cooling solution. Sitting at the top of GIBABYTE’s GTX 980 Ti offerings, we should see excellent performance out of this graphics card, so let’s go find out!
Specifications and Features
The specifications below were plucked from GIGABYTE’s product page, where we can see the OC Mode overclock is 190 MHz above the reference design with the memory left at the reference speed of 7010 MHz effective. When using the OC Mode setting, our testing showed the actual boost clock to be 1404 MHz when the card is under load. The card features 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, which sits on a 384-bit bus. GIGABYTE breaks away from the reference design’s I/O by adding an additional DVI-D port, which is part of their Flex Display feature. To power the card, you’ll need a pair of 8-pin PCI-E power leads.
|GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Specifications|
|Chipset||GeForce GTX 980 Ti|
|Core Clock||Boost:1279 / Base: 1190 MHz in OC Mode
Boost:1241 / Base: 1152 MHz in Gaming Mode
|Memory Clock||7010 MHz|
|Process Technology||28 nm|
|Memory Size||6 GB|
|Card Bus||PCI-E 3.0|
|Digital max resolution||4096 X 2160|
|Analog max resolution||2048 x 1536|
|I/O||Dual-link DVI-I / DVI-D / DisplayPort*3 / HDMI*1|
|Card size||H=42mm, L=309mm, W=135 mm
H=1.65 in, L=12.16 in, W=5.31 in
|Power requirement||600W(with two 8-pin external power connectors)|
GPU-Z confirms what we see above, along with a few additional details. We can see the 6 GB of onboard memory is from SKHynix, sits on a 384-bit bus, and provides 336.6 GB/s of bandwidth. The ROPs and TMUs come in at 96 and 176 respectively, and the Unified Shader count sits at 2816. Also worth noting is that the card defaults to the Gaming Mode speeds. So, you’ll have to switch over to the OC Mode from within the OC GURU II software if you want the extra horsepower.
As we move into the features, the big hitter here is the Windforce 3X 600W cooling solution. The cooler is capable of dissipating up to 600W of heat and features five 8mm and one 6mm copper heatpipes. GIGABYTE also touts a special fin design, unique fan blades, and something they call Triangle Cool Technology. Triangle Cool is a clip module and fin design that is said to direct air evenly across the surface of the heatsink. The special fin design basically means the fins are arranged in a staggered height pattern, which is said to result in less turbulence and lower noise. The fan blades have a curved designed with a special set of strips, which are said to reduce turbulence even further, lower noise, and offer up to 23% more air flow. The below images and descriptions courtesy GIGABYTE.
For a little bling, the Windforce emblem at the top of the cooler can be set to several different color effects through the OC GURU II software. On each side of the Windforce emblem are LED indicators that let you know when the fans are on or off. Speaking of which, the 0dB fan feature found on the card will keep the fans from starting up until the GPU temperature reaches around 60 °C. This is a nice feature to have when performing less demanding tasks as the card will operate silently.
GIGABYTE’s GPU Gauntlet is their binning process used for products within the SOC (Super Overclock) family. It’s said to guarantee higher overclocking and better power switching.
The Flex Display technology offers flexible display connectivity with the addition of an extra DVI-D port and automatic output detection. For gamers looking to use multiple displays using two DVI monitors or enthusiasts looking for full 4K Surround using multiple DisplayPort monitors, the card can easily handle it.
GIGABYTE’s Ultra Durable VGA Technology includes a 2oz copper PCB, solid capacitors, metal chokes, lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, and tier 1 memory.
OC GURU II is GIGABYTE’s desktop overclocking utility. We’ll take a closer look at OC GURU II a little later, but it’s a full-featured utility that offers overclocking, fan control, monitoring, and a lot more.
The retail box does a nice job of explaining many of the high-level features the card has to offer. The familiar GIGABYTE Blue Eye graces the front, along with some product branding. Around back, we see a detailed features list much like we discussed above. Additional product branding and a multilingual list of the main features are found on the box sides.
After opening the box, we see the contents are housed in another black box. Inside that box, the card sits on top and is nicely wrapped in an anti-static bag. The stiff foam bed provides a secure nest for the card and protects against damage during transportation. Below the card is a cardboard cap that covers the accessories below. The accessories include a power adapter cable, support DVD, and a user’s guide.
With the GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming unpacked, we get our first look at this GIGABYTE offering. The card consists of a black and white color scheme with silver highlights applied to the fan shroud. It’s an attractive affair that should easily blend in with a lot of different themed system builds. The back of the card has a unique looking factory installed back plate with lots of ventilation slots and the GIGABYTE eye printed on it. Here are a few pictures taken from various angles.
The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming Up Close
As we mentioned earlier, part of the GIGABYTE Flex Display feature is the addition of a DVI-D port to the display output area. While this is a great feature, it does present a small challenge. As you can see by the first picture below, there is virtually no ventilation through the I/O bracket. The Windforce cooler really has no other place to send heat, but into the chassis, so you’re definitely going to need excellent airflow through your case to cope with that.
At the top of the card, we find the two SLI connections that support up to 4-way SLI and the dual 8-pin power connections. Also at the top of the card is the Windforce emblem flanked by the Silent and Stop fan indicators.
The bottom area is where you’ll find the PCI-E 3.0 slot connection
With the Windforce cooler removed, we can see the large copper base plate that not only covers the GPU core, but all the memory ICs as well. Thermal pads are used to cover the memory ICs and the MOSFET area. The MOSFETs get their own cooling plate attached to the bottom of the aluminum fin stack. All of the thermal pads were found to be making excellent contact, and the TIM applied to the GPU core was well-applied.
The five 8mm copper heatpipes run parallel to the base plate and straight through the aluminum fin stack. The single 6mm copper heatpipe makes a 180° turn and passes through the top portion of the aluminum fin stack.
The three fans measure right at 80mm, and you can see the strips on the curved fan blade design in the last two pictures below. The triple fan design spans the entire length of the card/fin stack, which should provide more than adequate airflow across the key components.
With the back plate removed, we can see it’s well-designed to add rigidity to the card and still provide plenty of ventilation. As far as back plates go, this is one of the nicer looking ones we’ve come across lately. A nice addition for sure!
With the card stripped down, we get a chance to review several items at the PCB level. The best we can tell, the GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming uses an 8+2+2 power phase design. That breaks down to eight for the GPU and two each for the memory and PLL. Voltage regulation for the GPU power phases is handled by ON Semiconductor’s NCP81174 buck controller.
The 6 GB of onboard GDDR5 memory is provided by the SKHynix H5GQ4H24MFR-R2C ICs. They are rated for 1750 MHz (7000 MHz effective) at 1.55 V. The last picture below is of the NVIDIA GM200-310-A1, which is the same GPU core used on the Titan X, albeit slimmed down a bit.
Bundled Software – OC GURU II
OC GURU II has a unique GUI that puts everything you need front and center. All of the overclocking options are easily accessible, as are the LED controls, fan controls, and monitoring information. Up to five profiles can be saved for easy access to your favorite settings. Real-time monitoring information is provided for GPU and memory clock speeds, GPU voltage, power consumption, fan speeds, and GPU temperature. Fan speeds can be set to auto, or you can manually set them based on a graphical interface. All in all, it’s an effective solution for getting the most from your GIGABYTE graphics card.
Performance and Overclocking
Here are the components used in our test system.
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VII Formula|
|CPU||Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon @ 4.0 GHz|
|Memory||G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24|
|SSD||Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050 Professional Series|
|Video Card||GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G (Driver 353.62)|
|Cooling||EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block/360 mm Radiator/MCP35X Pump|
|OS||Window 7 64-bit|
Our comparison samples include the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 Ti, EVGA GTX 980 Superclocked, EVGA 780 Ti Classified, and an AMD offering in the ASUS Matrix R9 290X. This will give us a good idea of performance throughout the last few generations of NVIDIA GPUs. The GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming was tested with its OC mode speeds in place. We’re still waiting on AMD board partners to release their custom Fury and Fury X cards, so those comparisons aren’t available to us quite yet.
We’ll use our Overclockers.com GPU test procedure that’s been in place since the Haswell platform was released. If you’re not yet familiar with our methodology, then click the provided link for additional information. For quick reference, below is the down and dirty version of what we do.
Minimum System Requirements
- i7 4770K or i7 4790K @ 4 GHz
- Intel Z87 or Z97 Chipset Motherboard
- Dual Channel DDR3 @ 1866MHz 9-9-9-24
- GPU @ stock and overclocked
- Monitor capable of 1920×1080
- 3DMark Vantage – DirectX 10 benchmark running at 1280X1024 – Performance preset.
- 3DMark 11 – DirectX 11 benchmark running at 1280X720 – Performance preset.
- 3DMark Fire Strike – DirectX 11 benchmark running 1920X1080 – Standard test (not extreme).
- Unigine Heaven (HWBot version) – DX11 Benchmark – Extreme setting.
- Batman: Arkham Origins – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, PhysX off, V-Sync off, The rest set to on or DX11 enhanced.
- Battlefield 4 – 1920X1080, Ultra Preset, V-Sync off.
- Bioshock Infinite – 1920X1080, Ultra DX11 preset, DOF on.
- Crysis 3 – 1920X1080, Very high settings, 16x AF, 8x MSAA, V-Sync off.
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – 1920X1080, Maximum preset.
- Grid 2 – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, Intel specific options off, Everything else set to highest available option.
- Metro Last Light – 1920X1080, DX11 preset, SSAA on, Tessellation very high, PhysX off.
Overclocking the GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming was pretty easy using the OC GURU II software and landed us at 1290 MHz base/1379 MHz boost/1530 MHz actual boost. At that speed, the card was completely stable and flew right through our suite of benchmarks.
As we look through the benchmarks below, keep in mind the ASUS STRIX GTX 980 Ti has a slightly higher factory overclock than the GIGABYT GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming on both the GPU core and memory speed. The differences are 26 MHz on the GPU core and 50 MHz (200 MHz effective) on the memory. So in most cases, the ASUS sample will have slightly better performance numbers. The other three cards in our sample group fall quite a bit behind the two GTX 980 Ti cards, but no big surprise there.
Our synthetic testing shows the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming holding its own against the ASUS STRIX offering. The GIGABYTE card actually won out in the 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark 11 benchmarks by a slim margin. Excellent showing here!
The gaming benchmarks reveal very little difference between the two GTX 980 Ti samples. The two most demanding games in our test suite (Crysis 3 and Metro: Last Light) have both cards producing almost the exact same FPS. The biggest gap came in Bioshock Infinite where the ASUS STRIX won out by just under six FPS. The Final Fantasy: ARR results had the ASUS STRIX winning out by less than 100 total frames rendered, which is not much at all in that benchmark. The other three benchmarks all fell within two FPS or less. Given the lower GPU and memory speeds, the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming performed better than we had expected. Again, another excellent showing!
For NVIDIA Surround/AMD Eyefinity testing, we take five of our most popular game titles and test them at 5760X1080 resolution. We keep the in-game settings maxed out just as with our 1920X1080 testing above. As you can see by the results below, all but Crysis 3 finished over the minimum 30 FPS we like to see. Again, the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming performed admirably and held right with the ASUS STRIX offering.
Power Consumption and Temperatures
As is the case with anything based off NVIDIA’s Maxwell GPU, power consumption number are impressive. The most power usage recorded at the wall was 477 Watts with the card overclocked. Keep in mind, this is total system draw, and these results can vary widely depending on the other components installed in one’s system.
The Windforce cooler performed excellent throughout our testing phase and had no problem keeping temperatures in check – even when the card was overclocked. I’ve tested a lot of proprietary GPU coolers from a variety of manufacturers over the years, but I’ll tell you straight up this is the quietest of the bunch. Most proprietary coolers are extremely quiet until you get to around 60% fan speed, and that’s the case here as well. However, what I’m pleased to report is that even with the fans set to 100% speed, they are still pretty darn quiet. By far, the quietest proprietary cooler I’ve come across to date at 100% fan speed.
Pushing the Limits
We were able to overclock the GPU to 1325 MHz base/1414 MHz boost/1539 MHz actual boost. The memory allowed an overclock to 2050 MHz (8200 MHz effective). These “Pushing the Limits” overclocking results have been pretty consistent with the few GTX 980 Ti cards we’ve reviewed up to now, so there must be a pretty consistent run of GPU cores on the market right now. Let’s hope that continues because these are excellent overclocking graphics cards! Once we had the GPU overclock in place, we topped it off by overclocking the CPU to 4.8 GHz and setting our system memory to 2400 MHz. All this resulted in a nice 3DMark Fire Strike score of 17767.
GIGABYTE has a great GTX 980 Ti offering in their G1 Gaming and seemingly checked all the right boxes. The card provides excellent performance, overclocks very well, and is kept very cool with the Windforce 3X 600W cooling system. Not only does the Windforce cooler do a great job of keeping the GPU cool, it does so very quietly – even at high fan speeds. You’ll also enjoy the 0dB fan feature that keeps the card silent during less demanding tasks.
The Flex Display feature brings an extra DVI-D port and additional flexibility in setting up multi-monitor configurations. And being a high-end GIGABYTE product, the Ultra Durable set of features are present and accounted for.
On the software side, OC GURU II was very easy to use and understand. We liked that all the options are accessible from the main screen, which keeps you from having to navigate through a bunch of pages to find what you’re looking for. It worked very well as we started down the overclocking path and had everything we needed to get the most performance possible from the card.
As far as pricing goes, the GIGABYTE GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming is currently selling for $689 at Newegg, which is positioned very well considering everything the card offers. There are some GTX 980 Ti cards available for a little less and some a little more, but the Windforce cooler alone makes it worth the few extra bucks it may cost over some competitor cards.
If you consider yourself part of the enthusiast gaming crowd and are looking to grab a GTX 980 Ti, GIGABYTE has a terrific option in their G1 Gaming that should definitely be on your short list.